Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Hive Mind (Phrase introduced to me by QuoterGal)

Quote of the day: “So it is with minds. Unless you keep them busy with some definite subject that will bridle and control them, they throw themselves in disorder hither and yon in the vague field of imagination... And there is no mad or idle fancy that they do not bring forth in the agitation.” ~Michel de Montaigne

Song of the day: “Spider Web” by Joan Osborne

State of mind: apparently helpful

Date: 8/21/08

Yesterday a co-worker told me about a story she heard on NPR that was just so cool I had to google it. Took a few tries to find what she was talking about though since the only online site to carry the story was You would think this story would have been bigger news, or at least carried by a few more news sites. Just how much are the Olympics distracting us all anyhow? I’m not sure why this article captured me so. I could say it’s because the plan was elegant in its simplicity, but if I were to say that then according to The Middleman that would mean I’m evil.
What is this simple, yet elegant scheme? Captcha. Those annoying wavy letters and numbers that a lot of sites are using to make sure it's a human that is trying to log in, post, purchase tickets, or whatever are being used to decipher old handwritten texts so libraries can make digital copies of these volumes for posterity. Isn’t that cool? Seems that even though a computer can calculate to the millionth digit of Pi in less than a second, connect people all over the world so in real time I can know when someone a thousand miles away goes to lunch, make me a magna cartoon*, or scour the millions of pages on the internet just to find any and all references to “raspberry bloomers” in less time than it took me to spell it, they sometimes can’t read our crappy handwriting.
Let me just link the story for you. I didn’t google it for nothing: Click to translate. So the next time you are trying to get Jonas Brothers tickets you might just be putting in the last piece of someone’s ode to cottage cheese that was writ in 1878 in place. Good for you!
This story, (and it’s simple elegance, mwuhahahaha), reminded me of all the @home projects one can participate in. Like:, or, be useful and pick one from this list of other distributed computer projects. But while you’re doing that I’ll be beta testing for Because I am that freakin’ cool.) Or how in the 90s the Human Genome Project decided that rather than have hundreds of researches working separately on decoding our DNA, that they would share information and thus was able to get the work done in a fifth** of the time it normally would have taken.
And THAT reminded me of a Very Special Smurfs episode I saw as a kid. I forget what the crisis was but Papa Smurf demonstrated strength through unity by holding up a twig and snapping it in two, and then held up a bunch of sticks that wouldn’t break because together we are stronger. Wow, right? Such wisdom from someone only two apples tall.
Life lesson: cooperation works. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when he put aside ego or personal glory for the common good. (As long as we still get paid enough to afford iPhones, TGIF lunches, and shoes that cost more than my rent or the "common good" doesn't include a lip synching little girl because they are "cuter" then the girl that could actually sing.) Working with our fellow humans never seems to go wrong. As Bill and Ted say, “be cool to one another”. (Unlike a certain country that decided instead of setting aside ego it would be a good idea to invade with tanks and blow shit up. What’s up with that, Russia? I mean… seriously? I know Bush is a schmuck and he’s been pushing you around for 7 plus years, but now... now you decide to start thumping your chest and prove what big balls you have? Now that Bush will be gone in two months? Like in comedy, Russia, timing is everything. Only trying to undermine an independent country’s infrastructure is never funny. Was it funny when we did it?)

C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and investigate the factorization of Mersenne prime numbers, right now….

Show quote of the day: "'Beam Me Up, Scotty.' That's a reference from an old television show you've probably never heard of."

* Link found on
** When I say "one fifth" I'm totally guessing. I don't know how much time was actually saved, I just know it was A LOT.


fermicat said...

Maybe it is the result of dyslexic typing, or maybe I just can't repeat a simple code, but more often than not I get those stupid word verification thingies wrong.

Word Ver = wizemclg. Old shoes? At least I typed it correctly. Or so I will find out right now...

JennyLu said...

thanks for the clarification.

NYPinTA said...

fermi, I get them wrong all the time too. And it's most annoying when I do it to post on my own blog! The damn thing should just recognize me.

jenny, I'm not sure what that means. I need clarification of your thanks for the clarification.

JennyLu said...

*sigh* you finished my sentences for how many years?

The clarification on the word verification. That we are correcting words that digital camers can't read. (one of the links in your post to the boston paper)

Beth said...

Wow, that's really super cool ... the word verification. My husband will flip over that little nugget of info.

Also, I loved the Smurfs. Two apples tall. I loved that too.

Oh, and I believe in unity, but the thing in this post that surprised me and had me smiling the most was "two more months of Bush." Wow, it's like I didn't realize it or something ... what little time we have left of him.

LL said...

Ummmmmmm... this doesn't quite pass my muster.

For example... my current word ver is huirtlr. Now in order for the computer to recognize that I've typed it correctly, it would already have to know what the string of characters was. If it already knows what the current string is... why would it need me to decipher it? And if it did need me to decipher it, how would it know what the correct string was?

Curiouser and curiouser...

NYPinTA said...

It's not all word verification. This one isn't one. The next time you see a word in a box that looks handwritten or slightly faded, that would be one. And for the ones that are, they probably have variables that are accepted in order to let you continue, but they take the majority and that's the word that gets plugged in.