At first, I thought it was all about breakfast sausages

So, here I am in Iowa, it's the beginning of the school year, and I'm under the insane impression that I have free time (in lieu of money) to invest in the Iowa caucuses. At that point, Clark seemed pretty appealing, but there were too many mysteries about him, including whether he was going to run or not.

In Iowa City, we have a dying downtown mall. The advantage to this is that all the campaigns take advantage of the temporary rental space, and you can go and window shop for your candidates. "Retail politics" taken to a new level, right?

So, who's got the excitement in his office, who's got a record of standing up to the Bush administration? Who had actual experience in reaching his goals, and had made tough and politically dangerous positions that didn't doom him to irrelevance? The guy whose name made me think of breakfast, Howard Dean.

Now we're getting down to the wire in Iowa. I've been told that, as soon as the results of the caucuses are announced in Des Moines, the campaigns are going to vaporize all evidence of their existence in the mall. All that will be left are the MeetUps. What a melancholy feeling.

Give 'em hell Howard!


Dude! No! Dude!

The Dude, Check This Out beta was blogged by Cory Doctorow yesterday. The premise: a combination of collaborative recommendation software for web content, with social networking software (a la Friendster). Unfortunately, the interface is insane - you need to download yet another IE toolbar (designed to resemble a sushi bar). In order to enter your approval (no negative recommendations), you need to create a blog posting about an item, at your Dude blog. In their terminology, this is "to Dude" something. Oh, the pain.

So, I have two complaints about this thing. One, it's irreverent format is painful to read and look at, says he of the blah blog. The interface is insanely awkward. The knock against collaborative recommenders is that users don't want to spend their time entering the huge amount of data required to generate remotely respectable results. The solution here is to use the social networking as a motivator for entering data.

The other complaint is that the tone of the site will create an excessively self-selecting audience. The complexity of the interface, which assumes familiarity with the concepts of blogging and a desire to mess around with your browser, will filter out a lot of users. The extremes to which they extend the idea of "Dude, Check This Out" seems another user filter. This filtering, I think, will lead to a homogenized recommendation which match the Dude profile instead of my own. We'll see. I haven't been motivated enough to try "Duding" something yet.


Geez, it's hot in here. Does that light need to be so bright? Hmm.

My name is Brian. I got my undergrad education at The Evergreen State College where the mascot is the Geoduck, which is, for all intents a purposes, a giant clam. I'm now working on my graduate degree at The University of Iowa, where students purport to be Hawkeyes. There do seem to be a lot of hawks around here.

If I follow through on this at all, I will be posting on personal stuff here. Since I am an instructor, course material may appear on this page as well. We'll see.

I'm not graphically inclined, so this may be a disappointing blog to look at. I would be very surprised if the quality of the text content is enough to compensate.