Art and Technology: Seven on Seven

I’m honored and excited to be participating in Rhizome’s new conference Seven on Seven, where technologists and artists are paired up to create a completely new project in 24-hours.

The formal description:

Seven on Seven will pair seven leading artists with seven game-changing technologists in teams of two, and challenge them to develop something new –be it an application, social media, artwork, product, or whatever they imagine– over the course of a single day. The seven teams will unveil their ideas at a one-day event at the New Museum on April 17th.

I really love this idea because the time constraints and the inherent discomfort of the situation (working in an unfamiliar space with an unfamiliar person) makes it likely that we’ll be able to accomplish something creative and unexpected. Or else it will go completely awry, which will still be amusing for the audience.

I’ve had a lot of fun and been able to work on some interesting projects at hackathons in the past, and I hope this one will be even better.

The event has been covered by an amazing assortment of blogs, including TechCrunch, BoingBoing, Art Fag City, Stowe Boyd and Andrew Parker.


Conference: Search and Social Media 2010

I recently attended the Third Annual Workshop on Search and Social Media, an academic workshop with very strong industry participation. The workshop was packed, and had some of the most informative and interesting panel discussions I’ve seen (not counting the one I spoke on!).

Daniel Tunkelang did a great job of writing up the specific presentations on his site and on the ACM blog, so I won’t attempt to re-create the presentations line by line at this late date. Rather, I’d like to highlight a few open problems and research questions that came out of the discussions that I hope to see developed in the next year.

Social search consists of a set of problems including (but hardly limited to) search of social content like status updates, real-time search, generating, labeling, and finding user-generated content, ‘long-tail’ events and interests, finding vs re-finding, and trend identification.

What data is available to social search? There are many kinds of social data, from e-mail (private) to blogs (public) and tweets (mostly public) — what is and should be searchable? How do we handle issues of privacy and identity management?

How do we compute relevance, taking into account freshness, accuracy, and degrees of social separation?

Will the architecture of these search engines look like the search engines we’re currently familiar with?

How do we evaluate accuracy and truthiness of social data?

How do we characterize social connections, around concepts like strong vs weak ties, and friend-of-a-friend vs friend-of-a-friend’s-friend? Can we converge on a single social graph representation?

How do we best filter social data to lead to accurate recommendations for content discovery? How do we accommodate the fact that as we move beyond static factual data, two people using the same query may be looking for very different results?

Finally, how do we deal with the chasm between the industry participants (who have LOTS of data) and the academic participants, who suffer from a lack of public (and publishable) data?

Thanks again to the organizers – Eugene Agichtein, Marti Hearst, Ian Soboroff, and Daniel Tunkelang – who put together a fantastic event.

For more on this and a cool demo, check out Gene Golovchinsky‘s look at the SSM2010 twitter coverage.


IgniteNYC: How to Replace Yourself with a Very Small Shell Script

me glowing at ignite I recently gave a talk at IgniteNYC on How to Replace Yourself with a Very Small Shell Script.

The Ignite events are a fun blend of performance, technology, and speaking skill. Each presenter gives a five minute talk with twenty slides that auto-advance after 15 seconds.

The title of my talk is a classic geek reference (you can get the t-shirt). I’m very interested in developing automated techniques for handling the massive and growing amounts of information that we all have to deal with. I started with e-mail and twitter, both of which are easy to access programmatically (via IMAP and the Twitter API).

In the talk, I went through several of the simple and successful e-mail management scripts that I’ve developed.

I decided to talk about this project because I’m not sure where this should go next, but I got some great feedback and I’m looking forward to future work on the project!

The slides are below, and the full talk will be online soon.