Why, why does this appeal to me?

Falindrome: The World's Largest (Only) Source of Fake Palindromes!

includes entries like:

Ray, eat a ripe pirate tea. YAR!!


No sass on a livid Advil — Vidal Sassoon


Clay Shirky: "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus"

Two excerpts. Read full transcript here. Video of talk here.


A couple of weeks ago one of my students at ITP forwarded me a project started by a professor in Brazil, in Fortaleza, named Vasco Furtado. It's a Wiki Map for crime in Brazil. If there's an assault, if there's a burglary, if there's a mugging, a robbery, a rape, a murder, you can go and put a push-pin on a Google Map, and you can characterize the assault, and you start to see a map of where these crimes are occurring.

Now, this already exists as tacit information. Anybody who knows a town has some sense of, "Don't go there. That street corner is dangerous. Don't go in this neighborhood. Be careful there after dark." But it's something society knows without society really knowing it, which is to say there's no public source where you can take advantage of it. And the cops, if they have that information, they're certainly not sharing. In fact, one of the things Furtado says in starting the Wiki crime map was, "This information may or may not exist some place in society, but it's actually easier for me to try to rebuild it from scratch than to try and get it from the authorities who might have it now."

Maybe this will succeed or maybe it will fail. The normal case of social software is still failure; most of these experiments don't pan out. But the ones that do are quite incredible, and I hope that this one succeeds, obviously. But even if it doesn't, it's illustrated the point already, which is that someone working alone, with really cheap tools, has a reasonable hope of carving out enough of the cognitive surplus, enough of the desire to participate, enough of the collective goodwill of the citizens, to create a resource you couldn't have imagined existing even five years ago.

[bold mine]


In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: "Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves."

At least they're doing something.

Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn't posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it's not, and that's the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it's worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

And I'm willing to raise that to a general principle. It's better to do something than to do nothing. Even lolcats, even cute pictures of kittens made even cuter with the addition of cute captions, hold out an invitation to participation. When you see a lolcat, one of the things it says to the viewer is, "If you have some sans-serif fonts on your computer, you can play this game, too." And that's message--I can do that, too--is a big change.

This is something that people in the media world don't understand. Media in the 20th century was run as a single race--consumption. How much can we produce? How much can you consume? Can we produce more and you'll consume more? And the answer to that question has generally been yes. But media is actually a triathlon, it's three different events. People like to consume, but they also like to produce, and they like to share.


...and then there are the good typos:

Scrap found at the library:

my favorite month is july
because I was born
on that mouth


They got...the mustard...out!

Last night's American Idol with Andrew Lloyd Webber reminded me that I've wanted to post a recent Improv Everywhere mission: Food Court Musical! (below or click link)

In high school, whenever I had a big audition after school, I'd walk down the crowded senior hall waving my arms around like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music singing "I Have Confidence"; there are multiple occasions on which I've burst out with Grease 2's "Cool Rider" (if you are unfamiliar with this Michelle Pfeiffer masterpiece, go see it!) in public, and I unfortunately remember drunkenly singing "Somewhere in my Youth (Or Childhood), I Must Have Done Something Good" (a song I could've sworn I hated) at the top of my lungs at New College the night a girl I'd had a long crush on asked me out. So "Food Court Musical"--in which a bunch of planted food court "employees" and eating customers perform a "spontaneous" musical at a mall--gets me in all the right places.


This week in praise

Less praise than one might reasonably hope for:

Editor of largish poetry press, to me:

"I heard you read at the Loft a few weeks ago. I liked that anecdote you told about American Idol and Million's Poet" [so, apparently, not your poems].

More praise than one might normally expect:

Woman at Preschool Storytime, to me:

"I just wanted to tell you you have an amazing singing voice!" (after I sang "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands")