Went to see Ruth for the weekend, and got a taste of the local culture. And by culture, I mean the Folsom Street Fair. It’s sort of like your standard Renaissance Faire, but with even more sweaty dudes and ladies in constrictive clothes. They do both tend to have turkey legs for sale. I particularly love the costumes; I saw Boy Scouts, policemen, football players, and lumberjacks in addition to the standard leather gear. Probably could have staged a village people reunion.
After getting our fill of naked twister, we went off to scout the pleasant neighborhoods of Potrero Hill (scenic and steep) and Dogpatch (industrial and condolicious). But, they have a Vermont Street that is even curvier than Lombard. Apparently, they race bigwheels down it once a year. I shall return!
Walked through Temescal on Monday, gorging ourselves on Bakesale Betty fried chicken, steak sandwiches and strawberry shortcake, culminating in a visit to an excellent “center for reuse” store. Who knew I needed glow in the dark astrobits to spell my name in space? On the way back, noticed a sweet bumper sticker that references my favorite recent Supreme Court case. I like this town.
Also visited Jennifer, Tobi and Max. The monster is as cute as a button, and now has an MIT onesie. No pressure, little dude.
Listened to speaker after speaker at the O’Reilly Government 2.0 Summit, and got a sense of both where things are going right, and just how much further we have to go. Tim defines gov2.0 as providing a platform, the provider of data and services, but letting “the market” (both commercial and non-commercial) building the innovative apps we’ve come to expect. This is dandy in theory, and data.gov and the Sunlight Foundation are nice examples of it in practice.
However, the fact that data is “open” doesn’t mean it’s really usable. Just putting up a website with a set of PDF files isn’t enough. It’s like the interstellar bypass plans in the Hitchhiker’s Guide that was ” on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘beware of the leopard’.”
Adrian Holovaty reiterated that sites will take what they can get, scraping if they have to, but that we drastically prefer “diffs to dumps”, and that PDF is “the devil’s spawn.” I doubt the Adobe representatives in the audience were pleased at that.
John Markoff of the New York Times asked the pointed question: how do we ensure that these platforms enable liberation not control? Having a common platform isn’t helpful if it’s locked down and doesn’t interoperate.
While many of the presentations were very good, “death by slideshow” still ensued. Vint Cerf, chief architect of the internet, noted that “Power corrupts, but PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.” Many of the shown projects fell into the “dots on a map” paradigm or “open it and they will come” fallacies. Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus, asked for more “apps that matter, not just more bus trackers.” How apropos; I’m working on it, Mitch.