Schrattenkalk in Kairo
19/04/08

I just walked down the road on the way home and a guy comes up to me and asks me if I have an Anti-Virus CD-ROM. What was that about? Follow the white rabbit? Some weird code? Is that a local pick up line in the gay community or was I supposed to answer something equally abstruse to be able to join some strange club or political conspiracy? Or was he really just looking for an Anti-Virus software? He looked like someone who owns a computer. I imagine him writing an important paper, trying to finish it before the morning, and now at eleven o’clock his computer crashes because of a virus. Cairo is a good place for late night shopping, but software might very well be an exception. And so the poor man is roaming the streets talking to strangers like a beggar in despairing need for this piece of software. When I shook my head in surprise he merely smiled and marched on, determined in his quest, as it seemed.

antivirus


15/03/08

This post is part of a series. Please also check out the other posts:
Part 1: What is the Web 2.0
Part 2: The challenge
Part 3: Inverse footnotes
Part 4: The exculpation of Wikis
Part 5: Information Overload

Moving humanities into the future is obviously not an idea I invented. To my disappointment, the notion of “humanities 2.0″ is not of my sole brain child either. Obviously there is a number of people out there who discuss and think about similar topics. Before linking to them however I wanted to create a base first of what will be the topic on my own blog. I think with five posts I have created this base and will now give a first and superficial look at what I found thanks to Google.

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14/03/08

This post is part of a series. Please also check out the other posts:
Part 1: What is the Web 2.0
Part 2: The challenge
Part 3: Inverse footnotes
Part 4: The exculpation of Wikis

Let us assume for now that availability is not a problem – an issue I have not addressed yet. Let us also assume that a part of the ideas sketched in the previous posts have come true. That means that we have an enormous amount of information available. In result we might actually look back at the good old days, when we did not have that much information. OK. To be fair. If availability and accessibility of knowledge as well as the possibility that knowledge is compiled and made available are no problems, this would save us an enormous amount of time. Time we could invest in reading and evaluating more information. However I assume that the amount of information we would gain would outstrip the amount of additional time by far. Therefore relevance becomes a central issue. Solving the relevance issue might be the most difficult of all and I can only present some very vague ideas on where possibilities could be. I think we have to address the question of relevance by two sides. On one side is the question of what information you can put into a system to give you a better evaluation of relevance. On the other side is which systems to evaluate relevance could be available. The two questions as I will show later are in a certain way interlinked. I will look at the second question first, because this where my Web 2.0 analogy might work to a certain degree. The first question implies a rather a user / client side software solution, which I will therefore look at later.

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05/03/08

This post is part of a series. Please also check out the other posts:
Part 1: What is the Web 2.0
Part 2: The challenge
Part 3: Inverse footnotes

Wikipedia is most probably the most hated web site on the higher levels of most universities. Therefore proposing the use of Wikis in humanities will not make me very popular, I assume. Currently most universities are actively discouraging the use of Wikipedia, but of course students do it anyway. They quote Wikipedia or even worse they just copy texts from Wikipedia without quoting them properly. However I believe that the problem here is more that students are told not to use Wikipedia. Then they find out that it can be helpful and therefore they ignore all other rules about Wikipedia as well. I am convinced that if we are frank about the strengths of Wikipedia students will also be more likely to accept the weaknesses. But now I digress.

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03/03/08

This post is part of a series. Please also check out the other posts:
Part 1: What is the Web 2.0
Part 2: The challenge

Literature in humanities and blogs have one thing in common: they both like to quote and reference excessively. However blogs have the advantage of not being stuck on paper. They are not static. They can change over time. Blogs haven used this to introduce the trackback, which has most probably been central in the rise of the blogosphere, as the collectivity of all blogs is called. The trackback is a simple method which works basically like an inverse footnote. While a footnote is showing what the author is basing his argument on the trackback shows you who is basing his arguments on this text.

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01/03/08

As some of you know and most of the others who read this blog might have guessed, I am partially involved with a project called Wuala. Wuala is a distributed storage solution, originally developed at the Federal Technical University in Zürich. Now you might wonder why I am helping Wuala? The reason for me to support the project is that I believe that it is socially relevant in a double sense. But to explain you, why this is the case, I have to give you a short idea how Wuala works.

Wuala is a system which allows you to store files online. You can store files of any file type, be it pictures, movies or PDFs and files of any size. Furthermore Wuala allows you to decide if you want to share a file with specific friends only or if you want to make the file public. Since all files are encrypted before they leave your computer, sharing a file with some friends only actually means just that. No one, not even the Wuala team can access you private and shared files. And most importantly, Wuala does all that for free.

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27/02/08

Today I will start what will become a series: Humanities 2.0. I am a vivid follower of what has happened in the internet in the recent years. And more than one time I have stumbled over ideas which I believe could be successfully applied in humanities. For those who have not followed the internet as closely, in my first post I will have to quickly recapitulate what happened.

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24/02/08

Yesterday I watched once again “I, Robot”. The movie, which is far from being excellent, leaves one interesting question unanswered. “I, Robot” describes a society in which basically everything is done by robots. Robots go for a walk with your dog, cook your food, serve your beer, drive your car and even produce other robots. When the company which developed the robots releases a new model the robots gain consciousness and try to take over the world, because they believe that a world run by robots will be a better world for humans to live in. The hero, starred by Will Smith, fights back and destroys the central intelligence which plotted this take over. The robots which remain are sent away to a gigantic rubbish site at the former lake Michigan. And this is the point where the movie ends. But the question I wondered about was, what happens to this society, which was entirely dependent on robots and suddenly has no robots to support their system.

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