Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Samsung Focus Review: My iPhone Love Wasn’t Love

The Start screen of Windows Phone 7

Image via Wikipedia

Warning: While this review was written with the intent to be a review about the Samsung Focus smartphone, it also ends up being a little bit about the Mango OS, and the behavior it induces, as well as the meaning it creates.  I come from a school of thought that design teaches as it improves the user and the user’s expectation. It may also go so far, in really great mobile device and mobile software design, to eliminate the need for expectations by reducing difficulty and ensuring compatibility between user and phone.

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Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, Work, , , ,

From Big Apple to Big Data: Making Data as Powerful as New York’s Physical Experience

Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City

Image via Wikipedia

It should be no surprise that New York City, run by a mayor who made his billions on data and information media, is one of the fast-moving cities trying to open up all of their data centers to provide a firehose of information to developers and other cities in an effort to making living in dense urban centers easier and more enjoyable.


At the forefront of this push is the city’s Department of Information Technology Telecommunications, which is behind an effort to create NYC Big Apps, an attempt to make an open graph of data for anyone and any department in the city wishing to make applications that can improve people’s lives. The city is even interested in sharing its APIs and data with other cities, but that may be a little further down the road.

I talked briefly with Nicholas T. Sbordone, Director of External Affairs, New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, about the NYC Open Data initiative and other moves the city is making to make the city more open. He offered me three bullet points. I’ve also included a video of Rachel Stern, who is the city’s data protagonist, below.

According to Sbordone, the city is trying to achieve the following:

        Replacing the old NYC DataMine, NYC Open Data provides datasets in a variety of machine-readable formats and as application programming interfaces (APIs) for direct connectivity to data feeds; enhanced browsing and search capabilities allowing users to search by full dataset – or by datum within datasets; visualization tools such as maps, charts and graphs; and discussion forums for user feedback and suggestions.

Moving forward, regular refreshes of data sets will follow, and we’re in the process of adding a field to the metadata that will tell users how often that particular dataset will be updated.

In parallel, we’re working to help City agencies automate the publishing of their data – so instead of their having to send it over periodically we’ll be able to refresh it on NYC Open Data as soon as they update in their systems.

Here’s a video of Sterne talking about open data and the city’s “Roadmap for the Digital City” at O’Reilly Media’s Web 2.0 conference a couple of weeks ago:

Filed under: Influence, Tech, Work, , , , , , , ,

Amazon Delivers Amazon Locker Service to New York City

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

Image via Wikipedia

I received an email today that will save me from the horrible customer service delivered by my local post office station.  Amazon is launching its Amazon Locker Service in New York City.

All Amazon customers in New York City now have the Amazon locker service available to them.  and it’s free of charge.



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Filed under: Tech, Work, , , , , ,

Prison More Expensive Than Attending Princeton for One Year

I stole this wonderful infographic from The Atlantic today, but you should read the whole article there, which says that it costs more per year to incarcerate a single African-American inmate in a New Jersey prison than it does for a single African-American student to attend Princeton during the same time frame.

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Filed under: Influence, Work, , , , , , ,

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