Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer Doctoral Program

This post is long overdue. But it is better late than never, right? :)

So the Summer Doctoral Program or the "SDP" as we called it, is finally over. It was two weeks of intense seminars and discussions all in an attempt to shape and define what Web Science is. Key themes were how to ensure privacy, information accountability and transparency, how to research and predict web based social behavior on a large scale, several intros to the Semantic Web and very interesting student presentations on our own Ph.D topics ranging from porn to  e-governments! 

If you are interested in finding out what kind of things were discussed, have a look at the wiki. I have also summed up my thoughts on Web Science in this essay in case you are interested.

The SDP participants were from very diverse fields, and it was really interesting to interact and learn from each other. I think we all made some very good friends at the SDP. 
There was also an IRC back channel, and I simply loved the discussions happening there. It was the place to ask stupid questions and even throw witty remarks at others!

We also managed to design a T-shirt for the SDP. Many kudos to Matthew Weber for the design. Harry Halpin and I made sure that the RDF syntax in N3 is well-formed. After all, I don't think I would be able to wear a T-shirt with invalid syntax, especially when TimBL is around, now would I?  :)
There is a CafĂ© Press shop where you can purchase a t-shirt, a long-sleeve t-shirt or a mug if you like!

The front design looks like this:

What's the deal with the dingo you ask? Well, it's all thanks to Jonathan Zittrain. As Tobias Escher said in his blog post - "while a dingo has nothing to do whatsover with Internet research it is a very useful way of keeping the attention of your audience focused on your presentation" :). I apologize for the inside joke, but the dingo really kept us going!

And the back of the T-shirt looks like this: 

These are some of the things heard during the SDP. A more complete list is available in Sonny's blog post. Watch out for the small phrase by me :). This photo is a proof for me saying what I said(photo credit: Puneet Kishore). I even got the award "Best Swimmer" for my feat!!

Next year the SDP will take place in Brisbane, Australia. So, if you are a doctoral student working on web related studies, you might want to apply for the program. I am sure it will help your theses as well as be very enjoyable. It sure was for me!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Ready

Yes, that's right.. I am getting ready! I am getting ready to attend Summer Doctoral Program at Oxford Internet Institute, UK. This will be a two-week long program on "Web Science"! So, what is this web science I hear you ask... Well, from what I understand (from a lot of reading during the last couple of weeks) this specific field will be the starting point to understand the web we have today, it's implications on the society and what this web as we know today will become in the future.

If you are interested, here are some resources you could read to learn more:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great intro to OpenID

I stumbled upon this great tutorial on OpenID. It explains the basics and then dives down to the details in a very nice and easy-to-learn way. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Women Don't Ask

I just came from a talk by Sara Laschever, who is the co-author of the book "Women Don't Ask". This talk was very interesting, and it was mostly about how women fall behind men when it comes to negotiating. She argued that social stereotypes of men and women play a big role in this. I personally agree with most of her arguments, as I have witnessed those myself.
I should try and get hold of this book and read it!

Friday, April 4, 2008

When will you get married?

I have been on Facebook for about 6 months now, and although it has helped me a lot to keep in touch with some of my long lost friends, I have to admit that I've come across the most ridiculous applications ever imaginable! First there was a host of vampire invitations that really irritated me, then there were zombies, hugs, roses, angels, you name it.

Very recently one of my closest friends sent me an invitation to this "When will you get married" application. Here is a screenshot of that:

Notice that it says "Patented Wedding Algorithm A.I" :).
Anybody with even a teeny bit of common sense should be able to see that this is an attempt to get your personal information, and popularize this application by asking you to send this out to at least X number of your friends . But still, people try this out
! I find this fact (i.e. how psychologically we are tempted to try out these kind of silly applications even though we have a feeling that there might be an adverse consequence for us at the very end) really interesting. Don't you?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My debut with sushi

Well, I have never in my life ever tried to make sushi.. Actually to let you know a little secret I am even very clumsy with the chopsticks! However, last Friday I was part of a team which made sushi for 80 people (this was for CSAIL GSL). Isn't that cool or what?? :)

The team was Paul, Jen, Thomas and Yoong-Keok. Paul was the master chef, and out of all 5, I guess I was the one who was most alien to the sushi preparation :). However, I now know how to do it, and I'd soon try it on my own. And I think I'd even become a huge sushi fan!!

Sushi preparation is not that hard. However, it is bit time consuming and requires a bit of patience. We spent about 8 hours on Thursday evening cooking rice and wrapping up the sushi. We made California Roll, Shrimp Inari Sushi, Eel roll, Sweet Egg roll and Cucumber and Avocado roll along with the Miso soup. I was a lot of work, but it was loads of fun too!!

Here are some of the pictures Paul took...

Everybody serving themselves the sushi at the GSL:

Paul did a nice job in laying out the sushi very attractively:

This is my favorite :)
We had a quite a bit more rice than we anticipated. So we thought of being very creative with the leftover rice. Thomas made the 'castle' (on the top), I made the 'face with seaweed as hair' (middle), Yoong-keok made the 'turtle' (left of the face), 'penguin' (south of the face) and a 'ginger-bread man' (right of the face). Of course we put signs asking people not to eat these!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Web 2.0 in under 5 minutes

My knowledge on the subject is also very much limited. But by far this is the most accurate, short and visually pleasing presentation I've seen on the topic:

Taken from:

Holiday Adventures

I am back from a short trip to several states in the east coast. I went on this trip with two Sri Lankan friends I met here - Varuni and Radheeka, studying at Boston University and University of Southern California respectively. We went to New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and Virginia. We visited so many famous places, museums and even got to see two Broadway shows including Lion King and the Blue Man Group.

The trip was lot of fun and I had loads of experience (both good and bad). The good stuff were the amazing sights and sounds we got to experience (including the 100th anniversary of the crystal ball dropping at Times Square, getting FRONT ROW seats at the Blue Man Show, etc), having got to stay in 'real' houses which I so dearly missed, and getting to taste Sri Lankan food. Bad experiences were delayed flights and lost baggages ruining some outing plans, getting sick, and sometimes feeling that luck was never on our side when it comes to the weather and timing :(.

However, we had an awesome time, and we are determined to go on similar kind of trips in the future covering all 50 states of the United States!

Here are some of the pictures we took on this trip:

And here are some of the sights and sounds we got to experience.
(Fair warning though.. these are amateur videos, so you might get giddy after watching those for few seconds :)

Lights near the Rockefeller Center:

Ice Skating:
(tried and failed twice, and now scared to death to try again :)

New Year's eve at Times Square: