Category Archives: Anime

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Animation/Anime/

"Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It"

Since I’m interested in manga through running the boards.jp / Manga to Anime site, I found out about a talk when I was in Tokyo last week entitled “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It”.

It was held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Japan, and featured Roland Kelts (photo), author of “Japanamerica“, and Masakazu Kubo (drawing Pikachu here), an executive of Shogakukan and producer of the Pokémon movie series. The talk covered “the nuts and bolts of the craft of manga and […] the nature of its appeal beyond Japan”, and was followed by a Q&A session.

The speeches were pretty interesting. Kelts started off by giving an overview of the history of manga, ranging from the 40s and 50s art of Osamu Tezuka to its current penetration of American bookstores. He then turned over to Kubo-san for some industry perspective, including details of how a week’s worth of manga used to correspond to just 15 minutes on screen, and the fact that anime has permeated other countries in some part because it is easier (and hence cheaper) to dub in comparison to other animation (it has less precise movements of the mouth).

I asked the speakers if something like Brewster Kahle’s book archiving / book mobile project (which I blogged about last week; see video here) would have relevance to the world of manga, since Kubo-san mentioned that a lot of manga is now being digitised. Kubo said that since there are various upload / download legalities with respect to currently-licensed manga, this would be difficult, but that anything that fell outside the (previously) 50-year copyright span could potentially be provided in such a manner.

I enjoyed the session, and even found a picture of the back of my head and boards.jp t-shirt on the Japanamerica blog! My own photos are here.

Day 1 (or at least half of it) at the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo

After much fupping searching of bags, bodies and shoes and confiscating of my soft drinks in Busan Airport, I made it to the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya this afternoon for the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo where I attended some of today’s events. (I missed this morning’s English-language sessions unfortunately; I was looking forward to the ones with Joi Ito and Tim Bray.)

So I began by going to the exhibition demonstrations in the afternoon: after talking to Paul Chapman from Wall Street Associates (whom I met with his colleague Ross Sharrott) about social software and the Semantic Web, Paul recommended that I go see the Springnote exhibition from Korean-based NCsoft. Steve Kim from the company gave me a nice demonstration of their Springnote WYSIWYG wiki system for writing, organising and sharing personal notes. At some of the other stands, I also learned more than I previously knew about the Zimbra mashup-enabled e-mail application and the Lotus Connections enterprise social networking system from IBM.

After that, I met a bunch of cool people at the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo cocktail party: Jennifer Pahlka (the Web 2.0 Expo organiser with CMP Technology, who’s just after recovering from a busy sister event in Berlin), Tim O’Reilly (with whom I had a short but interesting conversation about how the Semantic Web can work with Web 2.0; that it can be about using semantics to create the connections between existing community contributions on various social sites rather than requiring a load of unrewarding manual slogging), Brady Forrest (organising chair for Web 2.0 Expo and a number of other conferences with O’Reilly Media), Evan Williams and Sara Morishige (the co-founder of Pyra Labs / Odeo / Twitter and his wife whom I met very briefly), Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo advisory board members Seiji Sato and Shuji Honjo, venture capital guru Masashi Kobayashi, and also project manager Fumi Yamazaki from Joi Ito’s Lab.

20071115a.jpg Talking with Fumi, we agreed that there’s not enough social media being produced by attendees at the event, so we endeavoured to make up for it tomorrow. To this end, because I left our big FZ7 at home in Ireland and since I only have my camera phone with me, I went exploring in Shibuya and got a nice cheap wi-fi enabled Nikon COOLPIX S51c for $239 (which is a good $50 cheaper than the average price online; my first Blade Runner-like Tokyo skyline picture is shown on the right). I’ll be snapping like mad tomorrow, and I’d also encourage people to use the “web2expotokyo” tag for their event-related content: let’s see if we can gather some stuff from these two days on Flickr, Technorati, SlideShare, etc.

I’m looking forward to these talks tomorrow (I’ve “nativised” the literal translations of the presentation titles given on this page):

  • 10:00 – Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter – “In conversation with Tim O’Reilly”
  • 10:55 – Rie Yamanaka, a director with Yahoo!’s commercial search subsidiary Overture KK – “A paradigm shift in advertisement platforms: the move into a real Web 2.0 implementation phase”
  • 11:50 – Scott Deitzen, president and CTO of Zimbra – “The impact of ‘software as a service’ and Web 2.0 on the software industry”
  • 14:35 – Joe Keller, marketing officer with Kapow – “Understanding and applying the value of enterprise mashups to your business”
  • 16:35 – Håkon Wium Lie, CTO with Opera and the creator of CSS – “The best Web 2.0 experience on any device”
  • 17:30 – Eric Klinker, CTO with BitTorrent Inc. (I met Eric and Vincent Shortino this evening) – “Web 2.0 and content delivery”

Then, tomorrow (Friday) night, the blognation Japan launch party will take place here in Shibuya. Check out the Upcoming or Facebook pages for more details and sign up if you’re interested. (Oh, and on Saturday, since I’m an anime and manga fan, I plan to go to see the talk “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese – And Why Western Kids Love It” that’s on here too!)

Stopping over in Narita, Japan

(You can see all of the accompanying photos I took today at flickr.com/photos/cloudie/sets/72157603048959630.)

I’ve arrived in Narita, Japan on my way to the International Semantic Web Conference in Busan, Korea tomorrow (and am also going to the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo after that). It’s been over nine years since I was here last, and I didn’t make it to Tokyo that time – so looking forward to exploring the city proper and practicing my very basic Japanese when I return after ISWC.

I flew with Aer Lingus on the dying Shannon-Heathrow flight, and from there direct to Tokyo Narita Airport. Taking the Shannon flight makes you realise just how stuck we’ll be when it goes – it’ll mean either an extra flight to Dublin or a three hour (at least) trip of some sort to Dublin Airport, not very nice. The other alternative involves flying from Galway to London and having an airport switch there from say Luton to Heathrow, which won’t be fun either. This makes me really mad with the government and their stupid salary hikes (note to non-natives: the SNN-LHR route is being axed by Aer Lingus, and the government did nada about it; they also recently okayed pay increases for themselves, making our Taoiseach the highest-paid leader of the world’s richest nations) – a use for my compla.in domain perhaps… Anyway, the Tokyo flight was 11 hours, pretty long but I didn’t find it too bad thanks to the in-seat entertainment screen which had at least 30 movies and many more TV shows and music albums to choose from.

20071010a.jpg I arrived in Narita Airport at 9 AM local time (midnight Irish time), and then got the Keisei rail line to Narita so was getting pretty tired by then (10:30) as I’m normally in bed early. Unfortunately the hotel had a check in of 3 PM, so I wandered around Narita for a few hours to keep myself awake. It’s horribly wet here today, but I found many parts of the town charming as I wandered down Omotesando Street and saw all the traditional stalls and eateries with people working in street-facing areas.

20071010b.jpg I made my way up to the Naritasan Shinshoji Buddhist Temple, where I attended a very interesting religious ceremony with chanting monks playing large traditional drums and other instruments. (Incidentally, and not as interesting, I heard my first Christmas music of the year on Omotesando Street too – “Adeste Fideles” was being belted out from some speakers along the road!)

20071010c.jpg I finished off my journey with a very tasty lunch of spring onion soup and Chicken fried rice in the Ramen Bayashi Noodle Shop (right) before heading back to the Comfort Hotel Narita. I got to check in 30 minutes early, and I must say that the hotel facilities are amazing considering the very low price of around €35. Free wi-fi and coffee, with breakfast included, slippers and nightshirt for your use, and the rooms are an okay size too. They have some bottom spraying toilets (some with heated seats too) if you like that kind of thing 😉 I’d recommend it if you’re having a stayover.

I really miss family and home, but I am going to make the most of my trip both professionally and socially. I next go to Busan for four nights and then back to Tokyo for four nights after that. (I also found out today when reading the Daily Yomiuri that the SCWBI are holding an event next Saturday [17th November at 6:30 in Shibuya] entitled “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese – And Why Western Kids Love It” – perfect timing and location for me, since that’s when and where I’ll be in Tokyo!)

Ruairi Robinson tipped to direct live-action Akira

From horror news site Bloody-Disgusting.com on Sunday, Irishman Ruairi Robinson is being touted as the director for a forthcoming live-action version of the classic manga (and anime) Akira.

Robinson, who was Oscar-nominated for 50 Percent Grey (one of my favourite computer-animated shorts), also directed Silent City (starring Don Wycherley and Cillian Murphy). He has not commented on the news as of yet.

Selling a bunch of interesting Irish / general domains…

It’s spring cleaning time, so I’m selling the following domains at Sedo:

Ads

thisadvert.com

Anime, J-Pop

animeandmanga.com
jpopforums.com
mangaandanime.com

Blogs, Social

planetoftheblogs.com
social365.com
thecritic.org

General

compla.in
greatbrita.in
pumpk.in
www.gen.nz

Ireland

inniu.com
irishpubs.net

Irish Cities

belfastcity.biz
belfastcity.info
corkcity.net
corkcity.org
dublincity.org
irishcity.com

News

irishnews.org
irishnewspapers.com

TV

smallville.biz

Damien Mulley’s Blog » Blog Archive » A new Net visioned he – Interview with John Breslin

Thanks to Damien for the cool questions 🙂

Damien Mulley’s Blog » Blog Archive » A new Net visioned he – Interview with John Breslin

Edit: Here are the original (long) answers to Damien’s questions.

So, what was it like winning the Net Visionary?

It was really a big surprise. To be honest, even though I knew I had a certain advantage in terms of people voting for me (it’s that bit easier to get votes with a community like boards.ie behind you), I didn’t expect to win as I thought that the jury would look at last year’s winner (Tom Murphy) and decide to ‘spread the awards around’. But I am absolutely delighted, and even though boards.ie is my main community project, I also see this award as an incentive to develop the other community sites I work on: Planet of the Blogs and Wiki Ireland (more later).

You won it for work with boards.ie, would like to give a brief history of your involvement with boards.ie?

Oops, a not-so-brief history of boards.ie follows… But similar to how you can read the abbreviated versions of those long gospels in mass, you can skip to the part marked *START HERE*! My love of electronic bulletin boards goes back to around 1990 or 1991 when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in UCG (now NUI Galway). We had e-mail of course (well, mainly used internally), but Computer Services installed a bulletin board package on our VAX/VMS mainframe called BULLETIN>, and I remember being fascinated by this. There were different official discussion areas and I think our Computer Society [Directory] or CSD had a section too. So much was my fascination (maybe I’m easily fascinated!), that I wanted to have my own installation where I could define what topics there were and so on. I think I did this, but it wasn’t used by too many people… (Are you sorry yet that you asked? You will be!)

Anyway, hop forward to the late nineties, when I was running the Irish Games Network (IGN) servers, initiated by Ed Curry. There was a sort of explosion in the number of people playing the third person shooter game “Quake” in Ireland from mid to late 1997, and the IGN (at the time, Ed, Conor McGovern [from our sponsor Telecom Internet / eircom.net], and myself) set up a number of web and gaming servers to accommodate this. As part of the IGN’s “quake.ie” website, I installed a Perl-based bulletin board package called “Matt’s WWWBoard” in Feburary 1998 (because I wanted somewhere that people could organise games, talk about Quake in Ireland, etc.). There weren’t all that many free bulletin board packages available back then, and this seemed one of the most useful at the time. The quake.ie WWWBoard really took off, but the software wasn’t written to have so many topics under discussion and it quickly became unusable (with a big long page of threads to kill your 36k connection). So I had to learn some Perl and write an archiver for the bulletin board, that would only show stuff from the last few weeks or so, and put the older posts onto archive pages. As a few weeks became a few days or even less, I wrote some importers to migrate from the WWWBoard to another system called the Ultimate Bulletin Board, which allowed us to create new forum areas for other topics (e.g. Games, Linux, etc.). There were some “legality issues” with having an open discussion forum on a Telecom Internet-sponsored site. I was now a postgraduate in UCG, and universities didn’t have any web policies in place back then, so I moved the discussion forums to my own server and called them the “Cloud Boards”. (After a while, I think I got an e-mail from Computer Services or our departmental technicians asking about the high traffic to this server, so the site moved back to the IGN again.)

*START HERE* Tom Murphy (of a company called Spin Solutions) was also quite taken with online bulletin boards. He had set up an ASP-based forum to talk about a gaming event called Quakapalooza, and saw a larger future for these discussions than just Quake. There’s a widely-quoted IRC conversation between us from 1999 I think (Tom mooted the idea of having a general purpose bulletin board site for Ireland, and I think I said that boards.ie would be a great name, but difficult to get) where he bet me that he would get the domain name boards.ie (at that time, the IEDR would not issue ‘generic’ domain names) and if he could do so then we would migrate my existing Cloud Boards to this new site. Sure enough, he got the domain (by changing the name of Spin to Boards for one day), and boards.ie was born in 2000. The company boards.ie Ltd. was established independently, and consists of some former members of Spin and myself. Nearly six years later, and I’m still actively involved with boards.ie, less so in terms of post or user moderation but I still actively create new forum areas and try and classify the forum hierarchy according to what seems right to me. My main role is in feature development – we’re adding new features all the time: blogs, wikis, podcasts – and my next step is to create entry portals for the different bulletin board communities, so I’m happy to say that 15 years after my first electronic bulletin board usage, I’m still fascinated by them!

What are your thoughts on award shows in general?

Even though boards.ie won both a Golden Spider and a Zeddy Award in 2001, and was a runner up for a NIBA in 2000, I wasn’t really that well-up on the various awards ceremonies until more recently (as my previous day job was as a lecturer in electronics, so I wasn’t directly involved in the internet industry). From what I can see, the Golden Spiders awards for 2005 is being widely acknowledged by the web developer community as a pat-your-own-back farce. I just saw the Golden Spiders’ nominations list yesterday, and even though I can’t claim to know all sites in the Irish internet demense, I didn’t see many that I recognised in that list. And the reason is: you have to pay to enter…

I liked the way that the IIA Net Visionaries were freely community nominated and voted on (and it worked out well for me, wah-hey!). Some disagreed with the fact that nominees had to pay to attend, and I guess with a total of around 40 nominees out of an attendance of 400 or so, this could have been factored into the non-nominee tickets, but this is a small matter and I don’t mind that too much. However, the thought of having to pay to apply to be an awards nominee in the first place (á la Golden Spiders) is ridiculous. If you look at some of the categories like “Best Personal Website” or “Best Community Site”, are these non-profit people also supposed to pay to enter the awards? The Zeddy Awards were set up in 2001 in opposition to the Golden Spiders. They didn’t last, but I’m glad that the spirit of this idea is returning in 2006 with the Irish Web Awards.

Also, I think it is good not to pitch the Net Visionaries and the Golden Spiders (or the forthcoming Irish Web Awards) against each other. The Net Visionaries should continue to focus on individual’s achievements, and the others can then still list organisations or companies as nominees.

You do research in the Semantic Web and social software at DERI, NUI Galway. Firstly do you want to describe what the Semantic Web is and what social software is?

Sure. Basically, the idea of the Semantic Web is to add more meaning to the web. I guess most people realise that computers can only do so much with the “natural language” information that is on the web at the moment – they just aren’t evolved enough to understand what pages of text are about. The idea of a Semantic Web was put forward by the inventor of the current web, Tim Berners-Lee, and involves a move from unstructured pages of text to semi-structured information that can not only be understood by people but can be interpreted by computers to present the information to people in new ways.

Searching for information today is based on finding words within web pages and matching them. For example, if a person was searching for information on the former English rugby captain Martin Johnson, they would visit a site such as Google and type “Martin Johnson” into the search box. The search engine will not only return web pages for the rugby player, but primarily those relating to his more famous artist namesake Martin Johnson Heade (and many other Martin Johnsons besides). One way to improve this would be for a web page author to add some extra meaning to their document, for example by marking the words Martin Johnson with tags (<rugby_player>Martin Johnson</rugby_player>). This is a simple example of annotation, where semantic meaning can be added to the Web. Now a computer can determine that this Martin Johnson is a rugby player, and that he may be the one that you are looking for. Since it’d be difficult to add annotations to all existing websites, natural language techniques can be employed to try and extract meaning from words on a web page in the same way that a human reader would. The next step is the development of various ontologies. Ontologies, providing a vocabulary of terms in a certain area (for example, there would be separate ontologies for sports or soaps or science) are used to specify the meanings of the annotations added to web pages. For the rugby example, there may be definition in an ontology that a rugby player is a member of a team, or that each team has 15 players. These ontologies are designed to be understandable by computers as part of the Semantic Web.

Social software allows people to connect, communicate or collaborate by use of a computer network – resulting in the creation of shared, interactive spaces. Some examples of social software systems that readers may be familiar with include discussion forums (like boards.ie), blogs, wikis (e.g. the Wikipedia) and online social networks. Like my love for bulletin boards, my interest in social software (of sorts) goes back to my undergraduate days: one of my first programs in 1991 showed a map of the various computer rooms in UCG with details of who was sitting at which terminal – a handy way to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know!

By using Semantic Web technologies in social software systems, I’d hope that we can create new methods for connecting people to other people and also to the information that they have created.

boards.ie to me anyway is a fascinating community. 40,000 members and the site seems to have its own culture and subcultures. There are cliques and gangs and rivalries, friendships are created and sometimes lost on it. When you see the CSO definition of a town as a place with 1500 people, would you think boards.ie is like a city?

boards.ie is quite like a city: it has its must-see areas, its run-down sections, a prison for offending users, celebrities and roving gangs. We should be allowed to have our own mayor, city council, number plates (I want 06-B-01!) and representatives in the Dáil. Seriously though, I’m always amazed when I wander into a forum area that I don’t normally frequent and see these groups of people who ‘live’ there and sometimes have little connection to the rest of the site. But it is where the connections are made that people from these overlapping communities share and learn and often find new interests, thereby evolving their own community areas.

As well as being a useful way of sharing and finding information on whatever topics you’re interested in, It is the friendships and enemyships that often keep people coming back for more – some of our busiest days happen when public fights erupt between boards.ie mini-celebrities! There’s such a diverse range of topics too – Pat Kenny read out a thread from boards.ie this week which was describing an exposé he did on his radio show about Irish Psychics Live, and there are discussion areas about all kinds of stuff ranging from David Hasselhoff and Wanderly Wagon to personal issues and zombie photo makeovers.

I also like to incorporate like-minded communities into boards.ie. One of the first such that I persuaded to join us was the popular Irish Cable and Digital Guide (ICDG) community, who were previously hosted elsewhere. We have an open offer to other existing communities that they can join (and make use of) the existing boards.ie memberbase and we will try and import any previous messages to ensure continuity.

Has it helped you in your research?

Yes, because I came into my research job (in the Semantic Web and social software area) with knowledge of how an online community is formed and works, how it is structured and so on. One of my main projects is called SIOC (the Irish word for frost), which stands for “Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities”. This is basically a system for connecting online communities, for example, let’s say we want connect discussions on the web archive of the Irish Webmaster Network’s Open mailing list to those ongoing in boards.ie’s Webmaster forum. The structure of most online discussions are quite similar, whether they be on blogs, Usenet newsgroups or forums – they consist of discussion starters and replies or comments to the initial post. SIOC can connect all these discussion primitives – through links such as similar topics of interest, social networks, related forums, etc. – we just need people to install the exporters that we are developing for various open source and commercial discussion systems. More information for techies at http://rdfs.org/sioc/ regarding SIOC.

As well as boards.ie you seem to own dozens more websites and have a huge amount of other discussion boards running. Care to list them all out here?

Hehe! Actually I read through these questions and didn’t see this one at first 🙂 Well, I do run a medium-sized bulletin board site for Japanese culture called “boards.jp”. I also run a number of smaller (not very active) sites for other countries: New Zealand (boards.co.nz), China (boards.com.cn), and the US (boards.us). I’m also planning other sites for Austria, Spain and India – but for all of these, I need to get some momentum going. Like boards.ie, this could initially be formed through a group of 10 or 20 active users interested in a particular topic. Most of these sites can be accessed through boardsgroup.com.

Apart from that, I run the Planet of the Blogs blog aggregator for Irish Blogs, a corresponding one for New Zealand called “Generation Blog”, the irishblogs.org free blog hosting service, Wiki Ireland, the anime.ie site for the Anime and Manga Society of Ireland, a site for Japanese synthesizer musician Isao Tomita at isaotomita.org, and then there’s my own personal pages (Cloud, John Breslin, Ambient Zone).

I’m a real hoarder, so I often buy domain names with the hope of doing something with them eventually – I think I have around 50 or so at the moment (e.g. GalwayCity.com or CorkCity.net – don’t shoot me Damien!). With some of these, I’ve realised that my time is limited and I will never get around to doing anything so in those cases I’ve tried to donate them to relevant communities of interest.

Wiki Ireland (www.wiki.ie) is one of your latest ventures. What’s the purpose of it?

Wikis have had great success recently in terms of online collaboration for various purposes: e.g., creating virtual encyclopedias (like the famous Wikipedia), collaborating on research projects or papers, writing books, organising events, and so on. Wiki Ireland was set up as a non-profit project to create a valuable local knowledge store for Ireland’s culture and heritage, and I hope that it will act as a focus for collecting local knowledge and articles that may or may not be deemed noteworthy for a general knowledge encyclopedia.

The first wiki-focussed conference was held in Frankfurt in August, at which I talked with the creator of the first wiki, Ward Cunningham. I also met Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, where we discussed the open inclusion process of Wikipedia as opposed to the more traditional printed encyclopedias. I’d just created my first Wikipedia article, about a 1970s music group with the wonderful name ‘Tonto’s Expanding Head Band’. Jimmy said you’d never get that into one of the other popular (name removed) encyclopedias.

The project aims to use Wiki Ireland as a central site for collecting Irish knowledge such as folklore, history or geographical information from participants. The site welcomes contributors willing to devote any time to creating or maintaining articles on the knowledge store, be they teachers, students, librarians or knowledge enthusiasts! Articles can include local songs, poems or recitations; historical descriptions of towns, buildings or people; recommended walks for visitors to a particular region; fairy or folk tales; etc.

I have a personal interest in putting an archive of recitations online. My grandfather, Jack Casey, has been transcribing recitations from memory and elsewhere that he has been interested in since he was in school. My aunt typed up his _first_ volume of handwritten pages, amounting to over 500 songs and poems, and I have just started to input these into the Wiki Ireland site.

Did you meet Sir Tim Berners-Lee when he was recently in Galway? What was that like?

Unfortunately, no, I didn’t get to meet Sir Tim. My only contact with him has been through the Semantic Web IRC channel. My students Ina and Uldis did interview him however, and they recorded a podcast which is available at http://esw.w3.org/topic/IswcPodcast for your listening pleasure.

How do you see the web changing in the next few years?

Ah, a question worthy of a Net Visionary (eek!). I think it has already changed from a set of static pages to living pages (through blogs and wikis). I think this will continue, and that many commercial websites will think about adopting the wiki model (with some access control limitations) thereby allowing teams to maintain their site’s content (rather than just one person as in the past). And associated with this, there will be this move towards supplementing or replacing the content of pages with semi-structured data for the future Semantic Web.

I was at a nice talk last year by Zack Rosen (of CivicSpace Labs), where he said they are very interested in Asterisk (free Linux PABX) and the idea that conversations could be recorded and used on community sites – this could replace traditional discussions. Podcasting is going this way; you can not only have text comments as replies to podcasts postings but also add audio ones. I can see some mailing lists being linked to phone numbers that you can ring up to leave audio comments for members of the list.

Tim has his own vision, do you think it will be achieved?

Since a lot of Tim’s vision is towards the aim of the Semantic Web, I certainly hope so as my job depends on it! I think that through initiatives such as DERI at NUI Galway (funded by the Irish Government’s Science Foundation Ireland), we are fulfilling our slogan of “making the Semantic Web real”. Some of our systems such as the Jerome Digital Library or the YARS metadata repository are actually already in use and making it easier to do things on the web, as well as making it possible to do things that you couldn’t do before (e.g., on JeromeDL, you can pose some nice questions like, “show me all the recent documents written by people in my social network or friends of my friends that correspond to my topics of interest”).

You have a deep involvement with blogs with Planet of the Blogs and IrishBlogs.org. There are in the region of 700 blogs in the PotB aggregator now and there seems to be a good community attitude between the bloggers and a high level of mutual respect. Do you think the model of boards.ie could be applied here?

I’m happy to say that sites like IrishBlogs.ie (from Browse the World) and Planet of the Blogs (from myself and Martin Feeney) have seemed to create a momentum behind the establishing of an Irish blogging community. The same is happening in the Irish podcasting domain, through the efforts of Brian H. Greene amongst others.

If there was a lot of cross-interaction between the blogs, I think something similar to boards.ie could exist. That’s why systems like Drupal are so powerful (as I use on irishblogs.org), because you can have your own blog area but you can use your same account to comment on other people’s blogs, and you can also share authentication across Drupal sites.

Could you forsee 10,000 bloggers in Ireland?

I think that we could quite easily see 10,000 bloggers in Ireland. Actually, I think the quickest way to make this happen at the moment would be to offer all of our boards.ie members the option to have a blog. Like survival of the fittest, the inactive ones will quickly die out. We currently allow our paid subscribers to have WordPress [Multiuser, by Donncha O Caoimh] blogs, but it is not feasible to open up this system to everyone due to some MySQL limitations. However, we have been testing a new blogging system based on Drupal (with less features than WPMU) that could potentially be opened up to all boards.ie members through a shared user database.

Do you think there’ll be a large percentage of people blogging in the future?

Yes, but again more for the reason that people will continue to have websites about their favourite hobbies, bands, communities, etc., and blogs are a way to maintain a living site that can be syndicated and commented on that is not easily done with free hosting sites such as Geocities.

What are some of your favourite blogs at the moment? Do you subscribe to a lot of them?

I don’t subscribe to as many as I could, since Planet of the Blogs can show me a lot through a single syndicated feed. But some of the main ones I read include Danah Boyd and the Many 2 Many group blog which are both about social software, my colleagues blogs here in DERI, An tImeall, Eugene Eric Kim, Emmet Connolly, Bernie Goldbach, Marc Canter, and your good self.

So, we mentioned the semantic web and where that’s going, what about other technologies? What do you see as the main tech trends in the next 12 months and in the next 3-5 years? Ireland specific, what do you think will be the main Irish trends?

Annotated media is an interesting one for the near future – skip your DVD to the scene with the red shirt flapping in the wind, or ask your Sky+ box for shows that feature actors from Scotland. Podcasts can also be annotated, more so through automatic speech recognition, but people could also add annotations (e.g. URL references) or tags to parts of a recording as they listen to it.

There’s still a convergence going on between computing and traditional broadcast reception devices. My satellite receiver can record TV shows onto a harddisk, play MP3s, display pictures, be used to browse web pages, operate as an RSS reader, stream radio, play Lemmings, and so on. Some of us have DVD players and Sky boxes, but as of yet, not many that do absolutely everything.

I hope that in terms of Ireland there’ll be a trend towards more pervasive broadband, and cheaper too (but actually being able to get it is most important). As a non-mobile phone owner, I’m not sure what is going to happen there exactly (iMode?), but maybe it’d be cool if they could be used to run useful computations for SETI@home or cancer research when they are not busy.

For someone into technology and playing with all things web, you don’t even own a mobile phone which nowadays is a rarity, why no mobile? Do you own any gadgets?

Yes, I am one of the remaining 6% of people (including babies and seniors) that don’t own a mobile phone. I dislike their intrusive nature, but must admit that I don’t like phones (landlines) in general. Apart from that, I do like _useful_ gadgets. I have a basic digital camera, a MiniDisc recorder, an iPod Nano that I won at a competition two weeks ago, and at home I have a Dreambox (a Linux-based satellite receiver), DVD recorder and a modified Xbox.

How do you juggle work, research, websites and play?

I’m fortunate now in that my work is quite closely related to what I would call my hobbies (like boards.ie), and therefore I find it really interesting. However, the problem is that it is difficult to switch off from computer stuff as it can take up all hours. I try not to work on my PC past 8 PM, but at the lastest 10 PM – otherwise I won’t sleep (soundly). Then it is a matter of making time for family, films, radio shows, walks (rare!), sci-fi and TV (common!) and travel.

You have a load of other interests such as anime and manga and you host a radio show in Galway. How did you get into anime and manga?

I got into anime unknowingly when I was a kid, through the TV show Battle of the Planets – a US sanitised version of the Japanese show Science Ninja Team Gatchaman – I loved it. It was only years later that I realised that what I was watching was actually anime. Then I was exposed to Akira from a friend in college, and it kind of went from there. I set up a site called Manga to Anime (now boards.jp), and could indulge my new obsession by conversing with like-minded fans there. Recently I bought an original ‘cel’ (animation still) from Gatchaman.

There seems to be quite a following in Ireland for this, ever wondered why and how it became popular here?

Anime and manga has just become popular everywhere really, and Ireland has recently caught on. The British Isles have been a bit behind in terms of this, as in the mid-nineties there were only a handful of companies releasing a limited set of anime here. But the world of P2P sharing and torrents has forced a more global view of the demand for anime, and now we’re reaping the benefits of this fandom as it hits the mainstream.

So, what next for John Breslin after being declared an Irish Net Visionary? What do you see yourself going into next?

As regards the immediate future, I am going to continue to work on the SIOC project in DERI, NUI Galway, and with the boards.ie site I’ll be looking at how we can offer free forums / blogs as well as installing an enhanced classifieds system (with Regi / Dan King). Wiki Ireland is also something I want to inject some life into, through outreach to schools or community groups and accessing those individuals literally brimming over with local knowledge.

Long term, vote John Breslin for President. Actually, President Breslin sounds a bit weird so I’d have to change the constitution to make the position that of King or Emperor so that it sounds better. Can I do that legally?

EirtaKon 2005 – A Resounding Success

I think it is fair to say that EirtaKon 2005 was an amazing event, and that the numbers that attended far exceeded any expectations that Art_Wolf, CuLT and crew may have had in mind…

There were over 170 people there on Saturday alone, and this is for something that wasn’t even advertised that much (mostly viral word-of-mouth information). The guys did an amazing job at the event organisation, from programmes to bags to badges to t-shirts – kudos to the EirtaKon 2005 team!

For my part, I only got to attend for a few hours on Sunday, but Pazuzu won the anime.ie slogan competition for an Eva-03 model and CuLT won a poster with my raffle tickets 🙂

So again, well done, and the stage is set for an even bigger event in 2006!

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