August 31, 2006

Prepare or Die

I am most definitely not a Boy Scout or survivalist, but if The Apocolypse ever actually does happen, this is the guy from whom I'll be trying to mooch stuff.


August 13, 2006

Youth Against Sudoku

The cause may be silly, but the design is kickin. (Via WebCreme)

Youth Against Sudoku


August 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Luray Caverns!

Happy Birthday, Luray Caverns! Jen is out of town for the weekend to work on some creative things (look for a rebirth of her blog soon!), so I took the kids down to Virginia to see the Luray Caverns. By accident, this is the 128th anniversary of the discovery of this amazing, underground space. In honor of the occasion, they had thousands of candles laid out and allowed visitors into an area that is normally closed to the public.

This is my first time ever seeing the place, and it's truly amazing. There are countless unique stalactites, stalagmites, and other limestone formations that I can't name, but they also seem to follow a few basic patterns -- not the typical icicle form I expected to see. There's a particular stalagmite pattern (the one that comes up from the floor) that looks like a Dr. Seuss-style birthday cake. There's a stalactite patten that looks like hanging fabric (Madeleine calls them towels).

It was interesting to imagine what it might have been like to be the first explorers of this subterranean space. The ceiling is relatively close to the floor at the point where they first entered the caverns, but eventually opens up into "Pluto's Chasm" which drops over 100 feet. ...and they were exploring this place with candles.


August 6, 2006

The Simian Web

I saw another article today (via TCW) that describes the Semantic Web, with its technological prerequisites (URIs, XML, RDF, OWL, ontologies, and inference engines), and asks the age-old question: When will it ever arrive? Well, with all the work required to build and cultivate it, I suspect the answer is: Right before our robotic info-servants rise up and destroy their human overlords.

The example this article begins with is a search for [ultimate bass]. Would you expect to get results that list great bass fishing locations, or a descriptions of a bass guitar? When you ponder a solution that involves someone (or something) tagging every instance of the word "bass" in text with the formal meaning of the word (oh, and don't forget about all the other words with multiple meanings), you can see what a huge undertaking the Semantic Web is.

Peony in our back yard When I think of unsolved search problems, one that comes to mind is gardening information. I'm a novice gardener, and what I would really like to do is identify all of the various plants growing in my yard. What are they called? Are they noxious weeds? Are they native species? Are they perennials? What do I need to do to cultivate, control, or eradicate them? So, a really nifty search tool would allow me to submit a query in the form of a photo of the plant. It would then return structured information about it, including its name, climate range, origins, care and feeding, etc. As it is, currently I have to rely on my neighbors, who are experienced gardeners, and who are happy to offer their advice and opinions when asked. My mom and sisters have also been helpful resources in this endeavor. I suppose we could call this the Simian Web. It's been around for a long time.

Isn't the purpose of technology to free us up to spend more time on the Simian Web? When I walk through an office and see everyone hunched over keyboards, gazing intently into the glowing screens, I wonder if our robotic info-servants haven't already hatched a plan. Instead of harvesting energy from our bodies (that silly notion from The Matrix) they are busily gathering semantically-rich metadata from us. One day, when we least suspect it, they will rise up and destroy us. Perhaps the first -- and last -- indication that they have gathered enough knowledge and we are no longer is control may be the blinking message: "All your bass are belong to us."


August 1, 2006

SEO Vlogging

Matt Cutts Matt Cutts posted some experimental videos in which he responds to SEO questions from readers. He deserves props for trying something new, and he got a lot of those in the comments. I have to agree with those commenters who pointed out that it's quicker to browse Q&A material in written form. I'd rather browse SEO tips in a forum or a blog. However, I would like to see him do an "SEO 101" video presentation. It would be a great thing to point people to when they need a gentle introduction to the topic.