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Monica Lewinsky’s “The Price of Shame” TED Talk is Really About the Price of Inauthenticity

2015-03-25 in Uncategorized

Several people have shared the latest Monica Lewinsky video on Facebook, so I decided to watch it. While the topic is important, Ms. Lewinsky’s lack of authenticity makes her come across as bogus, as shilling for clickbait-based advertising campaigns.

Ms. Lewinsky has shared her story in many “mainstream” publications (such as Vanity Fair, Forbes, Twitter and now also TED)… but she has not yet published her story herself.

In her latest presentation, she states:

it’s time: time to stop tip-toeing around my past; time to stop living a life of opprobrium; and time to take back my narrative.

Again: While it is commendable that Ms. Lewinsky uses 50-Cent vocabulary, she really should deliver what she so strongly advocates: To take back her narrative.

To do that, she needs to publish her ideas herself. She should stop submitting them to other publishers who will only use them as clickbait to sell advertisements.

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Facebook Community Standards vs. Nominations Authenticity Guidelines

2015-03-17 in Uncategorized

In my opinion, Facebook Community Standards are too long, so I didn’t read them fully (TL;DR). I did post an update regarding what are some of the most salient points (According to FB: ” Please keep the following in mind:”) — see http://nooblogs.com/activity/p/5191.

I do not consider myself a religious follower of Facebook, Google, or such so-called “social media” websites. So whether these standards are applied or not doesn’t matter much to me (as I publish anything important on my own websites anyways). But I do commend such organizations for having such documents that are supposed to function as guides for people who do depend on other people’s websites to publish “their own” information.

With NominationsAuthenticity Guidelines, I go one step further: I attempt to document what are the “specifications”, “qualifications”, “quality criteria”, etc. for inclusion in Nominations website reviews. The way I see it, having such a written document helps to make each review comparable to other reviews by having a consistent framework, thereby promoting valid and reliable data and information standards.

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One Size, Fits All

2015-03-14 in Uncategorized

In my previous post, I noted that “we are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.” In another post on one of my “personal” blogs, I wrote about some ideas quite related to this — in the first pace “responsibility”, and also about choice,… and ultimately about the ability to let go (see “Responsibility to Life“). I would like to elaborate on this last point here, because I only sort of tangentially touched on it there.

The reason why this topic is important to blogs and blogging is because we all aim for our blog to be the best it can be, for our writing to be insightful and inspiring, for our information and tips to be helpful, and so on.

In the post I linked to above, I mentioned a TED talk video in which Barry Schwartz covered the topic of choice. In that video, he mentions clothing that he used to enjoy a lot because it was basically “one-size, fits-all”… — such that there was not much difficulty with respect to choice. Online, choice is not so simple.

Many people visit one and the same website every time they choose to use the Internet. They might log in to Facebook or some other “social” website, or they might type all of their questions into the Google homepage search box. A simpleton might say “they have chosen a one-size, fits-all website” — and so they no longer are burdened by choices. The way I see it, they have actually primarily postponed their choice.

When a Google-searcher has a search box before them, they have to choose what to write into it.  They have the impression of choice (according to George Carlin, people in fact have no choice [“You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.“]). People might type in “happy” or “sad” — but either way it is highly probable that Google will return a link to wikipedia.org plus a list of sites that Google makes money from through advertising. Compared to the situation described by Barry Schwartz in that video, this is far worse: People actually have little or no choice, and they will feel bad because they have the impression that they could have made a better choice.

Likewise, for people who use so-called “social” media, they feel as though there are many choices: They can press many buttons, they can “tag” things, there are many bells and whistles. When they become bored, then they feel they have made the wrong choices.

I want to suggest to you that when you aim to make your blog the best it can be, you should do that by being yourself. Do not feel as though you need to cater to some one-size fits-all mystery algorithm, because that will probably only get in the way of actually interacting with your audience. What is important is that you and your audience both know what it is that you can offer, and that your audience wants. If you agree on this, then you will have no difficulty interacting with your audience. For example: I enjoy following Drew Lepp’s blog, because so far I have been pleasantly surprised with every post she has made (and because I enjoy reading about webdesign tips, user experience and stuff like that — which are the main topics she writes about). I don’t need Google to find her blog — I just go directly to drewlepp.com.

Just like I learn a lot from Drew, I hope others also learn something from what I write. For example: I would advise anyone who wants others to learn about “X” to name their site “X” — because people would probably never think to type in a more-or-less random string when the are looking for something specific… and indeed: I will soon be launching a website about naming websites, online businesses, web-based projects, etc.

This is precisely the point where “letting go” and trusting intuition is so important. If you intuitively feel that someone is an expert, then trusting their judgement is (usually) a very smart thing to do. Barry Schwartz explained this very well in his TED talk video with his example of why it’s (usually) a good idea when patients trust doctors. The more you engage in such interactions, the better you will become at making the judgement regarding whether someone is trustworthy or not. As far as I know, there is no “one-size fits-all” algorithm for this, but one of the strongest and most reliable indicators I know of is whether the person or company in question is publishing information on their own website or not. Generally, when someone is publishing information on someone else‘s website, I find that information is rather untrustworthy. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a future blog post. 🙂

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Top Level Domains + Domain Name Meanings

2015-03-02 in Uncategorized

Recently, a colleague of mine wanted to look up the meaning of a neologism, and decided to check urbandictionary.com. You could wonder why he didn’t choose to check oed.com — after all, the OED is internationally recognized as the standard English dictionary print publication. However, you may also know that there are indeed very many dictionaries available (especially online)… and any online dictionary is more or less just as easy to reach as any other online dictionary (the main difference being how easy it is to remember the domain name, how many letters are in the name, how easy or difficult it is to type, etc. — but nothing like that anyone would have to get up, walk over to a bookshelf, select the correct volume, pull it down, open it up, page through it or anything that people who still remember doing so time and time again back in the era of paper might still be able to recall from memory). Personally, I usually use dictionary.com — but more on that in a moment.

The short and simple answer is that different dictionaries document different vocabularies, different jargons, different linguistic communities, different languages. Although most people would not see a significant difference between oed.com and dictionary.com, only a very few people would miss the difference between either of these and urbandictionary.com… and in particular: each of these three websites have different procedures put in place for how the different user communities who use each website can interact with the site. The different methods applied lead to different lexicons, different descriptions, different designs, different functions and in general different user experiences. For example: it is not at all uncommon for an urbandictionary.com user to contribute a description (rather than merely “consuming” a description provided by the professional editors of the site).

Now I wish to make a huge quantum leap… — switching from English to German, and also switching from a standard language lexicon to a general, more encyclopedic format.

Kleines Hand-Lexikon: Wissenswertes von A - Z

Kleines Hand-Lexikon: Wissenswertes von A – Z

The image above is the cover of a paperback book — a pocket lexicon — that purports to contain information about anything worthy of note from A to Z. I have a copy of this quirky book on one of many shelves of paper books (I actually collect such crap 😉 ). The reason why I include it here is to point out that this is yet another “information resource” that is also quite similar (in certain ways) to the dictionaries described above.

ergo: There is no such thing as the English language. There is perhaps one English language described by oed.com, another English language described by urbandictionary.com, yet another English language described by dictionary.com, there are probably hundreds if not even thousands or millions of English languages. Let me take a step back and select one particular instance: commercial English.

The global language of commerce is, indeed, commercial English. The lexicon of commercial English is documented in the commercial top level domain (TLD): COM (also known as “dot com”). One might even go so far as to say that COM is its own language — one which transcends English — and one that also includes elements from other “natural” languages (e.g. Spanish, French, German, etc.). The string “dictionary” is registered under COM as an “English” element — this site describes the English vocabulary (that is the meaning of the word “dictionary”). For more about the “COM language” and other generic top level domain languages, see Generic Community Languages.

From the above discussion, you might glean that top level domains designate languages. Moving forward, we can also distinguish two different types of languages: Languages that are closely held (proprietary top level domains) vs. languages that are widely held (generic top level domains). One must not think that proprietary top level domains are inherently worse than generic top level domains (nor are they inherently better) — they are simply inherently different. While a quirky encyclopedia (such as the example above) may be rather idiosyncratic in nature, there are many examples of closely held languages that are very useful — think of (e.g.): The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association; The Medical Subject Headings (MESH — the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary used for indexing articles); Stock ticker symbols at various stock exchanges worldwide; industrial codes and classification systems; public / government data and statistics, etc. In each case, there is some “closely held” organization that provides what is referred to in the jargon of information science as “authority control”.

Ever since the Enlightenment, the Reformation and the rise of the so-called “Scientific Method” in early modern times, more and more authorities have been established. Whereas in the Middle Ages, the Pope of the Catholic Church was the sole ultimate authority regarding each and every issue, today — especially in matters of science, industry, commerce and many other spheres — a wide variety of institutions have developed to establish the meaning and significance of concepts that have become regular “tools of the trade” in each of these numerous segments of social interaction. We are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.

One example of a proprietary top level domain is “NYC”. Just today, I have included an update about considerations regarding authority control in that controlled language: http://nooblogs.com/activity/p/5175

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