Projected Winter Quarter Schedule

My hoped-for Winter electives are as follows:

  1. PB AF 594, Economic Approaches to Environmental Management, (3 credits, description)
  2. INFO 498, Special Topics in Informatics: Programming Semantic Structures (1 credit 2 credits, description)

Which results in the following schedule (I’ve added in likely work hours):

Projected Winter Quarter Schedule

The number of credits for INFO 498 may shift slightly upwards after I talk to my advisor (Update 11/26: actually, it shifted upwards because I wanted a bit more exposure in this area, though my advisor indicated there’s not really a maximum number of credits that UW students can enroll for.  It’s now two credits.).

King County Metro: To Increase or Decrease Fares?

This strikes me as sort of a chicken and the egg problem – do you lower fares to increase ridership or do you increase ridership to lower fares?  The editorial acknowledges the issue of access, though, which seems to me to be more and more important the further you get from the Seattle metro area.

I’m lucky in that I live in an area where there’s at least five routes that run through regularly to various areas (a good chunk of them to the UW), but that wasn’t true in Olympia, where I was so far away from bus access that it was a literal impossibility to use the system, even if it was substantially cheaper than driving.

Here’s an Idea: New Water Taxi Service

As Washington State Ferries prepares to sell two passenger-only ferries so that they can focus on their main vehicle ferry fleet (New York Times, Seattle Times), why don’t we consider a new foot ferry program between the University of Washington and Kirkland, allowing foot travel across northern Lake Washington? We’ll be faced with traffic delays and issues as the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (otherwise known as the 520 Floating Bridge) is replaced in a few years. The idea has been suggested before by King County councilman Dow Constantine, and a similar program exists in the Elliott Bay Water Taxi program offered by King County Metro. It would definitely make it easier for people to get across the lake, considering that transit options into places like Kirkland and Bellevue from the University are decidedly lacking.

Other good reasons for this:

  • We don’t have to remove boats from the region that are already here.
  • The program would encourage people to leave their cars at home if the route were designed in a sensible manner with good connections to Metro, Sound Transit, or Community Transit on either end of the taxi route.
  • The program would be a great link-in to the already proposed and hopefully soon-to-be-implemented Sound Transit light-rail link to the UW.

Some challenges exist, of course:

  • Who owns/runs the boats? The University of Washington? King County Metro? A private operation?
  • How do we encourage ridership?
  • Can this be a year-long program? Currently, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi shuts down for the winter.

Update (11:50PM): here is the link I was originally searching for from Dow Constantine’s research into the subject back in 2005.

Flickr Update

All my photos are now here, with a slideshow here.  There’s lots of new ones too for people who keep asking when they’ll ever see the photos I’ve taken (*cough*Dad*cough*).  Alas, these aren’t ordered chronologically, so stuff that happened back in 2004 is sometimes placed after stuff in 2006.  The photostream seems to go off of posting date, which doesn’t necessarily match the reality of when the photo was taken (and Flickr is too smart – I can’t date uploads as having happened before today, since I only just signed up).

If someone’s reading this that knows how to change the photostream settings to pay attention to image date rather than upload date, that’d be nice.  I doubt it’s possible based on the FAQs, though.

There are, in particular, more photos from my 2006 road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Research Conversation: Personal Information for A World As We Want It to Be

William Jones, one of the professors at the iSchool, gave a really interesting talk about the idea of personal information management and how to improve our ability to find the information we need. Jones is one of the lead researchers for the Keeping Found Things Found project, which is a project that I’ve had some interest in since I discovered it through my research on the iSchool itself.

Some notes from the presentation:

  • Why do we have folders?
    • From the audience: to organize data.
      • Why do we organize data?
        • To find/locate information.
    • As a quick reference into the materials we need.
    • As content metadata
  • Search on our own machines gives us the ability to get stuff the same way as on the Web, so why would there be resistance to this?
  • Audience member observation: There’s a difference between finding things and finding new stuff
  • Folders are a part of our interaction with data
  • Why do people use folders in so many diverse ways?
  • The Web is becoming an extension of ourselves (and of our personal information)
  • Capturing information is now very easy
  • Storage is now very cheap
  • Search makes retrieval of information easy (if it is properly indexes and if there’s some form of version control – search does no good if we’re looking for old versions of things we already have)
  • Information fragmentation – the idea that our information is now incredibly spread out – is a more recent problem than that of information overload, which has existed, one could argue, for centuries
  • Keeping Found Things Found project did three major studies:
    • How people keep information
    • How people re-locate information they have
    • How people organize their information
  • There is a lot of diversity in the way that people organize their information – why is this?
  • An audience member gave an example of using e-mail instead of favorites or bookmarks to manage their web site. When asked why, they explained that they didn’t want their favorites list to get too long or unmanageable.
  • What about the recall of information? KFTF participants were given a list of information they had accessed 3+ months ago and asked to relocate it quickly using whatever method they wanted. They were only given five minutes for the task. After that five minutes, it was found that there was a 95% successs rate in finding that information based on a list of particular conditions (what those conditions were wasn’t discussed in the talk). However, there were some issues with people trying to remember where that information was stored. It was also noted that “Do nothing” methods – where people had made no prior note as to where the information was located (methods like Google searching) won out over bookmarks and most other methods of information search and retrieval.
  • Fourteen participants were asked to give a tour of their folder/information organization on their computers. For every single participant, there was something where they said “this shouldn’t be here”, and a small number even had to stop the demonstration to move the information to the correct location.
  • An idea Jones suggested was that old information should slowly fade from view – it doesn’t get deleted, it just isn’t visible.
  • It’s easier to pay the small cost of not being able to find things immediately than to pay the larger cost of having to reorganize or clean out our information resources.
  • An audience member noted that economics can play a big role in how information is organized, especially in a work environment – if we get paid to do things quickly, our information organizational structure better make things easy to find!