Song of the day: “Spider Web” by Joan Osborne
State of mind: apparently helpful
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 Boston.com. 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: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/, http://folding.stanford.edu/ or http://abcathome.com/(Here, 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 Strike.tv. 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 SaveHiatus.com.
** 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.