Notebook of Sand



Curriculum Vitae

• Recent Publications
• Recent Projects
• Conferences & Speaking
"Comparing Spatial Hypertext Collections"
  ACM Hypertext '09
"Archiving and Sharing Your Tinderbox"
  Tinderbox Weekend London '09
"The Electronic Nature of Future Literatures"
  Literary Studies Now, Apr '09
"The World University Project"
  St. John's Col. Cambridge, Feb '09
"Ethical Explanations,"
  The New Knowledge Forge, Jun '08
Lecture, Cambridge University
  Tragedy in E-Lit, Nov '07
Hypertext '07: Tragedy in E-Lit
Host for Tinderbox Cambridge '07
Keynote: Dickinson State Uni Conf
Upper Midwest NCHC'07: Speaker
eNarrative 6: Creative Nonfiction
HT'05: "Philadelphia Fullerine"
  Nelson award winning paper
NCHC '05:
 Nurturing Independent Scholarship
Riddick Practicum:
  Building Meeting Good Will
NCHC '04:
  Philadelphia Fullerine
  Lecture on American Studies
WWW@10: Nonfiction on the Web
NCHC '03: Parliamentary Procedure
ELL '03 -- Gawain Superstar
• (a)Musing (ad)Dictions:

Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.

Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)

Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!

My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])

The Economist daily news analysis

Global Higher Ed blog

• Hypertext/Writing

Writing the Living Web

Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, hypertext expert Mark Bernstein. (Electronic) Literature, cooking, art, etc.

Fabulous game reviews at playthisthing.

• Stats

Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.

There is a Chapter II.

Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA

Lineage: Guatemala

Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.

Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.

Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.

Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.

Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.

September 2005
2004: Earlier | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2005: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2006: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2007: Spring | Summer - Summer 2008 | Spring & Summer 2009 | Now
Models and Metaphors, by Max Black
Wednesday, 28 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

I am finally finishing the post-trip craziness. This means that I will soon be able to actually blog the HT05 conference.

I am also finally digging into my research wholeheartedly. This semester promises to be very instructive. I'm finishing my honors thesis on mid-19th century Philadelphia's ethnic experience. But I'm also conducting a directed study in the philosophy of science.

My first book? Models and Metaphors, by Max Black.

Wow. Anyone intending to do anything on the Semantic Web must read this book. Black was a specialist in the philosophy of mathematics, and this analysis of language/philosophy identifies and begins to address most of the toughest questions facing the Semantic Web today.

Sure, it's a tough read. I wouldn't suggest it for after-dinner lounging in the sofa with a glass of your favorite beverage. But it's worth the effort.

A more thorough analysis should follow in the next week or so. But here's a preview:

** * **

One of the hardest questions faced by Semantic Web architects is very simple: what is a meaning? Here's what black says:

When a philosopher asks, "Are linguistic meanings different from words? If different, are they ideas in Plato's sense or are they in the mind? And if in the mind, are they images or imageless concepts?" he commits an initial mistake that probably dooms his inquiry to futility. For behind the question "What are meanings?" is the supposition that there are such things as meanings to be categorized. It is supposed that the accusatives of meaning formulas designate (refer to, stand for) entities: we are then invited to decide whether the entities in question are linguistic expressions, Platonic ideas, or perhaps something else again. But if the arguments I have outlined are sound, the initial supposition is mistaken. Although words and gestures have meanings, there are no meanings that can be designated, and hence no philosophical problems of assigning such supposedly dfesignated entities to the appropriate categories. But, of course, this does not exempt us from the task of trying to clarify how the word "meaning" and its cognates are used. My remarks about meaning formulas have been intended as a contribution to this task.
Chapter II "Explanations of Meaning"

Here, we see the basic difficulties of designing a system which can automate the handling of ontologies.

This is going to be a very profitable study. I'm really excited. I get to think about fundamental issues, dig into some philosophy/linguistics, and generally poke around lots of interesting topics. I'm going to be writing a series of small papers to help me learn the literature; these papers will probably appear on the blog.

But speaking about something concerned with linguistic philosophy and science, check out this: a new framework which describes trigonometry without sines, cosines, or tangents

(chapter excerpt).

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

The yellow sun spilled over the greening trees.

Lilly petals.

Smooth breezes.

A butterfly forages among the bluegrass.

Lift soft wings gently,

stroke, tap colorful shrub clusters.

Smooth. Clear. Bright.

Two great wishes
Saturday, 24 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

These are two of my greatest wishes:

  • to have the humility to accept and admit how small I really am.
  • to have the grace of God to improve.

It is sometimes easy to focus on effort and forget God until I make the next mistake. This is the first mistake.

It is humbling to have hope and mercy so often offered by One so truly Great.

Alfred Reed -- Rest in Peace
Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

Alfred Reed, one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century, died two days ago at the age of 84.

His music provides much of the foundational staple of Concert Band and Wind Symphony repertoire. Millions have played and love his pieces.

This semester, our symphonic band will be playing his marvelous work, Armenian Dances. (mp3 via the site of the marvelous Austin Civic Wind Ensemble).

Thanks, Alfred. We'll miss you.

Sunday, 18 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

What happens to youth?

I look around me and see people with bright futures and promising ideals. These people are rare, but they're not that rare. And then I look at the world around me, at the older generations. I see fewer people actually living these ideals. Young idealists are rare, but role models are even more scarce.

No movers and shakers, are we the dreamers of hopeless dreams, doomed to dwell a future of desolate streams?

I talk with people, and I hear great enthusiasm and hope for our generation's youth. And yet those who merely hope were also young once...

** * **

Mark has been writing a lot about what people can and should do about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Part of me wants to help, and I donate. But that's not really what's needed.

Money is cheap.

What's needed most in this world? People with time. And not just any sort of person. People who are able to think well and work hard. People who have the knowledge, the income, the skills, and the humility to step in physically when help is needed, bring in specialized knowledge when necessary, and get the job done.

But even in disasters, we make the choice to stick with our petty jobs, fulfill our insignificant deadlines, and maintain the status quo.

I have an excuse for not being in Baton Rouge right now, writing code to help distribute the charity goods pouring into the South. After all, I was leaving for a conference in Europe when the disaster occurred. Then, I was away during the critical time. And now, I have gradschool applications.

Can you imagine how horrible it would be to unbalance my graduate school plans just to save lives and care for homeless people? See, I'm special. I'm a smart guy. In order to prepare, I need some ME time. And once I (graduate, get that bonus, reach that level in the company, finish this task), I'll be able to do lots of things to help others. So of course, I can't help now.

Sigh. I think that the greatest error of my generation is the vice of personal fulfillment. Everyone is so busy bickering over the top items in Maslow's hierarchy, that they forget the people that struggle beneath their feet to find clean water and healthy food. Most ideals in my generation are merely birdcalls. They signal social group membership but do little to really care for others. Everyone looks after their own desires before really caring for others. If it were otherwise, then we would se a lot more professionals volunteering and moving down South.

Instead, we all decide that the next rung on the treadmill is more important than the narratives in the magic boxes we call TV and Computer, narratives which themselves struggle to be noticed among the cacophony of advertisement.

** * **

I think this is what happens to youth. Talk is cheap. Money is cheap. But a life is a precious thing to spend. When spent for other lives, it is well spent. Is a life well spent if it fails to realize the full potential of skill-talent, yet realizes the full effectiveness of a life spent for others? Yes.

Mark is right. The blogosphere, the press, the academics, and the government are all talkers. The people with ideals, with great skills-- what do they do? Try to convince the masses to sully their hands with the grunt work. Enough talk. We need some action.

And me? For now, I continue to fill out the graduate school applications. After all, I want to realize the full potential of my talent, don't I? And after all, most people don't even think about these things. I write this stuff for others to read. I think, and brood. I'm young. I don't have to do stuff now. I'm in preparation mode right now. After all, I have a promising future. That makes me OK, right?

Saturday, 17 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

As I grow older, my respect for athletes of many sports has grown. Although the players of many team sports can often settle into the stereotype of "the jock," I have learned that these stereotypes are often false. Often, sports requiring high amounts of physical accomplishment both attract and influence participants toward discipline, methodical observation, and practiced effort.

Last year, I learned to respect the efforts of track/cross-country athletes, when I became more fully acquainted with Melissa St. Clair, one of my school's top athletes and top scholars.

Last night, I learned to respect the efforts of swimmers when I spent some time in the college's pool. In over three years at Elizabethtown, I had never gone to the pool. Indeed; I have not been swimming for eight or nine years. I was in for a surprise.

I could barely swim a single lap.

This was a large surprise, since I think little of an 8.5-hour bicycle ride. But upper body strength is a foreign concept to a cyclist, so I suppose it makes sense.

I have concluded the swimming is the best possible exercise for players of wind instruments. The water pressure on your torso forces the diaphragm to work much harder.

Jet Lag
Tuesday, 13 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
--Douglas Adams

Jet lag is like the effect of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Only without the lemon.

Or the gold brick.

On the way home
Saturday, 10 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

The conference is over, sadly.

A whole cascading heap o' stuff is going through my mind right now, but I can't blog it yet; I still need to email them my presentation. I'm tweaking it so it makes sense as a single unit. The presentation really requires the speech, since the presentation was really intended to be supplementary information to the speech-- my way of sneaking in 25 minutes of information into 20 minutes.

The rest of the presentation consisted of on-screen software demo work.

To alleviate the crazy inexplicable confusion which would probably be induced by my presentation, I'm reworking it for the conference DVD. I expect to email it upon arriving home tomorrow. *then* I can blog the conference.

Until then, read what Jill says about Clare's StorySpinner (I'm making an editing tool Tinderbox file for it).

Blog Interview Online
Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

I forgot to post this, but Weekend America's interview of the Harrisburg Area Bloggers (including moi) was posted online some time ago.

Salzburg at Last
Tuesday, 6 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"] [soundtrack]

As I sit in the lobby of the Dorint Hotel (free Wireless, courtesy of the conference organizers), listening to Sinatra, I finally have a chance to reflect. The presentation is ready, and the portable sculpture has been assembled. The lineup of papers is very good, and I'm looking forward to a marvelous three days.


The social event on Thursday will be at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. I can't wait!

(Thanks to the U.S. Air Force Band for the soundtrack, Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," which I heard the Julliard Symphony and the Royal Academy of Music Orchestras play in a combination concert at Royal Albert Hall)

Trip Photos Online
Monday, 5 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

Monument to Hobson, the Cambridge University Carrier in the early 16th centurySo much has happened. But I can't tell it now. My T-Mobile Wireless connection is nearly about to finish, and I leave for Salzburg and HT05 in just a few hours. I need to get some sleep. I've been up at 5:15 AM every morning and gone to bed after midnight every time. Appointments, travel, visits, research, and thinking are all necessary and very time-sensitive right now as I try to make the most of my trip to England and Europe. I have been discussing graduate school ideas with quite a few people, and I have tried to maximize my efforts.

Right now, I'm at the Heathrow Sheraton, outside of London, and my England travels are all finished. Some photos are up on flickr.

Call me a geek, but my favorite experience during the trip has been the discovery of a monument to Hobson, the Cambridge University Carrier in the early 16th century.

Here lies old Hobson, Death hath broke his girt,

And here alas, hath laid him in the dirt,

Or els the ways being foul, twenty to one,

He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.

'Twas such a shifter, that if truth were known,

Death was half glad when he had got him down;

For he had any time this ten yeers full,

Dodg'd with him, betwixt Cambridge and the Bull.

And surely, Death could never have prevail'd,

Had not his weekly cours of carriage fail'd;

But lately finding him so long at home,

And thinking now his journeys end was come,

And that he had tane up his latest Inne,

In the kind office of a Chamberlin

Shew'd him his room where he must lodge that night,

Pull'd off his Boots, and took away the light:

If any ask for him, it shall be sed,

Hobson has supt, and 's newly gon to bed.

On the University Carrier, by John Milton

Thursday, 1 Sep 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Night from a railroad car window

Is a great, dark, soft thing

Broken across with slashes of light

--Carl Sandburg

Looking out the window at terminal B, Newark International Airport

We're off! I'm blogging this from the Newark International Airport. The flight leaves in an hour.

(the next day....)

I'm here. The airplane worked. Internet is spotty, so updates will probably also be spotty.

The minimalist travelogue, "European Transclusion," can now be found on this website.