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Category Archive for 'Chaos and Miscellany'

In the same way Google uses page rank to determine what shows up in your search results, Facebook uses something called an edge rank to determine what shows up in your newsfeed. Whenever anyone interacts with any object in your newsfeed, Facebook creates an “edge.” The ranking of this edge is broken down into three […]

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LA Times: Now with Fruit

Call me old-fashioned.  Until this morning, I looked to the front page of the L.A. Times as my arbiter of important news. Instead, I’m met with “Complete Edition Inside” and this cheesy mug of a kid with a pineapple growing out of his head. Now, I know the Times is struggling and they’re tweaking their […]

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It’s easy to get caught up in the world of stumbling, embedded links, widgets, dashboards and page ranks. But, published literature and the blogosphere share a common treatise for writers: good writing is good writing. If a writer is on target, concise and appealing, his audience will fall in line. Many blog postings from 2005 […]

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As print readers dip into their periodical of choice, they are enticed by catchy titles and headlines of nearby stories, chapters or sibebars.  In his Social Theory and Social Structure (1949), sociologist Robert K. Merton called this phenomenon of discovering one thing on the way to another  the “serendipity pattern.” In “A Better Pencil,” Dennis […]

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So when a writer is paying attention to the Google algorithm, is his creativity hampered by the damper factor? When otherwise creative copy is subjected to the cruel hand of the optimizer, does it lose its zing? Many bloggers contend that SEO will be the death of the interesting title or the creative headline. There […]

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Inherent in Google’s search algorithm, in fact, the very thing that differentiates Google search from competitors is something called the damping factor. After being frustrated by the Alta Vista and Yahoo searches that returned unsatisfactory results such as “Bill Clinton Sucks” jokes as the best result simply because a site with hundreds of Bill Clinton […]

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Easy access to billions of pages of information has changed the way writers research topics, how they attribute that research and, indeed, how writers perform the writing process itself. For example, access to email has radically transformed the way journalists do business. It has always been standard practice for a reporter to conduct face-to-face interviews, […]

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There are two ends of the spectrum as far as how people feel about the accessibility of online books. In 2006, “Wired” magazine’s Kevin Kelly was excited about the notion of an “infinite book.” He imagined a mega-Wikipedia where users tag favorite book quotes. Kelly was prophetic in imagining four years ago an “iTunes-esque” situation […]

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The Gold Rush of Content

As soon as the first university researchers started sharing documents on Arpanet, society realized the importance of rushing to get content online. In his book “A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers and the Digital Revolution,” Dennis Baron describes the Google Books project which began in 2002. (p. 47) Google outsourced to China and India the massive […]

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The development of civilization has seen a shift from the more informal traditions of an oral society where people told stories and verbally relayed information from tribe to tribe to the more formal tradition of the written word. Thanks to Gutenberg and his printed bible in 1455, when something is credible and important, we refer […]

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