Yahoo is adding some "wisdom of the crowds" to its local listings. I think the idea is cool and should make for better listings. I wanted to give a good example or something, but while I was able to edit the entry of one recently closed restaurant in my neighborhood, I found their local listings generally a mess and hard to deal with. Maybe this new feature will be the first step in their improvement. If I were cynical I'd wonder if Yahoo already knows their listings are a mess and they found a great free way to fix them with a timely Web gimmick.
Speaking of contributing info on your local scene, I read Susan Mernit's announcement of Placeblogger which aims to index (with your help) all of the handy hyperlocal news sites and blogs that you use on a regular basis to get news that's relevant to where you live. I have mixed feelings about this one. As an avid fan of local reporting who is very familiar with my local offerings this doesn't look particularly useful. As a reporter who often looks for regional blogs where news takes place, this is probably one of the first places I'd go. It has a real retro feel in the way it makes raw lists. No tag clouds that might sort the locations more visually, no map mash-ups which would be the obvious interface. It reminds me of years ago when blogs were for socializing and people submitted their blogs to regional sites with the goal of mixing with and getting linked by their neighbors. When I was writing the Blogspotting blog for MSNBC.com in 2002/2003 I would regularly report on new cities with new lists of bloggers. Boston, New York, Dallas/Ft.Worth... Recently we saw a nice Cleveland round up. Anyway, it's interesting to see that model with a new journalistic mission. The folks commenting at PressThink seem enthusiastic about the term "placebloggers." Could that be the term I was looking for in place of Time Magazine's incorrectly imprecise "you"? "Oh, my husband isn't here right now, he's down the street taking pictures of the flooded creek. He's a placeblogger. I am a placeblogging widow."
Since I got a lot of critical mail last time I used the phrase "wisdom of crowds" let me quickly offer The Dumbness of Crowds. It contrasts collective intelligence with the averaged blandness that is collective negotiation.
Speaking of collective creations, I spent some time Friday installing software on a new laptop (It's got one of those dual core
hard drives microprocessors in it. Hoo!!). I got this machine so I could better monitor news in places like Second Life, so I popped in there for a bit. Realizing I had yet to see the Reuters facilities I teleported there. If I'd done a bit more exploring I might have seen their reporter filing this very story: Anshe Chung Studios cracks down on griefing photos. The story is so full of fascinating issues I can hardly list them all, but at the heart of the matter is the idea that in Second Life you own your character's image so there's a chance that people who "photograph" your character are infringing your copyright if they reproduce that photo. To my mind, it's fair to use a picture of someone if they're in the news, even if that someone is only a "second" someone. See also Boing Boing's reporting.
Speaking of Second Life, "Stepping up the development of the Second Life Grid to everyone interested, I am proud to announce the availability of the Second Life client source code for you to download, inspect, compile, modify, and use within the guidelines of the GNU GPL version 2." There's still some question about what this means exactly, but from the user/observer perspective it can only get more interesting.
Still speaking of Second Life, next time in I'm going to check out Sears.
Welcome to Wi-Fi-Ville Pop. 300 towns and growing - Eventually the Internet will be a public utility and you'll be able to say you remember when it wasn't.
"But when confronted with contrary evidence, we become "motivated skeptics" ... picking apart possible flaws in the study, recoding variables, and only when all the counterarguing fails do we rethink our beliefs..."
See also: Selective Amnesia
In talking about online atheism in my previous post I could have also pointed out the distinction between the atheists and the very vocal critics of the American Christian right.
Just how much money can you make from blogging? Don't quit your day job.
I missed the premiere of the new Rolling Stone reality show, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up. Meanwhile, I understand it's possible to play along at home on their Web site: "At noon every Monday, we'll announce the week's competition, based on writing assignments the kids received on the show the night before. Entries are due Friday at noon, with weekly winners announced the following week." It's past noon now but I'm not seeing anything. Maybe they mean West Coast time? UPDATE: Here it is.
Wait a minute, I just realized that this is a reality show based on writing ability. No eating bugs, selling ice cream in animal costumes, so wrestling in the sand in bikinis? I'm almost afraid to watch the show to find out I'm wrong, but can you imagine if reality shows were cerebral instead of stupid?
Isn't there a Gary Larson cartoon somewhere of an astronaut looking at the bottom of his moon boot and saying, "Oops."
"More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey also finds that older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. For girls, social networking sites are primarily places to reinforce pre-existing friendships; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends."
Speaking of social networking and who's doing it, I don't have a LinkedIn page, but I'm beginning to think I need one. Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn
Speaking of not keeping up with the cool kids, yet another means by which people can assess my utter uncoolness: achievement points.
The Law Catches Up To Private Militaries, Embeds - "They're now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the same set of laws that governs soldiers. But here's the catch: embedded reporters are now under those regulations, too."
Currently listening to DJ Steveboy. I clicked somewhere that he had mixes that are good to run to, but got sidetracked by the Kate Bush remix. NOTE: If you're playing dance music out loud at work you probably don't need this warning, but there's a sample of a moaning woman in the Kate Bush mix that may make the person on the other side of the cube wall ask you what the heck you're listening to.
Double maze - Level 1 took me forever so I didn't play beyond that but I did get the hang of it by the time I completed that level so the others would probably go a little more quickly.
Mariah wins porn battle - Not that I care, but this feels like justice to me. I never really understood why porn stars needed to have pun names.
Speaking of justice at war, Leahy Introduces Bill To Combat War Profiteering - Though I don't doubt that a company savvy enough to be in a position to commit this crime would be savvy enough to avoid being punished for it, it's still a nice sentiment.
Funny puberty instructional animation, probably NSFW.
No, goats do not climb trees. I refuse.
How death by hanging works - No photos or anything but still pretty disturbing. I don't recall if it was reported how long it took Saddam to die. By the way, there's another Saddam video out there, but I'm not bothering with a link. The camera catches up with his dead body on a gurney and pulls back the sheet. We see him still in his suit, his head turned sideways and a weird red spot on the side of his neck, which I decided was too gross to link to. It's all over the place though, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding it. I even clicked it by accident once wondering what "News Adam" could mean.
How to go to M.I.T. for free - Answer: take the courses online. No degree though.
This should be a holiday tradition in every office.
"Cancer cured" headline of the week: Remotely Activated Nanoparticles Destroy Cancer - Targeted nanotech-based treatments will enter clinical trials in 2007.
Remember the article a few days ago asking if the U.S. was playing any role in the war in Somalia? I guess we have our answer.
Mohan Seneviratne was a man of the highest caliber. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered. He set an inspiring example of the standard to which we should hold our lives. On his model I nag myself not to settle and remind myself to appreciate what's here now.