Thought Overflow…Golda’s BlogIf memes are like genes, then having a conversation in which you share ideas and come up with new ones is like…?

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I am not the snapchat type. I prefer books, code, and UIs that let me drive, think about what I’m doing, and build things over time. But with two of my kids off to college and Snapchat their preferred method of communication, I’m snapchatting.

What strikes me about the app, is the emotional bang for the buck it provides. Low overhead – down in the tenth-of-a-second range – as well as nothing to organize later, nothing to store, and no definite expectation of response makes the ‘cost’ of using the app in terms of time, effort and responsibility almost zero. The gratification of getting a snap unexpectedly (usually they seem not to be part of an ongoing conversation) or of seeing that one of your friends or family has viewed or saved your snap is fairly high, especially when its a photo of a distant family member.

Spontaneity is another plus. Silliness is encouraged both by the app itself (filters, face swaps, etc) and by the sense of impermanence. One might hesitate to post a dog-whiskered, clown-nosed version of oneself to a online photo album, but the sense that this is like a voice conversation that will disappear, encourages fun and a sense of intimacy. Its a bit like being with the person, but only for a brief moment.

So I can appreciate these features, and I like snapchat for what it is. It leaves me wanting, though, because I want to build a deeper and more complex structure than this sort of moment allows. I want conversation, work, memories, feedback, and the sense of creating something together.

Perhaps if Snapchat can capture the feeling of a fun, shallow conversation, another app can better enable the fun of working creatively together. I would love to be able to save things to long term threads that I am working on with distant friends and family, to work on projects and pick up on them at any moment exactly where I left them off, and have my context snap back into place, and find the feedback that others may have left on ideas or bits of work I left waiting for them. And I’d love to be surprised with a response to a thread I left dangling a month ago, that moves a loved but dustbin’d project forward a step.

I can wish, can’t i?

0 area51

Golda to RandomWrites, TechStuff  

I’ve been using StackOverflow for years as a programmer, and never before scrolled to the bottom to see the whole community of sites. Not only is there stackoverflow for plumbers and scifi/fantasy buffs, but http://area51.stackexchange.com/ lets you join or start a community of experts for a new stackoverflow site.

Its interesting that its not just platform software anyone can use, but that the community/reputation/expert factor is an intrinsic part of the thing. Its not just the software, apparently.

Just found P2PU – Peer to Peer University – on a list at reddit of online learning resources

This looks really cool. The ones I’m most excited about so far are

BOINC for citizen scientists

tools for content curation

0 My Friend Radio

Golda to RandomWrites, TechStuff  

‘listen to what joe is listening to/last listened to’

ah – this does exist, I didn’t know if it did; on last.fm you can listen to any other user’s library radio. Too bad most of my friends don’t use last.fm.

Actually, it doesn’t work that well – it seems to try to load the entire library before it starts playing any one song.

Second things first: Google Plus is too all-encompassing and controlling. I can’t get a feed to publish elsewhere, or hack at, or stream, or store as text. Anything I write there lives ONLY in Google Plus, it seems, and can be taken out only manually.

And I’m not sure I want to write primarily for my friends. If I wanted to tell my friends something, I’d send them an email. If I have an idea to share, it seems cleaner in some way to publish it anonymously – or at least without notifying my friends – so that it stands on its own merits, and the reaction to it is not muddled up with relationships and niceness. Besides, if the writing is both honest and personal, it may relate to people my friends know or would recognize, and that is the last thing I would want. Unavoidable, perhaps, but not desireable.

Postscript: Google Plus may open itself up when the API is launched: http://www.readwriteweb.com/hack/2011/06/google-plus-puts-out-a-call-for-developers.php

I’ve been wanting to start this site for years, finally doing it. Its not themed yet, but a bit of content is there: bTeaching.com – everyday ideas for learning and teaching. The idea is to capture teaching ideas, large and small, and relate them to subjects, age groups, philosophies, etc. Its not as formal as lessonplanet, the ideas can be informal descriptions of games you can play in the car as well as more detailed teacher-style plans. Its intended as a resource for parents, teachers and older kids, but not as a fully fledged curriculum source.

Check it out, and feel free to add ideas!

I despise typeahead options. In conversation with a friend, it would drive most people crazy if their friend kept finishing their sentences for them, or worse providing them with options! Yet we program computers to do this to us. Nothing disrupts my train of thought worse than suddenly being reminded of the last seven things I was doing when I typed the same letters. Today I had a question for a friend. As soon as I type the word ‘question’, gmail suggests all sorts of questions I could ask her that I’ve asked other people in the past – none of which has anything to do with the email I wish to write! And yes, I do turn off typeahead in all my desktop applications but cannot in otherwise highly useful web apps such as gmail. Ah well – at least we can still rant.

Check out http://tucson.devcoop.org, where me and a few friends are kicking off a new group of indie developers who get together to check out each other’s stuff. I like having collaborators but can’t stand meetings, so this is an ‘unmeeting’ – bring your laptop and plan to get a bit of stuff done while there. We’ll have a short presentation too: Dave Parizek will talk about Google App Engine. I don’t know anything about it myself but it sounds cool.

Oh – and the (un)meeting? Wed Jan 27 at Himmel Library @ 6:30 PM.

“I’ve learned that big projects have three stages: fantasy, dream and plan. The fantasy stage is all in your head, obviously, but eventually you decide you’re ready to get a little bit more real. The dream stage is where you actually start thinking about the project in practical terms. After the dream you start planning and doing, and that’s when reality strikes. You never succeed in fulfilling a fantasy, almost by definition, because its’s just a fantasy. But the fantasy is what catches the imagination and provides motivation.” — Ugo Conti, in an interview by Todd Lappin for MAKE Magazine.