Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This could be about anything

ghanathinktank is healthy exercise in consciousness raising and cross-cultural social engineering:

Developing the First World

Founded in 2006, the Ghana ThinkTank is a worldwide network of think tanks creating strategies to resolve local problems in the "developed" world. The network began with think tanks from Ghana, Cuba and El Salvador, and has since expanded to include Serbia, Mexico and Ethiopia. In our most recent project, we sent problems collected in Wales to think tanks in Ghana, Mexico, Serbia, Iran, and a group of incarcerated girls in the U.S. Prison system.

These think tanks analyze the problems and propose solutions, which we put into action back in the community where the problems originated – whether those solutions seem impractical or brilliant. 


The project is an attempt to transpose parts of one culture into another, to take a solution generated in one context and apply it elsewhere. The hope is that the friction caused by these misapplications would generate interesting results, and that we could learn something further about our own assumptions as well as those of our counterparts in the other countries.
As such, the focus of the Ghana Think Tank is not the resolution of these problems themselves, but on the gaps of translation that occur within the process as a way of uncovering our hidden assumptions.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Google descends from cyberspace to places on earth

We're used to Googling "earth to web, earth to web," now there's also this "web to earth" option...could be useful!

Google responds to government requests

Google regularly receives requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from its services, or provide information about users of our services and products. A new "government requests" map shows the number of requests received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009; Brazil leads the world both in requests for information about users and requests to have content removed.  

Does the internet unite and/or divide?

In an article in the New York Times yesterday, David Brooks cited a new NBER paper that challenges the idea articulated by Cass Sunstein (e.g. in Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide) that the internet – with the opportunity it offers users to filter out information they disagree with and communicate exclusively with like-minded communities (ie. homophily) - actually undermines democracy by increasing polarization and blocking the kind of dialogue that can changes minds.  Sunstein,  previously mentioned here in connection with nudges, may or may not be wrong about ideological segregation, but he deserves credit for this excellent paper on Conspiracy Theories (though his proposal to “infiltrate” conspiracy theorist communities alarmed some conspiracy theorists...)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Google searches Twitter

I've long used this greasemonkey script for Firefox that folds Twitter into my Google results, but the official Google blog reports that as of yesterday, the Twitter archive is covered by Google's real-time search feature.There's also a feature that let's you "replay" what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter, and display the feature in a chart (I couldn't get it to work).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Google Docs upgrade

Check out this preview of the new and improved Google docs - potentially an extremely useful tool!
(ignore background music, as usual)

Finally, a photo by my wife of my daughter and me in a major magazine

A bit blurry, and not sure if that's what I wrote, or what I meant by it - could it be what they call a "koan"?! - but I always enjoy appearing in the New Yorker.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fact checkers

This story about fact-checkers led me to Craig Silverman's website (and book) Regret the Error, which reports on reports on media corrections, retractions, apologies, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the press. Here is a choice example of an unchecked fact:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.(Washington Post)

My favorite erratum ever, however, is from Beachcomber:

In our recent article on the price of milk, “Horses” should have read “Cows” throughout.

New York Times Skimmer

New York Times offers a "skimmer" interface that provides a quick overview of the stories; go to "Customize" to toggle between two formats, "Serendipity" (default, and with an annoying ad smack dab in the middle) and "Priority." You can filter by sections (including some 30 NYT blogs) and topics, and also navigate with keyboard (see under "Shortcuts")

Sunday, April 11, 2010


If you like playing with an Etch-a-sketch, you'll love playing with Bomomo. If  you have an iPhone and are headed for an important meeting, you're all set. Two of my most recent productions:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Propaganda equals Antipaganda

It strikes me that if the "the West" and North Korea set out to create presentations that showed North Korea in the worst and best possible light respectively, they could share the same slides. See them all here
Kim Jong Il comforts a distraught nation after his father's death on July 8, 1994


Not sure how legal it is, but couldn't resist excerpting this great image from a NYT article about the legality of excerpting ....

(Illustration by Minh Uong/The New York Times)