Today's Mighty Oak

One of the blogs I read all the time is JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization).  He was live-blogging a talk given by a CMU professor, and I was drawn into this awesome use of Captchas:

He says that about 200M captchas are typed every day. He was proud of that until he realized it takes about 10 seconds to type them, so his invention is wasting 500,000 hours per day. So, he wondered if there was a way to use captchas to solve some humungous problem ten seconds at a time. result: ReCAPTCHA. For books written before 1900, the type is weak and about 30% of the text cannot be recognized by OCR. So, now many captchas ask you to type in a word unrecognized when OCR’ing a book. (The system knows which words are unrecognized by running multiple OCR programs; ReCAPTCHA uses those words.) To make sure that it’s not a software program typing in random words, ReCAPTCHA shows the user two words, one of which is known to be right. The user has to type in both, but doesn’t know which is which. If the user types in the known word correctly, the system knows it’s not dealing with a robot, and that the user probably got the unknown word right.

Pretty cool use of everyone’s time!  Check out the entire article here

Via Andrew Sullivan, here is a fantastic quote from Douglas Adams, in 1999:

So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural skepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back — like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust — of course you can’t, it’s just people talking — but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV — a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make.

Honestly, 1980 surprises me.  I understand the incrase in television, although the jump in radio seems odd to me.   Read the whole article, here.

Slate takes a look at the new system of “Like’s” that will be all over the Internet, feeding information back to Facebook.

Yes, lots of other firms mine our online activity, but Facebook’s system will be all the more powerful because it is voluntary.

Over at Warhol’s Phone I got to talking about Net Neutrality, something I’m trying to learn more about.  Slate once again has covered it, saying the recent ruling in appeals court isn’t as disasterous to Net Neutrality a we think, it will just take a little bit of backtracking to get moving forward again.

Here’s a few quotes:

Unfortunately, by 2006, it was obvious that things had gone horribly wrong. Instead of more competition in broadband, every year brought less.


Even if the Bush FCC was wrong about the glory of competition, was it perhaps right to cripple the FCC? Might we be better off with a disabled agency, one limited, effectively, to licensing radio and TV stations? The idea may sound appealing, like kicking over your brother’s sand castle, but you pretty quickly begin to see the problems. The truth is, we actually do rely on broadband as our common carrier, much as our ancestors relied on trains and the way we still rely on taxis and innkeepers. The problems and likely abuses in a system everyone depends on haven’t really changed, and why should they? Technology changes, but human nature doesn’t. Then as now, carriers have the means and reason to discriminate, charge exorbitant prices, and confuse customers with weird bills.

I love infographics, as showcased in my post here.  Even bought a book about them, which I’m sure I’ll talk about at some point.  But here’s a fun take on them, via The Daily Dish:

Forgetting that it is tied to a specific book (with a ridiculously long URL), it’s a fantastic quote about rights:

Two quick links for today:

Slate looks at FCC’s plan to improve the internet infrastructure.

And Joho takes a look at manners online:

The opposite of the screaming matches on the Net is not screaming back and is not staying quiet, but is hospitality.

It’s specifically about the publishing industry, but appears to be very heavily influenced by Cluetrain:

Which is interesting in a way.  My first interactions with The Cluetrain Manifesto was through a physical medium (copied pages in a class, and then the physical book) and now the tenth anniversary edition has been published, and of course, the website lives on.

Okay, there was almost a complete thought there, which goes against everything The Great and Secret Show is about (hehe), I’ll flesh this out later.

Here’s a cool roundup about the Google empire online:


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