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September 12, 2007

'Web users differ from mainstream agenda'


The headline above, from today's Financial Times over a story by Aline van Duyn, is true enough for now — though within five years the headline will read, "Web users define mainstream agenda."

Because like the tree that falls in a forest with no one around to hear it, if dead tree-based media wither away and no one really cares, the mainstream by default changes, much as the Mississippi decides where it will go independent of where its neighbors wish it would flow.

The FT story focused on how different are the stories featured on user sites such as Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Reddit and Digg from those in the headlines of MSM like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Most interesting.

I've noticed that about twice a week, on average, one of my posts gets big on one of the user sites, though I'm never, ever noted on paper.


Here's the FT piece.

    Web users differ from mainstream agenda

    The news agendas of traditional media websites have very little overlap with news sites based on stories selected by web users themselves, according to a new study comparing the content of mainstream sites in the US with popular user sites such as Digg.

    The findings come at a time when news organisations around the world are investing heavily in their web operations in an attempt to engage readers and viewers online.

    The report, published on Wednesday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research organisation that specialises in analysing the performance of the press. It compared news coverage from the week of June 24 to June 29 on 48 mainstream news outlets to that on user sites Digg, Del.icio.us and Reddit. All three of these operate without news editors and instead let users decide what is most important or interesting.

    Few of the top stories selected by editors on mainstream sites appeared on the user-generated sites.

    For example, in the week in question the biggest story for traditional news providers was a debate in Congress about reforms to immigration policies, accounting for 10 per cent of all news stories. It appeared just once as a top-10 story on Reddit, and not at all on Digg and Del.icio.us, the study found.

    Mainstream media sites also tended to focus on a handful of big issues, while user sites rarely returned to stories.

    In addition, the analysis showed that coverage on the user-news sites focused more on domestic US events and less on news from abroad. Technology and science stories were the most common on the user sites.

    The differences partly reflect the sources of stories on user sites: the study found that 70 per cent of stories on user sites came from blogs on non-news sites such as YouTube or WebMD.

    The findings will fuel concerns about the situation of the mainstream media, especially as more people switch attention to the web and as advertising spending follows.

    “Whether or not we see further divergence between user-driven sites and mainstream media over the next few years will remain a key question,” the report said.

September 12, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Strange days at Marc Jacobs


Look at the photo above.

What do you see?

Nothing special —


unless you look again.

More here.

September 12, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'gustu sinpleak ditut, hoberenak asetzen nau'*


Logos Quotes is a wonderful website that takes a quotation and renders it into over 60 different languages — instantly.

Bonus: It'll even speak the quotation in some of the other languages.

It doesn't get any better that that.


September 12, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stonehenge Pocket Watch — Tell time like a Druid


From the website:

    Stonehenge Pocket Watch — 5000 Years And Still Ticking!

    Now you can tell time accurate to within one hour just like the ancient Druids!

    Famous circle of giant stones faithfully reproduced to scale on the inside of this elegant pocket watch.

    Point it due north (compass included) and you can quickly determine almost exactly what hour it is (if it's a sunny day, of course).
    If you're really patient, you can tell which season it is and even significant days like the winter solstice.

    If you're really, really patient, you can observe the next lunar eclipse (they're exactly 223 lunar cycles apart).

    If you just can't wait (or it's overcast) read the time on the face of the ornate outer watch. With complete instructions (thank Odin).



Just named Official Pocket Watch of the Long Now.


September 12, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Is It A.D.H.D. — Or Convergence Insuffiency?


If you're like me you've never heard of convergence insuffiency (C.I.).

But if you keep reading you'll learn as much as I know about it.

In yesterday's New York Times Science section Laura Novak wrote that 5% of school-age children have C.I., which causes people to see double because their eyes cannot work together at close range.

That means there's one in every classroom, on average.

Even many pediatricians, quick to medicate for A.D.H.D. and A.D.D., haven't heard of it.

Here's the Times story.

    Not Autistic or Hyperactive. Just Seeing Double at Times

    As an infant, Raea Gragg [above] was withdrawn and could not make eye contact. By preschool she needed to smell and squeeze every object she saw.

    “She touched faces and would bring everything to mouth,” said her mother, Kara Gragg, of Lafayette, Calif. “She would go up to people, sniff them and touch their cheeks.”

    Specialists conducted a battery of tests. The possible diagnoses mounted: autism spectrum disorder, neurofibromatosis, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder.

    A behavioral pediatrician prescribed three drugs for attention deficit and depression. The only constant was that Raea, now 9, did anything she could to avoid reading and writing.

    Though she had already had two eye exams, finding her vision was 20/20, this year a school reading specialist suggested another. And this time the ophthalmologist did what no one else had: he put his finger on Raea’s nose and moved it in and out. Her eyes jumped all over the place.

    Within minutes he had the diagnosis: convergence insufficiency, in which the patient sees double because the eyes cannot work together at close range.

    Experts estimate that 5 percent of school-age children have convergence insufficiency. They can suffer headaches, dizziness and nausea, which can lead to irritability, low self-esteem and inability to concentrate.

    Doctors and teachers often attribute the behavior to attention disorders or seek other medical explanations. Mrs. Gragg said her pediatrician had never heard of convergence insufficiency.

    Dr. David Granet, a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, said: “Everyone is familiar with A.D.H.D. and A.D.D., but not with eye problems, especially not with convergence insufficiency. But we don’t want to send kids for remedial reading and education efforts if they have an eye problem. This should be part of the protocol for eye doctors.”

    In 2005, Dr. Granet studied 266 patients with convergence insufficiency. Nearly 10 percent also had diagnoses of attention deficit or hyperactivity — three times that of the general population. The reverse also proved true: examining the hospital records of 1,700 children with A.D.H.D., Dr. Granet and colleagues found that 16 percent also had convergence insufficiency, three times the normal rate.

    “When five of the symptoms of A.D.H.D. overlap with C.I.,” he said, “how can you not step back and say, Wait a minute?”

    Dr. Eric Borsting, an optometrist and professor at the Southern California College of Optometry who has also studied the links between vision and attention problems, agreed. “We know that kids with C.I. are more likely to have problems like loss of concentration when reading and trouble remembering what they read,” he said. “Doctors should look at it when there’s a history of poor school performance.”

    Dr. Stuart Dankner, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Baltimore and an assistant clinical professor at Johns Hopkins, said that children should be tested for convergence difficulty, but cautioned that it was not the cause of most attention and reading problems.

    Dr. Dankner recommended an overall assessment by a psychologist or education specialist. “An eye exam should be done as an adjunct,” he said, “because even if the child has convergence difficulty, they will usually also have other problems that need to be addressed.”

    Doctors recommend a dilated eye exam and a check of eye teaming and focusing skills. Testing includes using a pen or finger to test for the “near point of convergence,” as well as a phoropter, which uses lenses and prisms to test the eyes’ ability to work together.

    There is no consensus on how to treat convergence insufficiency. Next spring, the National Eye Institute will announce the results of a $6 million randomized clinical trial measuring the benefits of vision therapy in a doctor’s office versus home-based therapy.

    For Raea Gragg, the treatment was relatively simple. For nine months she wore special glasses that use prisms to help the eyes converge inward. She then had three months of vision therapy. She has just entered fourth grade and is reading at grade level.

    “Raea didn’t know how to describe it because that’s all she’s ever known,” her mother said. “She felt like she had been telling us all along that she couldn’t see, but nobody listened.”

September 12, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blade Runner — Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition


Do you like our owl?

Release date is December 18, 2007.



September 12, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The simple yet revolutionary sculpture of Richard Long


In the August 11, 2007 Financial Times Richard Cork explored the work of British sculptor Richard Long, whose current retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh he termed "stunning."

A number of Long's pieces are pictured above and below.

Here's the article.

Out of the studio and back to the land

In the late 1960s, when the young Richard Long emerged with such single-minded conviction, British sculpture was dominated by large, abstract and often brightly coloured forms in welded steel. Anthony Caro and Phillip King, the leaders of this movement, taught at St Martin’s College of Art in London, where Long himself studied. But he had no intention of aping their example. Far from it: like his equally precocious fellow-students Gilbert & George, Long was bent on pursuing an independent path.


Bristol-born and familiar from an early age with the River Avon’s mud, he had relished going on rural journeys with his father. Long was delighted above all by country walks and saw no reason why his art should be produced in the confines of a studio. It seemed right to make work outside, far removed from any urban context. And Long also aimed at stripping his art of all inessentials, focusing on elemental circles, lines and spirals.

The simplicity of his work cannot disguise its revolutionary stance. Nothing seems more natural than the earliest exhibits in Richard Long: Walking and Marking, his stunning retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh – in particular, a black-and-white photograph of a straight line he made by walking back and forth across a field of grass. But the implications of this piece, made exactly 40 years ago, proved boundless. Suddenly, the entire world became open to artists.


He was fascinated by water too. Down in Cornwall, making a 1970 work entitled “A Sculpture Left by the Tide”, he formed seaweed and other remains into concentric circles on a deserted beach. The same year he even went under the water, laying out stones in the Little Pigeon River running through Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains. Long quoted, on his photograph of the work, some potent words from a song he loved by Johnny Cash: “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

When the outcome of these expeditions was first exhibited and illustrated in magazines, many older sculptors refused to accept them as art. But the truth is that Long, controversial exponent of the new, was profoundly stimulated by art’s oldest manifestations.


At the Edinburgh exhibition is a photograph of a potent floor-piece produced for his show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1971. The vigorously applied marks formed a spiral tracing of a walk he made from the bottom to the top of Silbury Hill. This ancient mound, near the standing stones of Avebury in Wiltshire, provided Long with a hugely impressive and mysterious precedent for his own work.

With unflagging energy, he set off during the 1970s to roam through the wildest places on earth. We gradually realise that the duration of the journey, and the ever-shifting stimulus provided by new surroundings, are lodged at the very centre of his concerns. Long often uses word-pieces to chart the changes in weather, geology and light he encounters on an expedition. Titles such as “A 25-Day Walk in Nepal” foreground his fascination with the passage of time, yet it does not prevent him from pausing, contemplating and then making a substantial work whenever the location demands. A remote stretch of coastland in County Clare prompted him to erect a monumental circle of standing stones, just as imposing as their primeval predecessors.


From the outset, Long has thrived on finding ways to match the intensity of his open-air art in spaces as imposing as the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. He suffered a broken leg while walking in the Highlands only weeks before the opening of this show. But the vitality of the wall-works made specially for this show is outstanding. They come as a release after the first few rooms, dominated by framed photographs, texts and map-works. Long is not afraid to take risks, and even the wildest expanse of wall fails to curb his reliance on spontaneity.

The first of these works is the most impulsive. He threw muddy water from the Firth of Forth straight on to the white surface, creating three enormous splashes. They hit the ceiling and dribbled down to the skirting-board, catching the pulse of Long’s dynamism as he works.


Even more spectacular is the panoramic “Firth of Forth Mud Arc”. This explosive work looks like the base of a titanic sun about to set, sundered by seven vertical pale streaks coursing through it like lightning. These mud works are impossible to rub out while Long is working on them. Hence their feeling of high concentration, working from outline drawing and yet embracing a high level of chance when the mud finally splashes down.

The biggest room in the show is occupied by a very different exhibit: a line running in a grey oblong of cut slate pieces down the centre of the wooden floor. None of the pieces touches each other and each one is subtly different. Yet they add up to an indissoluble whole, stretching with a sense of absolute inevitability between the old fireplaces installed at either end. The muscular directness and sobriety of “Stone Line” contrast with the muddy wall-works. It ranks among Long’s most severe achievements, and must reflect the family tragedy preceding its execution in 1980. His father died the day he produced this iconic piece. “I saw my mum,” he recalls in a catalogue interview, “then came up on the train and made that work.”


The floor in the following room has been left empty but only because Long has filled the wall opposite the windows with “Cairngorm Line”. Working now with china clay on a black-painted base, he makes severe bands of glacial colour ascend from skirting-board to cornice. Although extremely minimal, they are full of agitated marks that spill out like a hailstorm of whiteness over their deep nocturnal surroundings. Long ensures that the entire work is ablaze with streaming light and quickened by an irrepressible urge to evoke the grandeur and vitality of nature at her most untamed.

When the exhibition ends in October, all these outstandingly powerful wall-pieces will be destroyed. I wish they could be saved as lasting testaments to Long’s achievement in opening up and redefining art’s relationship with the land. His personal presence can be sensed most directly in the final room, where hands coated in Firth of Forth mud have been forcibly pressed into black paint. They radiate outwards from the centre in what Long describes as “Midsummer Day Circles”. Looking at them, we feel they could travel on forever, transcending all territorial boundaries and stretching to the edges of the natural world.


Richard Long: Walking and Marking; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; until October 21. Tel: +44 (0)131-624 6200

September 12, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Air-A-Leave Reverse Downspout Blaster


Say what?

This item is so strange it has to be featured, no matter that I don't have a leaf blower to try it out with.

It just has everything necessary to be an instant Bizarro World classic.

From the website:

    Air-A-Leave Downspout Cleaner

    Blower attachment cleans clogged downspouts.

    No need for ladders or dangerous walks on the roof.

    Simply connect to your downspout and attach a leaf blower.

    Blast of air quickly removes leaves and debris to prevent leaking and overflowing and help keep gutters flowing freely.




September 12, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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