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July 31, 2008

unCuil -- or, How I learned to stop worrying and love Google

The Register says don't believe the hype, and welcome your search engine overlords. The Register | Spammers, Cuil, and the rescue from planet Google
Analysis Plenty of digital ink has been needlessly spilt this week over the launch of the suicidally-monikered new search engine Cuil.com. But the only threat to Google is itself and, in a roundabout way, the legion of spammers and "search engine optimisation" (SEO) consultants that buttress its dominance With a little thought, Cuil not being as good as Google at finding what we want online is the least surprising piece of news since people familiar with the situation said JPII was partial to fish on a Friday. In 2008, Mountain View's all-seeing algorithms in many ways are the web. It's easy to identify what happened. When it first surfaced in 1998, Google made sense of the web a bit better than anyone else. It was a useful improvement on existing services. Ten years later, the web does its best to make sense of Google. The sorry upshot is that barring some unimaginable technological leap no search engine's results will ever be better than Google's, at least in the West. And the switch leaves the likes of Microsoft and Cuil (and a dozen other doomed start-ups) effectively attempting to reverse-engineer Google, not understand the information on the web.... Web spammers are looking for an audience. As the most popular search engine, Google controls what its audience sees, so the junk jockeys generate their pages in ways that game the system. Everyone else legitimately seeking those same eyeballs for their content or customers for their business want the better search rankings too, so the SEO crowd works to make legit sites dance to Google's tune. ... And so it goes. Gradually the structure and content of the web becomes at one with the Google data centre. Disrupting such a tight, interconnected mutualism seems impossible for would-be "Google Killers". The best others can hope for is to imitate Google results.

July 29, 2008

How to: Write with style, by Kurt Vonnegut

vonnegutSTYLE

1. Find a subject you care about

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way --- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

2. Do not ramble, though

I won't ramble on about that. . . .

July 28, 2008

Apple blows it: MobileMe

Blogs | NYT | Bits | We’re Really Sorry, Says Apple, Really We Are
Intended to supplant the company’s aging .Mac web service, MobileMe is planned to make Apple a player in the online portal world now dominated by Yahoo, Microsoft and Google. So far it has served only to tarnish Apple’s reputation for producing solid, pain-free, software. Apple has already offered customers an additional month free for the $99 annual service, which includes mail, calendar, disk storage, photo sharing and an address book through the Web. It has also been greeted with unusually harsh reviews and angry customers who claim the company has told them that it has permanently lost entire collections of mail stored online.

July 27, 2008

The stupidfilter project is now in beta

StupidFilter :: Main / About

The concept behind the StupidFilter Project originated during a conversation between Gabriel Ortiz and Paul Starr. StupidFilter was conceived out of necessity. Too long have we suffered in silence under the tyranny of idiocy. In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point.

It's time to fight back.

The solution we're creating is simple: an open-source filter software that can detect rampant stupidity in written English. This will be accomplished with weighted Bayesian or similar analysis and some rules-based processing, similar to spam detection engines. The primary challenge inherent in our task is that stupidity is not a binary distinction, but rather a matter of degree. To this end, we're collecting a ranked corpus of stupid text, gleaned from user comments on public websites and ranked on a five-point scale.

Eventually, once the research is completed, we plan to release core engine source code for incorporation into content management systems, blogs, wikis and the like. Additionally, we plan to develop a fully implemented Firefox plugin and a Wordpress plugin.

*Via Waxy*