Knols and ‘Pedias

I think we are all familiar with the mass produced Wikipedia, right?
Today Google opened a bit of a competitor, Knol, to everyone:

Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects. Today, we’re making Knol available to everyone.
The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.

It is interesting that also today the Medpedia Foundation made more information on their project available:

The Medpedia Project today announced the formation of the world’s largest collaborative online encyclopedia of medicine called Medpedia. Physicians, medical schools, hospitals, health organizations and public health professionals are now volunteering to collaboratively build the most comprehensive medical clearinghouse in the world for information about health, medicine and the body. This free public site will officially launch at the end of 2008, and a preview site becomes available today at

Both look like very interesting and potentially valuable projects.
However, if you look at the many sample Knols on the Knol front page you will see that most of them are oriented toward medicine and written by professionals.
I can’t visualize medical professionals having bundles of time to write and maintain the types of expert articles that both Knol and Medpedia visualize. In fact, this is one reason at least one observer expects Knol to fail.
Is Google trying to preempt Medpedia?

Via Wired Campus.

Connecting The Dots

Yet another tool to to paint a picture of the web.
The Touchgraph Google Browser is one of the cooler ones I’ve seen. Give it a keyword or a URL and presto, well almost presto, it gives you a context mapping based on Google information.
Even more fun, there are tools that let you fine tune your search, add delete sites, change colors, modify groupings, filter stuff, and so on.
You might want to save this to play with at home…..they also have browsers for Amazon and Facebook.
Let me know if you you figure out how to capture an image of the Java display.

Via Asymmetrical Information.

Criminalizing Identy Theft

Canada has the right idea:

The Canadian government plans to criminalize identity theft to give police the ability to stop such activity before any fraud has actually been carried out, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Tuesday. He said he would introduce legislation targeting the actual gathering and trafficking in credit card, banking and other personal data for the purposes of using it deceptively.
Identity fraud is already a crime in Canada, but gathering and trafficking in identity information generally is not.

Personal data is just that: personal data.
Canada and every other legal jurisdiction needs to go a few steps further and recognize that personal data belongs to you and that no one can have legitimate access to this data for any purpose without your express permission.
The related definition of personal data needs to be very broad and even in situations where one has given their permission for use the boundaries around this use must be very tight. Examples:

  1. using a credit card to make a transaction should trigger the legitmate use of a bank using that information to bill you but nothing more.
  2. Placing a cell phone call should trigger the legitimate use of the carrier using that information to bill you but nothing more. Any other records of where you have been that a cell company may be able to collect should be unusable by anyone for any purpose without your consent.

None of this has to be complex. A simple statement that it is a Class x felony to gather, possess or use someone else’s personal data without their consent should do.

The onus must be on the users of personal data to prove they have a legitimate use.

Finding Old News

How many times have you tried to research a post and not been able to find that 6 month old article that you kind of remember….? It has happened to me more than once!
Now, google, has taken a big step toward solving that and related research problems with the introduction of Google News Archive Search. Yep, you are no longer stoppered by Google’s old 30 day limit.
I ran several tests and a search for (clinton opium) brought up a result from the Clinton, Iowa Mirror dated March 14, 1896. This result came from, a pay service, so Google must have some kind of arrangement with them.

Via John Battele.