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Sarah Allen's reflections on internet software and other topics

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    I signed up to try out FromThePage as “ultrasaurus” a couple of weeks ago. It’s creator Ben Brumfield (@benwbrum) recognized me from RailsBridge and the NPR story and reached out via Twitter. Ben’s blog, Collaborative Manuscript Transcription is a wealth of information about crowd-sourced transcription. Jason Shen and I were able to connect on [...]

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    The following is based on an interview with Ben Brumfield, after which I did a bit of research myself, adding links and some additional references. There are 6 general areas from which people are doing transcription. Investigative Journalism: crowdsourcing information for citizen investigation. The idea is to get a whole lot of people to flag [...]

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  • 07/26/13--12:01: why drupal for georgia.gov
  • Nikhil Deshpande (@nikofthehill) is the Director of GeorgiaGov Interactive a group within the Georgia state government that provides services to agencies and other government organizations. Today at CapitalCamp he talked about why they chose Drupal for georgia.gov and how they approached the transition. Georgia.gov, as the website for the Georgia state government, used to [...]

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    A Response-Able Process to Responsive Design talk by Mal Jones (@skeletonjones), Brian Verhoeven (@beverhoeven) and Corey Lafferty (@coreylafferty) introduced their agile process and a new open source prototyping tool that they built. In 2011, they made responsive default for advocacy sites and content sites. We’re no longer building cars, we’re building transformers. How did [...]

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  • 08/21/13--06:24: learning photoshop
  • I’m back in San Francisco where I can walk my dog in the morning and drive my kid to school. I actually went shopping to buy some of that fresh California produce I missed so much when I was in DC — perhaps I was just shopping at the wrong places. This particular [...]

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  • 08/23/13--06:22: collective intelligence
  • Most software today cannot be defined purely by the software itself. This new class of software requires data and a community people that create and interact with that data. This is substantially different from first generation software tools, where a person starts with a blank canvas or template and uses the software to [...]

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    I joined the Smithsonian chapters of Toastmasters, partly as a way to connect with a new community and partly as the next step in my ongoing effort to conquer my fear of public speaking. People who know me through my online presence or have heard me speak, may be surprised that I have any [...]

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    UX design is a lot like filmmaking. We design an experience. I was struck by how Jon Boorstin described the design practice in “Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker.” Our audience, their preconceptions, hopes and fears, are the essential part of the experience. They bring context with them. It’s tempting to [...]

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    When I was in high school, I thought we were supposed to see clearly into the future, where decisions would be made at regular intervals… Lessons Learned Future Thoughts from Sarah Allen So I began my talk to Louisville High School, an all girls school in Woodland Hills California, where I spoke [...]

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  • 09/05/13--19:01: coding is the new literacy
  • Code literacy is not just the ability to read and write code. It is a problem-solving ability. I love to code. I love to teach people how to code, because people inevitably learn a new way to solve problems, to think about how parts of our new world work. I found this note while cleaning up [...]

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  • 09/06/13--21:29: exploring glass, rough start
  • So I got a chance to explore Google Glass tonight. Setup took two tries, apparently it doesn’t work on 5G wifi (Kalvin found via Google search) and then we all delighted in flailing around with swipe and tap gestures to figure out how to use the thing. I took a photo of [...]

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    When I graduated from college people would ask me, “How does it feel to be a pioneer in your field?” There are so few women in this profession that just by entering it you’re doing groundbreaking work. For a moment I was proud of myself and then I thought, “Should I be proud of this? [...]

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    Working in a new situation, closely with a new colleague this summer, I found myself often saying “I have a policy…” and I realized that over time I’ve create quite a few silly and some serious rules that help me navigate the day-to-day work of software development or simply working with people.  These echo in [...]

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  • 09/29/13--13:37: information is oxygen
  • During the Industrial Age, information was property — held by few, information required money and brought power. With the rise of the Information Age, information became water. We all need it, sometimes it falls from the sky, but there are complex rights. Like water, there were information sources and streams. Information was [...]

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    Language evolves. Spoken language evolves faster than written language, but the written language is easier to track as it leaves behind physical artifacts. The third letter of our alphabet is the problematic C, which could be soft as in ‘nice’ or hard like ‘cat’ or I don’t know what you call the sound at [...]

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    It sucks to read about more shitty behavior at a tech conference. The sad truth of our society is that shitty conduct is common in every industry, especially those dominated by old power structures of white, straight men. I don’t like to hear those stories, but they don’t make me want to leave. [...]

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    A few weeks ago, the Smithsonian American Art Musuem held the first Smithsonian hackathon as a way to include volunteers in the process of re-imagining what a kiosk of the future might be for the Luce Foundation Center for American Art. Twenty-three people from the DC community spent the weekend in the museum, writing code and [...]

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    Working as a Presidential Innovation Fellow has changed my perspective on the US government. I still believe there’s a bureaucracy that threatens to crush us all under its weight, but I no longer see that as immovable or inevitable. There are people working in our government, relentlessly in pursuit of excellence. They [...]

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    When I learned to code, I was not very good at math and didn’t like it much. I had just started pre-algebra and struggled to make sense of abstract equations and abitrary rules that seemed to serve no purpose and were disconnected from my real world. I didn’t care to discover answers that [...]

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  • 12/21/13--11:49: origins of the smithsonian
  • In 1826, James Smithson wrote in his will that, if his heir were to die without children, his entire estate would go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” This unusual bequest was even more… Continue reading

    The post origins of the smithsonian appeared first on the evolving ultrasaurus.


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