Multiple mazel tovs

Some very good news for the good guys today. Watertown blogger Lisa Williams was among several local bloggers who won a NewsChallenge grant today. The grants are being given in honor of “ideas and projects that will transform community news”; certainly H2OTown qualifies, as does Ethan Zuckerman for his work on Global Voices (thanks to Universal Hub and Doc Searls for pointing me in their direction).

Another mazel to Feedburner, who is being purchased by the omnivorous Google for $100 million. Guess that says one of two things: there is real money to be made in advertising in RSS feeds, or there’s a buying war on in the online advertising inventory market.

How Teleflip will make money, unless Google takes it all

New York Times: How to Make Your Cellphone Act Like a BlackBerry. David Pogue discusses three options for doing email on a regular cell phone: Google, Yahoo, and Teleflip. Who? I first linked to Teleflip almost two years ago, in the context of their still-free universal email-to-SMS gateway (now rebranded as FlipOut).

The new service, FlipMail, apparently will allow checking any email account from the phone as SMS messages, provided you’re ok with reading only the first 120 characters, and eventually with seeing ads. But there should be a lot of people for whom this will beat investing in a smartphone so that they can run the Gmail Mobile client or Yahoo Go, and Teleflip stands to make some revenue from the ad stream, which will be nice for them.

Pogue misses the point, too, about the Gmail and Yahoo offerings. They are almost certainly intended first for preloading on smartphones, second as downloads for power users.

Closely observing life online

The passive-aggressive notes blog (see my prior post) is a great example of a subgenre of blogs that neatly illustrates the idea that there is an advocate and observer for every possible peccadillo in life, no matter how modern. I refer to them as the Obsessively Tracking Mildly Objectionable Things blogs, and their main value is that they provide great sociological data about phenomena that would have previously gone uncommented on because the cost of complaining about the peccadillo is higher than the cost of putting up with it. (The Internet: lowering transaction costs, for better or worse.)

The nice thing about this blog, though, is its blogroll, which is a whole collection of blogs that Obsessively Track Mildly Objectionable Things: the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks; the Literally, a Web Log blog (covering misuse of the word literally; Apostrophe Abuse; the Ban Comic Sans blog; my new favorite, the Lowercase l blog (which calls out signage that uses a lowercase L where it should use upper case); and the old reliable, the Silent Penultimate Panel Watch, tracking wasted silent panels in newspaper comic strips.

Other blogs in this category that I don’t think exist, but should:

  • The Who Let Their Dog Crap on My Lawn and Didn’t Pick It Up blog
  • The People Unfamiliar with the Ban on Liquids on Airlines Who Slow Up the Security Line blog
  • The People Who Forward Ill Thought Out Jingoistic Emails blog
  • The Blog About the Guy Who Leaves “Citation Needed” on Obvious Statements in Wikipedia Articles.

Don’t dock your bottle, and other things I learned at Microsoft

The passive-aggressive notes blog reminds me of a coworker of mine at Microsoft who used to fly off the handle about water cooler hygiene. At one point, he got so outraged about how people were using the water cooler that he posted a note that said “Don’t dock the bottle! If you must refill a plastic water bottle, don’t place the bottle over the water cooler spigot and share your germs with everyone!”

I don’t think he made too many friends that way.

But there’s something about office kitchens that brings this tendency out in people. Each individual likely is in the kitchen by himself and thinks of it as his or her own domain; when a reminder (in varying degrees of rudeness) comes that it is in fact a shared space, the individual can lash out in some surprisingly ugly ways.

The office kitchen, in short, is a lot like an Internet forum.

Mmm, good

In the category of ideas that sound horrid unless you consider the alternative: the Nosefrida, a nasal aspirator for kids that works on the same principle as the late-70s gas tank siphon. I don’t care how many filters are on that puppy, the thought of putting my mouth on a tube that is filled with preschooler snot is pretty revolting.

But it’s a great product name. (Via BoingBoing.)


Lore Sjöberg posits a future of hybrid websites in Wired’s Alt Text column: Let’s Make Website Mashups, Like Netflickr, Figg and BoingPress. BoingPress is pretty funny (“This blogging service provides all the functionality of WordPress, and in addition automatically links to stories about DRM, the Creative Commons, Disneyland and anything John Hodgman does ever”).

I clicked through thinking I was going to see something about SalonHerringWiredFool, probably the earliest automated content mashup (it combined RSS feeds from four sites, back in 1999). You can even see what it looked like back in 2000, apparently the last time it ran.