Thursday, August 21, 2008


Wikigroaning is an amusing way to point out the obvious bias of Wikipedia towards pop culture as compared to other subjects of serious academic discourse. Compare, for example, the length, incisiveness, and relative value to the general public of the Wikipedia articles on God and on Kevin Smith (don't worry, I had no idea who Kevin Smith was, either). Looking at the examples collected by Something Awful, I marvel both at the brevity with which many important topics are treated by Wikipedia authors, and at the level of detail devoted to completely irrelevant stuff like anime characters, storylines from computer game plots, or other ficititious items (cf. the respective articles on lizards and dragons, for example).

Here's one I found myself: Monopoly (economic term) vs. Monopoly (board game) - examples abound once one starts looking, and many hours of boring office time can be killed this way. Feel free to submit your own example in the comments.

(Found via Encyclopedia Dramatica)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Phrase Cloud lets you create a cloud of most frequently used words for a given website. It's not only a nice little free gimmick, but also an interesting visualization tool for written content. For example, The Boston Globe finds that John McCain's blog has an unhealthy fixation on Barack Obama and on negative terms... by the same token, it could be said that Security Hippo is skewed towards the term "counterterrorism" - certainly something to consider.

Maybe in a few months' time I will try this out again to see whether the semantic center of gravity, and thus the focus of my attention, has shifted at all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thought for the Day

As of the time of writing, Bush has 167 days, 4 hours, 4 minutes, 27.2 seconds left in office. Not a fifth of a second too soon.
I'm not a believer in end-times prophecy, but H.L. Mencken saw this coming:

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”