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Archive for June, 2005

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The Vast Algorithmic Conspiracy

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

Internetweek is complaining once again about Google News:

When America Online announced this week that it would give IM users free email, Google News was all over the story.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with a link to InformationWeek.com were such lesser-known technology news sites as Techtree.com, Netimperative, and Kashar News from Pakistan. At one point in the coverage of IBM’s attempt to simulate a brain, gossip site TheBosh.com got the lead spot over articles from News.com and Forbes. In a real puzzler, Google ran verbatim copies of a “puppy” Linux from five different sources, including in Singapore and Australia, without linking to the original story file on TechWeb.com.

All in a typical day’s work at Google News. The company–so beloved as a search engine for its wide range and knack for always knowing the most relevant Web pages–often does just the opposite when it comes to selecting stories for its news pages. Sources that would be considered authoritative brush up against stories from Web sites most people have never heard of, with no clue about which one is a higher quality than another, or a so-called “expert” site, which Google is so fond of making much of in the pure search-engine side of its business.

Right tool for the job, guys. Right tool for the job.

Google News is not where you go when you want authoritative sources for news. It’s where you go when you want to see a wide variety of sources with a wide variety of opinions. The goal of algorithm-based editing is to eliminate the advantage of the big guys, and show the user the most relevant stories based on content, rather than reputation.

I turn to it when the mainstream media seems to have reached an opinion about a story, and I’m not sure the opinion is universally shared. For instance, reading about Michael Jackson’s recent acquittal in the MSM, one gets the sense that he was really guilty, but got away with it due to incompetence on the prosecutor’s part and/or his status as a celebrity. Turning to Google News (with sources such as Toronto’s Fashion Monitor, AZ Central.com, the London Mirror, and Workers World), I learn that most of the world is focusing on the fact that he’s sworn off sleeping with children, that the prosecutor is having a hard time dealing with the defeat, that the accuser’s family is rumored to be considering a civil suit (where the real money is, I guess – cf. the O.J. Simpson trial), and a discussion about whether MJ can resurrect his music career after the trial.

All of this adds a certain texture to the story that you won’t find on Reuters.com or nytimes.com. I’d encourage you to check out the recent Newsweek hubbub, and the war in Iraq on Google News as well. A lot of the stories/opinions are the same, of course, but there’s definitely a diversity there that you don’t see elsewhere.

Bottom line: most of us are smart enough to look at the article and the source before determining what to believe. And depending on the subject matter, a reporter at the Wyoming News might be more interesting to read than the editor of the Washington Post.

Categories: News and/or Media, Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

I’m baaaaaaack…

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

Sorry I’ve been away so long. Believe it or not, I actually was sleeping. But there’s no way that’s gonna last…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 2 Comments »

Cats & Dogs Living Together

Monday, June 6th, 2005

Yet another sign of the world converging upon itself:

Apple said it will begin delivering Macintosh products using Intel microprocessors, the number-crunching nerve centers of PCs, by this time next year and will have all of its Macintosh computers using Intel processors by the end of 2007.

Categories: Tech Talk | 1 Comment »

You Can Go Online When You’ve Finished Cleaning Your Room!

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

This is fantastic news:

Some 23 percent of children in nursery school — kids age 3, 4 or 5 — have gone online, according to the Education Department. By kindergarten, 32 percent have used the Internet, typically under adult supervision.

My kids use many of the websites mentioned in the article, but their favorite by far is Wheel of Fortune.

Brandon knows the whole alphabet now, but the first six letters he learned were R, S, T, L, N, and E.

Categories: Family Matters, Tech Talk | No Comments »

Andy Warhol – Nazi Sympathizer?

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

James Lileks claims he coined the phrase, “In the Future, Everyone will be Hitler.” I, for one, am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But this page is just a beautiful proof of how right he is…

Categories: News and/or Media | No Comments »

TV Hits the Road

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

We all should have seen this coming:

Users of TiVo’s personal video recorders will be able to transfer recorded television content to [Intel] Centrino notebooks using pre-installed software. Notebook users will then to take the programming with them while traveling.

So as long as I told my Tivo to record something, I can watch it whenever I want and wherever I am. Being in the same room with the TV becomes as unimportant as being there when the program starts. Heck – the TV isn’t even required anymore – just the laptop and one of those ridiculously huge flatscreen monitors.

If they make it simple enough to use, this could be huge…

Categories: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

Avery in the news…

Friday, June 3rd, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, our family made our annual pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the University of Pennsylvania’s Alumni Day festivities. Ever since we bought the kids toy trumpets, one of the University’s hired photographers has been a big Avery fan, and this year is no different.

Avery’s the short one in blue. And trust me – he was having more fun than the picture suggests…

Categories: Family Matters, University of Pennsylvania | No Comments »

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