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Month: June 2017

Taipei Traffic

Taipei Traffic

Back in the early 2000s I worked for a Taiwanese company (Acer) and travelled reasonably frequently to Taiwan. At the time I blogged a little on a site called H2G2 – the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition – inspired by the late, great Douglas Adams. The following is a post I made about my experiences in Taipei – specifically with the chaotic traffic in Taipei[1].

As I work for a Taiwanese company (Acer Computer), I have the pleasure of visiting Taipei once or twice a year. Each time I go there I have to remind myself of some of the subtle differences between Eastern and Western cultures – such as the traffic. It constantly amazes me that in all the visits I have made to Taiwan, I have only seen a small number of minor traffic accidents.

This amazes me simply because the traffic there can only be described as chaotic.

An interesting phenomenon is that most intersections have a series of white lines painted on the road, parallel to the kerb, and extending from one side of the road to the other. They look suspiciously like the lines we’d call a pedestrian crossing, only they must mean something else. Probably something like “objects bigger and made of larger quantities of metal have right of way”.

Line markings on the roads themselves are also unique. In Australia, we generally separate lanes using lines to mark out the lanes. In Taiwan its just a little different. The road between the lines is certainly considered a lane, but the lines themselves also appear to be a lane. Magically, the Taiwanese seem to get 5 traffic lanes into a space we would get three.

The centre lines between traffic can be interesting too. Traffic from both directions seem equally able to take advantage of this zone.

Changing lanes can be an adventure in itself, especially if you are in the middle and need to turn a corner.

Learner-drivers in the west are generally advised to leave at least 2–3 car lengths from the car in front. Few of us are perfect in sticking strictly to this rule, but in Taiwan leaving such space would cause only a moments confusion. Then, 2–3 cars from the next lane would quickly fill the space, as well as 2–3 of the cars riding in between lanes.

This is bad enough, but if you happen to be in the middle lane of three, this would mean that 8–12 cars would be jostling into the spots.

And then there’s the scooters……

The scooters seem to have the right to fill in any space that the driver of another vehicle seems to have left unused. Somehow the earlier rule of right of way does not seem to apply.

I have worked out the traffic out system in Taipei. Its actually really quite simple – the laws of physics have been waived so that the laws of traffic can be waived accordingly. This means that when 9–12 cars, plus a couple of dozen scooters converge on a single lane, they get away with it because there is an anomaly that allows multiple material objects to occupy the same point in the space/time continuum.

There is simply no other explanation.

Taipei traffic

Image by Flickr user chialinshih Taipei traffic | chialinshih | Flickr


  1. The original post was made on 17 Nov 1999, making it a pretty darn early blog-post.  ↩
On Likes, Faves and Sharing

On Likes, Faves and Sharing

I’ve been thinking a little more about what Jack Baty wrote about the notion that likes on social networks should be private.

Jack suggests that likes (and faves, and hearts, and…) should be visible only to the “Like-or and the Like-ee”.

For the Like-or, Jack’s approach allows them to keep a list of things they have liked, and to send a vote of thanks to the author.

The Like-ee receives said vote of thanks[1].

Personally I like the first part – a list of the things I have favourited in a service like micro.blog would be a useful thing. If there was a JSON/RSS feed, or if I could use an API to do something with things I favourite with a service like IFTTT, then I could do useful thing with those Favourited items, such as:

  • add them to a link blog
  • add them to a bookmarking service like Pinboard
  • append the item to a note or next actions list

These are good uses of Likes and Favourites.

The second part – the vote of thanks – could be a good thing, if (and IMHO ony if) that aspect is private as Jack suggested.

The problem I am seeing is that many people put very little thought into Likes ’and Faves.

Clicking a link to Like or Favourite favourite takes a single second, and even less thought. People do it routinely, move on and often give no more thought whatsoever to the topic.

IMHO, the best way of registering thanks and supporting the efforts of the author is to take a few moments and to write a meaningful reply — perhaps in a comment, or better yet perhaps by making your own (micro) blog post — and linking back to the original.

What I am suggesting is to take mindful action, expressing what it is you like in a way that gives real feedback to the author.

Sharing is important, because as micro.blog user John Johnston mentioned, curation is important. One of my key personal uses of micro.blog at the moment is as a link blog for interesting things I’ve stumbled on across the web[2].

Sharing has the potential of increasing the audience for content by exposing it to your audience, hopefully leading to healthy discourse about content and the ideas behind it.

The mindless liking of ‘stuff’ has the potential of a dumbing down thinking. By liking and faving we may well only be providing mindless positive reinforcement, and avoiding critiquing stuff.

Lets face it, a lot of stuff that is being shared on the web really needs to be critiqued.

Ideas get better, and the world gets better, when we, collectively, are willing to deeply consider and develop ideas, share those ideas and be willing to receive honest and considered critique.

Its nice to receive positive feedback, but it may not be healthy to receive only positive feedback.

Ideas need to be shared, and ideas need to be challenged.

Micro.blog users Jean MacDonald and Shannon Hager have both recently on undertaking what Jean referred to as a ‘Like fast’.

I think this has potential – let’s stop mindlessly liking stuff, and mindfully replying to, critiquing and sharing ideas.

Starting with this post.


  1. Not on micro.blog, where at the moment favourites are visible only to the Like-or.  ↩
  2. Of course, it goes without saying that sharing an idea for discussion doesn’t mean endorsement…  ↩
Micro.Blogging — The Future of Short Form Blogging?

Micro.Blogging — The Future of Short Form Blogging?

A while back I wrote a post called The Micro Blogging Evolution Begins, in which I discussed being a Kickstarter backer for the Micro.Blog initiative by Manton Reece@manton.

Since then I, and other Kickstarter backers, have experimented with this new platform and its iOS app (developed by @manton). Some of the initial users are lurking, some haven’t really done anything with it (yet), and the rest of us are trying to see how it fits into our writing.

At its core, micro.blog is a way of making short blog posts, either on your own, existing, blog, or on a hosted micro.blog. As a Kickstarter backer, I have both — this blog at DesParoz.com and desparoz.micro.blog — and have been playing around with both approaches.

The key to micro.blog is that regardless of where you host your content, it is on your own platform, but then there are powerful social interaction tools. The stream is comprised not of tweets inside a “walled garden”, but instead of micro posts from all over the web that are loosely coupled to gain interaction.

Noah Read described micro.blog well in an excellent blog post:

Micro.blog is a social timeline, similar to Twitter, where you can post short snippets of text with links and photos, and converse with others. The biggest difference from most other social networks is where these short posts come from. They come from people’s own websites, where they control the content and can do whatever they like. Micro.blog aggregates its feeds from each member’s personal site and gives people chances to reply and favorite content on the the service.

You should take a read of Noah’s post to get a better understanding of micro.blog.

Blogging pioneer Dave Winer emphasised the importance of owning your own content, and not being constrained to fit the format of platforms in a post on wanting his old blog back:

Before 2010, on my blog, I could have long and short items. I could use HTML. Link to as many places I wanted, where ever I wanted. There was no character limit, so the short items could grow if they needed to. The same format could accommodate post-length bits with titles that were archived on their own pages. Every item appeared in the feed, regardless of length, regardless of whether it had a title.

I think Dave nailed it nicely with this post[1]. Over the years since blogging took off platforms like Twitter, Medium, Facebook and others have sprung up and provided various “solutions” to people sharing ideas, thoughts and content online. In the process they created (at least) three problems:

  1. The content has to be shaped to a fit a platforms requirements (e.g. 140 characters); and/or,
  2. The content has to be shaped to fit algorithms (SEO); and/or,
  3. The content ends up in a “walled garden”, in which it is virtually (or actually) owned by the platform.

micro.blogging forms a part of the Indie Web approach where content owners should own their own content, where they focus on writing, designing or otherwise sharing content for humans first (perhaps primarily, or even just, for themselves), and not to serve an algorithm.

Another key aspect of the Indie Web is the concept of POSSE wherein a writer publishers first on their own platform, and then syndicates to other platforms. This post for example will be published first on DesParoz.com, and will syndicate to my micro.blog and Twitter feeds as well as to a mirror site on Tumblr and perhaps to Medium.

micro.blog and IndieWeb tools are important parts of this process. The ‘glue’ that helps to bubble the underlying content up into the social web.

The potential of micro.blogging is best expressed by blogger and micro.blogger Colin Walker in an excellent post on the State of Blogging:

Blogging seemed to die back for a while but, as I wrote more recently, getting involved with the Micro.blog and, now, #indieweb communities has meant finding people who are, again, enthusiastic about their own sites.

So where does it all stand for me?

My main site here at DesParoz.com will continue to be the home for my content, including micro posts. My hosted (paid) micro.blog site will be a link blog, and the overall micro.blog feed will marry up all my content, providing the underlying social glue.


  1. As I am about to publish this site, I’ve just noted that Dave has also published about why he won’t point to Facebook posts  ↩