Four short links: 1 April 2011

Murky Future for Transparency, Browser Awesome, Future Realized, and Data Bias

  1. Transparency Sites to Close — the US government’s open data efforts will close in a few months as a result of the cuts in funding.
  2. Browser Wars, Plural (Alex Russell) — nice rundown of demos of what modern browsers are capable of.
  3. Brief Descriptions of Potential Home Information Services (image) — lovely 1971 piece of futurology, which you can read going “Google News, Amazon, Google Calendar, PayPal, ….” The ancients vastly over-estimated our appetite for educational material, though. There’s no education site on the scale of a Google, Amazon, eBay, etc. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Google’s Recipes for Recipes — I’m as astonished as anyone to find myself agreeing with Nick Carr. The whinge is basically that by promoting recipes marked up in a particular format, Google have created an environment that favours corporate recipes over small less-technical people who can post plain text recipes but wouldn’t know microformats from microfilm. The really interesting part is how the choice of drill-down categories can backfire: Take, for instance, a recent search for “cassoulet.” The top search result is a recipe from Epicurious, one of the larger and better sites. But if you refine by time, your choices are “less than 15 min,” “less than 30 min,” or “less than 60 min.” There is no option for more than 60 minutes. In truth, a classic cassoulet takes at least 4 hours to make, if not several days (the Epicurious recipe takes 4 hours and 30 minutes; yet there in the results are recipes under each of these three time classes. One from Tablespoon goes so far as to claim to take just 1 minute. (It’s made with kidney beans, canned mushrooms, and beef, so it’s not long on authenticity.) … Refining recipe search by time doesn’t result in better recipes rising to the top; rather, the new winners are recipes packaged for the American eating and cooking disorder. (via Daniel Spector)
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  • Sam Penrose

    “The ancients vastly over-estimated our appetite for educational material, though. There’s no education site on the scale of a Google, Amazon, eBay, etc.”

    Currently educational material is bundled with status acquisition and skill signaling: “he went to Stanford.” The people who charge $55K/year for this bundle will do everything they can to resist unbundling, and they have a formidable castle from which to throw rocks down upon would-be disruptors. Give the Net a little time.

  • http://roughtype.com Nick Carr

    “I’m as astonished as anyone to find myself agreeing with Nick Carr.”

    Don’t worry, Nat. It’s a sign of intellectual maturation.

  • http://xwell.org/me/ Kyle Maxwell

    I think Wikipedia closely approximates the scale of those sites, at least in terms of popularity and role in the public consciousness.

    And MIT OCW, eHow, etc. keep growing. It may be that we just have a bit of lag…

  • Prior

    I expect that Kyle’s double posting this morning was not intentional. Double clicked on Submit, was uncertain, sans feedback, that the first Submit was accepted, etc.
    Be there no Comment accrual algorithms to simply drop identical incoming text arriving within a minute or two of the first instance?