THE Q AND POSSIBLY A…

One of the big trends coming down the Intertubes over the next few years will be the gradual rise of the Semantic Web — the more Intelligent, conversation-oriented web that can create, access and deliver information in a more naturalistic fashion. What I mean by this, in less technologic-sounding language, is that the Semantic Web will be like this: when I ask a question online, such as “How high is the CN Tower?” in a web search, an answer link will come up in the search results that indicates the exact answer. In other words, no more hunting around for an answer.

The first service to make this possible has finally arrived: Wolfram Alpha.

It’s a very promising site that’s not fully active until next month, but a team of experts have allegedly said that it could be as promising as Google.Very interesting stuff.

* Here’s yet another piece of evidence that seems to indicate that the only real and concrete way to measure human behaviour is by understanding the nature of our brains first and social theory second: students may not like or engage in school simply because our brains aren’t designed for the work done in it. Great article.

* David Foster Wallace, one of my favourites, did a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. It was his only speech, but it was a very good one.Definitely some words worth heeding.

Oh, and finally: I recently wrote a post for Deb and Ro over at Basket of Kisses — yes, the Mad Men fan site which is more awesome than AMC’s site, dare I say — on the nature of Mad Men viewers outside of the United States. I hope you like it.

SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE PIRATE BAY

In the midst of this crazy, crazy workweek and the very good news emerging out of Washington yesterday (now let’s just hope that stimulus works, for America’s sake… want to see how potentially FUBAR America could become if the stimulus doesn’t work? The Blue Screen of Death is old news; check out the Green Line of Death), some stories for those of you interested in Intellectual Property issues (yes, all 28 of you) and downloading pirated material should check these stories out:

* One of the biggest trials in Swedish history that will have worldwide ramifications is about to commence next Monday — the trial against one of the net’s giants, The Pirate Bay. Sweden is an oddball among European nations in that its copyright laws have, at least until recently, been permissive enough to allow The Pirate Bay to operate in a legal vacuum of sorts. The Swedish government — which has been under considerable pressure to get tough with The Pirate Bay from foreign governments like the U.S. government and this blogger’s less-than-favoured entity, the Motion Picture Association of America — is going to war against The Pirate Bay in an effort to shut them down, possibly permanently. Interestingly, The Pirate Bay — a site that is actively supported by a large number of ordinary Swedes and even an organized political party – is providing worldwide online streaming of the case so more than the 40 people allowed in the courtroom can actually hear what’s going on. They’re certainly not going down without a major fight and the legal case against them is questionable at best. Of course, there’s always the option of going off-shore to a more friendly nation and/or region if The Pirate Bay loses the case: after all, it’s not like major corporations would ever, ever skirt national laws to their own benefit. *snark*

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* Speaking of The Pirate Bay, the site’s recently created a page that tracks where connections and downloads via The Pirate Bay are coming from. Long and short: China’s got an overwhelming number of pirates. Yet the United States has a large number too, and Canada (!) has a disproportionate number of downloaders relative to our population.
* Anybody else just a wee bit pissed off at the prospect of Live Nation and Ticketmaster possibly merging? Well, hard times aren’t just about the economic fundamentals — this proposed merger will likely be another nail in the coffin for corporately-backed music.
* As gorgeous, beautiful and enticing as the Amazon Kindle 2 is for a major book lover like me, I can’t and won’t give in, especially since I’m not American. In the economic times we live in, Amazon’s approach is what we call “highway robbery.”
* Porn star Jesse Jane has some interesting things to say about 3-D and HD technology beyond the obvious. Just think: if this technology was in mass deployment today, those Comcast subscribers who saw the 30-second porn clip during the Super Bowl might have gotten an ever bigger credit towards their monthly bill!
* First there was WikiScanner — a brilliant piece of software that’s kept Wikipedia edits accountable beyond IP addresses. Now comes WikiDashboard — a social transparency site that makes it easier to determine how edits are being done, comparing knowledge and edits and how these topics relate back to the subject page. Great, great idea.
* My pal John Carson has some great advice today about Google and how it can affect your career. Bookmark this link and follow him on Twitter — he has great insights and advice.

WELCOME TO AMERICA, V. 2.0: NOW WITH EXTRA SOCIALISM!

Just in case you needed another reason to feel uneasy to start off Monday: President Barack Obama has said that it’s likely more banks are going to fail in the U.S.

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Of course, this doesn’t change the fact there’s strong indications the Obama Administration will likely be nationalizing a number of banks to protect taxpayers and rebuild trust in America’s moribund banking system. When Obama says that he doesn’t expect to get elected again if he can’t turn this situation around before 2012, you know it’s gotten pretty damn serious. And vaguely socialist in terminology. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… just saying.

So, what’s going on after one of the best Super Bowls ever (The Boss made it all the better)?

* Congress is trying to delay – again – the switchover to Digital Television. At the risk of hyperbole, this writer places blame squarely on you – the do-nothing Congressional members.
* Google Earth is now under the Sea. Under the Sea. No, no Disney characters will show up here (thank God).
* A very good article about the potential benefits and risks involved in Facebook Friending your boss. A must-read for, well, anyone on Facebook.

Oh, and lastly: I was involved in the creation of an event for Journalists For Human Rights and the National Film Board of Canada’s CitizenShift web site a few years back. Basically, it was a collaboration between the two organizations in submitting films based on Human Rights. The project has been resurrected by JHR and the NFB once again! I have nothing to do with it this time, but it’s nice to see an idea of mine put to good use once again. Good work guys!

MICROSOFT IS GUNNING FOR EVERYONE NOW, APPARENTLY

News has come down that Microsoft, the spurned, would-be former buyer of Yahoo!, may just yet be making a pitch to buy my old employer, AOL.

Very interesting new development in the search engine/portal buy-up wars. One of the sidebars of this little business psychodrama is that Google owns five per cent of AOL. Google’s not going to go quietly into the night over this potential move of Microsoft’s, and really, what’s stopping Google from buying AOL outright themselves? This might just be the push Google needs to snatch AOL away from Microsoft.

One thing’s for sure: heads will roll soon at Microsoft if there’s no successful bid by the company to enter the ad-dominated portal/search market more effectively than the company has done in the past.