Blog posts tagged "memory"

remembrance engines, from the comments

December 8th, 2012

“I’d like to find a site that invites you to populate your own archive – a bit like Facebook does for you on its timeline, but in a more customisable way, and in a way that allows you to share with people you choose. Anyone know of such a thing?” – from the comments

A Certain Kind of Memory

November 10th, 2009

I think of it as a kind of a pseudo random number generator for my memory, or maybe a probabilistic PhotoJojo Time Capsule powered by a certain inscrutable logic, but lately the odd blog spam comment that slips through Askimet’s filters and triggers a WordPress “Please moderate” comment email on some long forgotten blog post is more blessing then curse, a chance to remember, sort of.

Roughly 31 minutes ago some botnet left a gibberish comment on a blog post from July 2003, “That certain kind of tired”.

Oddly enough I remember very little about what was going on in my life at that point. I say odd, because here I am reading a diary entry where I’m situated in time, and space (Providence, July 2003), and I’ve posted a hyper specific list of recent movements (“38 hours of bus travel, 19 hours of car travel, 12 hours of air travel, 7 hours of train/subway travel”), yet nothing about that travel comes back to me. An odd unforeseen (by me at least) consequence of diarying in public is I’ve left out the context in preference of the shape of things. I wonder what I’ll make of my Twitter stream 6+ years on (assuming any of it survives and is accessible).

In contrast, my grandmother recently found a box of my great grandmother’s diaries (her mother-in-law) with nearly daily entries for a 20 year span, sometimes obscurely personal in nature, but never the intentionally obfuscating dance of public performance that my old post is.

And there is another kind of unanticipated (again probably only by me) forgetting in that post. A mere 6 years into the life span of that post, of the 5 links in that post, only one of them still works. (and all of these links to the sites of web dorks)

The title of the post is a phrase I borrowed from Jessamyn. Her server seems to be down. Hopefully it will come back up. I can remember thinking as I quoted it that I was pretty sure I’d met her, but I wasn’t sure when, but given our overlaps (mutual friends, mutual alma mater, similar geographic patterns) we’d meet again some day. I still think we will, but it hasn’t happened yet.

And I remember vividly, even though its only alluded to briefly in that original post in an attempt at wit and snark, that just prior to writing that post was the first time I met my good friend Aaron in person. We sat outside on the porch at The Otherside Cafe on Newbury St., in Boston, and talked about many many things including my first, but hardly my last, attempt to make him explain RDF to me.

Old Receipts

July 29th, 2007

Upon cleaning out a filing cabinet prior to moving

  • Receipt for that “cute place we stayed with the view of Duomo”, Albergo, S. GIOVANNI, di Umberto Zanobetti, via Cerretani, 2 – 50123 FIRENZE, 18/07/01, numero 451

  • Receipt for medical care rendered for one Yasmina Trabelsi, Centro Medico Pardo, E.I.R.Ltda. Av. De La Cultura 710, CUSCO. 26 de 07 del 2005. 1,104.09 PEN.

  • Receipt for consulta medic en Hotel, Fernando Minauro Zecenarro, Medico Cirujano, Av. Huayruropata, CUSCO. 22 de 07 del 2005.

Linguistic convergence?

February 1st, 2003

I’ve noticed an odd phenomena. When searching Google I consistently see results from projects I’m involved in, people I know, and of course, myself.

A certain percentage of this can be written off to specialized interests. The overwhelming amount of search results I get which point to IMC archives is understandable, for example.

What I don’t understand is why a relatively generic query like “tar over ssh”, would return a message from the LUG at my alma matter(which didn’t exist when I went there), in a thread between 2 people I know well. Thats just odd. And this happens a lot. I’m going to start keeping track, but it happens all the time. (note: I’ve probably destroyed Google’s usefulness for searching for “tar over ssh” now by mentioning it)

I don’t know that many people, a very small number in fact, and even if they all produce content hyperactively, shouldn’t they be drowned out in a sea content? Whats going on?

My thought is perhaps we’re seeing the effect of Google having a language based interface. I search in English, and therefore I’m much more likely to get English results back. Most of the people I know speak English. On the Net however this doesn’t proscribe the field much. I think perhaps it needs to be broken down beyond that, I don’t just speak English, I speak a vernacular informed by age, class, education, social environment, etc. My word choices are a product of culture. For example Mako and Josiah from the above thread have both had significant impacts on the Linux culture I was raised in. Could even my 3 word query display a language bias? If I was a product of a different linguistic micro-culture would I have said “pipe” instead of “over”, asked for “remote” instead of “ssh”, re-ordered the terms?

And if perhaps Google was a taxonomy engine, building a search tree of structured data, and my queries were made in a precise, perhaps numerical, language, then would this convergence disappear? Would it work nearly as well then? A response from my culture after all brings a number of advantages, no one suggested using a tape drive instead, or buying F-Secure.

Some Other Possibilities.

  • Aidan is fast to point out humans are expert pattern makers, and inclined to see patterns where none (of significance) exist. Perhaps I only notice the occurrence when something unusual happens, and this convergence is a false pattern?
  • That for all the millions of internet users, content is created by a mind blowingly small percentage. That a given individual really can know a statistically significant percentage of the population.