Monday Night Engineering Feats

Here’s a picture of a bridge that joins the former East and West Germany over the River Elbe.

pic258242.jpg

Yeah, it’s a bridge for barges… amazing engineering. Now for you armchair engineers, does the bridge have to be designed to support the weight of the water or the weight of the water plus the vessels? Click continue reading to see the answer.

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Thomas Hawk Joins Zooomr

Thomas Hawk, a pseudonym, writes a really interesting blog about technology and photography, but mostly photography. I’ve stumbled on his blog a while back and have enjoyed his writing immensely, linking to his posts on occasion. I was surprised to read that he is joining Zooomr, the digital photo site created by Kris Tate. Actually, given his interest in digital photography I wasn’t that surprised to see that he was joining one of the more interesting digital image sharing sites but I would encourage you to read about it in his own words because his passion for it is contagious and gives one reason to believe that all this web 2.0 hoo-hah is a trend with legs, that these services have substance and a capacity to actually impact peoples lives in a positive way.

Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection: Going to Work for Zooomr
This decision to join Zooomr, by the way, is in no way meant to imply that Flickr is not great. On the contrary. I spent a bit of time last night talking on the phone with Stewart Butterfield from Flickr about my decision to join Zooomr. How it represents for me personally a unique opportunity to jump into the tech startup world hands on. How working with Kris will give me an opportunity to influence many more of the great features that I feel ought to be developed from a photogeek perspective. Why I felt it an exciting opportunity and one I ought to pursue.

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Oh the trauma of being a former Enron executive

And if he did chose suicide would he have delegated it in an attempt to avoid legal responsibility? This puff piece allows Skilling to paint himself as the victim when in fact he has been convicted of being a central conspirator. What really pisses me off about the entire Enron debacle, aside from the rather obvious fact that people lost their retirement savings, is that this company was supposed to be different, Enron was supposed to be a new generation of company that smartly deployed technology to implement new business strategies, indeed create new businesses, from very old industries. In the end they were just a bunch of con artists and crooks.

CNN.com – Jeffrey Skilling to paper: I considered suicide – Jun 17, 2006
Former Enron Corp. President Jeffrey Skilling says he contemplated suicide after his company crumbled and authorities began to ratchet up legal pressure on him.

Wetpaint launches

Wetpaint launched their public wiki service today featuring a nicely designed user experience, contextual advertising, and some great customer wikis, including my own Indian Motorcycle Wiki.

I haven’t invested nearly as much effort in my wiki as some of the other beta sites, which really started out as a simple reference wiki for me to keep track of parts and other information for my Indian Chief. However, in working with the service I can easily see how you could invest a nominal effort to create a high impact wiki site, like this Nascar fan site.

All-in-all I think this is a great v1 effort, not only is the feature set right for the audience but it’s very polished. I have no doubt this will be a very popular destination wiki site for public spaces. I also enjoyed my interactions with the team at Wetpaint as well, my compliments to them for a successful launch.

What I liked about Wetpaint:

1) They have a great interface that lowers amount of effort required to build a high impact wik

2) Moderator controls let you lock pages

3) Comments for every page

4) Tags for every page

5) E-mail features like subscribe

6) Great collection of themes to get you started

What I didn’t like about Wetpaint:

1) Whenever you edit a page it asks you to comment on why you edited the page (it is optional text)

2) There is this notion of page hierarchy or structure, which could actually be considered a positive

3) The editor has pretty limited functions for editing

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One Man, One Bullhorn

One of my favorite writers is Michael Yon and he has been in a dispute with a French publishing company about a new magazine they recently launched. While some have objected to the content of the magazine I will reserve judgement because they have a right to publish whatever content they want, however, they do not have the right to steal copyrighted material from individuals as was the case when they launched their new magazine with a Michael Yon photograph on the cover, an image they did not pay Yon for the right to use. Yon did what any blogger would do, he wrote about it and the subsequent settlement negotiations that ultimately fell through. The story was picked up widely by blogs, and ultimately by general and trade media, who started to call on retailers to pull the magazine from shelves, which to date 6,923 retailers have done.

On one hand I applaud the actions of the blogosphere to correct a wrong and punish a corporate entity for attempting to use their size to steamroll an individual who they believed would be unable to react to their actions, but on the other I wonder if this mob mentality is such a good thing. For example, what if the settlement negotiations ended because Yon was demanding an egregious amount of money for rights to the image on the basis of the public reaction he instigated? In order to be objective you would have to ask that question, however, the other side of the coin is that Yon was able to instigate a mass reaction because he has attained a position of trust and integrity, both values that were perceived to be absent in HFM (the French company).

Perhaps if HFM enjoyed the strong brand perception of integrity that Yon has the public reaction would have been muted while it was sorted out, which of course is a lesson for corporate brand people that the reputation your company enjoys is increasingly a function of your actions as opposed to simply the advertising you incessantly run.

Michael Yon : Online Magazine:
Already, these retailers have agreed not to sell Shock magazine, and more than 5,000 stores have pulled the magazine from their shelves. Check back here often as we will post the news as each new retailer responds to your concerned communications.

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