Anonymusing writes: With a month left before the next election day in America, the level of political discourse in media seems to be increasing in speed and volume. I am generally wary of politics, so I make an effort to read several perspectives on a topic before deciding to believe who, if anyone, is correct. To help with this, I recently launched Left-Right, a search engine that returns heavily-customized Google results from more than a hundred newspapers, web sites, blogs, and other sources on the left and the right (and the center, if you choose). What tools do you use to study political media?
Anonymusing writes: Just what the world needs, another URL shortener, right? Google seems to think to, and it’s making its own widely available to anyone — complete with tracking and statistics — for free. As noted on its blog: "There are many shorteners out there with great features, so some people may wonder whether the world really needs yet another. As we said late last year, we built goo.gl with a focus on quality. With goo.gl, every time you shorten a URL, you know it will work, it will work fast, and it will keep working. You also know that when you click a goo.gl shortened URL, you’re protected against malware, phishing and spam using the same industry-leading technology we use in search and other products." Is bit.ly shaking in its boots?
Anonymusing writes: Slashdot is much more popular among liberals than among conservatives — at least judging by a search on Left-Right. I recently launched the site as an experiment to study political bias across American media sources. Type a search term in the box, and the site will return Google results drawn from more than 100 top politically-relevant web sites, displaying pages from liberal-oriented sites on the left side, and pages from conservative-oriented on the right. Sometimes the differences are striking: that search for "Slashdot is" returns dozens of results on the left, but only five on the right. Similarly, a search for obstetric fistula — a hot topic in international health — turns up dozens of results on the left, and only four on the right. Slashdot readers, what do you think of Left-Right? How would you improve it? And can you find any other searches with extreme differences?
Anonymusing writes: Google's recently famous game of chicken with the Chinese Government have been tempered somewhat by a desire to do business there. Until now, Google.cn has automatically forwarded users to Google's unfiltered search in Hong Kong. As a result, the Chinese government threatened to pull its business license. Google's attempt to pacify the government amounts to this: instead of being automatically redirected, Chinese users will see a page at google.cn, which will offer a search box as well as a link to the Hong Kong site. Google's legal counsel claims this meets all legal obligations: "This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page... it is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law." No word yet on how the Chinese government feels about it.
Anonymusing writes: Tired: bipolar disorder. Wired: temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. That's one of the messages you might draw from the changes being proposed in the latest edition of the highly influential book, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As an editor of the previous edition noted, "Anything you put in that book, any little change you make, has huge implications not only for psychiatry but for pharmaceutical marketing, research, for the legal system, for who's considered to be normal or not, for who’s considered disabled." Other proposed changes include trading the term "mental retardation" for "intellectual disability" and exploring new ways of diagnosing Slashdot addiction.
Anonymusing writes: Currently the head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins is perhaps most respected as leader of the succesful Human Genome Project for 13 years. He's also an evangelical Christian. Sojourners Magazine interviewed him (free subscription required) about his thoughts on questions such as "What reaction has your work received as you attempt to bridge science and faith?" and "What is your vision for your new role as NIH director?"
Anonymusing writes: In a study of children in California, researchers found that 'clusters' of autism seemed to form in neighborhoods of white, highly-educated parents. Environmental variables appeared to have negligable effect. "It doesn't necessarily mean that higher education causes autism," said one of the study's authors. "[But] it gets you the diagnosis more frequently." However, the researchers noted that studies in Denmark have found no link between autism and race or socioeconomic status.
Anonymusing writes: On December 9, when AOL is officially spun off from Time Warner, it will gain a new logo with a slightly adjusted name: "Aol." The new logo will include the period after the letters to emphasize that the service offers "the best content online, period." However, the upcoming effort to revive the venerable brand has met with some skepticism. "[AOL is] the My Little Pony of Internet brands, for when you’re starting out online," said one ad exec. “The last thing you want to be is a nostalgic brand in a category that’s all about the future.”
Anonymusing writes: The FDA has announced an investigation into the "safety and legality" of alcoholic beverages with caffeine in them. As the Wall Street Journal notes, two major beer companies (MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch) stopped produce caffeinated alcoholic drinks last year after reports of increased negative effects compared to caffeine-free alcohol. CNN notes that, according to FDA rules, "food additives require premarket approval based on data demonstrating safety submitted to the agency" — and caffeine is a food additive. The targeted beverage makers have 30 days to respond.
Anonymusing writes: At Adobe's worldwide developer conference today, they announced and demo'd (and spoofed) Flash applications running on an iPhone. There's a catch, though: you have to use the forthcoming Flash Pro CS5 to create standalone apps; you still can't run Flash in the Safari web browser. On the upside, it lets the world's Flash developers create apps for the iPhone without having to learn new technology. On the downside, it lets the world's Flash developers create apps for the iPhone without having to learn new technology. Adobe talks about the LVVM as well: "Since we are able to compile ActionScript to ARM ahead of time, the application gets all the performance benefits that the JIT would offer and the license compliance of not requiring a runtime in the final application"
Anonymusing writes: Disney is buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Marvel shares jumped at the news, while Disney shares dropped. Said Disney CEO Robert Iger, this will combine Marvel's "strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters" with Disney's "unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties". Iron Man was too busy beating up Goofy to comment.
Anonymusing writes: Twitterers like sex more. MySpacers avoid exercise. LinkedIn users are more likely to watch soap operas. And Facebookers are mostly average. So says a new report that studies the demographics, interests, and buying habits of users at those four services. LinkedIn users have the highest average income level, while MySpace users have the lowest. There's a related chart showing usage overlap — for example, 57% of MySpace users also use Facebook, though only 6% also use LinkedIn. Take this all with a grain of marketing salt, but it's still interesting stuff.
Anonymusing writes: "Can you make a video and upload it to YouTube? Then you've got all it takes to support the charities participating in YouTube's Video Volunteers project. Other organizations involved include Google, the White House's Serve.gov, All For Good, VolunteerMatch, and Idealist, who writes: "The mission of YouTube's Video Volunteers platform is to connect nonprofit organizations with skilled video makers who can help them broadcast their causes through video, reaching new audiences online and driving action around issues and projects that matter to them." President Obama launched Serve.gov a couple of weeks ago, asking Americans to "to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life." Now, as the Vlogbrothers note, there is a way for "obsessive agoraphobes who love to edit video" make the world suck less. Are you going to join them?"
Anonymusing writes: In a race to reach one million Twitter followers, Ashton Kutcher bested CNN by less than 1200 people. There are two real winners: Twitter got an enormous amount of free publicity, and the Malaria No More Fund is getting more than $100,000. Kutcher will appear on Oprah later today to help her send her first Tweet. Does this mean that Twitter has come of age, or does it kill the service's credibility?