The Greater Fool

You don't need to know Non-Technical Friend that well...

Teach them about History - Avoid looking at Non-Technical Friend's browser history or searching Google for anything that starts with "a", "p" or "s." You don't need to know Non-Technical Friend that well. Perhaps come up with an excuse to teach them about Private Browsing or "Incognito" if you're cool like that.

Awesome guide and checklist form Scott Hanselman on how to help your un-fizzbuzzed friends with their computer maintenance. I'm consistently amazed how FUBARed their computers can be while they put up with it.

The demise of the low level Programmer. « #AltDevBlogADay

Andy Firth blogs about the demise of low-level programmers with the advent of "managed code." While many of us appreciate the ability to never deal with malloc and poxis_memalign, he does make a good point about having a basic understanding of how that sort of deal works under the hood. Andy gives us a list of concepts we should understand to be an effective programmer. Do you 

FREE ALBUM: SPIN Tribute to Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

This year is the 20th anniversary of one of my generation's most influential albums (remember those?) Nirvana's _Nevermind_. To celebrate, SPIN magazine has collected a number of Nirvana's contemporaries to record a tribute album (remember THOSE?) called _Newermind_. Even better, the download is free! Click through to get to their spamwall.

Email is the new Social? And the best AOL quote ever.

At the time AOL purchased Bebo, we were desperate to get into the social networking space. There was an attempt to buy Facebook, but Zuckerberg basically told us to fuck off.

A great quote even if I completely disagree with the premise. Social is the new email, that's for sure. Even facebook is trying to eliminate the email connection by consolidating Messages with Chat. As far back as two years ago, colleges have stopped automatically handing out email addresses to incoming students.

Email is a relic of Web1.0, not a catalyst for repeat usage and engagement as Fred Wilson would have you believe. I'm 10 times more likely to hand out my twitter than my email address. Email is inherently un-social as it's only viewable by the designated parties in the email header. There are umpteen variations on the boilerplate corporate signatures that designate the contents as unsharable.

Someday, we'll regard emails with the same notion as phone numbers. We'll use them for certain communications but it won't be the default.

U.S. IT freelancers see spike in action in E.U.

Unlike Silicon Valley where they may be outsourcing the duller parts of their work, it’s the other way around when you’re working with companies in Europe, because you’re essentially the one teaching them what best practice is,” said Thrasyvoulou who sees the intellectual challenge of work in Europe as one of the biggest draws for U.S. web workers. “I think generally innovative, techie people like being at the forefront. They want to be the ones dictating how things should be as opposed to being told how to do things.

An interesting analysis of the globalization of IT services. Are there really plum opportunities to had in Europe for the savvy (or even journeyman) Web Worker? I always anticipated Asia and its sub-continent as the natural destination for many of the IT knowledge workers here in the States but the E.U. may have a lot more to offer in terms of desirability.

So, will your next gig have you shouting, "Opa!" in Greece or "Guten Tag" in Germany?

So, What Does "HREF" Stand For, Anyway?

Today it occurred to me that, after a little over ten years of basic fluency in HTML, I have absolutely no idea why the href attribute is named “href”. Why not “url”, “link”, or even just “ref”?

I found no mention of name origin in the HTML recommendation, which has the following to say about the attribute:

This attribute specifies the location of a Web resource, thus defining a link between the current element (the source anchor) and the destination anchor defined by this attribute.

Not a single “H” word. The remarks in the HTML 4.01 DTD provide more naught:

href        %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- URI for linked resource --

Its not hard to make an educated guess, of course, but I was hoping for something canonical. Here’s what I came up with in order of what I’d like “href” to mean:

  1. Hypermedia Reference
  2. Hypertext Reference
  3. Heraldo Refera (sp., I know, thanks. It works better this way.)
  4. HTTP Reference
  5. Hyperlink Reference
  6. HTML Reference

I could live with both “hypermedia reference” and “hypertext reference” but not “hyperlink reference” or “HTML reference”. The former implies that “href” references a hyperlink (which it doesn’t) and the latter implies that what you are referencing will always be HTML.

And after a bit more digging, I think it’s probably safe to rule out “HTML Reference” entirely. Early alt.hypertext discussion around the WorldWideWeb (WWW) project makes no mention of HTML whatsoever. (I forgot that the term “hypertext” had been around way before HTML was invented [1965]). Here’s an excerpt of TimBL pitching the web in 1991:

We also have code for a hypertext server. You can use this to make files available (like anonymous FTP but faster because it only uses one connection). You can also hack it to take a hypertext address and generate a virtual hypertext document from any other data you have – database, live data etc. It’s just a question of generating plain text or SGML (ugh! but standard) mark-up on the fly. The browsers then parse it on the fly.

Tim had a nasty itch there, didn’t he? Good thing he scratched it.

Hypertext Reference” would seem to be the most likely original expansion of “href”. Can any of you old-timers confirm or deny this or have any recollection of the name’s origin?

UPDATE 1: It looks like HREF originally stood for something much less obvious. See comments for some interesting discussion on “head anchors”.

UPDATE 2: It would appear that we have it from the horses mouth now:

… “A” is for “anchor”, “HREF” is for “hypertext reference”

Thanks to David Håsäther for digging up the obscure reference. We can all sleep a little easier tonight. Maybe…

UPDATE 3: Anyone with even the slightest interest in this stuff should take a look at Sean Palmer’s Early History of HTML – 1990 – 1992. It’s a short, meaty timeline packed with great information, including info on the earliest HTML document on the web and a first implementation of hypertext by TimBL: HyperText.m.

Huge thanks to Dan Brickley for leaving the link in the comments.

I always subscribed to the (h)ead (ref)erence of an anchor which is the <a> tag. Hypertext works for me and gives a nice foil to the HTML and HTTP references, but then it seems it would be htref, no?

Group Intelligence and the Female Factor

The finding: There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

The research: Professors Woolley and Malone, along with Christopher Chabris, Sandy Pentland, and Nada Hashmi, gave subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.


Harvard Business Review interviews Anita Woolley of Carnegie Mellon University, who's studies tried to measure the collective intelligence of a group in terms of being effective in a particular domain. As well as whether that intelligence would be a predictor of future effectiveness in other domains.

The first question was how to gauge collective intelligence. It's not as well understood as individual IQ nor is it easy to quantify the elements that contribute to it. The technology that was used to measure group process in the form of accelerometers on badges that can capture body language. Gaining a better tool to measure group intelligence allowed the scientists to study how different collaboration flow and managerial interventions may affect team dynamic and how to best deploy these mechanisms.

The most striking finding was a mostly linear relationship between the number of women in a group and the collective intelligence of that group. Women, of course, increased the diversity of the group but more importantly are more typically socially skilled or socially intelligent.

This comes as no surprise to me as this trait allows women to increase diversity even more by coaxing out the less popular opinions of the group. Having a high emotional intelligence combined with high IQ in the group, again diversity, would seem to be the best indicators of group performance. An increase in trust among the team would see a corresponding increase in collective intelligence. In short, the diverse teams had more, higher quality collaborations than the other teams. This is corroborated by the finding that performance flattens out at the extreme end (all women groups did not fare as well).

Info-Video on the impact of social media on people.


My biggest takeaway from this is not that porn has been displaced by social as the #1 activity on the web, but rather that Groupon will reach $1 billion revenue faster than _any_ company in _history_ and they don't even have a product.