Four short links: 25 May 2009

  1. China is Logging On — blogging 5x more popular in China than in USA, email 1/3 again as popular in USA as China. These figures are per-capita of Internet users, and make eye-opening reading. (via Glyn Moody)
  2. The Economics of Google (Wired) — the money graf is Google even uses auctions for internal operations, like allocating servers among its various business units. Since moving a product’s storage and computation to a new data center is disruptive, engineers often put it off. “I suggested we run an auction similar to what the airlines do when they oversell a flight. They keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers give up their seats,” Varian says. “In our case, we offer more machines in exchange for moving to new servers. One group might do it for 50 new ones, another for 100, and another won’t move unless we give them 300. So we give them to the lowest bidder—they get their extra capacity, and we get computation shifted to the new data center.”
  3. Why Washington Doesn’t Get New MediaThings eventually improved, but despite the stunning advances in communications technology, most of federal Washington has still failed to grasp the meaning of Government 2.0. Indeed, much is mired in Government 1.5. Government 1.5? That’s a term of art for the vast virtual ecosystem taking root in Washington that has set up the trappings of 2.0 — the blogs, the Facebook pages, the Twitter accounts — but lacks any intellectual heartbeat. Too many aides in official Washington are setting up blogs and social media pages because they understand that is what they are supposed to do. All the while, many are sweating the possibility that they might actually have to say something substantive or engage the public directly. It is the nature of midlevel know-nothings to grinfuck any idea that would force them to substantially change their behaviour. We incentivize this when we talk about “you must have a blog” (ok, I’ll get comms to write it), or “put up a wiki for this” (ok, but there’ll be no moderation so it’ll be ignorable chaos). Describe the behaviour you want and not a tool that might produce it. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
  4. On the Information Armageddon (Mind Hacks) — Vaughn points out that the much-linked-to New York Magazine article on attention is a crock. I didn’t like it because it was wordy and self-indulgent, Vaughn because it didn’t actually cite any studies other than one which was described incorrectly. History has taught us that we worry about widespread new technology and this is usually expressed in society in terms of its negative impact on our minds and social relationships. If you’re really concerned about cognitive abilities, look after your cardiovascular health (eat well and exercise), cherish your relationships, stay mentally active and experience diverse and interesting things. All of which have been shown to maintain mental function, especially as we age.
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  • Jacem Yorob

    The Googlenomics article is interesting, but it should win the award for Most Needlessly Obscure References In A Tech Article.

    “algorithms of Ramanujanian complexity”,

    “self-service version of Tokyo’s boisterous Tsukiji fish market”

    “a sales force more comfortable with whiteboard markers than fairway irons”

    “using the Web without using Google is like dining at In-N-Out without ordering a hamburger”

    What do any of these things mean? It’s like the author is deliberately trying to confound his audience. Even north american natives would be hard pressed to understand these references, I can’t see anyone else having a chance.

  • @Jacem — If I were to be uncharitable, I’d say that it’s the surface style that journalists adopt when they wish to be thought of as The Next Malcolm Gladwell. By filling out the story with that kind of piffle, the writer thinks: that he’s filling a dry subject with energy; that he’s appearing incredibly learned; that he’s covering up the fact that he hasn’t really got anything new to say.

    Being charitable, I assume the writer’s still learning how to strike a balance between colour and clarity.

  • I wonder where the auction model will stop. As an HR professional, I wonder whether we could auction tasks that no one wants to do (Sort these files and get half a day off, ok 3/4th of a day, well how about 90% of the day off…)

  • I guess China having 5 x as much blogging going on than America makes sense, due to the population and also due to people wanting a voice in China. I am sure if blogs were not government censored in China, there would be even more bloggers again

  • Me

    Hmmm Chinese bloggers may be censored soon looking at the inherent nature of their government.

  • Me

    Hmmm Chinese bloggers may be censored soon looking at the inherent nature of their government.