Archive for January, 2008

My Thoughts on Crowdsourcing

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I want to compare and contrast two very different instances of crowdsourcing for you. One is the exposure of the Kimkins fraud. The other is the Anonymous attack on the church of scientology that is being talked about in the papers today.

I am 99.9% certain that there is no overlap in the participants. Anonymous is a shadowy collective that is mostly comprised of technically savvy teenage misanthropes. They are, by their own headcount, legion. I brought up their recent activities to a young man in their demographic this morning and he advised me that they are just looking for attention. He was surprised when I told him that papers of record were discussing their attack on scientology. According to him, the media are giving them what they want.

There has been an element of anonymity in the Kimkins controversy, but some of the most active and effective people are not anonymous. I think the rascally teens that comprise Anonymous might be a bit impressed if they found out about the incredible crowdsourcing effort that found all those Russian Bride Pictures.

Both groups incorporate humor into their activities, although they have serious goals. Sometimes Anonymous behaves badly. Jeannie Baitinger referred to the anti-kimkins people as terrorists on more than one occasion, one of which was on national television.

I have been on the periphery of something that was attacked by Anonymous before and I realized that while they have strength in numbers, their Achilles heel is their inability to have a sustained interest in any one target. In fact, I think they abandon their efforts as soon as the attention that the crave begins to wane. If the people who put in the effort to expose the Kimkins fraud had the same attitude, big things might not have happened.

I have been critical of scientology on a regular basis and I have very little sympathy for their plight now that hundreds of thousands of hackers are trying to bring them down. I won’t shy away from being critical of Anonymous either. They have many interests and activities that are beyond the pale with regard to societal norms. For the most part, Kimkins detractors are the kind of people who represent societal norms.

Are Really Long Blog Posts a Good Idea?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I try to do a reasonable amount of social networking in the blogosphere. This, obviously, involves reading what other bloggers post. Some bloggers make frequent posts of 500 words or less… sometimes much less. Occasionally, I find blogs with very long posts of 1500 to 2500 words. I have to be really engaged by the subject matter to read that many words. If it is a subject of which I have a strong opinion, I sometimes resort to skimming with the intention of finding a point on which to comment.

I think I will start drafting a very long blog post now, just to see if the practice is worthwhile. I am not going to write a really long blog post about really long blog posts, that would be silly.

What’s Up With the Environmental Protection Agency?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I remember back when I was a little kid hearing Rod Roddy mentioning something about California Emissions when he was gushing about A NEW CAR!!! on The Price is Right. I was living up in rural Canada where people where still tearing the catalytic converters off of their pickup trucks and I was mystified by the importance of these things. California is a big state with a huge economy and its progressive legislation usually reaches beyond its own borders.

The EPA recently refused to allow California to enact new laws regulating CO2 emissions from automobiles. The most recent news related to the fight between the agency charged with protecting the environment and the state of California involves EPA infighting. The word is that staff felt compelled to tell the EPA Administrator that the decision will likely be reversed by a federal judge.

I knew before I even looked it up that this administrator had been given his job by the GWB administration. I was surprised to see that he was a 27 year veteran of the EPA. Before that he worked as the Director of Operations at Hazelton Laboratories Corporation, a lab that has more recently been accused of rampant primate abuse. I don’t know if they were smashing monkey heads under his watch.