You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

November, 2008


Over the last few weeks I feel like I've been running into way more interesting stuff than I could post over in the sidenotes. So, I figured maybe it was time for one of those wonderful link drop posts ...

  • To get things started, Google's got a new site that analyzes flu-related searches to help alert people of the bug in their area. The Times reported that tests of the site "suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
  • Another quote from that same article makes me think of an idea I've had for awhile: "But the data collected by search engines is particularly powerful, because the keywords and phrases that people type into them represent their most immediate intentions. People may search for “Kauai hotel” when they are planning a vacation and for “foreclosure” when they have trouble with their mortgage. Those queries express the world’s collective desires and needs, its wants and likes." Why couldn't Google create some kind of fund that bought and sold stock based on people's searches? Seems like there must be some collective intelligence in the data, right? Would that be legal?
  • Yet another New York Times story (I feel like all I read is the Times these days) is about the guy behind the rumor that Palin thought Africa was a country not a contient and how he pulled it off. Reading the article I kind of felt like the guys who did this are culture hackers: Recognizing a vulnerability in the system and letting the world know by cutting it open for all to see.
  • Great XKCD comic that speaks perfectly to a project I've been thinking about for awhile: Mapping out "the city." I've always been amazed how if you're in Silicon Valley the city is San Francisco but if you're in Connecticut it's NYC. Would love to poll the country and map "the city" ... Some time, some time ...
  • The government owns a lot more land than I thought it did (including 45 percent of California and 84 percent of Nevada).
  • Google has a really great SEO starter guide (PDF download here). Who knew?
  • "Tumblrs are like bedrooms, and we’re teenagers spending idle hours postering them with pictures and magazine cutouts." - Zach Klein (via Mike)
  • Ryanair is going to start £8 flights to Europe soon.
  • MIke told an awesome story he heard about the value of lots of ideas: "A ceramics professor comes in on the first day of class and divides the students into two sections. He tells one half of the class that their final grade will be based exclusively on the volume of their production; the more they make, the better their grade. The professor tells the other half of the class that they will be graded more traditionally, based solely on the quality of their best piece. At the end of the semester, the professor discovered that the students who were focused on making as many pots as possible also ended up creating the best pots, much better than the pots made by the students who spent all semester trying to create that one perfect pot."
  • Why did 52% of voters who make over $250,000 vote for Obama?
  • Facebook's value looks more like $4 billion at the moment (as opposed to the $15 billion valuation Microsoft invested on). I still contend that if the company were to sell it would go for around $10 billion, though, because Google and a bunch of other players would bid it up and Microsoft would finally end up spending more than it wanted to.
  • "'Monkey Tennis' is a British pop culture phrase, first used in the late 1990s and popular throughout the 2000s. Originating as a joke in a television sitcom, it has come to be commonly used as an example of the hypothetical lowest common denominator television programme that it is possible to make. Programmes believed to have been poorly-conceived or of particularly low quality, especially within the reality television genre, are sometimes compared with the "Monkey Tennis" idea in media coverage and popular discussion in the UK." Who knew?
  • Last but not least, The Smoking Gun has an amazing collection of artist riders. Good for hours of fun.

That's it for now. Off to beersphere.

November 13, 2008
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.