TechCrunch Meetup in Denver

As of this morning at 8, nobody had volunteered to be the TechCrunch meetup organizer for Denver for the big fifth anniversary party. So I raised my hand.

I've been reading for most of those five years, and admire what Mike Arrington has done a lot.

And it's not exactly hard to get me to go to a bar on a Friday afternoon. I mean, I've posted on my permanent Scott Yates contact page that the best way to reach me on Friday Happy Hour is to go to the Pub on Pearl.

So, if you read this, I hope you can stop by starting around 5. But in honor of Arrington, let's not shake hands.


Google TV Backlash coming in 5...4...3...

It was just a year ago that Google announced Google Wave. The anticipation about the product was huge, as there was this promise that somehow Communication was going to be Better.

I certainly bought into that, and even started covering Google Wave. Then it came out in a limited way, and the buzz built up to a fever pitch. Then people started using it and the backlash began. Now it's fashionable to publicly mock Wave.

As for me, I'm still hopeful that Wave will improve communications a great deal. The more we think about how broken much of our communication is today, the more solutions built in or around or similar to Wave will make all kinds of sense.

I see a similar pattern coming down the path with Google TV. Right now the interest is red-hot among the tech folks. The TV people will be paying close attention. In the fall it will build up among consumers and then after the Google TV from Sony comes out... the Backlash. The price will be too high, the interface wobbly, the search results will be troubled. (Indeed, that even happened during the demo, as in the picture below from TechCrunch. MILF? Really?)

Googletvyoutubesearch
 

And just like with Wave, next year at the I/O conference, or perhaps even earlier, there will be some modifications announced. There will be even more openness. Little by little and then big step by big step, developers around the world will begin to figure out solutions that make sense on Google TV. 

So, there you have it: A handy guide to the next 12 months of the hype cycle.


Elena Kagan is gay. Or she isn't. Big media is, however, dead for sure.

Members of the Supreme Court are the pinnacle celebrities of the legal geek world. As Kobe Bryant is to sports geeks, Steve Jobs or (but not "and") Bill Gates are to computer geeks, as Justin Bieber is to millions (so I read, anyway), the nine members of the high court are big celebrities.

So it makes sense that lots of people are interested in them.

I remember when John Roberts was nominated to the court, I read a bunch of the stories about him. They all had an "info box" or a "sidebar" that listed the highlights of his work history, his education, and his family, which included information about his wife and his two adopted kids.

I did the same reading about Elena Kagan. The stories were similar, both had lots of details showing how brilliant they are, bla bla bla. The one difference is that there was no "Family" section of the info box for Kagan. New York Times. Washington Post. ABC. Nothing.

It's as if everyone in the big media is all saying at the same time, "Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here. Move along."

To learn more, I turned away from the big media to a gay man, a Brit, and a thoughtful commentator, Andrew Sullivan. He has a number of posts on the topic, one of the most interesting, I thought, showed that a relatively new technological tool from (who else?) Google makes it clear that lots of people are interested, and are making their interest known by searching.

Here's my screen grab from this morning:

Google-kagan-gay
Clearly I'm not the only one who wants to know.

If Big Media had done it's job of just reporting, rather than trying to keep information out of stories and hope that we don't notice, I'm sure those Google suggested searches would look much different.

Look, it's not that I hope she is gay or isn't gay. The reality is that I don't care that much, except that I care about the people on the high court; I want to know what sort of people they are. I can find out all kinds of details about what kind of music she likes (opera), what her nickname was when she was a clerk (shorty), how she dressed for her high school yearbook photo (in judicial robes with a gavel), etc., but I'm not allowed to know if she's gay or straight?

This post isn't about her, it's about Big Media, what my old professor Jay Rosen calls the "Church of the Savvy."

Indeed just this morning he pointed me to the best long story I've read in a while by the always excellent James Fallows. It's about the future of news as being shaped by Google

The quote that fits this best is here:

“Usually, you see essentially the same approach taken by a thousand publications at the same time. Once something has been observed, nearly everyone says approximately the same thing.”

That's from a guy who's been watching Google News since the start, and he is absolutely right. I used to be part of that church. I did well, but I always bristled about the idea of knowing something and not being able to get it into the paper, and so I had some mighty fights with editors, and eventually left journalism and started my own business where I could put everything I knew out there.

(By the way, continuing my ongoing series on how rotten Gibbs is as press secretary, he has completely flubbed the White House response. He screwed this up, as he has with so many other issues, because he sees himself as one of the new high priests of the Church of the Savvy, and can't quite figure out how to recognize that the world is changing. His boss does, but in this case I think both President Obama and Kagan herself have erred in trying to keep it all in the closet, so that does put Gibbs in a tricky spot, but one that he could have worked out of more gracefully than he did here.)

The story will only grow and grow, not because it's fueled by haters on the right -- which is whom Gibbs blames -- or anyone else with an agenda. It will be fueled by people bristling at information being kept from them. Those Google suggested words are generated by a computer analyzing millions of searches. There's no conspiracy, vast or otherwise, driving what people all over the world type in their search engine windows.

Luckily for me and for all readers the walls are tumbling down, and it is possible to find other sources of news that are not in the Church of the Savvy.


All Signs Point to the Fact that I am a Traffic Nerd

The first step to, I'm told, is to admit that you have a problem.

My name is Scott -- ("Hi, Scott!") -- and I'm a traffic sign nerd.

Last night the incomparable Tim Jackson tipped me to this amazing story of a guy who took it upon himself to fix an Interstate Highway sign in Southern California, specifically in Pasadena. The sign lacked what one guy saw as an obvious bit of information, so he decided to do a bit of performance art and fix the sign himself.

Sign-new
 

I actually knew that sign. My wife's family is in Pasadena, and I've driven under that sign many times, and I remember thinking that it didn't seem like it followed Federal Interstate Highway sign standards. I never said anything, thinking California maybe had its own rules. I also didn't want her family to think I was a total traffic nerd. 

Now the truth is out: The sign was non-conforming!!!!

Ahem.

Anyway, even though CalTrans knew about the citizen's modification, they didn't do anything about it because they knew that his fix made the sign better. When they finally fixed the sign themselves, they essentially incorporated his modification.

That guy had guts.

I was able to get one sign changed on the Interstate Highway system back in 2004, but I did it the old-fashioned way: lobbying Colorado's DOT to do the work for me.

At the time, I was operating MyTrafficNews, and a bunch of readers wrote in to tell me that a new and nearly constant traffic jam we were reporting about was not the fault of traffic, it was the fault of a sign. The story was that at the end of one highway a new sign gave people a choice of going north or south, but the sign telling people to exit on the right was to the left of the sign telling people to exit to the left. The result was drivers trying to merge suddenly at the last second when the realized they were in the wrong lane.

We took pictures and made a big stink. We submitted the pictures to "This is broken," then a great service of user-experience expert Mark Hurst.

CDOT, to their credit, had a crew fix the sign within a week or so of our campaign.

We had lots of fun with signs at MyTrafficNews. When a truck hit one of those Variable Message Signs, leaving it dangling and threatening -- as we wrote at the time -- to turn a Pontiac into a pancake, we jumped to action. First, we did our best to alert people, as the sign that was designed to help traffic instead made traffic horrible for half the city for an entire day. ("Don't these signs take a Hippocratic oath?" we wrote at the time.)

Then, we wondered what the sign would say if it could make its own message on that day. In haiku.

All signs looking down
Gridlock is all around me
I must blame myself

You see, I really am a traffic sign nerd. 

So my question is, what's the second step?


Welcome to the tt neighborhood, Twee.tt!

The unusual domain (sco.tt) of this blog gets as much attention as any of the content. When I first got it more than four years ago, I was wandering in the wilderness to some degree.

Then when Matt Mullenweg (the Wordpress guy) signed up for ma.tt, it made the neighborhood feel a bit more inhabited.

The domain had another great day when the incomparable Adeo Ressi praised it. (I wonder if that's a part of why he decided to open a version of the Founder Institute in Denver? Probably not, but a guy can dream.)

Anyway, now the couple of modest dwellings here in the land of .tt learned today that we are getting a new high-rise: Twitter is going to use twee.tt.

The story has only speculation, and the whole notion of URL shorteners is a weird one that I think we will look back on like we look back on "baud rate" now. Somehow I think the internet will figure out a way to eliminate the need for those soon enough.

But for now, it's a new bit of fun attention being paid to our little corner of the internet. 

Should I bring them a fruit basket?


The Future of the Future

A few months ago I wrote about some of what I was up to. It helps in a few ways to do that, I think, so here's the latest.

The two biggest bits of news are that I am writing a book, and I've been accepted to the Founder Institute.

First the book...

The American Water Works Association has been wanting to do a book for while that looks forward to all the changes coming over the next few decades in the world of water. So, the people there created a team of Steve Maxwell and me. Steve knows the water business inside and out, and AWWA is not just an association of water providers, it really is the authoritative resource on safe water. I bring to the team my skills at making complicated topics accessible.

One thing I know for sure already: The way we think about water will be changing -- radically -- over the next 30-50 years. You probably don't really think about water much right now. Most people don't. The ways that we've handled water over the last 50 years, however, just won't work over the next 50, and that's why so many radical changes are coming.

I'll work hard to make sure this will not be a depressing book, but it should be eye-opening.

So watch this space for an announcement about when you'll be able to pick up your own copy of The Future of Water. If all goes well, it should hit bookshelves this fall.

Next, the Founder Institute...

The institute is sort of like the awesome TechStars, or a few others, but instead of asking participants to to quit whatever they are doing and subsist on pizza and Red Bull for six months, it allows people to keep their day jobs while a new company gets rolling.

They are launching a Denver version, and I've been accepted as a founder. (I'm guessing I'll be older than the average student, and have founded two companies already, but I like the concept of this school so I will be participating gladly. I look at it a bit like continuing education, with a bunch of great potential side benefits depending on the kind of company I decide to start.)

I'm sure I'll have much more to report about that in the months to come.

In addition to those two big things, I'm also fiddling around with some other concepts:

  • I'm working with an excellent Denver web design shop on an idea that has the potential to substantially improve the employer-employee relationship around the world. Can't say more now, but it could be revolutionary, and a great thing for workers and manager everywhere. Stay tuned.
  • I created an easy to use Applicant Tracking System. A lot of businesses just get flooded with resumes when they post a job, and they don't have a way to handle all of the applications. Many of them just use a spreadsheet. So, I invented a quick and easy way to keep track of all the applications. I've never created a page and tried to have it ad supported, so this is my small experiment with that.
  • I may have a small but explosively cool new application emerging in time for Earth Day. That one will be fun.

There are a few other projects in the works. By my next report three months from now, I'll tell you all about them!


Unemployment Rate For You

I seem to be in a mood to attack the New York Times today...

A million people have been linking to this gee-whiz graphic about the unemployment rate.

I don't think that's actually useful. I think all it does is make people feel better or worse about themselves while killing a couple minutes looking at some eye candy.

So, here, for you, with the help of the always talented Peter Jones, is a guide that is actually useful, and will not kill a bunch of your time today:

What is the unemployment rate for you?


What to Call This Decade? My vote: The Naughties

I've been saying for more than ten years now that we need to all agree on what to call this decade that is so rapidly coming to a close.

When I say that, I've been getting a response, most recently from the esteemed Jesse Sheidlower, that we've gotten through the last 10 years without a name, and so there's no need to coin one now.

I disagree! Starting next month is when we will need it most! 

I don't think we need it when we are in it, because we can just say, for example, "I don't really like the most recent music from Hootie and the Blowfish, I like what they released in the 90s." 

Now let's say that band releases a much better set of songs in the next decade. (It could happen.)

How will we say, "I liked the recent songs, and the stuff from the '90s, but not the songs from the ____s."?

My vote is to take the word used commonly by Brits, the "noughties" and give it a proper American spelling, and call it the "Naughties."

This will give a little hint about so much of the naughtiness that went on. (Insert your own scandal here.)


The naughties are (almost) dead! Long live the naughties!


Won't I get a reputation for being soft on turkeys?

I think President Obama gave some nice remarks, and delivered his laugh lines well, and was cute with his daughters. For all the blather, it's clear that the president is a truly decent guy.

And his remarks about how Thanksgiving started during the depths of the Civil War really resonate in this year, with so many people struggling and so many troops overseas. He just put it all in perspective.

But there's really no better turkey-pardoning bit of drama than this one:


Stay-at-home dad

It's true, I'm essentially a stay-at-home dad, and what's weird is how busy I am. Most of the things I'm doing are open to the public, at least on-line, so join me for any or all of it. I know you are busy, too, but it's like they say, "If you need a job done, give it to a busy person."

Here's what I'm up to:

  • Getting ready for the second installment of Second Saturday Science.

    The first was a big hit, check out the photos on the site for more. We're expecting a similar crowd of kids for this month's event, so we will not be in the community room this time, we'll be right out in the cafe area. If you have kids from around 6 to around 12, c'mon by. It's a lot of fun.

  • Doing some coaching for TheBlogFrog in advance of the Angel Capital Summit.

    This is a great new company doing something that is great now, and will get even better.

    Remember how comments on blogs looked about the same for years, and how they didn't really interact with people in the modern, socially connected world? Then IntenseDebate came along and made the comments make more sense, and connected the commenters to their real-world profile, etc.

    Well, you know how forums on blogs have looked the same for years, and how they don't really interact with people in the modern, socially connected world?

    You catch on quick! You guessed it, the BlogFrog team has developed an easy way for bloggers to plug a fantastic forum into any blog, and maybe even make a little extra money on it in the process. They've already gotten some great traction with that most discerning of internet groups: the Mommy Bloggers. Keep an eye on BlogFrog, I know I will.

  • Attending and reporting on Defrag Con 2009.

    It's been a while since I was a full-time reporter, but I've been attending a few events lately for this blog, but also for my Examiner reports on New Technology and on Google Wave. It's something that's quite comfortable for me to do: walking up and asking questions, and trying to write something coherent about it.

    The difference these days is that with the Internet as cool as it is, you can actually create things instead of just writing about them. Case in point is that just last week I wrote about how Wave could be integrated into a conference, and today I contacted the chief Defrag Confrencista to ask permission, he said yes, and a few minutes later I had launched the DefragCon Wave. (You need to already be in Wave to see that. Sorry.)

    Wave is still in its infancy, but it's fun to try it out. If you are on Wave, be sure to contact me in that brave new world. My username is "scodtt" (like Sco.tt with a "d" for the dot.)


  • Helping Bud's Warehouse with a new site.

    You can click the link now, but wait until you see the new one, it will be much better. Really the best way to keep up with Bud's until the change is to check their Twitter account. This in some ways is the best twitter account I follow because the information they get about new merchandise is so handy, if I happen to be looking for what they get in.

  • Lastly, but bestly, I'm spending time being a husband and a father. Kathy is busy keeping the world safe for arts in education, so I end up picking up a lot more of the time with our son, but that's just getting to be more and more fun every day.

So, if I'm not as in touch, or I'm not keeping my Facebook page quite as up-to-date, now you'll know why. 

Do keep in touch with me, however, especially if there's something I can do for you. These days we all need to count on our friends more than ever.

Thanks for reading!


Must Pop Topics! (Or, Why I Can Write Lots About Google Wave, and Not Much About the Rest of the World)

There's a game I just discovered from the excellent game collection over at Good Experience called Must Pop Words.

The idea is that a bunch of letters in balls float down to the bottom of a window, and you have to type words from those letters. At first they float slowly, and then they speed up. If you get to 50 balls, you lose. As Mark Hurst describes it, it's a combination of Tetris and Boggle.

The interesting thing is that I do much better when there are only a few balls, around seven or so. Once I get up to 35 or more balls it gets really hard. You would think it would be the opposite because there are geometrically more words that would be available with 35 letters.

I just finished reading How We Decide, the excellent book that draws in all the latest in neuroscience to help understand how the brain works, especially when it comes to making decisions.

One of the experiments that the author reviewed had to do with choosing a car. I don't have it in front of me, so I'm probably going to butcher this, but I think it went like this: 

Some subjects were asked to pick the best car, and they were given four variables for each of four cars. Some of them were asked to study the grid, and then announce what they thought was the best car. Some others were distracted after studying the list, and then were asked in the midst of distraction for the best choice, just using "gut instinct." 

The group that was not distracted picked the best car based on the four variables. Makes sense.

Then, a different group was asked to study a list of four cars, but for this group there were 16 variables. Again one part of this group was asked to study the list and then without distraction they were asked to announce their pick of the best car. The other part of this group was distracted, and then had to pick using a "gut instinct." Here the results flipped. The ones who got to study picked wrong; it's just impossible to keep 16x4 things in the rational part of your head all at the same time.

The emotional part of your brain -- the one that makes the "gut instinct" kind of decisions -- can keep track in some way so the people in this section way more often picked the car that had the largest number of better variables.

Picking a car, however, is way different from trying to form a word. Our emotional brain can make good decisions, but it can't pick words out of letters. I think that is why I stumble in that game when I have more good choices.

Now, why am I writing about this game?

Because it's interesting, to be sure, but also because of something I've been experiencing this week.

In my spare time I'm writing for Examiner.com. I started with one topic: New Technology. Then I wrote so many articles in that section about Google Wave, that with the help and encouragement of an old friend over at Examiner.com, I ended up starting a whole section devoted to Google Wave News.

Writing about Google Wave I have been unusually prolific, especially since I do most of my writing before breakfast.

But about "New Technology" my production has slipped. A lot.

I think it's because it's like the ball thing. With Wave there is plenty to write about, but really the choices are somewhat limited for a newfangled kind of a communication tool that's been used by, maybe, 0.000001 percent of the world's population.

"New Technology" just has so many possibilities, it's nearly impossible to choose with a rational brain. So, I'll do my best, but the best decisions may be the emotional ones and not the rational ones.


Greatest Day of Sco.tt's Life!

I'm spending much of the day at the DemoGala event in downtown Denver. I'll be reporting on it for the Examiner soon enough, but I first have to say that this is the greatest day in the life of Sco.tt.

No, not my life, my domain's life. 

You see, I have a card with the domain on it, and that's it. The picture you see above is the whole image on the card. Kind of a minimalist thing that I thought was kind of cool. Turns out that for most people... not so much. They just look at it, and then look at me. Some people are genuinely annoyed.

But not the people at this all-technical event today. They all love it.

The best reaction so far came from the incomparable Adeo Ressi. He's the guy behind two of the great ideas of the last few years: TheFunded and the Founder Institute. He and I have communicated about another potential project a few times, but today was the first time we'd met in person. When he had to go off to speak, he asked for my card. I handed it to him and he said it was the greatest card he'd ever seen. "This makes it worth the trip to Denver!"

Then he went to speak and I went off to a different session hosted by Examiner COO Dave Schafer. Why? Because I said I would, and because Schafer and I long ago toiled side-by-side at an actual newspaper printed on real paper. It was actually an excellent panel with Matt Cohen of OneSpot, Boulder and BDNT's own Robert Reich from OneRiot and the very impressive Lisa Stone of BlogHer. (I'm a sucker for journalists turned entrepreneurs.)

Anyway, one of my spies (I have them everywhere!) told me that Adeo held up my card during his speech, and said it was great, and then he called me a jack-ass because I didn't come to his speech.

To be called a jack-ass by Ressi. Man, if that's not awesome I don't know what is.


The New New New Technology Examiner, Peaches and Crowdsourcing. Confused Yet?

Sometimes I just can't help myself...

This morning I'm cruising through my blogs, and I read a great post by Nate Silver about some very fishy survey results about Oklahoma students.

I've been meaning to write in this space about how I'm now the new "new technology" Examiner over on Examiner.com, but I haven't.

So, do I compose a nice post here, introducing my work over there? No, I gotta go mixing things up and helping Nate solve the problem of not having enough data to show that the survey results are bogus. How? Using crowdsourcing, something I've been reading a lot about lately.

Totally confused? Yes, sorry, I understand. I'd sit down and write a post explaining it all, but I really want to get to the Farmer's Market before they run out of peaches. I'll have much more in the coming days, but at least now you have some explanation of why I wrote on Examiner.com this morning that we could use Crowdsourcing to prove that Oklahomans are not that dumb.


No, Scott Baio is not a Gen Xer

I disagree completely with this guy's assertion that the Original Gen Xers actually started being born in 1954.

Poppycock.

If he had started in 1961, the year that Barack Obama, Douglas Rushkoff, Chris Anderson and Douglas Coupland were born, then he might have had a case. I mean Coupland literally wrote the book on Generation X.

But in the same year were born 

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- famous only because of the completely boomer-centric Seinfeld 
  • George Stephanopoulos -- famous because of one of the first Boomer president, the appropriately narcissistic Bill Clinton
  • Meg Ryan
  • Randy Jackson and 
  • child stars Scott Baio and Ralph Macchio. 
That is not a group of Xers by any stretch.


Are Job Opportunities Falling Through the Cracks?

I haven't written much about this, but I'm looking for a job. Somehow it seems difficult to say that in public because of the general shame that goes along with that, even in this crazy global economic head cold that we are all suffering.


There are job opportunities that pop up, and I diligently apply for them. The ones I really want I make a point of following up on.

But lots of others just seem to fade away.

Also, not all jobs are created equal. Sometimes a job isn't a job, it's just a chance of possibly doing some consulting. I want to keep track of that, too, but there's no "job" for me to track.

I've been trying lots of different systems to keep it all straight, but none of them is ideal. There are plenty of to-do list tools, contact-management tools and online or offline spreadsheets. There are also tools associated with the big job boards, but there is lot's of spammy stuff associated with those. There is also a handful of tools built for job seekers, but they charge too much, have way too much junk associated with them, or just don't really do it for me for some reason or another.

So, am I all alone here? Am I the only one who sees this as a huge need? Especially these days?

Let me know. I've built a very quick and easy one-page survey.


If you are not actively looking for a job, pass this on to someone who is. You can take the survey if you want, but it's really designed for those who are actively looking.

I'll report back here with the results, and with whatever plans I make based on those results.

Thanks!

Back on the Tee Vee

Well, the interview is done, and now it is on the air, so you can see this story about me and Mark Cuban here. (Unfortunately I can't embed it here, but click the link. It's short.

It was a fine story, and I'm probably the only one who will look at it and say, "Gee, why does he move his head around so much????"

By the way, the Second Saturday Science idea is getting some traction, and we'll have more about that here soon. I was interviewed by a national newspaper today, I'll have a link to that when it comes out.

So, I was feeling rotten about my interview, well, I was until I watched this:



I'm baaaaaack

I consider myself a data-driven person. If something is working, do more of that. If not, then stop.

I was not having luck finding a job, and I was blogging a lot.

I had an inkling that my blog posts were a part of me not finding a job. I knew the economy had a lot more to do with it, but I couldn't control the economy. I could control my blog, so I basically just stopped.

And then, well, I STILL didn't get a job.

So I was going to, this month, switch over to a different blogging platform, Wordpress, which I used in my volunteer fight against the expansion of gambling in Colorado. I liked it a lot, so I thought I would switch before I started blogging again.

But as Rick says, destiny has taken a hand.

Later today I'll be blogging about me and Mark Cuban. Yes, that Mark Cuban.

 


Drudge let's me down a second time

The first time Drudge let me down, I figured he just had a bad source. He announced to the world that Evan Bayh would be Obama's Veep.


This time, though, he's really shooting himself in the foot.

Comeback Through headlines and pictures, he's trying to create the illusion that McCain is making a big comeback. He's not

(And remember, I like Drudge. With a friend, I invented the Drudge Widget!)

There's also some noise that he may or may not come out with a big new plan to help the economy.

The problem is that McCain is in a trap that Obama has laid down. He did this with the Clintons, which was masterful. Now he's done it with McCain without even breaking a sweat.

The trap? He's made the case that McCain is "erratic." So, now if McCain sticks to his same (losing) strategy he'll lose, and if he tries to make a big change, well, he'll just be more erratic. McCain really may never know what hit him.

I'm certainly glad to see, by the way, that McCain has started in small ways to tamp down some of the anger out there. I've been banned from talking on this blog about anything that could be perceived as a threat by anyone against any potential new president. I'm not allowed to talk about it, but let's just say that I'm really really glad that McCain is saying that Obama is a good, decent, family man and a citizen.

Hey, speaking of family man, I think all those people that are so afraid of Obama are mostly older, and they have a lot of fear about the economy, and just change in general. Change is scary! All of those who are scared should look to none other than the heartthrob of Wasilla, Levi Johnston. There's a guy who should be scared. He's a high school drop-out with a pregnant girlfriend, and a mother-in-law-to-be who is a lifelong NRA member and has a lot of guns and may, in fact, be crazy. (She certainly is delusional.)

But is he afraid? Doesn't sound like it to me:

"We're up for it. I'm excited to have my first kid. It's going to be a lot of hard work but we can handle it."...


What about Johnston's politics?

The young man said he wasn't an expert on politics by any stretch. Asked about Barack Obama, he replied: "I don't know anything about him. He seems like a good guy. I like him."


Sure, he says he will be voting for the Republicans. I would be to, if I was him; having the Palins several thousand miles away probably sounds like a good idea!


Do you know knols?

Knol-logo

I wrote about the new effort by Google to create a Wikipedia killer when I first heard about it late last year.

At the time I compared the effort to the National Enquirer. Most major media refuse to pay for actual news, but the Enquirer does. 

The difference between Google's new thing "Knol" and Wikipedia is that it pays for content. As I wrote then, I don't see anything wrong with that. If someone wants to write something and get paid for writing it, then I know why they are writing it. If they spend a bunch of time on a Wiki article, well, are they just doing it for their 15 minutes of fame, or what?

Well, Google has been working on this for at least six months, and it just came out.

First impressions? It's amazing how few articles they have, and how much they pay attention to health. Is the doctor business really so bad that they can write articles to go on the Internet in hopes of making 10 bucks for some clickthrus?

That said, where most journalists, even really good ones, are predicting that the best way to make money in Knol is to write articles about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. That's what TechCrunch wrote. But I would actually predict that the field that will get flooded first is the articles about health, especially those conditions that can either be treated with a fancy pharmaceutical or that some lawyer can sue someone for. I read once that "mesothelioma" is the highest possible Cost-per-click word you could use because people type that looking for lawyers to sue in the junk science cases against asbestos manufacturers.

In spite of the people out there willing to sell their vote on ebay, I don't think a lot of people are following a lot of text ads for candidates. They do follow links for stuff they think will make them healthy or rich without having to work. I'll try to check back in another six months and see if my prediction comes true.

Ummm, don't they have that backwards?

Wired informs us that human-made clocks are now more precise than the rotation of the earth around the sun.

International Atomic Time — kept by ultraprecise clocks — is gradually out-pacing astronomical time, which is determined by our planet's rotation. (Earth's spin is slowing — what a drag.) So in 1972, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service began adding occasional leap seconds. They've done it 23 times, most recently adding an extra "one-Mississippi" on December 31, 2005.

I'm sorry, but doesn't this just mean that all the scientists agreed to a system of time that just wasn't accurate, and now they are having to fix it up?

Now there's a legacy software problem for you. Programmers just love to tell you it's all the previous programmers' fault that the software doesn't work. Now they are blaming God for making the earth rotate around the sun imprecisely?


Super Fat Tuesday

So much has been written about the last couple of days, but there's a few bits I haven't seen:

  • Super Tuesday was also Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. My caucus, like all the rest around the country, was packed, and while I didn't see anyone munching chocolate bars, I did see a woman dressed up in what looked like a bridesmaid dress. Was she going out to celebrate after, or is that just how people dress for these things?
  • I've always thought that Ash Wednesday fell on a Wednesday because Lent is meant to be 40 days, just as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting. So, on leap years shouldn't we have Ash Thursday?
  • (Actually, ignore the previous item. Once I started writing that I realized that while it makes for a good punchline, it's just silly. Lent ends on Easter Sunday. Five weeks of Lent is 5X7=35, plus the five days including Wednesday before that. The extra day just pushes Easter out a day on the calendar, but not in the schedule of the church. I should have figured that there wouldn't be a problem because our calendar was instituted by Pope Gregory.)
  • It's a little hard to tell from this clip, but watch Tim Russert on the Today Show sometime, he really just barely combs his hair. I love it.

  • Nobody has really talked about this much, but what struck me about Tuesday's results is how much variation there was between states. I mean, we are all Americans, so how can two states as similar as New Jersey and Delaware have a totally different outcome between Obama and Clinton?
  • All politics is local. That's the answer to the previous question.
  • From a management perspective, it would be exhilarating to be working on a campaign and look at the results from Tuesday, figure out what the message was, who the voters were, etc., and then somehow figure out from that how to get wins in other states.


  • Of Course McCain is telling the truth

    Am I the only one to notice this? I think McCain is lying about a few things. Hell, it's hard to believe much from any of these candidates. But I think McCain has a small verbal tic to let us know when he's doing it. He prefaces the lie with "Of course."

    "I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said. McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary, he said, "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible." ... McCain stuck to his guns, saying, "of course he said he wanted a timetable" for a withdrawal.

    Here's another:

    But, look, I voted -- I voted on the tax cuts because I knew that unless we had spending control, we were going to face a disaster. We let spending get completely out of control. Of course, those tax cuts have to remain permanent.

    Here's one that the Freudians out there will love, especially because he said this after his mother besmirched all those in his party:

    I want to thank my wife, Cindy, the best campaigner in the family, and my daughters Meghan and Sidney, who are with us tonight, as well as my son, Doug, and our children who could not be here, and of course, my dear mother, Roberta McCain.

    I suppose this is helpful. If you like all the stuff McCain says that is NOT prefaced by "of course" then you might be comfortable voting for him.


    Dyslexic Entrepreneurs

    I'm not dyslexic, but I'm not opposed to the idea...

    Some new research coming out confirms that about a third of the entrepreneurs in the US are dyslexic. The researchers point out some of the reasons you might expect, being willing to delegate to people "smarter" than they are is a key one.

    The money quote for me is this one: "A child who chronically fails standardized tests must become comfortable with failure."

    MyTrafficNews "failed" at least a couple of times, but somehow I was always able to nurse it back to life until finally it sold to Traffic.com.

    People who are really successful, the saying goes, are different because they've failed more often, and learned from those failures. Because I'm not dyslexic, I guess I need a few more failures before I can really make it.