Random Graph Generator

July 1, 2010

Random Graph: girls / people

I thought it would be kind of fun to create a random graph, using words from Twitter. So! Just head on over to:


and you’ll see a new random graph every hour (well, if you refresh the page every hour)! Please be warned: I don’t filter for swear words or other potentially nasty words. Also: it relies on the Twitter API, so there’s a chance it might break every so often…

The Boundless Wolf Theorem

June 27, 2010

wolf, moleskine, sharpie

The Boundless Wolf theorem states that if you give a wolf a Moleskine and a Sharpie it will eventually recreate Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man.

(Source Image: Gray Wolf on Flickr)

The Most Popular Government In The World

June 26, 2010

Imagine a government that hasn’t updated its laws for thousands of years. That, in its manifesto, tells you it’s illegal to vote for another party. The same manifesto is so bizarre that party members have to explain which parts you should pay attention to, and which should be ignored.

This government only provides pensions for people who vote for it. There’s no accountability: if something great happens to you it might very well be their doing, but the bad stuff is not their responsibility. Have a problem with that? Tough – the president will appear to listen to everything you have to say, but will never reply. Even so, you’re expected to formally and publically thank him at least once a week.

Let’s hope that this unaccountable, totalitarian dictatorship never happens.

Am I a Content Curator? A Content Surgeon? A Quontent Physicist?

June 22, 2010

Photo of old arcade machines in San Blas, Mexico

I thought I’d take the ‘content curator’ discussion to the extreme by adding yet more noise, in the shape of lowest-form-of-wit: sarcasm. Here are some new definitions for you to start using.

  • Content Physicist. Someone who understands how content moves through the environment of the web, and can extract rules/laws about how it does so (The Law of Conservation of Energy: the energy required to read bad content is the square of the energy used to write it). For very small items of content, like Twitter, you may use Quontent Physicist.
  • Content Surgeon. Someone who fixes errors in content (cf. Editor).
  • Content Accountant. Someone who accounts for content (cf. performing an audit).
  • Content Chemist. Someone who studies the material composition of content (cf. HTML coder, SEO consultant).
  • Content Pharmacist. Someone who provides you with content to resolve your problems (cf. Search engine)

P.S. This was prompted by a blog post by Kristina Halvorson, who I admire greatly. My original comment on her piece was (I ‘curated’ this from the original blog post):

Having worked closely with the museum and gallery sector for 10 years, I have to say that I find the term ‘curator’ both naive and insulting.

A curator does more than filtering, or even ‘filtering with a theme’, or editing, or whatever the new ‘curation’ is. As I said in a tweet yesterday, one of the main differentiating factors for me is that a ‘real’ curator *cares for* (not ‘cares about’) their collection. It’s not a ephemeral ‘choose it, post it, next one’ relationship, which so many of the modern ‘curators’ seem to do.

A museum/gallery curator has a long-term duty of care over their collection; it’s not about constantly looking for the next acquisition, looking to get the next set of ‘curated’ information out. Of course, curation is a whole lot more (including training, outreach, documentation, research), but to simplify the matter I like to use this ‘care for’ topic.

I’m all for language changing and evolving – I’m with Stephen Fry on that. Language isn’t sacred, we should be pleased to see new ways of using old words. But a curator is something specific. Like the ‘citizen journalism’ of old, it can be a degrading term to the professionals who have spent years training to be a real curator/journalist, and understands all the nuances of the job.

If we want to be playful with words, can we perhaps not choose a different word that doesn’t hold such specific meaning in the first place? I guess we don’t have a choice now – the internet meme gods have spoken – but just thought I’d register my discomfort with it! (Though, if it does ‘stick’, I reserve the right to start using it in blog posts for SEO purposes!) 🙂

Kristina replied saying that she likes the term because it, “puts the onus of the ongoing care and feeding of content on the person who’s publishing the posts”, to which I replied:

I (respectfully) disagree.

The modern use of the word ‘curator’ is applied to those who filter/select/edit/aggregate/choose/collect/whatever-but-not-curate content, not the content owners. That’s going to be a very difficult thing to change. Web apps are now beginning to use the labeling ‘Curated by’ and ‘Curator’ in their text, in the context of people who can easily select and re-publish *others’* content (see: Pinterest).

These people cannot be – and, anecdotally, have no intention of being – owners of or responsible for the original content. ‘Curators’ are the middle-men, the filters.

We can’t now change who ‘curator’ refers to. Few people think that the original content owner/creator is the ‘curator’. So by perpetuating this term, are we not confusing the situation? If the ‘curator’ is, in the traditional sense, the person who ‘cares for’ the lifecycle of the content, yet the term is referring to someone who has neither the technology nor the ownership nor the inclination to do so, we aren’t putting the onus on anyone. We are just muddying the waters with mixed terms and definitions.


PPS The photo above is totally random, just something from our current location in San Blas, Mexico.

Tumblr vs WordPress SEO, Revisited: The Aftermath

June 15, 2010

Some evidence that supports superior SEO in WordPress to Tumblr

Almost four weeks ago, I switched my personal blog (this very one) from Tumblr to WordPress, because I didn’t think Tumblr was particularly versatile or good for SEO.

The graph above shows my search engine referrer numbers, by the week. I realise this isn’t a huge amount of evidence yet, but it would seem to suggest that WordPress has the upper hand with SEO.

Now, some of you may say, “But! You’ve posted more content since then!“, and that is a good point. Even so, when I transferred my content from Tumblr to WordPress, I actually reduced the amount of content by at least 20 posts: a large number of audio/image posts didn’t come across, including my previous top SEO-referrer post on sitting/standing data (there were problems with the import, and to be honest, I didn’t think the content was particularly worth spending a lot of time recovering). So it should have all evened out.

Disclaimer, and to reiterate from my previous post: I don’t dislike Tumblr, and don’t think that advanced SEO is particularly important to everyone – certainly not most people who keep tumblogs on Tumblr. I’m not advocating that everyone should switch from Tumblr to WordPress. It’s just a move that suits me better.