Weekend Flea Market 5-Oct-07

An assortment of stuff I came across in cyberspace, offered second hand, for anyone who may be interested.

  • If you haven’t read it already, Thomas Friedman’s penultimate op-ed 9/11 Is Over, is a must-read.
  • China has now started blocking all RSS feeds as well.
  • A woman has been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for committing adultery. Kamangir and a group of Iranian bloggers are trying to stop that from happening.
  • Microsoft launches HealthVault, an online repository where consumers can store medical information for free in an encrypted database. For once, Microsoft beats Google to something!
  • Ashok talked about “Collective Intelligence” in the comments discussion on my post “Runaway Train“. Techcrunch reveals that a new site, CrowdChess, has launched. You log on and sign up for a game. Each side is made up of teams of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people. Anyone on a team can suggest the next move, and the move that gets the most votes is the one that is played out. Like Erick, I too wonder if any number of amateurs can ever beat a grandmaster in this scenario! What do you think?
  • MMP has his own insightful analysis of why he blogs. He has developed an interesting universal model that shows how we all live in blogging CAVES. Check it out.
  • Check out Ashok’s take on the various categories of Indian bloggers to have a healthy laugh at The Blogosphere Zoopedia.
  • A US Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the Free Flow of Information Act. There is still a long way to go and final outcome seems uncertain at this stage. See Are Blogging Journalists Shielded? for background information.
  • The Economist paints a sordid and bleak picture of the challenges involved in revamping Mumbai. A must-read if you care about Mumbai.
  • Financial Times puts Rahul Gandhi’s first populist action after ascending to the Congress secretaryship as the backdrop to describe how political short-termism is hampering retail reforms.
  • I had pondered on a few questions regarding cricket’s status in India in my 10 Thoughts on T20 World Cup Win post. Social psychologist Ashis Nandy has some interesting answers in his interview with Outlook magazine. He says there are only three areas of our life—cricket, cinema (Bollywood) and crime that recognize capability wholeheartedly and unconditionally.
  • I have written about the contempt of court ruling regarding Justice Sabharwal. Vinod Mehta brings greater clarity to the issue and wisely cautions that if the media and the judiciary engage in a war, the only winners will be the politicians.
  • To bring this potpourri full circle back to the US, Rajinder Puri takes on a lot of controversial issues in his take on the decline of the US. Some of his comments resonate with Shefaly’s comments in the discussion on Right To Free Speech: What does it mean?.
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10 thoughts on “Weekend Flea Market 5-Oct-07

  1. Mahendra: Isn’t it great to have Friedman free again? :-)

    Re The Onion: as I am fond of saying, “Der Zweibel entfernt allen Zweifel” (the Onion removes all doubt!).

  2. Crowdchess – can a large group of amateurs beat a grandmaster. No. The conditions for collective intelligence are not met.

    1) Each person acts independently
    2) The effect of everybody’s choice is somehow summable/aggregatable to produce a greater-than-sum-of-parts effect, so therefore each person brings a slightly differing perspective.

    1) is met. 2) is not. A democratic vote ( a simple maxima) is not necessary wisdom of crowds. wikipedia on the other hand is.

  3. Shefaly: Absolutely! I know there are many critics of Friedman, but whatever I’ve read and seen of him so far has impressed me.

    Sometimes I wonder if his vociferous critics really understand him or whether they’re really out to gain some cheap publicity out of criticizing someone famous like him?

    Is that your own quote regarding the Onion? If so, I must say you’ve many layers just like an Onion…

    Oemar: I’m afraid I don’t share your optimism. This act seems doomed by the opposition by the Bush administration.

  4. Ashok: Thanks for clarifying your concept of ‘collective intelligence’. I’ve preferred responding to your clarification in my original post on the Runaway Train.

  5. Mahendra: Thanks. I sometimes agree with TF, sometimes not. In my experience, many critics often do not read what they are critiquing so they go from critiquing to criticising.. (An example is book reviews on Amazon; one can easily tell who read the book and who read the bubbles on the back cover!).

    Yes that is indeed my own quote. I like word play in languages. It can get awkward.. If someone is saying something and I see the humour in it, because I see that expression in German or Hindi or French, I can embarrass people by laughing out aloud. Much explaining has to follow :-(

    Thanks.

  6. Nita: Thanks! I wonder how many folks like this idea…

    Shefaly: You do not have to prefix and suffix each comment with a Thanks on my blog! :-)

    You are so right: going from critiquing to criticizing!

    So apart from having lived in 20 countries, you’re a multi-lingual master too! Wow…

  7. Mahendra: When I was a child, my father taught me a ditty:

    Hearts like doors
    Will open with ease
    With very, very little keys
    And don’t forget
    That two of these
    Are ‘I thank you’ and ‘if you please’.

    I remember it and practise it constantly. Alas, habits die hard.

    I notice some of my friends – and now readers – find it odd that I do it. But as they say, the girl can’t help it.

    Thanks for your understanding.

    PS: It is 20 cities around the world, not 20 countries. I hate moving house – and harder with so many books – so that would truly have driven me mad… :-)

    I am not a master but I aim to improve constantly. Reading poetry and listening to German/ French rap is still not easy.

    As I mentioned once to Nita, since I grew up where I did, my first language was marathi. Now it is gone! Poof! I can say a few things and I can comprehend much more but nothing else. So you see I am not a master of any sort!

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