Archive for December, 2006

Blogs of locality? (No – not geoblogging)

December 20, 2006

[Note – this is a different niche, more akin to review sites than geoblogging sites]

Mark Gaved, Tom Heath, and I (OK, mostly them, with me cheerleading) have been experimenting with Wikis of locality, as we reported at Wikisym 2006:

In this paper we describe an emerging form of wikis – wikis of locality – that support physical rather than virtual communities. We draw on our experience as administrators of the Open Guide to Milton Keynes, one of the Open Guides family of community developed local information guides built using wiki software, and present observations of the potential value and unique characteristics of wikis of locality from a practitioner’s perspective. Preliminary findings from a current survey of other Open Guide administrators are presented to highlight types of usage, issues and potential areas for future research.

Now Mark tells me about a “Blogs of locality” approach typified by Outside In

As I just wrote to Mark and Tom, I think this hits the ‘sweet spot’ right in the middle of several things we’ve been thinking about… illustrated by three different approaches: Milton Keynes Open Guide, Tom’s, and (say) this personal blog you’re reading now.

The ‘sweet spot’ is the aggregation of all that stuff using Technorati-tag-like tags… exactly what the structured blogging community has been talking about for a long time, but this is in a more lightweight easy-tag style that I think has more promise.

The method of tagging and contributing is described in Outside In’s Contribute page:

Connect your own blog. If you’re a blogger writing about local issues yourself, include a google maps link in the post for location-based posts, or just tag each post with a relevant zip code, to ensure that your entries get mapped appropriately.

Add tags. If you’re a registered user of, you can add tags to any entry, using our what/where/when tagging system. If you notice a review of a new bar that doesn’t have the establishment’s name as a tag, you can add it; or you can add the bar’s address; or a date and time for an upcoming performance scheduled there.

Suggest a story: If you’ve stumbled across something online that’s relevant to a neighborhood — a newspaper story about a controversial new office tower, say — use the suggest a story tool to add that information to our database.

So I can keep scribbling away on my own blog, then just tag posts, and presto-mundo… someone else harvests the goodies. This of course is just what aggregation is all about, but in this case there’s a nice locality twist that is extremely lightweight, and very scaleable. And it has a lot more appeal than a centralised wiki site that I have to “go to” to say what I wanted to say anyway. Excellent!

[update: Mark also adds:

another link:
— these guys are talking about “placeblogger” -“Towards an Annotated World: America at Sidewalk-Level in Placeblogs”

“This webtext examines the pedagogical relevance of blogging from the perspective of those committed to place-based pedagogies….”


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Seymour Papert injured

December 8, 2006

From the Boston Globe (via John Richardson at the OU):

Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence and an authority on how computers can help children learn, was seriously injured after being struck by a motorbike in Hanoi, where he was attending a conference.

The accident on Tuesday left Papert, 78, in a coma. He underwent brain surgery at French Hospital, hospital officials said.

Papert was one of the strongest influences on my career – I had the great fortune to meet him a few times in my formative years as a graduate student, and the directions I pursued (especially on teaching novices programming) were a direct spinoff of his profound thinking and activities. Let’s hope, along with the numerous others writing and reading about this, that he recovers from this tragic accident, and soon.

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