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Between wisdom and madness

My name is Will.  This is what I clicked.

An important philosophy underlying online communities is the idea of the "" - that many people are collectively smarter than any individual.  Harnessing that collective wisdom has been a goal of many social software developers.

A recent incident, however, has highlighted the challenge of capturing the wisdom of the crowd without becoming mired in what many are calling the madness of the mob.  In the case in question, a programmer was wrongly accused of stealing code.  The story, though false, was compelling enough that it gained popularity quickly (madly, but not wisely).  Is there an in trying to extract wisdom from a crowd while at the same time highlighting its shortcomings?  Or is the real lesson that the wisdom of crowds must lest it become something else entirely and descend into groupthink?

Speaking of paradoxes, — "Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even that being could not lift it?"  A longer examination of the question than you might expect.

Speaking of discussions of logic, about "begging the question."  This may be my new favorite comic.  These are hysterical.

Speaking of comics, — I think this is meant to be funny, but it contains so many truths it almost seems like a legitimate effort.

Still speaking of comics, a random

— This story is couched in terms of the explanation being a foil to a common ID argument, but more significant to me is what this means to motivational speakers everywhere.  How many times have you heard that a bee isn't supposed to be able to fly but no one told the bee?  Or that a bee flies by sheer strength of will?

did not burn down an old man's house, Sam I Am.

— Selected passages from the Bible done in Legos.

I am confident that unlike the one-eyed kitty, this is not a birth defect.

Speaking of manufacturing images, not long ago we saw an ultra-realistic CGI portrait of a man.  Here's another .  I think this one's even better (more real).

- I didn't realize we don't have the right to take as forceful a shower as we like.

"The printed page is facing its biggest threat with the introduction of the first electronic book that people can read for ."  How can I get one on my PC?

Chuck Norris responds to the virally exploding with a weird .  (Is this the ? [May require a "refresh" to get it to load right."])

Us Weekly features "diet secrets" from at the same time she reveals in Vanity Fair that she has an eating disorder.

(While checking to make sure the above site doesn't have any overt NSFW material I also clicked link to in which "Each unique visitor to the site reveals one more frame of the film, so in order to see the entire thing, 5,000 people have to visit."  I just revealed frame 898.)

In a demonstration of how things really do come full circle, you can now get .  What's next, a smoke signal generator for your cell phone?

— The first fashion blogger round-up.

"What happens if cutting off your nose to spite your face ends up actually being good for your nose?"  A more-interesting-than-I-anticipated account of in St. Louis.  Is this the bud of a new Reformation?  "Some scholars have been speculating that the doctrinal gap between American Catholics' personal beliefs and practices and the pronouncements from the Church in Rome has become so wide that it inevitably had to lead to a schism, have been speculating for longer than some of you have been alive that "any day now" we were going to see a second Great Schism and the formation of an American Catholic Church."  This could be a movie.  At the least, a news program would do well to cover this instead of paying lip service to religiosity with "miracle miner" stories or the diarrheal blurtings of a certain televangelist.

Speaking of revolutions, "." — The idea of darknets is totally exciting.  We've been reading about the two-tiered Internet and how the big corporations and special interests are restricting freedoms on the Internet in an effort to retain control of the world's purse strings (or get their hands deeper into the purse).  The inevitable result is that a hidden online culture will grow outside the view of these controlling bodies.  We already see anonymizers in use to hide activities online, but this blogger points to a new anonymous network called I2P.

Video of the Day: (And random coincidental clicks of the day)  The when you throw it into the air (other than it having to be wicked cold outside).  And the video of when it happens.

Mailbag!

Will,First of all, I love you site and look forward to reading it. The story on the kitten with one eye that was interesting.  However, when I read the paragraph that accompanied the first one listed, I saw that they said that it only lived for one day. A new born kitten wouldn't have its eye(s) open, more-or-less wide open as in the picture. Are these legitimate pictures or are they both just a hoax?Thanks!Kristin DI clicked your cyclops kitten link and read the blurb next to it.  I just wanted to point out that kittens' eyes do not open until much later than the one day they are claiming.  Kitten eyes are not fully developed at birth and are always Blue/Gray for at least a couple weeks.  So my take?  The picture is a fake.Thanks-Sabri

Will replies:  It wouldn't be the weirdest thing to hit the Internet if people were making fake one-eyed kittens just to keep up a hoax.  There has been of the white kitten, however.  The owner insists it's real and the AP can at least assure us that it's not a Photoshop job.  And they also include the name of the birth defect these kittens had.  I think what may be most deceptive is the impression that the eye works - or for that matter, that anything in the kittens worked.  A birth defect like that is so severe, it probably didn't have a normal brain, or a normal means of breathing.  The hoax may be in our own brains, telling us that what looks like an eye really is what we mean by "eye."

I love your blog and have never had an interesting link to send - until now.  (with downloadable video near the end) of how to cool your PC using 8 gallons of cooking oil!

Will replies:  Thanks!  Can we cook fries while we surf?  Maybe some of those jalapeno poppers?  "My name is Will.  This is what I cooked."

Wil,What did you do to my QuickTime?  The other day when you linked to the Apocalypto trailer and said to open it in QuickTime,  a download or update of some type was installed on my computer.  Now whenever I try to view trailers, QuickTime fails to initialize properly.  I tried to re-install and the QuickTime install gave me an error too.  This is my work computer and so it could be something my company disabled.  Is it possible that other people are having this problem?—Andrew

Will replies:  Andrew, that was just a .mov file, and it was from the official site, so I don't think there was anything tricky about it.  Yours was the only letter I got about this problem, but I'm posting it here on the chance someone else experienced something similar and can offer any advice.

Will,Love you blog, it's always and will always be (until the four horsemen ride) one of my daily clicks. Don't know if you but its amazing and terrifying at the same time. Cheers senor.—Andy

Will replies:  Thanks Andy.  I haven't seen this in a while.  (Actually, I think there were two versions.  2015 is .  Source is .)  I can say that when it came out it made a bigger splash among media folks than any chest pounding bloggers or citizens with camera phones.  I think it struck journalists' most sensitive nerve.

In response to that Google Map pic of the Myth Buster/Matrix Scenes.It very well COULD be the Mythbusters site, but according to the Following IMDB "Trivia" for Matrix Reloaded, "The 1.4-mile, three-lane loop highway was built specifically for the chase scene on the decommissioned Alameda Point Navy Base. It was destroyed when filming was complete."  —GIn regards to the . That is exactly what it is.That is a shot of the old Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA. When they made the 2nd & 3rd Matrix flicks they built  a freeway out there because it was cheaper to build their own rather than pay the money to have a real freeway closed off for weeks. I work on the 36th floor of the 50 California building in SF and could see the structure across the bay from our conference room window. They have since torn it down, but that's where it was. I know that the Mythbusters have used the area to test things, but I believe their main office is at Mare Island in Vallejo, north of Sf & Oakland.Mare Island was a naval service center, mostly for subs. It is now used as an industrial park and warehouse space.A side note on Alameda, first Sunday of each month there is a killer antique fair on the tarmac of the old area used for flying boats.— Rory Downward

Will replies:  Thanks guys!

In your January 8 episode regarding Iso Recorder you said: "Apparently it comes in handy for copying CDs and DVDs."Just as long as the CDs and DVDs to be copied are not audio or video CD/DVDs.Too bad.—Tim Hester

Will replies:  Hi Tim.  I was trying to figure that out as well.  The isn't quite clear.  Ultimately I found to be helpful in understanding the term and its history a little better.

CEO Seidenberg says content companies who provide advertising-supported applications should share operational costs with owners of broadband networks.Somehow I don't see this as any different than paying for a cab ride to the theater and having the cab company insist the theater pay for the gas.— Gary Hollingsworth

Will replies:  Thanks Gary.  Another analogy I've read is that it's like the post office charging you postage to send a package and then charging the recipient to deliver the package.  Early today I read and this interesting comparison of the Internet to .

Will,I read your post about .  That reminded me, a few years ago I lived in Maine and this made the front page; . The two women streaked through town, but because indecent exposure is exposing one's genitals and female genitals are internal, they were innocent.—Dave Kennedy

Will replies:  Thanks Dave.  I'm not sure what to make of that.  I support a woman's right to run around naked, but I wouldn't try to convince a woman to run around naked because the important bits are on her insides.  I remember a story in New York City a few years ago about women getting the right to go topless because men can go topless.  I can't help but feel like there's something sexist about the law declaring men inherently indecent, but I don't have any plans to run around naked, especially in New Hampshire in January, so I'm not very motivated to press the issue.

There is a lot of debate regarding , the main issue seems to be how draconian the reaction was and how devastating a felony charge can be for what seems like a rather minor incident that caused no harm and is being used as an example to scare students. Don't mess with the government or the established power structure, they will crush you and ruin your life...How did this cross the line to become a felony as opposed to a few detentions? Also the reporting regarding it is bizarre and seems to simply parrot the prosecutors claims regardless of how silly they seem.Felony For Refreshing a Web Page?  "An 18 year-old boy was recently arrested in Ohio for telling fellow students to refresh the schools web page in order to slow down the server. He is being charged with a felony and is currently being held in jail. According to Canton City Prosecutor Frank Forchione 'This new technology has created a whole wave of crimes, and we're just trying to find ways to solve them.'"—Sean

Will replies:  Thanks Sean, that's very interesting.  I wonder how the school would have reacted if he'd directed the same amount of legitimate traffic to the school site.  In any event, obviously the school saw it as a DoS (denial of service) attack instead of a harmless prank.  I wonder if it actually did any harm (big bandwidth bill?  inability to report a snow day?).  The funny thing is that the charge could have been worse.  The follow-up to the eBaum's World hack attack story is that the charge they're pursuing is "."

Hi Will,How do you collect your links, articles, etc. thru the day & sort thru previous things you've found?  Sometimes the MSNBC site is OK for me wanting to find an old link you've posted but I don't have such capability when I'm looking for something that I saved.I want something like a briefcase or backpack to put articles & pictures I find thru the day into, is searchable, & can be categorized.  Right now I'm throwing complete txt of articles into an e-mail & sending to myself because URLs disappear or require money later.  One problem with this is I have to figure out what the subject lines mean when I go back to look for them & the file structure isn't too hot.I use to want Google plugged into the but now I really need something like .

Will replies:  I tend not to collect links over time.  If there's something really useful to me I might bookmark it, or I might print up an essay I don't have time to read, but I try to actually read/process/play with the sites I click because if I put them off for later I end up with massive (depressingly intimidating) lists.

If you're married to the idea of mailing things to yourself, you might want to check out Google's Gmail.  You get a gig of storage, which you'll have a hard time exhausting, and part of the point of that application is that you're supposed to label all your mail so that you can click on different categories to find items.  Of course, being Google, you can also search the whole thing.  Of course, you can make folders and search in MS Outlook too, but in Gmail you can have a mail be part of more than one category, so a map of restaurants could be in both "maps" and "restaurants."

If you're open to the idea of not mailing things to yourself, I have two suggestions.  One is to blog what you like.  There are a lot of blogging tools that let you make a quick post from your browser.  You can later categorize, tag, and search your blogged items.  You don't have to make a public spectacle of yourself to be a blogger.

But I think what the smart kids would recommend is something like .  You sign up for an account (they're owned by Yahoo, so they're not going away any time soon) and then you go around the Web adding tags (labels) to everything.  You can then search the tags in your account, or look at how other people have used the same tag for other sites.  I confess I never thought tagging would catch on, because who wants to bother coming up with words to describe all the sites they look at?  But the use of tags is only increasing and likewise I'm understanding more uses for them.

With your question now posted here, we'll see if anyone else has any good suggestions.

Love your blog.  Wish you'd post hourly, but then I wouldn't get anything done at work.I clicked "" while visiting "." Thought you might enjoy.—Paul

Will replies:  Thanks Paul.  It's funny you mention that site because I was just there looking at which led me to , at which point I actually didn't get anything done at work.

I came across while searching for something interesting to see in one of my holiday destinations. I think it might be of interest to you and other readers of your blog.HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!—Lee

Will replies:  Thanks Lee.  This crashed my browser the first couple times I tried it, but this afternoon I was about to use it with no problems.  I really like the idea of clicking on a map to see a photo of what's there.  It reminds me a little of .  (I also like that it's free.)

Everywhere I looked yesterday, people were talking about the .  Thankfully, before getting too deep into trying to research the question, I clicked on the matter, which suggests it may all be a misunderstanding.  A reply from the article's author, plus more discussion (in which you can participate) .

The best, if tangential, point in the discussion is on .  Even though the Internet gives us easy access to legislative documents, the laws themselves are so inscrutable that it's not a stretch to say that you may not know you've broken them until you're being hauled off to jail... or Guantanamo.

— Speaking of annoying, I don't usually entertain interpersonal online battles, but this reflects a lot of the color of online culture and doesn't involve any sputtering political pundits.  In short, one Web site used another site's content without permission, so the wronged site has rallied an attack on the offender.  Is it Internet justice or going overboard?  (Or are those the same thing?)  "Comedy aspect aside, it's all getting a touch serious and over the top. Think hyper-arms race going at warpspeed, powered by a bunch of 14 year olds and you can see where this is headed."

— So far I'm not impressed with what's coming up in the "popular" category.  You'll find better stuff on .  I do like the thumbnail preview feature though.  As a related matter, many are to see on the video it sells.

— For 88 bucks you watch all three movies in 12 hours and eat when the Hobbits eat.

— Meditation reshapes the brain.

You've heard of an org chart, how about ?  (How do you spell Arrrrgh!!)

Everyone is sending me the cyclops kitten link, which I think is kind of gross, but   What's bizarre is that a regular Clicked correspondent mailed me from back in October.  Is this common or is there an increase in cyclops kittens?  NOTE:  The source site of the October kitten photo is an extreme gore site, meaning real photos and video of dead bodies and horrible wounds.  Don't go there at work or near kids or unless you've seriously mentally prepared yourself.  (The host site, however, is fine.)

— As excited as I am to see all the old characters, I'm a little concerned about the introduction of those pretty actresses.  I'm doubtful they'll find a convincing way to work them into the script.  (Offers lots of alternate download sites if this link is slow.)

— It's hard to recall a better example of a cable news talking head trying to do his job off the top of his head without being prepared in the slightest.

, says Nobel prize-winning economist...at which point the numbers lose all meaning to me.

— Let me just say for the record that I hold a completely uncheated high score of 8,052,750 on Space Cadet.  Seeing a cheat this easy makes me want to cry.

I keep reading about the , and I understand that there are other sites that are growing in popularity and that these sites use new technology and a new philosophy that Slashdot doesn't.  What I don't understand is why everyone uses that Alexa chart showing the growth of Digg.com.  That chart doesn't show any decline in Slashdot numbers.  I don't see how the conclusion from that chart is that Slashdot is fading.

The north star is .

Speaking of star gazing, " is a revolutionary, one of a kind, patented handheld device that instantly identifies and/or locates any celestial object visible to the naked eye."

"Here's a little secret that Starbucks doesn't want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is ."

Video of the Day:  — Like those claymation deathmatches on Mtv only more fun and set to music.

Since I made a big deal of this last week:  Robots go to war — (Note:  Annoying pagination.  This is not really a 7 page story.  Click the "print this article" button to read it all on one page.)

In the links behind the headlines: 

  • The Smoking Gun makes its case ("")
  • doesn't have much to say in his defense but publishes a letter from the Smoking Gun guys.

Speaking of blogs and mainstream news reports.  I'd say the blog reporting on the is considerably than the mainstream reporting.  (But which one is closer to what you said when you heard the news?)

.  Hours of Bart Simpsonesque fun (it swears).

— AmericaBlog actually for his own cell phone records and sure enough, it worked.  He goes on to list who should be concerned about this and why.  UPDATE:  As the blogger points out, this story has been around for a while.  Here's friend and colleague a few months ago.

— Michael Yon is looking for veterans to moderate a sort of military citizen journalism forum that will host reports from soldiers serving in Iraq.