Archive: May 25th, 2009

Wired for sound

The newest episode of has the highlights from one of their occasional live events. This one revolves around the deliberately contentious premise of television vs. radio.

AV Smackdown … The Podcast on Huffduffer

Seeing as Huffduffer is all about audio rather than video, you can probably guess that I’ve got a soft spot for radio. Not that I have anything against the moving image; it’s just that television, film and video demand more from your senses. Lend me your ears! and your eyes. With your ears and eyes engaged, it’s pretty hard to do much else. So the default position for enjoying television is sitting down.

A purely audio channel demands only aural attention. That means that radio—and be extension, podcasts—can be enjoyed at the same time as other actions; walking around, working out at the gym. Perhaps it’s this symbiotic, rather than parasitic, arrangement that I find engaging.

Neal Stephenson draws a distinction between vegging out and geeking out:

To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal — and to have a good time doing it. To veg out, by contrast, means to enter a passive state and allow sounds and images to wash over you without troubling yourself too much about what it all means.

He expanded on this distinction in a talk at Gresham College on Science Fiction versus Mundane Culture.

The Fork: Science Fiction versus Mundane Culture on Huffduffer

I enjoy vegging out in front of the television. I enjoy geeking out with podcasts.

Locationeering

We have some new location-centric toys to play with. Let the hacking commence.

Flickr has released its shapefiles dataset for free (as in beer, as in it would be nice if you mentioned where you got the free beer). These shapefiles are bounding boxes that have been generated by the action of humans correcting suggested place names for geotagged photos. Tom put this data to good use with his neighbourhood boundaries app.

Speaking of excellent location-driven creations by Tom, be sure to check out ; a little OS X app that updates your FireEagle location every five minutes by triangulating your position with Skyhook.

Meanwhile, in another part of Yahoo, has been released in Beta form. It looks very nifty indeed. Pass it some human-readable text and it will try to figure out what physical locations are mentioned in the text. You can help it along by using structured data like the and microformats, but it seems to be pretty good at natural language parsing. Christian has put together some good examples to illustrate his JavaScript Placemaker/YQL mashup.

Slowly but surely we’re heading towards a future where everything is geotagged.

Tom Taylor : Projects : Clarke

A sweet little Skyhook/FireEagle desktop app from Tom. It updates your FireEagle location every five minutes by pinging Skyhook's API to triangulate your position. A small piece, loosely joining two small pieces.