Quora- Getting Enough Monkeys In A Room…

I just saw this question on Quora and it reminded me of the infinite monkey theorem:

Given enough time, a hypothetical chimpanzee typing at random would, as part of its output, almost surely produce one of Shakespeare’s plays (or any other text).

With all due respect to the answerers, Quora doesn’t seem like an efficient way to get answers to questions. A better analogy for Quora might be locking up a bunch of five year old children in a room and having them figure out what seven plus four equals.

Noticing this about Quora makes me appreciate the elegance of Wikipedia. Looking beyond their spam issues, there’s a self selection process that matches up specific topics with experts. It’s pretty amazing when you realize how much knowledge has been uploaded to Wikipedia by lots of smart people. That knowledge is easily accessible and reused at scale.

Compare that to Quora, which ignores existing knowledge repositories and reinvents the wheel constantly by having questions answered by smart people who are not necessarily subject matter experts.

EDIT:  I guess this is also a problem with scientific research:

While brilliant and progressive research continues apace here and there, the amount of redundant, inconsequential, and outright poor research has swelled in recent decades, filling countless pages in journals and monographs.


“The things we forward, tweet, or post send a message about who we are,”

Some online reputation management advice.  I think there’s a good argument both ways:

“The things we forward, tweet, or post send a message about who we are,” Berger says. “And you don’t want the message to be that you’re behind the curve.”

via Don’t Blog or Tweet Anything With More Than Half a Million Hits.

MySpace’s Data Pipe

MySpace has opened up a pipe to their user data for their services. 

Developers can access any publicly available profile data from a
MySpace user and integrate it into their site. This includes a user’s
name, picture, bio, social graph (list of friends), and other

So does this mean that you can build a behavioral targeting application on top of MySpace and try to out do their targeting or create a targeting product that spans all of the social networks? 

Since actual data is being streamed out of MySpace, they have a strict
terms of use policy that forbids third party sites from storing or
caching the data, other than the unique MySpace user id of the user.

I wonder, is this enforceable? 

Offtopic: Conspiracy Theories From China

This video primarily addresses the Western media bias in the context of Tibet and the Olympics. 

The beginning is also devoted to how a "money war" is being waged in China and that foreign capital is responsible for damaging their economy, resulting in stock market volatility, inflation, and RMB appreciation. 

It’s interesting especially since these are the same fears voiced here regarding the growing power of SWFs. 

The Disadvantages of Social Media

I’ve been reading a flurry of articles about the downside to social search/ social media.  I’ve written about this in the past when Yahoo made a big push into social search, lining itself up to compete with Google in the search space using a diametrically opposing technology. 

Here’s the first article about top digg users being asked to digg sites for money.  Here’s Andy Beal on the reaction (Kevin Rose of Digg is scrapping the Top Diggers list).

Here’s an article about Flickr users getting peeved at Yahoo using flickr images.  In retaliation, users are "polluting" the "wii" tag with totally irrelevant pictures. 

Here’s another article about Flickr users getting peeved about changes requiring a Yahoo login for all Flickr accounts (the decision to do this is obviously in response to the analysts and the peanut butter memo urging Yahoo to merge/clean up the Yahoo properties). 

Lots of evidence showing that it’ll be really hard to monetize social media. 

Youtube To Share Revenue With Uploaders

YouTube founder Chad Hurley confirmed to the BBC that
his team was working on a revenue-sharing mechanism that would "reward

The system would be rolled out in a couple of months, he
said, and use a mixture of adverts, including short clips shown ahead
of the actual film.

Via bbcnews.  This will have to be a tightly run practice because of the threat of litigation. 

Lawsuits Filed Against Video Sharing Websites

Grouper and Bolt… cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters without permission and without compensating the content creators

Let the games begin. The article comments that it’s strange that these two firms were singled out while others such as Metacafe, MySpace, etc. were not. Could this be the beginning of the end? Will it all play out exactly the way Mark Cuban said it would? I’m sure everyone in the space will be watching this one very closely.

Marketing On Social Networks- Sometimes Its Just About Luck

Interesting piece in the New York Times about marketing on social networking sites.  I found the last two paragraphs most interesting:

Sometimes marketers find that in the end, the unplanned is what works best. Crispin Porter placed a new crop of Volkswagen commercials on YouTube and a handful of people watched them. Then a user uploaded a grainy version of one of the same commercials. It has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

“You can’t explain this,” said Mr. Benjamin of Crispin Porter. “Someone passed it on to a friend, who passed it to others, until eventually it gets in the right people’s hands. You just can’t predict what will happen.”

Not exactly what advertisers want to hear but you have to appreciate the guy’s candor.