Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Back with punch points

Finally, I can write again, as I spent a very intense, informative and productive week in Baltimore speaking with twenty five hundred fellow geeks, nerds and statheads at the American Evaluation Association Conference. I picked up a few interesting techniques, a lot of business cards, a fonder appreciation for crabs and an extra week of comp time off; not bad at all. Between being consistently busy, not having a working laptop (more on this in a minute), and a very finicky public terminal in the hotel lobby with the most sensitive filtering software ever (Kevin Drum was considered 'controversial' and blocked), I had no ability to write intelligently. And when has that stopped me.....

  • Some very interesting social networking and influence mapping within the academic blogosphere should be coming out of Florida State University in the next year or so. I was able to speak to the researcher for a good hour and while the findings within the academic sphere differ in context, there is a lot of work that cross-walks very well into the political blogosphere.

  • Attending a session on blogs at a conference is an interesting event as the self-selection and segration of the audience between the bloggers (about 20% of the crowd), blog readers, and people who have heard about blogs but don't really know what they are. The bloggers are nodding their heads and smiling, the readers learn something new such as bloggers communicating with other bloggers using their real names and not noms de plume, and the hearers still believe that blogging is a revolutionary and system changing communication mechanism.

  • I really do not like the Inner Harbor's architecture as a means of revitalizing a neighborhood district; the blocks are too big, too long, and too unfriendly. The most notable example was on the harbor side of President Street and Pratt Street where a multi-story parking garage first destroys the sight lines of the low rise buildings on the opposite side of the street side of the harbor, and then exists primarily as a blank wall for three blocks. This was a massive edge and boundary feature which forced people away from the harbor. There were too many examples like this, including the Rennaiscance Hotel, the convention Center, the 1st Mariner Arena. I was coming back to my hotel from the Inner Harbor after dinner on Thursday night, and in the six block walk on a decently warm night, there was almost no street presence of any sort. All of the public space had been privatized and monetized. I did not feel particulary safe as there was no personal, random and inadvertent shared street level surveillance. When I walked down Charles Street into Mount Vernon, the district was poorer, less patrolled, but felt far safer as there were other people around me.

  • Losing the information feeds/overload that I normally have from blogging is an interesting experience. Hopefully the time off will refresh my writing
  • Time to play catch-up and hope that my spam filter has a very low false-positive rate.

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