The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Month: May 2008

Longfellow’s Infernos

Friends on the Warren-Wilson alumni lists were asking about various translations of the Divine Comedy. I like Robert Pinsky’s, but I also like Longfellow’s.

Longfellow’s version of Dante is the earliest done in America and some of the best and have a tragic story behind them — especially the Inferno. Not only that (another and would be excessive) but they helped form the argument for teaching modern languages in America’s universities.

First the circumstances of the translation.

In July 1861, Fanny Longfellow was filling envelopes with the baby curls of their six children when the candle she was using to melt sealing wax caught her dress on fire. Although HWW rushed to safe her, she went up in flames. HWW was too badly burned to attend her funeral. His face was too scarred and disfigured — so he grew his trademark beard to cover the injuries.

Completely depressed and almost unable to function, HWW decided to translate the Inferno as a way of rising out of the pain brought on by the fire. True, he had been working on translations of Dante’s work for many years, but he had not been satisfied enough with them to bring them to print. Also there is some indication that HWW had taken up laudium (opium) in his grief — whether this assisted in his translation efforts, I have not seen noticed.

HWW had pioneered the study of modern languages whilst at Harvard and used various international styles in his own poems to great effect — one famous example is Hiawatha which takes its form from the Finnish saga. But still the idea that modern language was part of high culture was under dispute. The publication of Longfellow’s Dante changed that. It was extremely popular and considered a required highbrow possession — even if not read.

His notes in the 1895 Fireside edition (the one I bought for 50 cents a decade or so ago) are good too.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to treat, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.

On a personal note, I was delighted to no end when I began the classic computer game (text based) Adventure (aka Adventure Cave) and the first line began: “You are at the edge of a dark forest before you is a cave. Enter?” (yes/no)

Since writing this, I’ve been enjoying Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, a murder mystery set at the time and place of the Longfellow translations.

Google opens, SAS cuts, MSFT slices

Google opened their new North Carolina Datacenter in Lenoir this morning.

SAS cutting jobs: Cary-based SAS is cutting more than a dozen positions from its education division as the company looks to reorganize that unit.

Microsoft ends Live Search Book and Live Search Academic as well as their library book scanning project. Both sites will be taken down next week.

Dustin disappoints

Dustin the Turkey in Happier Times
Dustin the Turkey is out of the Eurovision Song Competition. Ireland’s Best will have to find another outlet for world (or at least continental fame). Although a proven success with 6 albums out and a very catchy entry, Dustin failed to capture enough votes to make the first semi-finals.

Dustin, you’re no Lordi!

BarCampRDU 08 – August 2

BarCamp RDU
Yes the Third BarCampRDU is on its way. Over 200 people preregistered already. Details and signup here.

Want to help BarCampRDU?

Dave Johnson sends this note about sponsorship and volunteering:

As you may have already heard, BarCamp RDU 2008 is in the works. We’ve already opened registration and started blogging about the event and now we are pleased to announce BarCampRDU 2008 to potential sponsors and volunteers.

BarCamp RDU 20008 will be held on Saturday August 2, 2008 at the Red Hat headquarters in Raleigh, NC. The purpose of this message is to act as a “save the date” and solicitation for those interested in sponsoring and volunteering for the event.

About sponsorships:

Even before making a public call for sponsors, BarCampRDU 2008 has fulfilled 50% of its sponsorship goals, but we still have $2500 outstanding that we need pledged. If you or your organization would like to sponsor BarCampRDU, please contact Dave Johnson at dave.johnson at The minimum sponsorship is $300.

About registration:

Registration for BarCampRDU has already been announced far in advance and we already have [over] 200 attendees registered on the wiki.

Organizers committee:

If you’d like to join the organizing committee of BarCampRDU, please contact Wayne Sutton at wayne at The organizing committee meets periodically and ensures that tasks are completed for BarCamp. Please note, being on the organizing committee is not a nominal position – it requires significant work, so please only volunteer if you can commit to this effort.

We’re very excited to announce this event. With a location and sponsors, we’re well on our way to another very successful BarCamp. With the support of the community, organizers, volunteers and sponsors, we’re positive we’re going to have another great event.

Steve Cisler, Virtual Computing, Dome at Legislature, Music Cos vs VCs etc

George Brett alerts us to a very through and deeply serious appreciation of Steve Cisler from NetTime.

A series of miscommunications lead to me being at the NC Legislature this morning. Tucker was presenting his work from his Digital Media class in support of the Career and Technology Programs in the Public Schools. But the bigger surprise was that the elumenati were there with their Dome Theatre.

I spent this past Thursday and Friday out at IBM RTP from their 2nd International Conference on the Virtual Computing Initiative which has for the past two years taken the place of IBM University Days.

The VCI is an open source implimentation of machine image virtualization that began a few years back at NCSU as a way to use virtualization to allow both research and education (aka labs) computing to operate together on the same hardware (albeit differently scheduled). The NCSU Virtual Computing Lab has been proven several times over now and has been implemented for other schools including NCCU and ECU locally and in support of K – 12 labs in Virginia (by folks at Virgina Tech).

One interesting development is NCSU’s work on using VCI to make a 3-D environment, in this case Croquet, highly scalable and efficient.

David Rose at KnowThe explains that “Record Labels Are Not Venture Capitalists.” Sorta like the battle between two evil empires? Not according to David.

Steve Cisler – first Internet librarian

Steve Cisler in 2007

I just heard via twitter that an old net.friend had died.

I met Steve Cisler at INET 93 when he was working for Apple as their digital libraries guy. Steve saw the Internet as a great place for public libraries even then. He had been involved in WAIS, Gopher and other projects already having helped the Blacksburg Electronic Village get started with an Apple server.

For a while I saw a lot of Steve and then our paths diverged even though I was becoming more of a library person and he was becoming more of a technology person. Luckily for us all, Steve kept his librarian identity as his technology skills and his abilities to evaluate how technology works in the human worlds to the too soon end.

But to say that Steve was a technology person misses many points.

In 2004, Steve took his “Unconnected” trip across the USA during which he visited with unconnected people and remained unconnected himself. Luckily his Unconnected blog — kept by someone else — kept us in touch with his travels and we can still read his reports today.

Steve started another blog in February 2005. Originally for a conference at Santa Clara University, “Digital Divide or Digital Commons: Toward Global Knowledge Sharing,” the digitalcommons blog continued long beyond the conference until December 2007.

Steve was very excited by the One Laptop Per Child, but he also had reason to have that enthusiasm tempered by his experiences in the Third World as is seen here in an article he posted on the OLPC News in October 2007, “A Short Movie About Information and Communications Technology.”

Steve identified himself in this way at the iCommons wiki (hosted on ibiblio):

Steve Cisler is a librarian who has worked on community network projects in the 1990’s and has worked on ICT projects in Guatemala, Ecuador, Jordan, Uganda, and Thailand, as well as rural parts of the United States. From 205-2006 he chaired a working group on “Piracy in the Pacific Rim” for the Pacific Rim New Media Summit during the Zero One art festival in San Jose, California, in August 2006.

He works for the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University and has started the KnowledeX project to network social entrepreneurs who have participated in training at Santa Clara University. He is also interested in the organizations and institutions such as public libraries which strive to open the world of knowledge to all users, but still operate inside the existing copyright regimes. In other words, groups that are on the borderland between open source/information and proprietary information and knowledge.

His web log is

No surprise in many ways that I would learn of Steve’s death via the latest connecting technology from a mutual friend, Howard Rheingold and later verified by Andy Carvin. Steve was connected to us deeply even when he was unconnecting.

Some of Steve’s friends have been posting their memories of him here.

Friend Connect, Ning and Open Social

Marc Andreesen, Ning founder explains why Ning, Friend Connect (aka GFP) and the Open Social protocol are all part of the same big web-connected package.

See my post from yesterday.

Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect logo
It’s about time for this! Google Friend Connect is out (sorta, you can ask to get to try it out as I just have).

I wrote in “Open (source)ing the doors for contributor-run digital libraries.[PDF]” Communications of the ACM. Volume 44 , Issue 5 (May 2001) and in a Japanese edition [PDF] in 2003 that “By adopting not only the open-source tools, but also the open-source philosophy encouraging community interaction and contributor involvement, digital libraries can open new horizons to new communities as well as greatly improve traditional services.”

While GFC doesn’t necessarily fully fulfill the open source software side of the equation, it does allow for stronger community interaction and contributor involvement including ways to get at trust and rating and other social tools to help as I wrote “produce real and effective collections and more importantly real and effective communities in the best democratic sense.”

If implemented correctly, GFC should work as a reverse Ning. Ning wants you to build your network on their site-hosting service. A great and flexible platform and good for many people, but suppose you already had a very effective and broad-ranging site like Then, it would seem, you’d rather add the social aspects to your site.

This does all that I was asking for for over 8 years ago! Yes, we’ve applied for the preview release. I’ll let you know if we get it — or when we get it.

And I have some ideas for some features to add…

From the Headlines


At BBC “Great tits cope well with warming”

At NandO “Easley supports college for aliens” later changed from ‘aliens” to “illegal immigrants”

Brit Band uses CCTV cameras and FOIA to produce music video.

Twitter, the sound and the fury

Despite the fact that technologies are formed as much socially as by engineering, folks — who have a better idea!!! — can’t wait to build a technically more perfect Facebook and/or Twitter. More often than not they are confusing the socially constructed use with the engineering improvements that might or might not be needed or desired.

One group that gets it is Craig’s List. They admit that their techologies aren’t so great. They are old. But they are loved by the folks who are in the Craig’s List culture. Challenges come and go but the dedication of CL’s community is yet to be topped. CL is true to their focus, their community, at the expense, more often than not, of engineering or portability etc.

Fred‘s post “Twitter, Imagined Identity and Flux” goes out to answer Michael Arlington and Dave Winer and others who really think they know how all this should work. Worth a read.

In other Twitter news, I’ve been convinced by my tweeple to put Twitterific to the side for a bit and try Twhirl. First downside, Twhirl doesn’t update my IM status which is where all of this seemed to come from in the first place. But it is very nice as an interface and does other cross posting fairly well.

I also ventured for a bit into Alertthingy, but it was so alerting that it was alarming. I need more serious friend boundaries to drink from that firehose! We all need that Dunbar-defined social grooming, but this ape would have been groomed til he was completely bald! Which takes us back to Fred’s post.

Music, News Innovation, VoiceThread, etc

Roger McGuinn gives a tour and demo of how he records his songs for at Growing

David Menconi alerts us
to a Parthenon Huxley (aka P. Hux aka Rick Rock aka Rick Miller) music video for his song, “Come Clean.” That set me off looking for my fav of all time P. Hux song “Buddha Buddha” which he sang with Don Dixon and Rob Ladd in 1985 as an opener for REM. (Yes I was there).

The Daily Tar Heel gets props as one of the top seven college news sites from Innovation in College Media.

One of my tweeple, Will deBock
has created a nice demo of VoiceThread about how he and his sons spend their Saturdays in Vermont.

Our friend Maria took 5th place (out of 22) in her first Sports Car race in her Mini. Hubby Michael sends this picture.

Our House (and others of the period)

Designed by Terry Waugh and shown all together at Triangle Modernist Houses by George Smart.
Our house in 1952Our house in 2003


I was clearly outside my demographic today at the Superchunk and Arcade Fire concert/rally for Obama in Carrboro. It was a great concert and community gathering of my tweeple, those I twitter with locally. I twittered til my battery ran out (at #superobamafire). @dcm, @tarheelcoxn and @arsepoetica all posted pictures. I think I missed seeing @HoboZero there but he too has great pictures.

Squishy also has great pictures, but he doesn’t twitter or if he does he hasn’t told me.

Before and afters, Fred and Chelsy were wonderful hosts at their house giving an impromptu grilling party to a bunch of hot tired and delighted tweeple.

© 2017 The Real Paul Jones

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑