13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: Mathemagenic
...giving birth to learning...


  Saturday, July 30, 2005

  Blogher: business blogging BOF

Links from BOF session on busines blogging (I'll check and clean it later, the connection keeps disconnecting :(


More on: blogs in business 

  Connecting the dots...

It's a strange day - connecting dots, connecting people...

On echochambers earlier today and in my aggregator now -

Blogs shape opinions, that once formed, become entrenched. (Shel Israel and Robert Scoble)

And then two different worlds click and connect - how boundary spanning works? Back to the talk.

BlogHer dinner - connecting names and faces, blogstalkers...

And behind all this the need to associate, to belong, to be there and the need to step aside, to observe, to reflect. Wondering if this is a methodology problem or personalily trait. It's all there - interdisciplinarity, identity crisis, being a boundary subject...

So, how connecting the dots works?

  Thursday, July 28, 2005

  OneNote for research: first experiences

So, I'm experimenting with OneNote for my research. I did some background work, reading lots of tips at Chris_Pratley's OneNote WebLog and watching Channel 9 video next to browsing through the menus and options... Some things work, but there are others that I can't figure out so far.


I tried recording interviews and it worked well (even without any external microphone), but there are a few problems.

  • During one interview the recording stopped after a few minutes. I didn't notice what happened - may be I switched to somewhere or had a pause long enough for the laptop to start going in a sleeping mode. The problem is that I didn't notice in time that it wasn't recording and switched it on only 15 min later :( Wondering how to avoid it in the future.
  • Somehow with that recording the cool feature of jumping to the text to get the audio playing from that moment didn't work. Again, I could do something wrong, but I have no idea what it was.

Inc input

So far OneNote tries to recognise all my inc input as I write and I hate it. I'm still not happy with "one the fly" hand-writing recognition Tablet does and I prefer not to use it. I'm perfectly fine with storing my notes as handwriting and converting them into the text if/when I need it. I looked at all options I could imagine, but didn't find how to keep OneNote away from recognising my handwriting.

Knowing about this problem I ended up typing my notes instead of handwriting them. This takes more energy than handwriting, so I can't listen as attentively as I want to. On the top of that the main reason I bought this Tablet is avoiding the visual barrier and intrusiveness of typing that an open laptop creates.


Since I started this study I'm reading increasing number of weblogs by Microsoft people. One of the things I started to do is collecting relevant quotes from weblogs to use as a background info for interviews with bloggers. I use clipping feature of OneNote that allow selecting part of any screen and adding it to OneNote page with link to the original document (loved this - I don't have to copy link/post title with the quote).

There are a couple of things I can't figure how to do:

  • OneNote automatically adds clippings to SideNotes page and then I have to move them manually where I want them to be. Would be much easier if clippings would be added to the current page/place I'm editing.
  • References to the original from where clippings come are added under those clippings and I want them above. Didn't manage to find a way to edit it as a setting...

The bottom line

In spite of all those things so far I'm pretty happy with using OneNote. Just have to figure out how things work and what is a good way to organise all my notes in pages and folders...

  Still scary...

I was looking for something else in my referrer logs when I saw that someone came from Google search for reflexive ethnography. I was curious to look for the results and couldn't believe that the first link was leading to my posts in April.

Funny enough, my feelings are not that much different from those in similar case in October 2002 - it's scary to find link to my weblog on a search for something that I'm not an expert, but just someone who starts thinking about it.

More on: blog ecosystem 

  Wednesday, July 27, 2005

  My take on Virtual Earth

I'm probably a bit more in a geeky mode when I should, but it's difficult to avoid. As part of my study I'm reading much more technology blogs than I'd normally do, picking up stories and watching tools being released.

One of those new tools is Virtual Earth (see also team blogChannel 9 story). Usually I wouldn't jump to test it so early, but it's hard to avoid it watching stories go around Microsoft blogs.

First, a non-tech side of the story in a post by Robert Scoble

Yeah, it is the second time in a week that I can't talk about something when everyone else is talking about it (the earlier one was when the name "Windows Vista" leaked out and about 2,000 blogs had talked about it before I was able to admit that was the official name. For instance, Elliott Back writes: "Wow! These are just my first impressions, but it seems like Microsoft has built a Google-Maps killer!"

I was asked to hold off until 9:01 p.m. PT tonight on the Virtual Earth stuff. A few people discovered our URL's while we turned on the servers to perform performance tests and now we're off to the races. Tons of blogs are talking.

[...]So, why do we have embargoes? I think it's one of those last things that survive from old-school PR. They are trying to give everyone in the media an equal shot at being out at the gate. I personally think we need to reevaluate our rules here. The word-of-mouth network is just getting too efficient to try to live by these rules anymore.

The conversation can come and go long before we are allowed to participate (it's already the #4 search on Technorati this morning, for instance, why aren't those people finding any posts by Microsoft employees? Because we aren't talking until 9:01 p.m. tonight).

Back to the tool itself. When I first checked it I wasn't impressed (because I immediately searched for Moscow and so far only US is properly mapped). But then I came across this post at VE team blog and was intrigued.

So I went there and tried how Locate me feature works. Funny enough, it didn't came up with my location based on IP address even given that I'm at Microsoft, but after downloading WiFi locator it found me on the map. It was pretty nice, especially given that earlier today I was fighting with Plazes (which btw released cool features as well) placing MSR in the center of Redmond even given the full address.

VirtualEarth screenshoot. Click to see full-sizeThen I decided to search for sushi places near by and it worked nicely.

Now the missing parts:

  • I can't send a link to this page (actually I can, but my location dissappears)
  • It's pretty nice that I can get driving directions easily, but I didn't find a way to add my current location as departure or destination point. Which is really pity because I'm in a constant struggle with entering addresses in a way that whatever tools that supposed to help me to find a way understand. Asking directions from where I'm now to where I want to be just by clicking on the map would be so much easier...
  • Would be great if "Blog it" feature would allow posting to any blog and not only MSN Spaces.
More on: geek Microsoft 

  Tuesday, July 26, 2005

  OneNote fun

It has been ages since I thought of installing OneNote to my Tablet. It looked interesting, but I wasn't sure if it was worth paying for a bit of extra features. Since coming to Microsoft I saw many people using it for making notes, but still wasn't convinced till one lunch conversation.

It looked that I was at the table with audio experts, so I asked about a software to annotate audio recordings (thinking about all the interviews we are doing :). I was told that this should be possible in OneNote.

This as well as heavily discounted software prices at Microsoft store did the trick - I've got OneNote installed.

I tried recording audio and making notes and I loved it. It's easy and it's provides synchronised replay. I can listen to audio and see related notes highlighted and I can jump to the relevant audio piece just by pointing to a note.

I don't know how it will behave if I jump around a page while making notes and I wonder if it would scale for a number of hour long interviews. All those things I'm going to check, but so far it's just a lot of fun of thinking what kind of interesting things I can do with it for my research.

More on: geek Microsoft TabletPC 

  Monday, July 25, 2005

  Finally getting into Flickr

beach_celtic I have Flickr account for more than a year, but somehow after initial posting of photos I didn't use it anymore. Now I'm catching up (e.g. my photos on life in and around Seattle and subset from really fun weekend at Long Beach peninsula).

Somehow so far my main reason to put photos online was for blogging them or using them as illustrations. Usually it's pretty straightforward - just drop them in one of Radio folders and then link to uploaded version.

It's easy, but I can't do it here - the folder is at my desktop in the Netherlands and I'm here. So I go for more complicated version of uploading photos into Flickr...

Wonder what will happen once I'm back...

More on: technology adoption 

  Thursday, July 21, 2005

  The end of KM Europe :(

For some time I was involved in working with others on KM Europe fringe event (also here) - it was an exciting opportunity to shape the conference in a way that adds more value. In a process I was wondering why there is no any info at www.kmeurope.com. Now I know - because of dramatic changes...

First, the conference is renamed into Knowledge, content and collaboration Europe and moved to a new domain. The focus has changed accordingly.

Second, the conference is not free anymore: it's £595 for two days (and the fringe event is expected to cost something as well).

My thoughts and questions:

The power of KM Europe was in the critical mass for networking. As the basic program was free many people who wouldn't participate otherwise were there; knowing that someone you know would be there was a reason to come as well.

It was one of the events with a pretty good mix of academics and practitioners (usually practitioners don't go to academic conferences as they wouldn't have a voice there and practitioners' events are usually too expensive for academics).

The "core" was attractive enough to participate, so doing something "on the fringe" was meaningful.

Not anymore.

Even if we find a way to make participation in the fringe event free/low-price/independent from the main registration it couldn't stay the same as we envisioned it: the "core" has changed.

Now it doesn't make sense to go to the conference to meet people - it's too much to pay just for it. Of course, there is content and main program, but to be fair I don't see how it is different from just a good (?) deal on usual Ark Group workshops.

I wonder how many people I met last two years would go there. The chances I go are extremely low: the price is too high, the content is not research-specific enough and, most important, I don't expect that people I want to see will go.

And if people I want to see are not there than the fringe event doesn't make sense as well.


And a couple of small questions:

  • How "smart" you should be to leave your old domain with an error message? Without even trying to set up a redirect?
  • There is a session on corporate weblogs and wikis in the day 2 program. I wonder who is presenting...

More: my earlier posts on KM Europe / TopicExchange KM Europe / Technorati

More on: KM Europe 

  Tuesday, July 19, 2005

  Enlightening keyboard

Would be nice to have it one day - Optimus keyboard with each key as a small display, lighted and programmable. It comes from Art. Lebedev studio. which is Russian, does a lot of cool projects and has a constitution.

It's strange to pick it up from Scoble - I used to frequent their website and learnt a lot about usability from it...

More on: fun 

  Monday, July 18, 2005

  Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

Some notes from Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2005 (you may want to check links if you are interested what is happening at Microsoft Research and in potential collaborations of all kinds).

I'm not visiting all sessions and not writing much, but the slides from each presenter are put online as soon as a session starts:

Day one (program and links to presentations)

Day two (program and links to presentations)

More on: Microsoft 

  Saturday, July 16, 2005

  GOR 2006: session on social software?

Jan Schmidt is looking for people to work out a joint session on social software:

The Call for Paper of the GOR 2006 conference (21/22.3.2006, Bielefeld, Germany) states that besides regular submissions "there will also be the opportunity to propose a group of (3-5) interrelated presentations within one session". I would like to organize a session on social software because I would like to see some presentations on topics like Weblogs (*), Wikis, Folksonomies, Social Networking Sites, ... According to Uwe Matzat, who is in charge of the program commitee, the procedure would be that I will collect three to five abstracts and submit them as a "package". The commitee will then decide on the session proposal as a whole. He also added that this would be an interesting topic to feature at GOR 06, since there has been not a lot of work in this area up to now (at least in Germany).

So this is basically a call within a call: Is anyone out there interested in presenting on a social-software-related topic at GOR 2006? I know that the topic "social software" is pretty wide right now, but at this stage I can’t really tell how many people out there are working in this field. The abstracts (~350 words) are due by September 30th, but to get a first impression I would ask you to contact me (jan.schmidt [at] split.uni-bamberg.de) until end of July if you’re generally interested in submitting a presentation. I will collect the replies and then get back to you to decide on further steps.

My two cents:

  • I'd like to contribute
  • having a wiki page(s) for preparing can make the process much easier

Update: you can add your suggestions to the wiki

More on: blog research 

  BlogWalk in Seattle: (un)conference? blogging?

We were cooking it a bit on the background, but I guess it's time: BlogWalkSeattle is planned for 2 September and I'm very glad that Nancy White joins for facilitating it.

This time the theme is (un)conference? blogging?

We are going to focus on parallels, differences and synergies between blogging and face-to-face gatherings. The topics we are likely to touch:

  • what happens when bloggers who met online, meet F2F?
  • blogging and OpenSpace - how is blogging like/unlike OpenSpace
  • blogging (and social software in general) before, during and after face-to-face events
  • backchanneling during events

As usual: you need an invitation to participate, but if you think you (or someone else) should be invited, let us know (and those people we don't know yet are especially welcome :)

More at BlogWalkSeattle.

More on: BlogWalk Seattle 

  Friday, July 15, 2005

  Life in Seattle: cooling down

Last night I had a pretty bad (customer) experience, thought of writing it up, decided to leave it till morning, was busy for the whole day and now it seems that it cooled down, so I don't feel like writing the whole story.

The bottom line is:

  • if you think you driving license serves as a valid ID in this state this may be not true - it only works for US or Canadian licenses
  • Century Ballroom is an amasing place for dancing, but you would probably appreciate as less contact as possible with the staff

The only nice thing about this whole story is that some people seem to think I'm younger than 21 :)

More on: Seattle 

  Thursday, July 14, 2005

  On being rich and famous

I'm not the first one who will be leaking this in the blogosphere – last year Jeff Maurone wrote a story about dinner at Bill Gates' house he joined together with other Microsoft interns.   

It seems to be a tradition, so I guess I'll go through more or less the same experience...

I’m thinking about what I'd ask if I get through the crowd of others who probably will be hungry for an interaction. Funny enough, what I'm really interested is not related to the technology or business, I’m wondering about the human side of being rich and famous...

...A few years back I happened to be walking in the front of the hotel which The Rolling Stones were leaving next day after the concert I enjoyed a lot. The crowd wasn't, so I decided to stay and see and may be ask a question or so. I was just in front of an open door of the minibus, where Keith Richards was hiding from the crowd. First I thought that it was a good chance, but then I saw a man who was tired and a bit sad and looking like he gave up fighting with the fame… I realized that the best thing I could do is to smile understandingly and leave him alone…

This memory came today, when I was thinking on what questions would I ask while looking at Bill Gates' house from the nice cruise boat where Microsoft Research interns were socializing… It was finally sunny – warm, blue sky, light wind – but the chairs on the beach in front of the house were empty, and I was wondering if someone ever sits there…

More on: life Microsoft 

  What do you want to know about weblogs at Microsoft?

It's nice when others think about you: Jack Vinson sent me a pointer to James Robertson's post which in turn linked to a post by Rashmi Sinha on corporate anthropology.  A small quote from it:

Anthropology focuses on the complete individual, what drives them, how they work and play, how they think.

This is more or less what I'm going to do at Microsoft: try to understand what drives Microsoft bloggers :)

I'm still not very confident how much I should write about the study I'm doing… Of course, eventually the results will be published :)

As long as my "how much should I blog" struggle continues I would like to turn it back to you: what do YOU want to know about weblogs at Microsoft? What would you do if you would be at my place – having a chance to soak in the company culture, to find out what policies say, to explore internal weblogs, to meet bloggers and be able to observe them at their workplaces and ask questions… Are there any specific people you think I should try catching for a conversation*?

I can't promise I'll answer all your quesions, but they may influence where the study goes...

And – if you are very curious what I’m doing here you can try guessing from my del.icio.us/mathemagenic/MSFT link collection (which is, btw, shows when I started to collect references for this study :)

More on: blog research Microsoft 

  Tuesday, July 12, 2005

  Culture blogging

Funny - just when I blog about life in Seattle Korby Parnell writes doing business in Amsterdam. And Liz catches me in the corridor to tell about reading both :)

Btw, Liz will be in London soon and wants to meet other bloggers...

More on: cross-cultural 

  BlogHer: booked!

It was a long time since I was wondering if I ever could make it to BlogHer conference. Those uncertainties are in the past - I booked the trip (and, to make it clear - it's sponsored by Microsoft :)

I'm very excited - not only because the program looks interesting, but mainly because I can meet people I wanted to meet for such a long time. Especially Dina and Judith :)))

In case you are still thinking - there were only 40 seats left yesterday (add at least -1 since I registered after that ;).

More on: blog event BlogHer 

  Sunday, July 10, 2005

  Life in Seattle: food, driving and salsa

I'm always curious to learn about other cultures, esecially when it goes beyond staying for a few days as a tourist. Being in Seattle gives a nice opportunity's to dive into the local culture (and I have no idea how far it represents how things are in the US in general :). So, some observations...


...I'm asking for a smallest cup of ice-cream. She looks understandingly and says that it's just 40 cents more to get a bigger one. I say I don't want a bigger one and I also don't want anything with it - no waffle, no sirop, no candies on the top. She looks dissapointed. I wonder what she thinks - that I'm trying to save 40 cents? that I'm on the diet? I feel so strange not wanting a bigger ice-cream with all stuff on it... And even this portion is too big for me...

...Microsoft lives to the expectation - sodas are free. Something unexpected is a free popcorn machine at our floor. Each time I go there it's a small struggle - sodas are not tempting, but popcorn smells nice. I know I wouldn't like it, but it smells nice...

It's not that different from what I would expect, but realising how much it's part of the culture is still a bit shocking (especially given similarities of "cultural pressure" in the story of living with bulimia by Lisa Tillmann-Healy in Composing ethnography).

Yesterday, however, I saw something different. A feast of fresh fruits and vegetables at University district farmers market: colors and tastes of what was on sale copled with and tasty cooking demo from Mandalay cafe...


Driving is pretty much different over here... It feels really easy and relaxing. Cars tend to keep lanes they are in, which gives a feeling that everyon is so polite in not jumping in front of your car. Speeds are lower. Grid-like structure of streets makes navigation much easier. And, on the top of it, I'm driving car with automatic gears that not only easier, but also eliminated that ever present stress of starting on a slope...

I guess this, together with non-pedestrian scales makes driving such big part of the culture. But another side is here as well - during rush hours I'm almost mesmerised by traffic conditions map changing colors from green to red and pressures to carpool and use of public transport...


With a couple of other Microsoft people we went for a salsa at Century ballroom yesterday night. There are a couple of things I found interesting - the number of guys who dance very well, more guys than girls and really open culture for inviting strangers. I wonder what is behind it - fashion, demographics or something else...

Anyway, that's it for now - have to do some food work for blogger potluck

More on: life Microsoft Seattle 

  Friday, July 08, 2005

  Walking on ice

You are probably wondering how does it go at Microsoft... Well, may be you should start from posts by Liz Lawley - we started on the same day and share many experiences (only my Tablet is not online yet :(

My experience is multi-layered. First, it's learning about another culture and new place. Second, it's a new company, so I'm trying to figure out how things work over here.

Finally, it's about blogging. What I find out interesting is that all those tensions between personal and corporate that I thought I knew how to deal with are coming again in a fresh way - it's three years since I keep personal blog while working for a company. Not really... I'm still figuring out what I can blog and what not...

From what I've seen so far blogging is about bending rules. Yes, it's encouraged, but if you want to stay on the safe side and follow all policies you probably wouldn't blog. Blogging is about taking risks and making your own judgement of what is not confident and how to say it. I think this judgement is culture-specific and I guess this is the root of my own problem. I don't know the culture yet, so even knowing how to be a blogger in a company I'm still trying to figure out how to be a blogger in this specific company.

I guess it's just a matter of time. I'm talking to people, diving in intranet resources and mailing lists that discuss weblogs, so I should figure it out pretty soon. But now I have this strange uneasy feeling of walking on ice and to be fair I envy Liz as she seems to do better figuring out the boundaries.

Or may be it's just because for me blogging at Microsoft is not only what I'm going to do, but also what I'm going to study - and all extra uncertainties that come with mixing those roles :)

And, finally, if you still want a bit of personal experience - I'm in an office with no windows and I hate it. The rest is exciting :)))

  Thursday, July 07, 2005

  Food and bloggers coming Sunday

Just in case someone local missed this post at Nancy's blog:

So lets have a potluck. SEATTLE! Sunday, July 10th, 3pm at my house. Bring some food and drink. We'll have the BBQ fired up, all the cups/plates/utensils handy plus a huge green salad.

Email to RSVP (I'd really appreciate that) and to get directions (nancyw AT fullcirc DOT com). Kids are welcome as Liz has kids in the 8-11 range. If things get crowded, we can walk down to the neighborhood park. If we don't have enough food, we can go to the story or pizza place. Heck, maybe someone can beercast/foodcast the event!

More on: face-to-face time 

  Wednesday, July 06, 2005

  Weblogs as mushrooms

Yesterday I joined Nancy for the videoconference on weblog communities. One of the things that came out of it is the mushroom metaphor: weblogs are like mushrooms - independent individuals on the surface, but interconnected underground.

  Monday, July 04, 2005

  Should be a good sign...

Nice encounter tonight - Rocky Raccoon running around Nancy's house (more @ Flickr). It's the first one I see 'in the wild'.

Funny enough, I brought my own raccoon (known as Enot or WasBeer) with me. He likes to travel and especially happy to discover some locals :)

Should be a good sign...

As for the rest - landed, fighting jet-lag, staying at Nancy's house till I find a place to live (rooms for rent in Seattle anyone?), curious to see 4 of July in US.

More on: life Seattle 

  Saturday, July 02, 2005


So, almost everything is packed - early tomorrow morning I'm flying to Seattle...

Next to doing interesting work I'm looking forward to meeting people, experiencing another culture in not-a-tourist mode and living next to the number of diving sites.

Back to NL 10 September. Email, IM, Skype should work unless something strange happens.

More on: life travel 

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This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

Last update: 4/10/2006; 4:02:19 PM.