Standards, the My Suite, and Summer

I believe in the general synchronicity of summer, and think June and July bring unexpected Jungian gifts. This is an eventful summer for me in many ways, but for now, a quick word on my professional life.

Firstly, buddy and fellow AOLer Kevin Lawver blogged with gusto about replacing me as AOL’s Advisory Committee Representative to the W3C. I’m going to be doing other things professionally within AOL, and Kevin, a Standards Titan at AOL, is the right guy to step up and bat for the company. I’m still going to be a member of various W3C working groups. And I got elected by the Advisory Committee to be a member of W3C’s Advisory Board, which serves an advisory role to the W3C staff. I’m honored to have been elected, and start “officially” in July. As a member of the AC, Kevin will face all the questions of the relevancy of W3C and AOL engineers making time to participate in standards that I did, and I wish him all the very best.

Secondly, the blogosphere has already been given an inkling of myAOL, a suite of web applications that I’m working on as part of a great team of AOL engineers. We’re going to launch it this summer. In particular, I’m part of the team working on Mgnet (pronounced magnet), a way to discover content through some innovative navigational metaphors. Can’t wait to go beta already!

The myAOL suite has been discussed in a “pre-release” capacity on TechCrunch and on Jeremy O.’s Web Strategist blog.

Review of The 12 Labors

Brazilian cinema fascinates me because it marries the vibrancy of the New World (including intriguing racial identities and beautiful music) with stark urban realities. I mention a few of Brazilian movies I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in a previous blog post.

Ricardo Elias’ The 12 Labors is as watchable as its peers, and shares thematic elements with Black Orfeu. Like the 1959 “cross-over” classic, the protagonist of The 12 Labors, Heracles, is named after a character in Greco-Roman mythology. The connection to mythology here, however, is not as pronounced. As we slowly learn, the mythical 12 tasks of Heracles (which includes slaying beasts, cleaning a filthy celestial stable in a day, and other impossible errands of redemption) serves more of a symbolic role in the story of a black youth in Sao Paulo.

Continue reading

Review of Hana

It was apparently a Kennedy family motto to never get mad, but instead to get even. Mere anger was by itself not a sufficient catharsis — an affront called for retaliation in kind. I recall this little dictum from my repository of Kennedy folklore because I’ve always found it an attractive philosophy. But what shape should the revenge take? And should one repay a dastardly act with something equally dastardly? Gandhi once famously said that if everyone espoused the philosophy of an “eye for an eye” everyone in the world would be blind.

Such ruminations on what constitutes revenge and payment in kind came to mind after I left the Kabuki theater following a screening of Kore-eada’s Hana. Remember that I said I’d review it as part of my role as a member of the citizen press corps? Hana is a beautiful, slow-moving treatise on the subject of revenge and forgiveness, steeped in Japanese samurai culture, and set in a time when the samurai are pretty much extraneous. Kore-eada’s story takes place in the Edo era (old Tokyo, circa 1701) when there are no battles to be fought, and the glorious samurai of yore basically sit around unemployed as festering malcontents.

Continue reading

Joining The Thronging Citizen Journalism Contingent (By Writing About Movies)

Thanks to the good auspices of Kevin Smokler (who I met at South By Southwest), I get a press pass to the San Francisco International Film Festival as part of the Citizen Media Press Corps. I love the movies with a passion, and the film festival circuit is a great place to catch movies that aren’t out in popular release yet. There are also some movies that you can probably only see on the festival circuit. For the next week, expect a lot of posts about the movies, which I’ll file under Society | At My Leisure. Here’s what I’ll be up to with my press pass audaciously hanging from my neck.

Continue reading


“I don’t know what you’re so highly strung about,” Charles said to me, a few minutes before our panel was about to begin. I was anxiously asking him to wolf his breakfast down and rush to the Green Room, which is the panel ante room at SxSW. “It will be ok — trust me.” I often wish I was as calm as Charles about things.

He was right, of course. The panel I moderated on Web browsers at SxSW even got scooped by PC Magazine — yay! The article mentions the empty seats, which certainly caused a brief sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Nobody likes to throw a party and have scant attendance. But the panel itself went swimmingly, and towards the end I’d say we had over 150 people in there. Thank you, Brendan, Chris, and Charles.

There was also some small measure of controversy, which I suppose is the mark of a good discussion. Dan Appelquist (who chairs the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group, which I am also a part of) asked a good question about WICD, and Brendan’s answer spawned much discussion. Soon, our panel will be podcast, and everyone can see the exact quote in question. Regurgitating what Brendan said in second and third hand accounts may not lead to the most accurate discourse :-)

An annotated anthology of Arun Ranganathan's Web noise.