Diversity RDF W3C

The intent speaks louder than words

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I was thinking about taking a shot at writing my own use case or use cases for RDFa in HTML5 until I spotted the recent entry at Last Week in HTML. The site posts an excerpt from an IRC discussion related to the ongoing exchange about RDFa and HTML5.

* hsivonen is surprised to see Shelley Powers use a pharse like ” most pedantic specification ever derived by man”
hsivonen: (the “by man” part)

annevk: hsivonen, what is special about that part?

hsivonen: annevk: she has a history of pointing out sexism, and expressions like “by man” where ‘man’ means humans in general are generally frowned upon by English-language feminists

annevk: oh, didn’t know that

Rather than respond to any of the arguments and concerns expressed in several comments at Sam’s, or my own long writings on the issue of RDFa and HTML5, the only part of my writing that’s mentioned or referenced in this ongoing discussion is the fact that I used the generic “Man”, to represent humankind.

Actually most English-language feminists aren’t necessarily uptight about the use of “Man” when used in the generic sense, such as in the common phrase, “known to Man”. Or, at a minimum, the use of this common phrase isn’t one of our more pressing concerns. We’re more uptight about our work, writings, and opinions being undermined via the use of irrelevancies. To the true feminist, intent means more than words.

So, to return to the use case: I could spend a considerable amount of time trying to recap the issues related to Qnames and CURIEs, technical concerns versus biases, and generate a longer, thoughtful use case, but unless I use a Word in it, or perhaps a humorous misspelling or funny use of grammar, the work would most likely be disregarded.


My Kindle 1.0

Alas, my Kindle 1.0 is now old school with the release of the Kindle 2.0. I am not disappointed, though. I never was one to worry about the style of the Kindle, the refresh rate is fine with me, and I have an 8GB SD card, which blows away the 2GB built-in memory in the Kindle 2.0.

I would like the better resolution, and the 16 shade of gray, and the slightly larger screen, but I don’t read books with many figures, and I never use my Kindle for web surfing, so I don’t feel terribly deprived. I have a modified cover that protects my Kindle, and allows me to read it comfortably without accidentally hitting buttons. But then, I can also walk and chew gum at the same time, too. I’m talented that way.

My Kindle 1.0 isn’t sexy. OK. I can live with this. I’m not sexy, either. I live in Missouri. Sexy in Missouri means something slathered in barbeque sauce.

I drive a 2002 Ford Focus, which I think is sexy, but looks like a soap bubble on wheels. All my laptops are 3+ years old, which isn’t sexy. I still find Twitter to be awkward, which is definitely not a sexy attitude. I have a calendar with cute cat pictures on my wall, don’t have a single credit card, cellphone, or frequent flier mile—so very, very unsexy. That über hip east coast intellectual reading the Kindle on the beach? That’s not me.

Owning a supposedly “sexy” Kindle 2.0 is not going to be a life changer for me, so why would I upgrade my working device for another?

I am glad that Amazon came out with a second device, as it shows the company’s commitment to the ebook industry. I was disappointed, though, that Bezos didn’t come out with support for ePub, and other formats; nor with any hint of openness about the current Kindle closed loop. International folks will also be disappointed, as no mention was made of international access. The Kindle exclusive Stephen King short story didn’t do a thing for me.

The frugality of the Kindle, 1.0 or 2.0, I’ll leave to a future writing at The Frugal Algorithm.

Just Shelley

Philosophy of the turtle

In early 2002 I was living in a condo overlooking the bay in San Francisco. I had just finished a gig with Stanford University and was confident about quickly finding new work. After all, I hadn’t been unemployed once in the years since I graduated college. In fact, I could usually count on having multiple offers to choose from.

But as I walked past empty buildings, through streets made into homes by the homeless, and listened to the silence of my phone, I began to think that perhaps finding work wouldn’t be as easy as I originally assumed.

Living in San Francisco is expensive at any time, but the  expense can quickly break you if you have no income coming in. By April I knew I had to leave San Francisco, and take my best friend’s offer of a home in St. Louis. Perhaps away from Silicon Valley I could find work.

Decision made, I had only one remaining concern: what about my stuff? My roommate couldn’t fly out to help me haul the stuff back, and I couldn’t drive both my car and a moving truck. I checked into having the items professionally moved, but the cost was more than I could afford. I rented a storage space, instead, and hired a local moving outfit to help me move into it. I figured when I was bringing in an income again, I could hire a mover.

The steady jobs never came, though, and about six months later, I no longer had the money to pay for the space. I ran an ad in Craigslist, offering everything I owned that hadn’t fit into my car when I moved. All my furniture, my crystal vases, antique cobalt blue glass ware; the sheets and towels, and kitchenware; my photo studio lights and back drops;  the Vietnamese lacquered panels and Chinese embroidered tablecloth. And my books.  I had over 20 boxes of books, both paperback and hard bound.

I found a buyer, who ended up getting a better deal than he knew. I took one last trip to California, to drop off keys and see if I could salvage a few personal items from the storage. But the moving guys had done a good job, burying the boxes under a pyramid of furniture. The only items I could salvage were two boxes of books, too heavy for the movers to push into the far back reaches of the storage space, and of no interest to the new buyer.  At that I was somewhat lucky as the books I salvaged were some of the more expensive science books I’d collected, including the pricey Gravitation, which I’d always planned to read some day before I die. The boxes also included the only fiction book I was to salvage, a hard to find book by the legendary science fiction writer, James Schmitz.

I tell you all of this by way of explaining why I find it so funny when people criticize the Kindle because “someday Amazon may pull the plug, and you’ll lose all of your books”. Funny, because the main reason I bought my Kindle is because I had lost all of my books; my books of paper that were, somehow, supposed to be sacrosanct.

What is a frugal girl like me …

Typically, no special equipment is needed to read a book made of paper. All that’s required is the ability to read, and a light source. eBook readers, such as the Kindle, already have one strike against them because you have to first, buy the reader, and then buy the books.

Jeff Bezos understood this when he released the Kindle, and promised that many of the books available for the Kindle at Amazon would cost less than their paper counterparts. The $9.99 bestseller is famous, though there’s no guarantee that every bestseller would sell at that price, or even be released on a Kindle. Currently, Ken Follett’s World Without End in paperback format sells for $12.50, but the Kindle version sells for $9.99. However, the Kindle version for the second entry in the popular Twilight series, New Moon is priced the same, $6.04, regardless of whether you buy a paperback, or a Kindle eBook. And, in some cases, the Kindle books have actually been priced higher than available paperbacks; with the Kindle prices based more on the hard cover book, rather than the lower cost paperback.

Generally, though, I have found the books I’m interested in to be cheaper than whatever is the lowest cost paper version of the book— higher when the book is first released as a hard cover, with the price dropping when the paperback releases. Though some Kindle owners get angry when a book is priced over $9.99, I’m not adverse to paying more, as long as the eBook is cheaper than the paper book. That’s really the key to making the Kindle work when you’re frugal: setting a maximum you’ll pay for a book, and not buying it until the price is reached. And while you’re waiting for the book, you can always try out one of the thousands of free books available for the Kindle and other devices.

Project Gutenberg books have been converted into Kindle format, and many are now available for one click, free downloads from Amazon. In addition, several publishers, such as Random House and Tor, and others have been offering free books as part of a series or author promotion. The free books may be formatted in the Kindle format, in which can all you need do is drop them into the Kindle memory when next you hook it up to a computer. You can also email books to a special conversion address and the book will be uploaded to the device for you.

…doing with a Kindle?

I’ve not replaced all the books I lost years ago. For one, no matter how good the price, I can only afford so many new books. In addition, not all of the books I’m interested in have been converted to eBook format.

My reading interests have also changed in the last several years, and I’m now more interested in non-fiction works. With the new discussions about economic depressions and climate change, I’ve been trying out books on history and the climate, downloading a sample chapter and then buying the book if the sample is interesting. In a way, the Kindle has changed how I read, by making sample chapters so easy to access. It was through the sample program that I discovered David Kennedy’s excellent Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 and Havana Nocturne by T. J. English.

The Kindle isn’t perfect, and the imperfections have less to do with the design of the Kindle 1.0 and more to do with Amazon’s policies. It does bother me that the Kindle is a closed loop system, at least for books protected by DRM. I have grown increasingly uncomfortable buying books at Amazon, knowing that I’m locked into one vendor if I want to read them. So much so that lately, if I’m interested in a newer book, I get a paper one from the library; all my recently added Kindle books have been freebies. Between both, I’m covered. For now.

Still, Amazon does sell eBooks more cheaply than any other eBook vendor, and the money you save can offset the cost of the device. But that’s not the reason I bought my Kindle.

Philosophy of the turtle

I was watching a news story last week about one new industry that is adding jobs, rather than shedding them. So many foreclosed homes have furniture and other items left in them, abandoned when the owners moved. When you lose your home, I imagine you don’t care how it looks. I also imagine that most people having to move have to move into smaller homes.

There are now companies whose only task is to clean out these homes, and I watched workers from one as they tossed furniture and toys into a truck to haul off. Furniture, toys, and books. When you move from a house to a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, or into a friend’s basement, or a parent’s attic, books take up a lot of room.

Whatever other advantage the Kindle provides me, the ability to pick up all my books and put them into my purse remains the primary reason I like my Kindle. No matter what happens in the future, I’ll never have to leave my library behind, again.