Friday, July 24, 2009

Former Institute Grad and Faculty Member Earn Cover Story

If you are in the computer industry or in computer science education then you are familiar with the "Communications of the ACM". If you are not, it is a highly respected publication read world wide. Aside from the 90,000 members of the ACM who receive each issue, it is read by many more non-members as well.

Here is a snippet of how the publication describes itself:

Communications of the ACM is the leading print and online publication for the computing and information technology fields. Read by computing professionals worldwide, Communications is recognized as the most trusted and knowledgeable source of industry information for today’s computing professional.

So it is quite an accolade that former Institute of Technology Computing and Software Systems graduate student Kristin Shinohara and Institute Faculty member Josh Tenenberg landed the cover spot and are a featured article in the August 2009 edition. Kristin is now a Ph.D. Student in the Information School of the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Professor Josh Tenenberg has been teaching and conducting research at the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington, Tacoma, for many years. He has recently been interested in Computer Ethics, Social Informatics, Human-Computer Interaction Design, Commons Governance, and Computer Science Education. Just this last year he started an Industry Partners co-teaching program that brought one of Google's Human Interface Design experts into the classroom for a quarter to share the course.

The article comes from the capstone project that Kristen was working on to complete her degree with the support and sponsorship of Josh, who was the faculty Chair. The focus was on a blind person's interaction with technology and is described nicely by the publication as follows:

One of the most effective methods for designing technologies for blind users is to observe how they interact with tools that are part of their daily lives, say Kristen Shinohara and Josh Tenenberg in this month's cover story (see page 58). The findings illustrate how elements of meaning can be as important as usability in the design of technology. In fact, their article inspired this month's cover image – a Braille representation of a quote by Helen Keller: "It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision."

If you would like to read the article, here is a link to it online, as well as a link to the entire publication.

A Blind Person's Interaction with Technology

Communications of the ACM

Congratulations to the both of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Just a Minutaur My Moment in Time Will Come

When will my moment come?

I have given the gift of a named star from the International Star Registry for someone. I have seen my name on a brick, or a plaque or a wall that commemorates an event or a donation or a campaign. These are crumbs that we leave which provide one of the trails that can be followed as a path back through our lives. (sounds like the catch phrase of a bad soap opera). We vainly attempt to affix ourselves to a place, as though we believe that any place has permanence.

But time is immemorial. (according to Wikipedia, "Time immemorial is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition. The implication is that the subject referred to is, or can be regarded as, indefinitely ancient."

Wow. I want a piece of that. I want my moment in time.

Certainly you can have a "place" in history. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have bought a pixel set from the "Million Dollar Home Page". Alex Tew sold pixels from a 1,000,000 pixel page for one dollar each and paid for his college education (and a few pints no doubt). But because it is finite, there are only so many people or companies that could have made their mark. Alex hit his goal, but now what?

I bought the Tacoma Dome for 18 dollars back in 2007 at Nice. Dollar an Acre has sold online acreage around the world on a virtual map of the globe. However, my property value has not gone up over these last two years and no one really seems to care that I have laid claim of ownership to this digital representation.

So when will my moment come?

I could hope for the Governor to send out a proclamation that today is "Andrew Fry Day", but I would have to somehow earn that. Not happening any time soon.

If only there was a way for me to publicly claim that day for myself. (or to be less self centered, claim it for someone else in the hope that they will then claim one for me in return)

Well, set your watches. My first moment will arrive tomorrow on Minutaur. Minutaur is a new site that allows for you to purchase moments, days, weeks and months, which thanks to Elliot Trotter, will allow just about anyone to have their moment. How cool is THAT!

Concerned that they may have already sold out? Is their any time left? The brilliance of Minutaur is that time doesn't run out. OK, in certain cases, such as basketball games and McGruber episodes on SNL, time does run out. But there is always more time on the way, whether we are here for it or not!

This is usually the part of my post that I lazily cut and past information from the site I am talking about to give more information. But with Elliot's talent you can expect no less than a video segment explaining the site. So I will lazily embed the video.

Here is even more from Elliot:

The concept for Minutaur arose from discussions about how human beings connect and chronicle their lives. Time and memories play a major role in how we humans view the world, and beyond electronic or physical photo albums, there really wasn't a great way to connect a specific moment with a specific memory and to share it with the world. We tied that with the novelty of making it YOUR OFFICIAL TIME as a way to digitally commemorate your memory. That idea came in part from from looking at services that let you name a star in the sky for a loved one, and get a certificate to make it official. We figured, why not do that with time? Why couldn't 2009 be the year of Andrew Fry, or June the Official Month of the Google, or 6 am on May 5th, 1986 be my official moment of birth?

Though they sell time at Minutaur, they are also a social networking site. In this case they are creating connections between people based on events and shared moments instead of likes and dislikes.

And though time is fleeting, you can always get a certificate to commemorate your moment in time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BarCamp Tacoma, Be There and Change the World

In August of 2005, Tim O’Reilly, technology publisher extraordinaire invited 250 of his friends to join him for a day of activities that would allow them to get to know each other better and to “hopefully come up with some cool ideas about how to change the world.” The idea was to have people who are doing interesting work share it with others. Interesting in this case meaning the topics of web services, data visualization, opening source programming and data security among other things.

This had been going on for about three years by 2005, and was a pretty exclusive event. Those that were not invited, but were also doing interesting things decided that they could organize a similar opportunity, make it open to anyone interested in explaining why they were interesting and garner enough interest in the event to fill it. It was a success and in answer to the O’Rielly event, named “FooCamp”, it became known as “BarCamp” in a gesture toward its tech geek roots. It is also known as an “unconference” because it shapes itself on the day of the event and speakers present in half hour slots on a first come/first served basis. Chris Messina’s idea was an unqualified success and the occasion for BarCamps has increased in number and venues.

If you were interested and had heard of BarCamp over the last few years, it would have likely been one somewhere in Seattle or on the East Side.

That was until this August 8th at the Suite 133 offices. Thanks to Scott Kuehn, Michael Maitlen, Jamie Paulson and Robert Peaslee (and Jen, but I don’t know her last name) an open invitation to participate and interact is available to the Tacoma set. You DO NOT have to be a tech geek to participate. Perhaps your interest is in marketing or art or economic development. If you are willing to speak, you are welcome to the event.

Open at 9:00am with presentations starting at 10:00am, the event will go until 5:00pm. Coffee is your friend. Perhaps we will all get to know each other better and come up with some cool ideas to change the world, the state, the county, or maybe Tacoma.

For more information check out and sign up there.


Jamie has demoted himself to having only known about the event early on, and given the sign up sheet so far, I am going to guess that Jen is in fact Jennifer Halverson Kuehn.

The topics and participants to date can be found on the attendance page.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...