Three Card Monty

In case you had not heard about this planned reality show in the Netherlands feauturing a terminally ill woman selecting a recipient for her kidneys. It was a hoax all along, the producers now say:

"In staging this programme our goal has been to prompt a debate about this crisis [organ donations] in the Netherlands."

When individuals attempt to use shock value to target the "real issue" it almost always seems that the issue they claim to want to bring attention to gets lost in the condemnation of the action they undertook in their attempt.

At what point does the little character that rides on each of our shoulders step in and say "ya know, there might be a good intention behind this but in the end we’re gonna look like asses and actually do nothing to promote the cause we claim is behind our ‘shock the consciousness’ plan".

Ironically, I was originally thinking about this as it relates to another piece of news today. "Dr. Death" Kevorkian was released from prison today after serving 8 years for helping people commit suicide.

One could reasonably argue that his actions actually set back the assisted suicide cause and in the intervening years while he has been imprisoned the movement has actually had more success in terms of legal progress and public perception. Gavin Newsom on same sex marriage is another example.

Newsgator Widgets

Check out the Discovery Channel blog for the “Everest : Beyond the Limit” program. On the sidebar is a “latest headlines” widget built on their RSS feed, provided by Newsgator.

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The widget on the Everest blog is itself simply an instantiation of the widget that Newsgator is making available for embedding in your blog, the Everest site being powered by Typepad.

I installed the widget in my Google start page and whatdayaknow, I’m getting the same feed content delivered with a much richer experience than traditional feed widgets. What I like about this is that the widget gives content publishers, including the average blogger, the ability to deliver rich content, and potentially advertising, in a widget package that drops into many of the popular start pages.

This is key for a couple of reasons, the first being that advertisers are desperate to have this capability in order to foster interactions with their advertising payloads. For high traffic blogs this capability also delivers a powerful differentiator they can invest in, which is being made possible by the popularity of start pages.

I have been watching my feed traffic with this last point in mind. I recently posted some details about the breakdown on my feed users, and to me the most interesting point was that Netvibes went from “other” to 7% of my total feed traffic in less than 6 months.

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Book : The Forgotten Man

Over at TCS is this lengthy review of an interesting new book on the Great Depression of the 1930′s. If you are into history, as am I, then this will be a worthy read but I would encourage you to read this book with the context of current affairs in mind.

The country, he [Roosevelt] believed, had grown too fast: "beyond our natural and normal growth." The problem was that there had been "an era of selfishness." There existed "throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the last years." These people "look to us for guidance and for more equitable distribution of national wealth." This language sounded new–it was that of the pilgrims and the progressives. Roosevelt also assigned blame to Hoover for the inflation that they both wrongly believed was doing the damage…

This vision was a darker one than had prevailed in the 1920s. Where Americans…had believed in a future of plenty, Roosevelt believed in a future of scarcity.

While we are certainly not at risk another depression, I do think there is a struggle that will play out in the 2008 presidential election that mirrors many of the campaign rhetoric of 1932. On top of that is an ideological world struggle that has emerged in recent years between capitalist economies and newly minted socialists who don’t see the failure of socialism in Europe and the former Soviet Union as a failure of socialism at all.

Anti-business academics and free market champions haven’t stopped feuding and with the certain failure of entitlement programs like Social Security, absent of structural reform, looming on the horizon, we will all be living with the consequences of these battles. Ironically, Roosevelt’s New Deal policies are central to the coming debate that will be had, if for no other reason than the ideological principles they were formed around.

Roosevelt turned to his populist advisers for campaign rhetoric and for tax proposals that would punish wealthy individuals and large corporations. But most of the New Deal, including the alphabet-soup agencies like the NRA and the TVA, reflected the influence of the collectivist-planners.

The next election should not be about global warming or health care but about a far more fundamental issue, Federalism and free markets. Of course it won’t because those two topics are a certain loser in terms of firebrand stump speeches.

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

More on this topic (What's this?)
The Day that Was - November 29th 2007
Think it can't get any worse?
Well Just How Bad Is it?
Stock Market - Sunday Thoughts - May 18th 2008
Read more on Hokuriku EL Constr, Tata Consultancy Services at Wikinvest

Google’s New Mashup Editor

With Google’s MyMaps mashup tool we saw that Google wasn’t going to be content to just focus on APIs for developers. While most of the commentary focused on the location-based services aspect of this, there was something else telling about the tool, namely that Google sees integration of services at the end point to be a powerful set of capabilities that help them overcome the structural advantage that Microsoft has with regard to desktop applications. Google Gears was the second cog, quite literally.

Google’s new Mashup Editor raises the table stakes because now Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all made clear their intention to enable application creation from RSS/Atom feed sources.

Mashups created with the Google Mashup editor can be published to a hosted environment. You choose your subdomain and we’ll host your feed-based mashups at googlemashups.com. You can go from creation, to testing to publishing in one click of a button.

I haven’t written much about what I anticipate the impact behind the enterprise firewall to be with these tools, but it does seem very reasonable to suggest that as more enterprise applications embrace feeds we will see these tools rise in prominence as a consequence.

Structured data, exposed as feeds, creates many new opportunities for low cost application development. With upwards of 20 million experienced script developers in the world, there will clearly be a ready supply of professionals capable of working with these new environments.

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