Monthly Archives: May 2004

Socialtext and Wiki in Business Week

The Business week article on wiki is positive on the technology.

To capitalize on the opportunity, startups such as Socialtext Inc. are selling wiki software. Ultimately, though, it’s likely that wikis will be pulled into collaboration software such as IBM’s (IBM ) Lotus Workplace. Like open-source software, wikis may make their biggest mark less as a business than as a potent force for change — in this case, in the way people work.

Nowhere is that potential more apparent than in today’s far-flung, time-pressed corporate teams. Aaron Burcell, director of marketing for e-mail software startup Stata Laboratories Inc., says working on a wiki has cut the daily phone calls he made on a raft of projects to one a week. It also has allowed Stata to outsource more work, such as engineering, to India. Says Burcell: “I could justify the cost of the wiki just from the lower teleconferencing bills.”


The Coffee House Internet, Tom Standage, The Economist

Tom Standage, author of The Victorian Internet (on the telegraph networks of that era), has an article from last winter in the Economist on coffee houses of the 17th and 18th centuries serving the role of the Internet of today, for fueling knowledge exchange and the free flow of commerce and rumor. His irregularly-updated home page hints at a book on the topic.

Another book by Standage is on The Turk, a chess-playing “robot” – see this review of The Turk in the Guardian.

All in all very good writing on the history of technology.

Yooper alumni site –

I recently joined the website. The site is a free service to alumni of all Upper Michigan high schools and provides a way for Yoopers to stay in touch with each other. The site was developed by Yoopers and for Yoopers and is organized by school, with a page for each graduating class.

If you go to your class, you will find a list of class members who have already joined and sometimes a list of all class members, class reunion information, and pictures. There are already over 4,000 people registered on the site.

Please have a look and consider joining and then pass on the word to your friends.

Stevens Coop fire, Ann Arbor

The A. K. Stevens Cooperative House (part of the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan) burned to the ground the other night. Other bloggers have better coverage, especially Murph’s Common Monkeyflower blog’s section on the ICC. All that remains of the house are its rainbow porch steps and round porch floor. Damage estimate is $200,000 (a total loss).

I lived across the street from Stevens when I was in the co-ops at Michigan, at Joint House, and several Stevens folks were boarders at our house. (They got to put up with my expert vegetable-chopping on Sunday nights.) Stevens was always a bit more polite and well-mannered than Joint, and their house was, well, pretty.

I’m hoping the ICC decides to re-build on the spot – it’s a great location.

(As an aside, I wish the ICC’s web site was more informative – this would be a great place to have a link for donations for an ICC building fund to raise money to rebuild, but I don’t see one. When I do find details I’ll link.)

More links:

A news report from the Michigan Indymedia Center:

“The GOP Deploys”, American Prospect

<a href=""The GOP Deploys is an American Prospect article by Garance Franke-Ruta and Harold Meyerson on the on-the-ground techniques of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

As with everything about the Bush presidency, its re-election campaign seems to exist at two levels. There’s the public campaign, in which a moderate, visionary president comes up with inclusionary programs — pro-Mars, pro-Mexican — to broaden his base of support. And there are the more niche campaigns, hidden in the shadows, in which the campaign stirs its right-wing supporters to action by appealing to their baser instincts. There are impressive efforts to register and turn out millions of new voters. And there’s evidence of national Republican efforts to perfect longstanding voter-intimidation programs directed at blacks and Hispanics.

For more information about voter-intimidation programs on a local Washtenaw County scale, there’s this notice from State Sen. Liz Brater:

State Senator Liz Brater would like to do something about this. She has
started Washtenaw Action for Voter Empowerment (WAVE), an independent
committee to fund voter registration, voter turnout, and voter protection
activities. The goal is to increase voter participation this November.

Ann Arbor wireless LANs (aawlan)

I’ve written here before on the plethora of wireless networking opportunities in local cafes here. (A new one just opened up, Starbucks on Main St., which rates high on the “open late” (til midnight) and “nice windows” scale, but has expensive T-Mobile internet access. Espresso Royale Caffe also on Main St. has responded to the intruder in their midst with $2 lattes all week and free wireless. Ah, competition.

There’s a modestly active mailing list on Yahoo Groups, aawlan, with the local back and forth on the wireless scene and occasional tech help. The airwaves are getting crowded in some neighborhoods – Jim Rees reports that from his back yard he can see 6 APs and is having a hard time picking up a free channel.

More notes on the mailing list or the aawlan socialspace page on my wiki.


The Vacuum weblog is at It’s hosted on Typepad. Previously it was maintained with Blogger, and before that it was maintained by hand in vi. I’ve kept all of the old copies around.

Originally the intent was to look just like my quadrille notebooks. At various times it’s come closer to that, but the notebooks keep shifting in page layout faster than I can keep the weblog templates handy, and besides there are things like comments that don’t show up in the single-writer paper format.

More on the colophon on my colophon page on my new Socialtext “socialspace” wiki.