Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Google Trendwatching: Common Bad Searches

Common "bad" searches:

weddings, flowers, mp3s, ringtones

You can see the trend towards using better search terms. Googlers are learning!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Is the Next Marshall McLuhan Among Us?

Is the Next Marshall McLuhan Among Us?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fun With Google Trends: Holiday Edition

The holidays mean good times with friends and family, rest and rejuvenation. And for many of us, it means forgetting about work or school for a while, and getting back to what's real.

Google Trends: technology, girls

Hurray for the holidays!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

truth and satire

Truth and satire are two sides of the same coin.

Comments on user-moderated sites (like Reddit) illustrate the value that users put on certain ideas. Content is rated based on relevance, insight, or humour. The "good" content is that which is truthful, informative, or funny. Noticing this value which readers put on this content makes apparent that humour and truth are closely related. This is why they say that brilliant satire is indistiguishable from propaganda.

This observation is clearly visible on the web, where lunatic ravings and their satirical counterparts are ubiquitous. Sarcasm is abundant, as is others' failure to sense it. One might instruct new web users, looking to score points and gather readers, to either write the truth, or write the exact opposite of the truth, with a wink.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Web 2.0 - Maximizing Interactivity

In all the myriad definitions of "Web 2.0", one characteristic stands out as its basic essence: a high level of interactivity. This idea must be defined further, but at its simplest, Web 2.0 webpages minimize user frustration and maximize site "stickyness".

Web 2.0 webpages are borne out of new technology that allows for interaction without page refreshes. This has a significant effect on user experience, as it speeds up navigation significantly and provides greater feedback to the user. As the user becomes accustomed to such interaction, an even more powerful effect emerges: The user becomes less fearful of interacting with the page because he/she knows what to expect, and doesn't worry about losing their place, or having to wait for another page to load.

It is only in retrospect, however, that the impact of this change can be fully appreciated. One remembers the feeling of fear and trepidation that would accompany clicking a link on an unfamiliar webpage-- what would happen? Would the link work? Would it take 30 seconds to load only to not contain the information I need?

Nowadays, it is common to use webpages knowing full well that certain links are reliable, fast, and often do not require any page refresh. Users certain of what to expect from an action are more likely to perform that action. Bringing this certainty to the everyday user experience should be a prominent goal of web developers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Outerings Abound

With everyone outing and outering themselves online these days, it might be useful to look at the nature of blogging (again) for the purpose of creating some rules for what should, and should not be said online.

Yes, I start with the premise that certain things should not be said online, and this is not a freedom of speech thing. The context here is what one should not say online, if you are at all concerned about your privacy, or garnering undeserved attention.

Are there any rules we might point to?

Categories of writing: personal experiences, fiction, news, opinion, analysis, etc.

Blogging is different than writing in a diary, and different from writing in a magazine. A blog entry is simultaneously perfectly accessible and perfectly hidden. Exposing a minor personal detail in a blog comment is unlikely to have any repercussions whatsoever, unless it does. Threats to privacy are directly related to how much interest there is in your personal details. If you're a noname schmuck, you are completely free to act like an insane person without worrying too much. If you're famous, all bets are off - you now have no choice but to be concerned for your privacy.

But at the same time, the blogging experience liberates, by recontextualizing the personal essay. Readers learn over time to not blush when someone says something crude or revealing, because such talk is ubiquitous on the internet. Indeed, bloggers clearly feel quite at ease at divulging personal experiences online. A reader of a blog learns to expect a more conversational tone and less adherence to typical conventions of other media such as newpapers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

dangerous ideas

I'm reading about "dangerous ideas" and the question as to whether such a thing actually exists.

An idea that is dangerous is one that supposedly would cause dramatic shifts in thinking and behaviour. Specifically those ideas who are not _false_ or deliberately manipulative, which would conceivably and predictably lead to harm. I am thinking specifically about whether a true idea, one who leaves itself open to questions of merit, should be shut down automatically in fear.

This response is predictable of course. Any question that challenges the status quo is inherently dangerous, to a point.

So the question is not about whether "dangerous ideas" exist, but whether some ideas labelled dangerous should be re-examined. Some of the most dangerous ideas in history have been effectively forgotten entirely, and ought to be retrieved.

These are radical ideas, ideas worthy of discussion, not merely to prove a point, but to flesh out the assumptions, motivations, and judgments that lie behind arguments on both sides.

What is your most dangerous idea?