Via Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird comes a link to the unbook.  Big quote for folks who do not wish to click through:

1. An unbook is never finished, but rather continually updated, based on feedback from users andtheir evolving needs.

2. An unbook is released in versions. As in open source software, version 1.0 of an unbook is a significant milestone, indicating that it is stable and reliable enough for use by the general public. The significance of a new release is indicated by the size of the gap: For example, the difference between 1.1 and 1.1.3 is minor, while the difference between 1.1 and 2.0 is major.

3. An unbook is supported by a community of users who share their experiences and best practices with each other, and help each other troubleshoot problems encountered in their practice areas. An unbook’s community is a very real part of the unbook’s development team. *

Implied by the unbook – though not necessary – is print on demand. The physical object is important, but fixed print runs aren’t and are likely counterproductive.

How does an unbook differ from a wiki?

4) A wiki does not have a linear narrative while an unbook does: Before a physical book can be printed the order of its pages must be determined.

An unbook is a narrative object: a developing narrative, a story that may change significantly over time, like a children’s story that is told and retold with additions and changes by multiple authors. Like a story an unbook has a clear beginning and end, although those things might change over time.

A wiki is a map object: a virtual space that can be searched, explored and navigated in various ways. A wiki, like a physical space, has many starting and ending points. You can enter a wiki many ways and there is no “end” to a wiki. *

For some interesting discussion of the concept – pro and con – see the comment thread on Warren Ellis’ post. [Web ‘better practice’ – checking the pingbacks from other blogs on posts like Mr. Gray’s can lead you to good stuff.]

The salt marsh before a storm

Most times, when I’m on the marsh I’m concentrating – paying attention to a falcon and some ducks. The tide was all wrong this morning and there’s a storm rolling in now that the water is more cooperative  (mid-afternoon), so I thought I’d just go for a stroll, scout things a bit and take in the marsh in a slightly more relaxed frame of mind.




Ameerega bassleri tadpole update

I have bad news and good news.

The bad news – so far 100% of the morphed tadpoles (7 to date) have had Spindly Leg Syndrome (SLS). I wasn’t surprised to get some SLS – the bassleri guru tells me that the species is very prone to it – but I am a little disappointed that no normal tads have morphed yet.

The good news – my male disappeared for almost two weeks. I was starting to worry, but yesterday, while pruning the clump of Spathiphyllum, I found him. He’s been guarding another clutch – laid way back in a hidden area. The clutch was almost ready yesterday; today he has tadpoles on his back – he’s transporting! I’m going to let this clutch grow out in the water feature of the big viv – fingers are crossed.

The male with tads on back (look for the bump directly to the right of the stalk). Clicking on the picture will bring up a ginormous version, the better to see the tad with.


And a picture of the (presumed) female – they really are pretty little things.

NHOS Orchid Show

If it’s February, it must be orchid show time (here’s last year’s trip). I’m going to spotlight three little guys.

Mediocalar bifolium – from the cloud forests of New Guinea and some adjacent islands. The combination of white outer and red base makes me think of a partridgeberry flower/fruit mash-up.


Pleurothallis truncata – from montane Ecuador. Quite a few pleorothallids like to sent their flowers out from the center of their leaves – I picked up a P. palliolata for the big viv – when/if it flowers I’ll post some pix.


Masdevallia tridens – another cloud forest orchid from Ecuador. Cloud forest plants are often gorgeous, but almost always tricky to grow – lots of light, lots of humidity, lots of air movement and cool, stable temps – conditions that are not easy to replicate.

Behold: the Majestic T Shirt

A long simmering project finally boils over. Lehmanhaus is the umbrella identity applied to my various activities w/ predatory critters – dog training and breeding mainly. Thanks largely to the efforts of A Certain Design Student and a friend who teaches Latin, I am pleased to unveil the official Lehmanhaus t shirt! [fireworks and gunfire stage right, ululation and baying hounds stage left]



If any of you out there are crazy enough to actually want one (please – seek help) I have some extras. I’m going to do this the low tech way (except for preferring payment via  PayPal) email me (dr.hypercube-at-gmail.com) what you want and I’ll figure out shipping, tell you what the total damage is, etc. They’re $12.50 a pop – I’m trying to cover expenses – plus shipping.

On the name – Lehman is my mom’s maiden name. A good Swiss/German moniker (Mennonite) that matches well with my German dogs.

Egg and Nest

Down to Cambridge yesterday, to take in Rosamond Purcell’s Egg and Nest (pdf link) show at the HMNH, kick around a bit and attend Janet Browne’s lecture on ‘Darwin at 200’. Egg and Nest is stunning – incredible photographs beautifully hung. If you’re in the area – GO!



After you’ve taken in the Purcell show, there’s all the rest of the HMNH to wander around in – the Sea Creatures in Glass will be on display until March 1 – time’s getting short.


I took along some party favors for the post-lecture get together – a big thank you to Leighton Jones at Floating Point Digital Images for getting said favors to me as quickly as he did.

The first thing we do, let's…

…and the bankers and the talking heads. Via TPM comes this truly appalling clip of Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Taleb on CNBC. Roubini and Taleb are talking about a systemic crisis and the needle that they think we need to thread to get through it; in contrast the network talking hairstyles want stock tips. I suppose it’s progress that the traditional media are talking to folks that actually got it right, rather than their usual practice of canonizing those who dug the hole we find ourselves in (obviously – given the title of the post – I’d prefer cannonizing them). I’m beginning to believe that a piece of the institutional failure we’re seeing can be attributed to our ruling elite’s love of going meta – don’t pay attention to the content of the argument, instead, warn your guests about the dangers of being a rock star and marvel that Bill Gates would actually wait in a line to hear your guests speak. The rage in the hinterlands may be breaking through the Villager’s (DFH-speak for the elites) carefully constructed bubble; Diane Rehm – usually the Villager-est of softball, conventional wisdom interviewers – was amazed at the platitudes spewed by her banking industry guests yesterday (check out that guest lineup though – now those are some wild and radical gets *sarcasm*).


Rather than stock tips, what might actually be useful are some thoughts on the future of unemployment. Somebody twittered this link – whoever it was – thanks.

Start with the numbers: worldwide, the UN estimates as many as 51 million people could become unemployed this year. Here in Britain, if the analysts are right, one million people who currently have jobs won’t do in twelve months’ time. What happens next for those people will shape the kind of society we live in, over the next decade and beyond.

I want to think about some of the ways this situation could play out. In particular, I’m interested in whether the things we’ve learned from social media over the last few years can play a role in lessening the hardship of this recession and shaping the world which comes out the other side. *


Finally, a blog that’s going on the blogroll real soon now – Boone, Johnson and Kwak’s Baseline Scenario.

The Baseline Scenario is dedicated to explaining some of the key issues in the global economy and developing concrete policy proposals. Since it was launched in September 2008, articles on this blog have been cited by The Wall Street Journal (Real Time Economics), The Economist (Free Exchange), The Financial Times, NPR (Planet Money), and many other sites around the Internet. The authors of the blog have also published articles in The Washington Post and in the online editions of The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, and Reuters. The blog was the subject of an interview with Simon Johnson in The Wall Street Journal. Content from The Baseline Scenario is currently republished by Seeking Alpha, Talking Points Memo Cafe, and RGE Monitor. *


You’ll know I’m really pessimistic when I start posting recipes for long pork.

Tad elbows

This is what a front leg looks like as it is about to emerge from a morphing tadpole:


Tadpole-into-frog is one of those underfoot miracles that deserves more appreciation that it gets. Gills, tail, narrow mouth transform into lungs, legs and a wide mouth (the digestive system gets a makeover, too) in the space of a month or so.

These two are a little behind elbow-boy, but they’re coming along. The white things are springtails (Collembola sp.) – I seeded the morphing container so that the froglets will have snacks later on, after the tails are absorbed and they get hungry again.

Purcell at HMNH

An FYI for folks in the northeast – this is going to be good.

Owl Eggs (c) Rosamond Purcell

The Harvard Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibition Egg & Nest: Photographs by Rosamond Purcell on February 12th, 2009. World-renowned photographer Rosamond Purcell’s photographs of exquisitely elegant eggs and remarkable nests present an artist’s view of natural history. Egg & Nest will be on display only through March 15th.

In her artist statement in the exhibition Purcell states, “Visually nothing could be more different than an egg and a nest. The first is always perfect, no matter what the outer variations in shape; an egg is endless, irreducible. A nest, on the other hand is an artifact assembled by beak and claw, often messy, but always adapted to the needs of the next generation of birds. ” *

(2/9) Promoted from comments – Denise lets us know that, ” There’s a slide show of a number of the book’s images at the Harvard University Press website: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/puregg/“. Also, Curious Expeditions posted a review of Egg and Nest at almost the same time as I put this post up – great minds and all that!