AssembleMe is an information science blog written by Julius Schorzman that frequently sways off-topic.

Julius is the CEO of the Google Ventures backed company DailyCred. DailyCred makes working with OAuth super duper simple.

To view some of my old projects, visit Shopobot or CodeCodex.

You can follow me on Twitter if you really want to @schorzman.

Contact Me
This form does not yet contain any fields.

    Bush Audio Archive

    INFO ACCESS: Nothing sounds more painful to me then listening to George Bush on purpose -- I already cringe at the sound of his voice when listening to NPR's Morning Edition. However, this project is pretty cool. The George W Bush Audio Archive is a database of every public speaking event George Bush has given, assembled in a way that allows one to search for any particular phrase just by using your OS's file search function.

    The George W Bush Public Domain Audio Archive is a public domain database of the speeches of George W. Bush. Every phrase from each major speech has been made into an individual audio file, where the filename is, in most cases, the exact text content of the sample. This allows you to search the entire database for individual keywords. In the list of links below, "Individual files" links allow you to download a zip file containing the individual phrases. "Linear recording" links are an mp3 of the entire speech, which may be downloaded or streamed. In some cases, either the linear recording or the individual phrases are not available.

    The site says the entire database was about ten gigs in wave format. That's a lot of "misstatements" for one man to stand by.


    Dr. Joseph Janes: The Library Vis-à-Vis Google

    INFO SCIENCE:It's always nice to see a professor you like in the news. I took Dr. Janes' single-credit Google Class a few quarters back and had a great time. He's a very engaging speaker and the course was a lot of fun. Today he's quoted in a New York Times article: Old Search Engine, the Library, Tries to Fit Into a Google World.

    "The nature of discovery is changing," said Joseph Janes, associate professor and chairman of library and information science at the University of Washington. "I think the digital revolution and the use of digital resources in general is really the beginning of a change in the way humanity thinks and presents itself."


    Yet for every archive that has become searchable by commercial Web engines, scores are not accessible. "There's lots of great stuff that isn't available digitally and likely never will be," Dr. Janes said. Most books published before 1995 fit into this category, he said, as do many older magazines, newspapers and journals, as well as historical maps, archives, letters, diaries, older census statistics and genealogical materials.

    "We have to figure out how to adapt to a world where people will prefer digital stuff," Dr. Janes said, "yet not forgo the investment in print and analog collections and the work involved in mapping and maintaining those collections."


    Dr. Janes said that, like many others, he occasionally pined for the days spent in musty library stacks, where one could chance upon scholarly gems by browsing the shelves.

    "You can think of electronic research as a more impoverished experience," Dr. Janes said. "But in some ways it's a richer one, because you have so much more access to so much more information. The potential is there for this to be a real bonus to humanity, because we can see more and read more and do more with it. But it is going to be very different in lots of ways."

    I would hope he's wrong about a lot of older print resources never being made available in digital format. Book scanners, text recognition, and digital storage technologies are all getting cheaper and a lot of older and more arcane materials will come online eventually. There are also projects like Project Gutenberg that seek to bring older texts online the old fashioned way: data entry.

    There's good reason to believe this eventually may come about. Just look at music: the greatest music library in the history of humankind is now available online via peer-to-peer services (albeit in violation of old-fashioned copyright law).


    DRM Doomed Part Deux

    INFO SCIENCE: I Cory Doctorow. Seriously, someone print me up a t-shirt that says that because I want to have this d00ds baby. He posted a wonderful talk he gave at Microsoft's Research Group on June 17, 2004. Please read. God bless him.

    DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely,

    months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid.

    It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not

    because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day,

    all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their

    attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point,

    the secret isn't a secret anymore.

    I have no idea who took that photo, but I found it here.

    (Via - duh - BoingBoing)



    INFO VISUALIZATION: If I had a nickel every time I needed to know the Longitude and Latitude of an address, I wouldn't have any nickels. Still, Geocoder.us is awesome... If only I could find a reason to need it.

    Geocoding is the process of estimating a latitude and longitude for a given location. Geocoder.us is a public service providing free geocoding of addresses and intersections in the United States. The geocoding service relies on Geo::Coder::US, a Perl module available for download from the CPAN.

    (Via Eyebeam reBlog)


    Why Sony Failed

    INTERFACES: Brighthand has a great article, "Why Sony's PDAs Failed in the U.S., but Not in Japan." It's a great read about why you need to keep your gadgets' physical and software interfaces simple and intuitive. Well, duh, Sony. Also not news: Sony's designers simply don't understand the American consumer.

    Sony failed with Clies in the U.S. because its devices had numerous small software controls with cryptic icons, buried settings with vast numbers of mystifying variables to set up things like Wi-Fi, and unnecessarily complicated looking screens. Apparently for the Japanese consumer, a complicated-looking Applications screen suggests that the device is cool and powerful. In America, the same screen is seen as too complicated and confusing, and if it requires a manual to figure it out, it's going back to the store.

    Japanese people like overly complicated interfaces and enjoy reading manuals? Say it aint so! This goes against my thoughts about technology and interfaces so much I'm tempted not to believe it.


    CEO Confidence, Nearly Worthless

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Slate has a great piece poking fun at the idea that CEO Confidence (as measured by The Chief Executive Group) is any better at predicting the future state of the economy than any other index. In fact, they find that you're better off following the Dow Jones, since CEO's tend to be a bit behind the curve.

    Here's a great quote from the article, written by Daniel Gross:

    CEOs don't seem to have a better handle on the economy's prospects than the average mutual fund investor. CEOs seem to be slow on the uptake. According to the CEO Confidence Watch, in the third quarter of 2003, when the economy was cooking at an 8.2 percent annual clip, only about 10 percent of CEOs described business conditions as "good." Today, with the economy growing at half that pace and with interest rates on the rise, some 44.6 percent do.

    View the report (PDF Alert).


    Explore New York Architecture

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Two new tools for those interested in New York real estate and/or architecture.

    First off, there's VIVA (Visual Index to the Virtual Archive), based on New York's Skyscraper Museum's collection. VIVA is a cool "visually-based interface that uses a 3-D computer model of Manhattan as a click-on map, allowing Web visitors to view the city, present and past, and to access the Museum's collections through an on-line, searchable database."

    Sound too good to be true? Well, it is. The problem with VIVA is that the interface isn't intuitive and can take a bit of getting used to. Secondly, the photos you actually manage to find are about the size of postage stamp on up-to-date monitors. Also, VIVA is a work in progress; when I last got it to work, the only neighborhood you can actually explore is Lower Manhattan. Lastly, VIVA sometimes just doesn't work. It will seemingly just load forever. All of these qualms aside, it's a great and interesting project that I hope will continue to move forward.

    Also, the New York Times added a cool feature to their Real Estate Section that allows you to explore data from the five boroughs and beyond (read: Jersey). It's a well done visualization, even if it's a bit depressing with housing prices through the roof and all.


    Chip Kidd Interview

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Graphic designer Chip Kidd has done a ton of highly recognizable book covers, including David Sedaris' new book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

    The Onion's A.V. Club has a great interview with this cool guy. Here are my two favorite quotes from the article.

    One of the things I learned while majoring in graphic design in college, that I've always taken very much to heart... The teacher one day drew an apple on the blackboard, and then wrote the word "apple" underneath it. He pointed to the whole thing and he said, "You should never do this." He covered up the picture and said, "You either just have the word," then covered up the word and said, "or you just have the picture. But don't do both." It's insulting to the reader, or the viewer, or whoever. I think that's true.


    I don't avoid repeating myself. I rip myself off all the time. But you also have to try and constantly rethink the form. It's very important. Or everything will just get stale.


    iRaq Posters

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Theunofficialappleweblog shows some new iPod-like "iRaq" posters that are showing up around New York City. You have to appreciate how powerful they are.


    The Two Things

    INFO THEORY:The Story of Two Things story according to Glen Whitman:

    A few years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When I told him I was an economist, he said, “Ah. So… what are the Two Things about economics?”

    “Huh?” I cleverly replied.

    “You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

    “Oh,” I said. “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

    Ever since that evening, I’ve been playing the Two Things game. Whenever I meet someone who belongs to a different profession (i.e., a profession I haven’t played this game with), or who knows something about a subject I'm unfamiliar with, I pose the Two Things question. I also posed the Two Things question on my blog, where it elicited many responses in the comments section and on other blogs. This page is a collection of responses to the "Two Things" question, collected from various pages on the web, with credit given when possible.

    The two things about data visualization and interfaces? I'd say:

    1) Simplify, but empower the user simultaneously.

    2) Treat the user's computer screen like a new acquaintance's home. Act respectful; don't take over the place.