Irresponsible Factoids

Could Fareed Zakaria become a future Secretary of State? . I’d vote for him.

People often say, How could you, living in India, end up a Reaganite? Well, the answer is, live in India. There are two things that people dont understand. One is the degree to which a highly regulated economy produces masses of corruption because it empowers bureaucrats. It just has to be seen to be believed. The second, he continues, is that you are very quickly inured to the charms of pre-industrial village life. Whenever someone says the word community, I want to reach for an oxygen mask.

Clay Shirky debunks the myth that half the world hasn’t made a phone call.

Clever article by Paul Boutin comparing wikipedia’s arbitrariness to that of the Hitchhiker’s Guide:

Like the Guide’s lengthy entries on drinking, Wikipedia mirrors the interests of its writers rather than its readers. You’ll find more on Slashdot than The New Yorker. The entry for Cory Doctorow is three times as long as the one for E.L. Doctorow. Film buffs have yet to post a page on Through a Glass Darkly; they’re too busy tweaking the seven-part entry on Tron.

Heavens! How could I have missed the kitabkhana litblog?

A lot of people complain about BoingBoing’s website. There’s validity to the complaints in the initial post (although they are hardly worth getting all riled up about).

If youre writing, even in your free time, for 100,000 people you may have a lot more in common with a newspaper columnist than a weblogger whose only audience is a few friends. With this greater audience comes a greater responsibility. If 100,000 people are reading your words you need to be more certain about what you say than if its just for a bunch of mates. I cant help feeling that Boing Boing has stepped past the hazy mark where it can get away with publishing off-the-cuff posts about events in the world without spending some of the time and money we assume those ads are generating on checking facts. Lets look at a couple of examples that might have benefited from more research.

In January there was a post about a man who was arrested for attempting to hack a tsunami appeal website. For Boing Boing the juicy story wasnt that the man was arrested (as reported by BBC News a week earlier) but that he was arrested for using an unusual browser, which the company managing the donations mistook for a hacking attempt. Its a great story, but Boing Boings basis for this report comes from a source on an unnamed mailing list. Corys introduction to the mailing list quote reports the event as fact, not rumour, and this no doubt contributed to hundreds of other weblogs in turn reporting the event as fact.

Finally, here’s some brooding Russian atmospheric electronic music. I regularly write blurb reviews on NetLabels about avante garde electronica.