Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, February 25, 2005

"If the one you love isn't quite as smitten, she'll like you better if you kill a kitten!"

Or so says the humorous songster Stephen Lynch in his song, appropriately titled, "Kill a Kitten." I was recently reminded of this song when I stumbled across a rather interesting little web applet that comes to us courtesy of the HP Information Dynamics Lab.

No, this doesn't mean that I regularly hang out on the HP website. I used to regularly visit their website, but then I bought a printer that works, and so now have no reason to screw around with the boys and girls of Hewlett Packard. Lemme just take this chance to give a shout out to the tech support monkeys, and remind them that I'll buy a new printer before I reformat my harddrive and reinstall my programs in the hopes of making your piece of shit work.

In any case, while poking around on the IDL site, I came across an interesting little tool that allows you to track the propogation of references to a URL through the blogosphere. In other words, it's a tool for charting blog epidemics. A little more detail on the project is provided here. What makes this project most interesting, however, isn't the way that ideas move through the blogosphere, but the way that they are modified and reformed with each retelling. Like a modern day game of telephone, a news article claiming that Blogs can be infectious somehow metamorphoses into a claim that Bloggers kill kittens.

Well, I mean, we do!

I won't go so far as to claim that the IDL folks have actually demonstrated something revolutionary here, it's hardly news that information changes as it spreads, but they have come up with an interesting way to chart that spread, and perhaps have started us down the road towards a methodology that will allow us to chart information mutation. Of course, as a private corporation, they'll most likely use such information to make money, but that's okay. I've had some contact with Lada Adamic, one of the people who works on this project, and feel fairly confident that we'll get good science out of this, in addition to "good" products. Besides, anyone with enough of a sense of humor to post this about themselves on their homepage is probably worth having around.

So, head on over to the IDL website and try out their epidemic tool. It's fun, it's interesting, and it might give you ideas for your own research.

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