Boing Boing 

Publicly accessible and mutable Boing Boing API compiled overnight

On Tuesday I released the last eleven years of Boing Boing posts all in one file to celebrate Boing Boing's recent anniversary. Large datasets are fun, and we wanted to see how the great minds of our readers would twist all this information into something more awesome.

We were not disappointed. This morning I found out that ntoll over at FluidDB collected all the information in the XML file into their centralized database system. ntoll's post on the FluidDB Boing Boing repository explains a little bit about the structure of their system and how to access it as an API for use in other web applications, programs or plugins.

The system is pretty easy to access using their various wrappers (in Python, for example). You can find the documentation for FluidDB here as well if you're interested in developing an application on top of this database system.

Clearly, this is a very interesting project with a lot of far-reaching implications for developers and interested people looking to play around with the Boing Boing archives. I'm looking forward to seeing what new applications of our data come out of this.

If you're working on something neat with this data, you can let me know directly either at dean@boingboing.net or via Twitter.

[How we made an API for BoingBoing in an evening] Thanks Tom!

Housekeeping: How to submit stuff to Boing Boing

Boing_Boing_Portrait_by_Nick_Foster.jpg Found something awesome on the net? Made something awesome on the net? There are three ways to submit it to Boing Boing! 1: Add it to our Submitterator. This is the single best way to get our attention! It's the first place we look and public discussion and voting pushes items to the top of the queue. 2: If it's a photo or an image, you can add it to our Flickr pool. 3: You can submit things privately through this form. While stuff sent @boingboing on Twitter might get spotted, please do not send submissions via personal email or Twitter accounts! Every time you do this, a sniper takes out a unicorn. (Illustration by the awesomely talented Nick Foster.)

Guestblogger signing off!

diegodoppleganger.jpgI am signing off as a BB guest blogger. It has been a great deal of fun to post here occasionally and I was very happy to contribute to a site I have been reading for years. Thanks to all the BB editors who write articles provoking thoughts, laughter, and outrage. Particular thanks to Rob Beschizza for helping me craft my pieces and providing excellent layout work on a number of features. I will still be a not-so-mild-mannered professor and continue my work with CAPL to provide free, high quality, authentic images for the foreign language teaching community. Most of all, I would like to acknowledge to support of my family of three amazing kids and my smokin' hot wife Christy. She is also a foreign language professor and I have never met someone who is simultaneously so intelligent and kind hearted. Much of my work owes a great deal to her support and critical eye. Sláinte!

Eleven years' worth of Boing Boing posts in one file!

(image: number of Boing Boing posts per month by author, click to see larger)

Having very recently celebrated Boing Boing's eleventh bloggaversary, we're releasing an update of our previous archival release of Boing Boing posts.

This time, we're releasing a 120.3MB XML file (38.3MB zip) of 63,999 posts for your parsing pleasure. The whole file is released under a Creative Commons license that allows you to noncommerically remix and distribute it in whole or in part -- go crazy!

The first time we released a dump like this, Andy "Waxy" Baio made this breakdown of our blogging activity. More recently, I've been toying with this data behind the scenes and finding some interesting things. We want to see what you can do with it!

Happy (belated) Bloggaversary to us, and thanks to all of you for sticking with us for so many years.

[Download the zipped XML file here]

A decade of Wikipedia: lesser-known miracles

wp-10th.jpg Image: a few of the remixable design elements, via Wikimedia Commons

It's no secret that I love Wikipedia, which I consider one of the grandest and most radical social experiments of our time, and the very best example of what the free culture movement offers for the world's future. I even love Wikipedia critics. There's nothing I love more than to improve an article after some whiny-baby complains about its quality with a copypasta example. For instance, novelist Jonathan Lethem was bagging on "the infinite regress of Wikepedia [sic] tinkering-unto-mediocrity" the other day. Too bad The Atlantic has no way for readers to fix that typo in the way I updated the article on Blake Edwards' cult classic The Party, which was the object of Lethem's scorn. He seems to miss the point that an encyclopedia article, even one about a screwball comedy, is supposed to be dry, factual, and not especially screwball. Just the facts, ma'am. I also love that his snapshot of the page is no longer that relevant.

In the past I have discussed Wikibumps (like the spike of a million readers who checked out the Salvia article in the week after the Miley Cyrus bong video) and the Click to Jesus game, where you see how few links it takes to get from a random Wikipedia article to the Jesus article. Here are a couple of other good reasons to love Wikipedia and its sister projects which you may not have seen:

Best of Wikipedia Tumblr page
Raul's Laws, possibly the best and wonkiest explanation of how Wikipedia works

Commons Picture of the Year contest winners
2006
2007
2008
2009

I hope you'll swing by, learn some things, maybe improve something (they even have a secure server option). There is still plenty to do, and it will never be completed. At the very least, just marvel at the possibilities for the future of free culture embodied in the project. What are some of your favorite things about it? Please share in the comments.

Just look at this list of Boing Boing post titles

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Frank Chimero makes fun of some of our most cheesy post titles. Merlin Mann elaborates: Boing Boing is "auguring the deliberate perversion of [our] talent in the service of gavaging a profitable but pathologically undemanding audience."

Oh my God, not gavaging! But we're not without our defenders. Speaking of which, if The Awl is not on your daily reading list, you're just not on the Internet yet.

It's true that much here links daily to cultural ephemera, often dozens of times a day. But I'd like to make sure you read some of the awesome original features, blog posts, stories and galleries that we've published lately, including work by some very talented writers. Evidently, these are easy to miss!

Yakuza 3 played, reviewed and fact-checked, by the Yakuza.
The Last Hospice
Seen not heard: how obscure security makes school sucks
Caught Sleeping: Jason Rohrer's latest story
Hajj for Heathens
Less talk, mess rock: The native language of video games is neither spoken nor written
Being Dead in Pittsburgh
Making the Unreal Real
Maps
Death in Space and Cassini: Trip Reset
That Sinking Feeling
Neo-Minimalism and the Rise of the technomads
Leaking Secrets, Leaking Blood
30 mosques in 30 days
Portraits of the Mind
Bicycle Diaries
The inner life of Furries
Nomen Ludi (fiction)
1906
Totally awesome space colonies
Charting the frozen continent
High Design

I'm particularly proud of Maggie's item on Gliese581g, which went up in this form while others were still blogging the breaking news: Potentially habitable exoplanet discovered. Shame it doesn't exist, lol.

These and more are at our features page. We've also produced hundreds of original video episodes (YouTube channel).

Discussing Wikipedia's first decade on The Takeaway, 7:20am Eastern

For you early risers, I'll be discussing the tenth anniversary of Wikipedia with John Hockenberry on The Takeaway at 7:20 am Eastern time. Check your local listings or the live stream. Here's the show archive. The producers made a fun listener quiz for the occasion. Happy anniversary, Wikipedia!

CicLAvia on Kickstarter

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Earlier this year, Los Angeles hosted it's first CicLAvia (blogged here previously)— an event which closed off 7.5 miles of city streets to cars for a full day allowing cyclists and pedestrians full use of the roadways. It was a huge success with over 100,000 residents showing up on 2 wheels rather than 4. Yes, this happened in Los Angeles, dare I say one of the most "car-positive" cities in the world. The organizers are working on plans for the next CicLAvia for 2011 and have teamed up with Kickstarter to help raise some funds. They are hoping to bring in $5K, and have a bit over $1K right now. I just donated because I think it's a super worthwhile cause, and because I ride my bike in LA on the streets all the time anyway and being able to do it every once and a while without worrying about getting run over is awesome.

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[Top photo by Alex Thompson, bottom by Waltarrrrr]

Boing Boing Charitable Giving Guide, the 2010 edition

Boing Boing's charitable giving guide has become a seasonal tradition of ours, listing the charities we personally support and want to give more attention to. As in previous years, we invite you to add your own favorite charities in the comments section.

Last year, the econopocalypse gave the charitable sector a rough holiday season. A year on, improvements are slow to come. But many of these charities help keep the world fair, free and healthy, so please spare what you can.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

It seems like every year, EFF's reason for existence becomes more self-evident: from Wikileaks-panic censorship to cozy telcoms deals to scuttle network neutrality to scary evoting mysteries to more warrantless wiretapping... EFF was founded by people who realized that the electronic world would quickly become as important as the real world for many aspects of our lives, and that the civil liberties battles we've fought in "real life" would have to be fought all over again online, by technically skilled, principled people. EFF always gets my biggest donation -- because our future is riding on it.

Creative Commons:

Creative Commons has permeated my life in a thousand ways -- on Boing Boing and in my writing, Creative Commons is responsible for how I get the job done and how I get paid for it. CC's advocacy of a nuanced, intelligent position on creativity and sharing changes the lives of creators, educators, scientists, scholars, and kids, all over the world. —CD

Read the rest

Facebook Community Council quietly closes

facebook-council.jpg Last year, I mentioned that I was one of about 350 people tapped to participate in Facebook Community Council, an experiment in crowdsourced content moderation. We'd slog through profiles and sites tagged as inappropriate by other users (tags included nudity, attacking, drugs, and violence). And there were plenty of each, especially the first two. A million tags later, we got the following notice (verbatim):
Thank you for participating in the Facebook Community Council.We will be shutting down starting this week, and will let you knowwhen we start another experiment.
Despite my fifth-place showing, I was not awarded a prize. I suspect they now have image and text recognition algorithms that make mere humans ineffective except in the more subtle forms of abuse. Over time, we saw a lot less penis and puke pics and "___ sucks" Facebook groups, and a lot more subtle trolling of middle and high school students and teachers. It was certainly interesting to see what garden-variety low-level trolling looks like these days. There were a lot of similarities to Wikipedia vandalism: a lot of one-off drive-by crap, with a few people fixated on gaming the system in ever more subtle ways.

Respect the Internet live feed tomorrow 12/3/2010

I'm speaking tomorrow in New York at Ketchum's day-long conversation / debate "about the role companies can (and should or should not) play in shaping online culture." There will also be speakers from ROFLCon, Buzzfeed, VICE, Gawker Media, MIT, and Harvard. My talk is going to be about DIY innovation and why it's smart for companies to become "maker friendly."

It should be interesting! You can watch a live feed of the event here.

Speakers:

Mark Frauenfelder, the editor of Boing Boing and MAKE Magazine 


Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post 


Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and founder of Breadpig 


Tim Hwang, co-founder of ROFLCon 


Grant McCracken, anthropologist and author of the highly-praised book Chief Culture Officer 


Alex Pasternack, editor of Motherboard.tv, VICE Magazine's science and technology culture site 


Irin Carmon, blogger for Jezebel 


Christina Xu, co-founder of ROFLCon and of Breadpig 


Jeff Simmermon, Director of Digital Communications for Time Warner Cable 


Scott Heiferman, co-founder & CEO of MeetUp.com 


N'Gai Croal, founder of Hit Detection, video games expert & blogger for Newsweek 


Patrick Davison, one third of MemeFactory, researcher at the Web Ecology Project 


Joe Brown, blogger and reporter for Gizmodo and WIRED 


Greg Leuch, the genius who created "Shaved Bieber" & a member of F.A.T. Lab 


Mike Rugnetta, one third of MemeFactory, the definitive performance art piece about internet culture 


Lilit Marcus, co-founder of Save The Assistants, editor-in-chief of TheGloss.com If you are interested in attending the live event in NYC tomorrow (it's free but space is limited), reserve a spot here. (password is "ketchum")

Twitter, Where's My Car?

Seattle police use a dedicated Twitter account to report the details of verified car thefts. It's crowdsourcing police work! Police in other cities have tried this, but Seattle has a bizarrely high car theft rate, partly due to a logistical problem in the courts in which car thieves are routinely charged with misdemeanors and released.

Joel versus the volcano

Joel Johnson delivers a blistering smackdown to the trolls, miscreants and entitled creeps who infest comment threads at Gizmodo.

Emergency Unicorn Delivery

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Open thread: your DIY Hallowe'en costumes?

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Image: Underwater witch at Halloween, Rainbow Springs, FL, mid-1950s. Via Flickr Commons, from Florida State Archives.

I'm thinking of going as "Sexy SQL Database," or maybe stringing a bunch of hard drives and shredded FOIA documents on a blood-red ballgown and going as Wikileaks. How 'bout you? Your ideas for the BoingBoing-iest homemade costumes welcomed in the comments.

CycLAvia attracts over 100,000 cyclists to car-free Los Angeles streets

Beginning of CicLAvia

If you'd told me a year ago that the City of Los Angeles would close off almost 8 miles of primary city streets to let cyclists have free rein for a day I never would have believed it. If I hadn't seen it actually happen with my own eyes yesterday, I'd still be suspicious. But it's true: thanks to the amazing efforts of the die-hard volunteers behind the project, yesterday the first ever CycLAvia (a riff on the South American Ciclovía idea) took place and some 100,000 residents took to their bikes and got a glimpse of what the city might be like if at least some parts of it were car-free.

As an avid cyclist living in LA, I've long said this is an amazing city to bike in and that it takes on a whole new life when you see it from a bicycle. But most often the reaction I get from non-cyclists is that I must be crazy to ride a bike in LA. I'm not, and judging by the photos on flickr and reactions on twitter a ton of people now see the city a little differently. With any luck this is just the first of many upcoming bike-friendly events in the city. I know I can't wait to see where this leads! (Follow @Cyclavia for future details)
CicLAvia

Photos by Tara Brown and Jory Felice

Michael Franti's "The Sound of Sunshine" in sign language

Video link. There's a whole genre of ASL (American Sign Language) music videos, exemplified perfectly by smokin' hot hottie-hot Jennie Batchelder in her fantastic interpretation of Michael Franti's "The Sound of Sunshine." Michael's had ASL interpreters at his shows for 11 years, so come check out more at the Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on September 10-12, 2010.

The Last Hospice (update)

AIDS sufferer Vinny, about whom Lisa recently wrote a feature here at BB, died this morning at 8:35 a.m.

Back To School Art Competition: De-CGI something and win prizes from HP/AMD

41CR2wDeBCL._SL500_AA300_.jpgHP has offered three splendid "Back To School" machines to give away to Boing Boing readers: First prize is an HP dv6 15.6" laptop with an AMD Phenom Quad Core Processor Second prize is an HPE Elite 210f desktop computer with an AMD Phenom Quad Core processor. Third prize is an HP 2509 monitor. The competition theme is De-CGI. Take something that is characteristically computerized and render it with natural media. For example, the pixelated layout of an old-school video game represented as bottletops, or a mandelbrot fractal drawn with crayons. Be imaginative! You retain the copyright in your entries. Only legal residents of the U.S. aged 18 and above and Canada can win the prizes. Read the contest rules. You've got until midnight next Monday to get your entries in! To enter the competition, simply upload your entry online somewhere and post a link to it in the comments below. Alternatively, email it to me (rob át boing boing døt net). Good luck! UPDATE! Attention Canadians! HP can ship prizes north of the border. This means entries from oop north are eligible in this contest to receive prizes.

Follow Boing Boing at the new Digg

Freshly relaunched and redesigned, Digg v4 is out of Beta. Users of the site should check out Boing Boing's page.

Read BB submissions on Twitter

 Images Submitterator600 The best thing about the Submitterator, it turns out, is getting to read such a fast-paced version of BB before anything even hits the front door. There's been an RSS feed since day one, but now the machine is also on Twitter. Follow @submitterator for an incessant firehose of great places to visit and the occasional rare thrill of foreign-language spam.

The anthropology of coffee

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In 1991, coffee-drinking seemed to be on its way out in the United States. From a peak consumption of 3.2 cups per day per person on average in 1962, coffee consumption was down to measly 1.75 cups. There were good reasons for this: Nobody liked the cheap, nasty sludge generally available and the entire experience reeked of Grandma.

Enter advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather, working for Maxwell House.

Their suggestion: Segment the product by quality, value and personal image—ideas that all ended up leading to the thriving coffee market of today. Just when we thought we were out, they sucked us back in. (Meanwhile, the parallel rise of coffee and decline of tobacco could be a sociology thesis, in and of itself.)

That little insight is part of a three-part series on the anthropology of coffee on the blog Anthropology in Practice. The first part looks at how coffee became a necessary part of our morning existence. The second delves into the history of the coffee bean in human culture. And the third examines the social role of coffee in creating a culture of productivity.

Image courtesy Flickr user jphilipg, via CC

Experiencing the re-invention of flight in St. Paul

Last weekend*, I joined around 90,000 of my closest friends at the Twin Cities Flugtag in St. Paul. If you aren't familiar, Flugtag is an event that tests out the skyworthiness of home-built flying contraptions. For the most part, there's more of an emphasis on art and comedy than on effective engineering. Teams design their flying machines (and costumed skits) around a theme, they perform for the audience, and then push their craft off an elevated runway and (usually) directly into a major body of water below.

It's entertaining. I had a good time watching giant purple narwhals (narwhals!) and open caskets piloted by zombies crash into the Mississippi River. But what really made Flugtag post-worthy is the moment captured in the video above.

My husband called this before the flying even started. Walking around the "hangar" area, looking at the crafts before the show, he spotted what looked like an anorexic WW2 bomber on stilts. It wasn't the most elaborate craft. Or the most hilarious. But it was going to fly further than anything else, Baker predicted. Unlike some home-built aircraft, this thing actually had an airfoil.

Later, we found out that it also had controllable flaps. And a for-real-real pilot&mdashMajor Trouble, her band of Dirty Dixie drag queens took care of the entertainment portion—at the controls.

We'd already watched six or seven contraptions utterly fail to fly. We'd gotten used to a routine. The team pushes off. The team goes straight down. It is hard to describe the utter elation that swept the crowd when Major Trouble's plane came back up**. And flew. Really, truly flew. For a second, we all forgot that jet planes existed. For a second, we were all back at Kitty Hawk, in 1903, witnessing a previously unimagined miracle.

Major Trouble and the Dirty Dixies flew 207 feet before ditching in the Mississippi. They broke—by 12 feet—a Flugtag flying record that had stood for 10 years. Everything happens in the Midwest. You are missing out.

*I meant to post this Monday. Somehow, I forgot. Whoops.

**Another thing it is hard to describe: The frustration that rippled through the crowd every time the RedBull announcers referred to the Mississippi River as "the ocean". This happened repeatedly. Guys, we get it, you're used to staging these things on the coast. But there's a freaking opposite bank, right over there. And the people on that side are rolling their eyes at you, too.

Neighborgoods: borrowing, lending, or renting from your neighbors instead of buying new

Micki "Mickipedia" Krimmel's LA-based startup NeighborGoods.net launches nationwide throughout the USA today (before, the service was only available in Southern California). The big idea: borrow and lend stuff with your neighbors instead of buying things new. From Micki's launch announcement:

NeighborGoods.net offers a unique service by building upon the success of sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. Inspired by their ability to encourage re-use and keep waste out of landfills, NeighborGoods goes one step further to help people get more value out of stuff they actually want to keep. Members can safely borrow a lawnmower, lend a bicycle, or earn some extra money by renting a DVD collection. NeighborGoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. NeighborGoods provides all the tools to share safely and confidently including transparent user ratings and transaction histories, privacy controls, deposits, and automated calendars and reminders to ensure the safe return of loaned items.
Intro video embedded above, and available here on Vimeo.

Foo Camp 2010: snapshots by Dean Putney

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Our Dean Putney took some wonderful photos up at Foo Camp this weekend. I'm bummed I missed it! Top: Heather Knight with Nao the dancing robot, and Eric Wilhelm's baby. Bottom: Boing Boing's Mark and Pesco. Here's the link to the Flickr set.

L.A. folks: if your computers stuffs breaks, Computech is a great support shop

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Over the weekend, I did something really stupid during a data migration and believed I'd effectively lost/destroyed an important and irreplaceable chunk of my mail archives. I sweated, I cried, I rended garments, I banged my head against hard things, I couldn't eat or sleep, and I was kind of an asshole to people I love.

Today, on the recommendation of my friend Christian Boyce, I stumbled in to the CompuTech Mac and PC support shop in Los Angeles. The short version of the rest of my tale: they resolved the issue fast, reunited me with my data, and were absolute gentlemen. The joint is run by Boing Boing readers, and they could not have been more knowledgeable, effective, and nice. They also advised me on a better backup routine (short version: don't trust the cloud alone—back up to multiple physical disks on and offsite *PLUS* the cloud, and use an app like Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper to create a bootable clone).

I should note that these guys aren't a data recovery shop per se, they do a broad range of hardware and software/OS support stuff for PC and Mac (perhaps Linux too, though I did not ask). This blog post is not an ad, and this is not payback, this is me sharing gratitude for a great business in the town where I live, run by awesome people.

As a Twitter follower just observed, "getting a new lease on data's life is like the ending to A Christmas Carol. 'I swear, from now on, I'll back up EVERY DAY!" FSM bless us, every one. The most wonderful feeling in the world: believing you've suffered a catastrophic data loss, then getting the data back. And that is my excuse for the photograph which accompanies this blog post.

CompuTech (ask for Josh Yellin or Matthew LaForest, and send them my best). They're also on Twitter.

* A footnote: another pal recommended MailSteward as a good helper app, and I'll be trying that now.

Recent Comments Page

Like to stay abreast of the chatter at BB? Keep up with the 100 most recent comments. The page refreshes itself periodically, so you can just leave it up and passively absorb it until you realize it's 4:30 p.m. and you haven't got enough done.

Games Inspired By Music: A game development competition with Safari Books Online

We love chiptunes, the quirky celebration of 8-bit-style music that’s become a a vibrant genre of its own with a thriving scene supporting it.

Read the rest

Bazinga! Quiz Play Day winners

Along with Neatorama and Treehugger readers, you raised $2,500 for more than 40 charities! Thanks, everyone!

Keyboard shortcuts

Reminder! You can now jump between posts on the front door of Boing Boing by hitting J and K. It should work on most browsers. Any similar UI requests? Under consideration: L to go to the next 30 posts; and the Konami Code to trigger a unicorn invasion.