Archives » November 12th, 2003

November 12, 2003

The mistake you only make once

I was squeezed in the back seat of the car, wedged between the door and the baby seat, wearing a heavy jacket. We parked and I opened the door, spilling limbs everywhere. I grabbed the door handle and contorted myself into the right shape to get out of the door, and that’s when I heard the thud. My digital camera had fallen out of my jacket pocket and landed squarely on the asphalt with a crack.

Inside the store I gave it a thorough inspection. It turned on, it beeped, the lens protruded like it was supposed to. The case seemed to still be in one piece. But then I looked at the viewfinder. The little LCD screen that normally lets you frame your shot was instead glowing a dull grey. I pushed the buttons to bring up the menu. Nothing. I switched it to the mode where you look at the pictures you’ve already taken. Nothing. I turned the camera off. I took out the batteries. I reseated the memory card. I gave the thing a couple of good whacks. Nothing. I even got out the screwdriver when I got home and cracked it open. Still nothing. Something had gotten severed, and although the viewfinder still technically worked, there was no signal getting to it. The screen was worthless. And the screen is not just used to frame your shots. It’s also how you change resolutions, turn the flash on and off, and erase pictures. Bascially, without the screen you are very limited in what you can do with the camera. And I had just killed it.

So the bad news was that my camera was crippled. But the good news was that I got to buy a new one, and buy I did. I replaced the old Fuji 2650 with a new Fuji A210—just like the old one, only better. 3 megapixel instead of 2. 60 second movies instead of 20. Easier ways to change flash and macro settings. In short, it all worked out good with a better camera. And the best news – no interruption of service to Sammy’s Photoblog!


Clay Shirky once again exposes the realistic underbelly of hype in his latest article, The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview. This time he skewers the notion that the Semantic Web will bring about the Golden Age of machine intelligence that its proponents suggest. And why? Because they’re solving the wrong problems.

This example sets the pattern for descriptions of the Semantic Web. First, take some well-known problem. Next, misconstrue it so that the hard part is made to seem trivial and the trivial part hard. Finally, congratulate yourself for solving the trivial part.

One of the best rebuttals comes from Shelley Powers. She says they’re not trying to bring about the Golden Age of machine intelligence, just make it easier for machines to find things when they’re asked.