Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Text Search

The ability to run a search for words (try ctrl+f in your browser) has changed our relationship with the written word.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition -thank you Liz) has made it possible to text search books. That, more than anything else, will cause the death of the page and the rise of the ebook.

It's funny, my great great grand, to live in this technological time. Will you hold and read a paper book?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Not Lie on Facebook?

I don't know what it is about me. Maybe I'm just an asshole looking to make life difficult for others. Market researchers want to get inside my head so they can show me relevant ads. Cut through the crap and target me with commercials for things I might by for reasons I care about. I can see they want to help me, so why do I insist on throwing wrenches in Helpbot's gears?

Switching gears.
The "social networking site" Facebook is collecting information about its members. In return, we get a personal internet, filled with friends. What's the big deal? It's free! Shouldn't they be allowed to collect anonymous information? Doesn't hurt me if they know how many people have birthdays in December. Or how many people listed Night as their favourite books.

Think of all the text on there. Facebeast can step back, run a search, and look at the buzz. They know what words are most often used, what ads people most often click on, what products are most often mentioned. Information that market researchers will pay for, assuming it's reliable.

Facebook has the delicate job of informing its users that they want more access to our behviours without scaring us away. Everyone's worried that Facebook is going to "own their photos" or "own their blog posts". Facebook doesn't give a shit about owning those things. They're not going to publish your stuff and claim it as their own -that would cause a massive exodus. What they do want (and have) is access to what we click on and what we write about.

We're all worried that people are reading our facebook messages and laughing at our grammar. Truth is, they don't give a shit about individuals, the money is in the group. They want your gender, age, occupation, location, and they want to know where that fits into consumer patterns. There is no TV without commercials. There is no Facebook without access to your information.

Bring me to my point -took me long enough.

Why not lie on Facebook?
I firmly believe that Facebook's power (over social network sites like MySpace) was pressuring people to use their real names. No one's going to pay for ad info about all the 101 year old 5cm tall MySpace profiles. Facebook is much more reliable. Funny. Why don't we lie? What psychological power keeps people in check, using their real names when they sign up for things online? Our friends already know our birthday and gender what keeps us from switching them?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Worst Sleep of My Life

We were camping, chatting around the campfire at night. I was telling one of my fabulously entertaining stories, laughing at my own jokes, really getting into it. Suddenly, a rock the size of a double hamburger (ad size not actual size) rolled toward me. In mid-sentence I picked it up, carefully placing it back in the ring around the fire to do it's job, containing the flames.

The others seemed shocked. That's when I realized that I must be a very good storyteller because I could elicit a variety of emotional responses from surprise to my hand is burning my hand is burning. I plunged my hand into a bucket of ice water. Afterward there was some degree of argument over if this was the proper treatment for the degree of burn.

Now that pointer, middle and thumb had immense, throbbing blisters it was time for sleep. I took action to avoid being awoken by the constant pain, dipping into the cooler and filling a bag with ice. As I nodded off to sleep I would let go of the ice and wake up in agony. My right hand still felt on fire.

Being a genius, I decided to tie the bag to my hand. Imagine my surprise when I awoke, about ninety minutes later, discovering my bag of ice had been replaced with cold water. It is true that if you put someone's hand in liquid when they're sleeping they will feel an urgent need to urinate. I woke up with my bladder screaming. Never watch a desperate man trying to open a tent without his glasses, in the dark, unable to use his burning right hand. I can only imagine what a sad, frustrating spectacle I was. Unfortunately, I was unable to directly experience the ordeal. In order to cope with my twinging bladder my personality split, creating an alternate universe in which I was a master thief breaking out of prison. I vaguely remember getting free, stumbling to my equally difficult first heist, barely able to liberate the jewels before the alarms went off.

I had made it to 1am.