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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

locating serendipity

permalink Monday, 10APR2006:

with the big office move i'm undertaking, i was pretty ecstatic that this show came together as well as it did. i was a bit lost for ideas, but then someone mentioned that a GPS course was going to be held at the AFN right outside the radio booth during my show. the rest was serendipity in action :)

Aur.Oral Exposures setlist for 10apr2006:

  1. Where to Begin - Bowling for Soup
  2. Where Would I Be ? - Stompin' Tom Connors
  3. Where the Hell Are You ? - Jr. Gone Wild

  4. Lost Together - Blue Rodeo
  5. Lost Star - The Jesus and Mary Chain
  6. Lost Highway - Lori Yates

  7. Going Nowhere Somehow - White Town
  8. Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World ('Cause That's Where Everything Is) - Peggy Lee
  9. A Thousand Miles from Nowhere (acoustic) - Dwight Yoakam

  10. time's out of place - The Blue Shadows
  11. Place That's Insane - The Northern Pikes
  12. Henri's Arctic Outfitters - Royal Canadian Air Farce
  13. Leave This Place - The Walk

  14. Find Another Fool - Quarterflash
  15. Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis
  16. Look For Me (I'll Be Around) - Neko Case

  17. Find the Out - Slobberbone
  18. Where You Found Me - The Men
  19. Where I Want to Be - Jimmie Inch

  20. Losing Streak - Jack De Keyzer

  • link of the day: endangered serendipity:
    Technology undercuts serendipity. 
    It makes it possible to direct our 
    energies all in the name of saving 
    time.  Ironically, though, it seems 
    that we are losing time - the 
    meaningful time we once used to 
    indulge ourselves in the related 
    pleasures of search and discovery. 
    We're efficient, but empty.
    now, while i agree with the gist of these comments, that many technologies have the effect of undercutting serendipity, i must say that as a librarian, the cataloguing and classifications systems that we use are all about enhancing serendipity. many 'a-ha' moments of discovery in a library are not random occurrences, but have been pre-figured by the librarian's awareness of user needs in shelving similar materials together or applying appropriate keywords in a library catalogue record.

    the biggest advantage that google has is that it has been able to overlay a very simplistic interface over some very complex computer algorithms. the click click answer process has almost become routine, but you can't argue that serendipity can't occur - rather that the user isn't in the frame of mind to be open to the possibility of it, and the system isn't designed to promote it, and in fact, actively discourages it (ads, excepted, of course).

    i also disagree with the column's comment that the downloading universe has diminished the exposure of listeners to the breadth of music. my take is more along the lines of this article which argues that P2P downloading has actually enhanced the opportunity to access a wealth of music:
    I believe Napster re-engaged us 
    with music, and reminded us how 
    rewarding the discovery of music 
    can be.  It exposed us to sounds 
    we wouldn't have heard through 
    traditional channels, and 
    challenged us to expand our 
    repertoire of listening material. 
    For audiences, it provided an 
    opportunity to sample music from 
    genres that we previously had no 
    access to.
    Your neighbourhood record store 
    stocked only the tiniest sliver 
    of music being made around the 
    Now, access to all this new music, 
    and volumes from the pioneers of 
    blues, rock and jazz, is dizzying. 
    It has led, ultimately, into the 
    creation of more complex, informed 
    the whole social infrastructure that has been built up around the availability of digital music - mix trading, personalized radio stations, myspace, etc., has served to expand musical horizons by leveraging the system of community recommendations to bring attention to music that deserves to be heard more than the clear channel club of corporate radio allows. yes, this is not quite the random serendipity that the columnist rhapsodizes over, but the music has to be AVAILABLE first, before it can be discovered.

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constructing proper infrastructures

permalink Tuesday, 11APR2006:

just came back from the astro where i watched 'v for vendetta'. a fantastic film that reminds us that freedom requires vigilance. natalie portman was great and her shaved head look was *very* sexy. the film was updated a bit from its graphic novel origins so that it commented a bit more pointedly on the bush era and its excesses. i laughed out loud a couple of times, especially when the studio audience applauded on cue, prompted by both an electronic sign and a swath of pointed guns.

favourite quote: "artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up."

i'm not sure if that was in the alan moore original (or taken from some more famous source that i don't recall). alan moore has attempted to assert his moral rights by asking that his name be taken off of the movie and when that request was not readily granted, he has also asked that his name be removed from the original books themselves, since he doesn't 'own' them and feels that the publisher is trading unfairly on his name recognition with readers. this dispute arises from how both 'v for vendetta' and 'the watchmen', arguably his most influential creation, were signed away to the publisher dc comics with the understanding that the copyrights would revert back to the creators once the books went out of print. but since the books have never gone out of print, the creators will likely never regain those copyrights.

spent the day assisting derek with putting up some strapping so that the library shelves could be mounted properly to the walls. then it was more unpacking. at the old site are only the monographs, my own office paraphernilia and a whole bunch of unreviewed stuff that should be chucked rather than moved if they ain't going to be of any use.

the neat thing about the move situation is that it has forced me to engage 100% in my daily tasks. the important things are getting done and the less important things are ... less important. i ask myself whether there is anything that i'd rather be doing right now, and i come up blank. i do wish that i had a bit more time for reflection, but then i'd have to give up some of my poker time :)

  • link of the day: joel spolsky comments about the importance of infrastructure
    Management's primary responsibility is 
    to create the illusion that a software 
    company can be run by writing code, 
    because that's what programmers do. 
    And while it would be great to have 
    programmers who are also great at sales, 
    graphic design, system administration, 
    and cooking, it's unrealistic.  Like 
    teaching a pig to sing, it wastes your 
    time and it annoys the pig.
    Microsoft does such a good job at 
    creating this abstraction that Microsoft 
    alumni have a notoriously hard time 
    starting companies.  They simply can't 
    believe how much went on below decks and 
    they have no idea how to reproduce it.
    the very best thing that infrastructure 
    can do is disappear completely.

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gambling away the holidays

permalink Friday, 14APR2006:

to commemorate today's good friday holiday, i attended *two* different poker functions. first i stopped by brennan's pad where 12 of us started late in the afternoon. i hung on for ages as short stack before finally busting out in 7th. i dropped a few more bucks in a cash game on the side, but eddie's spicy chili made up for some of the loss.

i did recover some ground at the next table hosted by shawn and kevin. 5 of us played, with a couple of rebuys laid out for each ultra-quick game. with the blinds going up steadily and speedily, many times bets were all-in before the flop. i managed to catch a few boards and ended up at least even for the day.

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insider knowledge

permalink Saturday, 15APR2006:

went in to the office for a bit to continue unpacking the endless stream of bankers' boxes. from there, i went up to the astro to catch 'inside man'. a very smart movie, with great actors who make the caper flick sing. clive owen again impressed with his intensity, denzel was oh-so-smooth as the master of his destiny and jodie foster was ultra-sophisticated. very much enjoyed !

when i got home, i continued the media marathon by watching a couple more episodes of 'northern exposure' from my season 3 dvd set. someone said that they don't even take notice anymore of strange things that happen here in the arctic, but this t.v. show definitely showcases some of the varied flavour of northern living.

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