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A New Kind of Search

Last Friday night I thought I would check out the soft release of Wolfram Alpha.  I was greeted with the following:


So they were running into some load issues, but then again they’re not your traditional search engine.  Wolfram Research is the software company behind Mathematica.  Mathematica is to a mathematician as the utility belt is to batman.  Suffice it to say, it’s pretty amazing software.  It came as somewhat of a surprise that the company was launching a search engine.  They are quick to denounce themselves as a Google replacement.  Search results in Alpha present more thoughtful and curated responses — if it knows what you’re asking.

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Recapping Museums and the Web 2009

I thought I would follow up Ed’s MW2009 preview with an after the fact look at the online remnants of the conference.

Brooklyn Museum flat out swept the Best of the Web awards and their main website won the overall award.  A huge congratulations from all of us at the IMA for a well-deserved recognition. (Be sure to watch their virtual thank you.)  As if that weren’t enough, I totally missed the news that Brooklyn released an API for their collection.  Even better, someone has already created an iPhone app for them using it.  Open developer access to the IMA’s collection just got a huge bump in priority for me.

We had a great meetup with some of the tech staff of NYPL.  Their group is of a scale and quality that we are quite envious of.  We are greatly looking forward to future collaborations with them. (They’re an ArtBabble partner.)

In the presentation realm the IMA had a cloud computing talk, an evaluation of online video for museums, a solicitation for feedback for the Steve in Action IMLS grant, and an ArtBabble demo.  Other favorites from outside the IMA include alternate reality games, a galaxy of pop stars, and a massive update coming soon to ArtsConnectEd.

Our own Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO gave the opening keynote which you can watch in full on ArtBabble or at the bottom of this post.  It even inspired a great series on transparency for the Museums and the Web conference itself.


Watch out. Here comes the real-time web.

A snapshot from Pepsi's real-time keyword swarm from SXSW.

A snapshot from Pepsi's real-time keyword swarm from SXSW

Take half of Twitter’s activity base, bring them together and you have SXSW.  This group of people are just some of the many that are driving what we will all know as the real-time web.  To the left you can see a screen shot I took this morning from a real-time keyword swarm driven by Twitter and SXSW attendees (compliments of Phil’s Pharmacy).

Twitter has been the source of many of these popups.  You can find a real-time evolving tag cloud of what’s popular right now, or if you are a finance junkie like me, get bleeding edge news and opinion on every stock in your portfolio.  Real-time updates on the real-time web anyone?  Finally, bring them all together on your desktop with TweetDeck.


Bringing it all together with TweetDeck

Facebook has jumped on the boat as well with the recent updates to user’s profile pages.  The emphasis has moved solely to the latest updates from your friends. Video sharing site has pushed the envelope by offering free streaming of live video to anyone.

Facebook's recent changes to promote real-time activity

Facebook's recent changes to promote real-time activity

Internet users are being groomed to have an expectation of receiving information as it is generated.  In an age where e-mail is the new snail mail, could a start-up with a decent semantics engine make Reuters tremble?


ArtBabble Invites: Spreading the Love

ArtBabble officially launched in the IMA Davis LAB one month ago today.  We have been attentively watching the invites that have been sent and accepted since that time.  To date, almost exactly one out of every three invites has been accepted.  Without a baseline it’s hard to say whether this is good or bad, but hey… we’ll take it.  A few days ago, Daniel posted a chart showing the number of new users per day on ArtBabble.  I would like to share some visualizations of the invites as of this morning.


You can click on any of the graphs to get a larger view.  The points in the graph are all ArtBabble users.  The lines between the points represent an invite that was sent.  The top point in this graph represents a fake user, “ArtBabble”, that has “invited” all the first tier of users.  The blue lines represent these pseudo-invites.  The red lines represent an invite that was sent and has not yet been accepted.  Finally, the green lines represent an invite that was sent and accepted.  This graph also lets us easily see that the longest invite chain included six people.

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The Art of the Easter Egg

I’m a software developer, so obviously I am talking about the ancient practice of embedding hidden features into software.  Even the left-brained need a creative outlet of some form.  I thought I would share a few of the software easter eggs that I know and enjoy.

Type 'about:robots' into Mozilla Firefox

Type 'about:robots' into Mozilla Firefox

  • An excerpt of the book of Mozilla.
Type 'about:mozilla' into Mozilla Firefox

Type 'about:mozilla' into Mozilla Firefox


About Charlie

Job Title: Director of IMA Lab

Interests: Anything outdoors (golf, fishing, etc.)

Favorite Movies: Maverick, Lord of the Rings III

Favorite Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bare Naked Ladies, anything of the alternative variety

Favorite Food: Did it moo?

Pets: a dog named Sadie and an ungrateful cat

Something you should know about me: I have a habit of clinging to a single habit only to move on to another habit thereafter

Charles has written 20 articles for us.