Showing all posts tagged: technology

ooh.directory a blogroll and web directory in the TikTok age

31 May 2023

My thanks to Phil Gyford for listing disassociated in his web directory ooh.directory. In the early days of the web, before search engines were a thing, website owners often sought to be added to web directories, as promotional opportunities were otherwise limited.

These website lists, or catalogues, were usually broken down by category or subject, so if, say, you were seeking websites focussed on literature, the books or literature page was the place to go. I used to while away many an hour perusing web directories. Site descriptions were often concise, to say the least, and on occasion there was no telling where a link might lead. There was a certain spontaneity that came with directories and blogrolls, something perhaps lacking in today’s web.

ooh.directory is also a blogroll. Once upon a time bloggers used to list their favourite websites and blogs, usually in a sidebar of their blog. Blogrolls were preceded by link pages, which served a similar purpose. They’re not seen so often today, as their use became frowned upon by the search engines. There was a concern some websites included on blogrolls and link pages might have been paid placements, potentially giving the listed blog an unsanctioned leg up in search rankings.

Web directories and blogrolls have been making something of a comeback recently. And in a world chock full of distractions, their return couldn’t be more timely. Elegant tools for a more civilised web. In addition to ooh.directory, there’s also the excellent feedle, the actual Blogroll, and FeedLand.

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Blog publishing application WordPress has turned twenty

29 May 2023

When I re-launched disassociated as a blog in 2007, being one of many reboots this website has been subject to since 1997, I migrated to blog publishing application WordPress (WP). Prior to that, all pages here were laboriously hand coded. Hand coding was a hangover from my web design days, and my distaste for WYSIWYG website editors. My beef, at the time, with many of these webpage builders was the way they worked. Best practice, and standards, were an alien concept to them, to say nothing of the extraneous code they generated.

One, that shall remain nameless, created rollover code for text hyperlinks using JavaScript. JavaScript. This despite the web being well into the age of CSS generated rollover code by that stage. Come 2007 though, apps like WP were the way to go. Other bloggers I was speaking to then told me WP, or similar such CMSs, would save a bundle of time, and allow me to go about my disassociated way. I’m sure glad I listened to them. “WP is working for me, even while I sleep,” one counterpart said.

I was sold. By that stage WP had been around for about four years, but was still regarded as being relatively new. It was enough to make me feel as if I were some sort of (sort of) pioneer. But WP frustrated the hell out of some people. Many felt WP’s core capabilities were lacking, necessitating an over dependence on plugins — small apps that add, or extend to, WP’s functionality — to bring about the website, or blog, they desired. Ben Barden, a developer and blogger, once created his own CMS, back in the day, named Injader, for this reason.

But I’ve always strived to keep the backend as simple as the front. My use of plugins is as minimal as the interface design. All I want to do is write and post content. But here we are in 2023. disassociated, still styled (mostly) with a lowercase d, which first came into being in 1997 (not as a blog, the term was yet to be coined), is, despite stops and starts, still publishing. And this week WP is twenty years old. So, happy birthday WordPress, and thanks for being here. I’m looking forward to your thirtieth, which will really be something if disassociated is still doing its thing.

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Australian authors, illustrators say generative AI is a threat

22 May 2023

A recent poll of just over two hundred Australian Society of Authors (ASA) members reveals local authors and illustrators are concerned generative AI technologies pose a threat to their livelihoods. This despite about twenty percent of poll participants stating they made use of AI tools — if only partially — in their work.

The survey results demonstrate that while a small minority of authors are using AI tools as part of their writing and illustrating process, there is overwhelming concern about the threat generative AI poses to already precarious writing and illustrating professions.

While it seems certain authors will more fully embrace tools such as ChatGPT to help brainstorm, edit, and correct work, most ASA members feel the part AI technologies play in the writing of a book should be publicly divulged.

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Converting empty offices to housing to reduce homelessness?

7 May 2023

When people started working from home during the COVID pandemic, large numbers of office buildings fell vacant, and many remain that way. So why not convert these once commercial spaces into residential accommodation, and put a roof over the head of homeless people?

At first glance the idea makes sense:

Proponents argue that increasing housing in urban centres through office-to-residential conversions also supports the 15-minute city model, where many of your daily needs are just a short walk or bike ride from home. The model promotes community-building and healthy living, boosts local economies and reduces transport emissions, helping ensure there is cleaner air and a more sustainable planet.

Problems abound though. Repurposing office blocks into housing comes at cost, and some buildings are not always suitable for conversion into residential accommodation. It’s an unfortunate dilemma. On one hand, buildings sit empty, while on the other, there are people without a place to call home.

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Australian Glenn Homann wins 2022 mobile photography award

14 April 2023

Brisbane based Australian photographer Glenn Homann has been named the 2022 Grand Prize winner in the twelfth annual Mobile Photography Awards, with a portrait titled “Old Mate”.

Glenn Homann’s mobile photography is remarkable on so many levels. He takes us with him through a broad sweep of genres with particular mastery of light & shape, character & narrative. From landscapes to architecture, portraits & street photography, Glenn repeatedly locates the visual ephemera at the intersection of geometry & color.

Before I actually read who the winner was, I speculated they might be Australian, after spotting the photo title, old mate.

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Book Depository to close for orders on 26 April 2023

8 April 2023

Online bookseller Book Depository says it will shut up shop in late April 2023. Established in the United Kingdom in 2004 by Stuart Felton, and Andrew Crawford — a former Amazon employee — the company went on to be bought by Amazon in 2011.

The news comes as a blow to book buyers across the world:

Thousands of Book Depository customers, including bestselling authors, reacted with sadness over the announcement. “Sad to hear the news. A huge loss for all of us,” New Zealand-based author and poet Lang Leav tweeted. “My heart breaks,” another Twitter user said.

Not everyone is upset by the announcement however, according to Dan Slevin of New Zealand bookshop association Booksellers NZ. He says local sellers struggled to compete with Book Depository, who didn’t levy GST — a consumption tax — on sales, as they were not based in New Zealand, and also offered free delivery on purchases.

Dan Slevin, chief executive of Booksellers NZ, said there were “metaphorical champagne corks popping in bookshops all over New Zealand”.

I detected similar sentiments in Australia being expressed on Twitter. Book buyers are unhappy, but local booksellers not so much. Possibly some delivery services in Australia may also be rejoicing, if some of the tweets I saw are anything to go by.

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If you wrote a book with ChatGPT, you did not write a book

24 February 2023

If ChatGPT wrote a book for you, can you really claim to have written said book yourself, asks American author Emily Temple, writing at Literary Hub:

Would-be author Brett Schickler told Reuters that after he learned about ChatGPT — which can instantly generate cogent blocks of text from any prompt — he “figured an opportunity had landed in his lap.” “The idea of writing a book finally seemed possible,” he explained. “I thought ‘I can do this.”’ In “a matter of hours,” he had prompted the AI software — using inputs like “write a story about a dad teaching his son about financial literacy” — to create a 30-page children’s e-book about a squirrel who learns to save his money. Well, hate to break it to you, buddy, but… you still haven’t written a book.

Writers are using the AI chatbot to assist with research (be sure to verify what ChatGPT tells you though) and maybe some passages of text. But if you’re going to spend your days constantly prompting ChatGPT for exactly what you want, why not do it yourself?

And while AI technologies might “write” a book for you in a matter of days, can it publish the work just as quickly? Not at the moment it can’t. You’ll still be waiting months, or more, to see your work on the shelves in bookshops.

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ChatGPT must connect with people to succeed as an artist

24 February 2023

To make good art argues Billy Oppenheimer, writing for Every, the art creator must have a connection of some sort to people.

As an example, he cites the writers of the old Seinfeld TV sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who, in the early days of the show, would go out and discreetly mix where people gathered, to figure out what they liked.

Their process played a part in the creation of the show’s many memorable screenplays. This is an advantage ChatGPT lacks. For the AI chatbot to succeed as an “artist”, it needs a more direct attachment to its audience.

Artists who get so famous that they can’t go out in public talk about how not being able to do so makes it hard to create art that connects. To come up with material for Seinfeld, for instance, Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David liked to hang out in public settings where they could observe and eavesdrop on strangers. As the show became a cultural phenomenon, Seinfeld and David couldn’t go out in public like they used to. Strangers didn’t act like strangers around them. This slow detachment from humanity made it harder to make a show that connected with humanity. When you don’t experience reality like most people do, it’s hard to make things that connect with most people.

Of course there’s no telling what people will go for, so a ChatGPT created work of art may still end up being riotously popular.

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Microsoft launches web AI copilot, but you must fly with Edge

8 February 2023

Microsoft today announced the launch of a turbo-charged version of its Bing search engine. In short, it promises to everything ChatGPT can do, and more. And on paper, at least, it sounds impressive:

We’ve updated the Edge browser with new AI capabilities and a new look, and we’ve added two new functionalities: Chat and compose. With the Edge Sidebar, you can ask for a summary of a lengthy financial report to get the key takeaways — and then use the chat function to ask for a comparison to a competing company’s financials and automatically put it in a table. You can also ask Edge to help you compose content, such as a LinkedIn post, by giving it a few prompts to get you started. After that, you can ask it to help you update the tone, format and length of the post. Edge can understand the web page you’re on and adapts accordingly.

But you’ll need to use Edge, the browser Microsoft has been relentless foisting onto Windows users, for the copilot to function. A cunning way if ever there was one to boost market share of the Edge browser. Now did someone at Microsoft think of coupling the AI powered version of Bing with Edge, or did ChatGPT make that suggestion?

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ChatGPT is the fastest growing consumer application ever

4 February 2023

Krystal Hu, writing for Reuters:

“In 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app,” UBS analysts wrote in the note. It took TikTok about nine months after its global launch to reach 100 million users and Instagram 2-1/2 years, according to data from Sensor Tower.

ChatGPT is going to change the world, and everyone wants a piece of the action.

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