Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from November 2005

Not all possible startups have been started…

November 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on Not all possible startups have been started…

…at least that’s the message from my bookmarks:

Then, if you want some venture capital, you need this bookmark: How to Write a Business Plan.

Sadly, according to yet another bookmark, Venture capital is totally dead.

But don’t cry, I have one more bookmark, to save the day: How to Start Your Own VC firm.

Tags: Metablogging

Infinite avatars, not all of them always typing

November 29th, 2005 · Comments Off on Infinite avatars, not all of them always typing

I drank non-virtual coffee with real Lisa Williams this morning. She told me some fascinating things about improvised communities, and I told her I’m thinking about lightweight solutions to online “reputation.” Reputation avatars, if you will.

My Slashdot avatar has a gender-neutral name and excellent “karma.” My #joiito avatar uses my name and writes funny limericks. In Wikipedia, Betsythedevine writes about glacial movement and landforms (I’m from NH.) The reputation systems in these three arenas differ greatly in style and degree of formality.*

In our real lives too, we have lots of different personas for different occasions:

Lisa: And when two of our avatars collide, that’s the stuff of situation comedy.
Betsy: Yes, and of stories about “I got fired for blogging.”

Yours for more and better and funnier avatars that don’t get entangled with our credit card histories and college transcripts,
Betsy, my still-typing-darn-it avatar

* Slashdot’s reputation system is called “karma.”
Wikipedia users are kept accountable for their contributions because anybody can see anybody else’s.
Chat room users are either banned or not banned.

Tags: Reputation systems · wikipedia

For some reason, this really quacks me up

November 27th, 2005 · Comments Off on For some reason, this really quacks me up

DucklingsSnow: Ducklings watch as their leader tries to climb a snow-covered curb

Leadership can feel so cold and lonely…meanwhile, the little ducks at the back of the line are asking impatiently why things aren’t moving faster…

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

Gaming eBay; MetaFilter bites back

November 27th, 2005 · Comments Off on Gaming eBay; MetaFilter bites back

Pity poor “airnxtz,” who got more than he bargained for when he asked MetaFilter’s advice on this sad story:

i bought a $3,000 item on ebay a laptop, i never recieved it, i paypaled him the money, and he transfered those funds to his bank account, and then withrdrew it. He then informed me that on the day he was going to ship it out, his car was robbed, and everything (including the laptop and $3,000 cash) was stolen…is this guy going to get away with it?

This question raised a red flag at MetaFilter, however, because airnxtz’s eBay profile showed he hadn’t recently bought a laptop. In fact, he’d recently sold one, and the buyer was complaining it never arrived.

MetaFilterians soon found that airnxtz been asking lots of questions about computer sales gone wrong. In October alone, he claimed, thieves had stolen two laptop computers he was shipping, replacing one with “a rock wrapped in bubble wrap” (October 8 posting) and another with “a jug of water” (October 15 posting).

These events gave extra meaning to airnxtz’s hypothetical question (October 30):

lets say i list an item for x amount of dollars, offering no shipping insurance. in the item description i state ‘by bidding on this auction buyer agrees that seller is not responsible for lost items or errors made by USPS’ now lets say the item gets lost in the mail, am i still obligated to refund the buyer, even though by bidding he agreed i would not be held liable for lost items in the mail?

Not surprisingly, airnxtz has received very bad eBay feedback as a seller. So why is his net feedback rating on eBay so high? Because his feedback as a buyer is good–he has bought many, many small-ticket items on eBay and paid for them promptly.

Note: I stumbled across this while researching reputation systems in general and eBay’s Feedback system in particular. Resnick and Zeckhauser’s study of eBay’s system is widely cited; fraudsters have found many ways to game the system..

Tags: Reputation systems

“Powerpoint-fu” talk (said Cory Doctorow) illuminates digital ID

November 25th, 2005 · Comments Off on “Powerpoint-fu” talk (said Cory Doctorow) illuminates digital ID

Liz Lawley talked me into watching Dick Hardt’s keynote from OSCON 2005. (Don’t know how I missed clicking through from BoingBoing’s rave.)

Hardt flashes through “Identity 2.0” with humor and clarity.

Your online Identity 1.0, he says, was site-centric, walled-garden stuff –like, for example, your eBay reputation. Identity 2.0 (presumably like what his company sxip offers) will be portable, lightweight, and user-centric id.

My only objection: Hardt equates reputation with identity.

It’s a shame to confound them, because progress in (multiple) reputation systems shouldn’t have to wait for consensus on managing that underwater-part-of-the-iceberg identity.

I’m curious to see if Hardt’s identity-and-reputation product sxore will gain enough currency to get a genuine workout.

Tags: Reputation systems

The eternal triangle isn’t what it was….

November 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on The eternal triangle isn’t what it was….

Via The Zen of Motorcycling, this math-challenged student’s solution to the age old problem:

Tags: Learn to write funny

Except for the popcorn going up in smoke…

November 23rd, 2005 · Comments Off on Except for the popcorn going up in smoke…

Would you believe, I got called to jury duty on Wednesday morning– talk about an un-American thing to do to a Thanksgiving-cooking mom! So this year we had store-bought pies, though I still home-made killer brownies and biscuit-crust veggies.

More racing around like a maniac in my real life means less time* for writing in my blog (as opposed to Thanksgiving in 2003 and 2004.) But I’m thankful for all the family and food and fun that has swirled through my life in the past 24 hours–and next year, I hope to do it all, all over again.

Except for the part where I burned the microwave popcorn, filling the entire house with stinky smoke. Next year, if I manage not to do that again, I’ll be extra thankful.

* At least I was helping to keep the Web clear for Niek Hockx

Tags: Wide wonderful world

My hovercraft is full of IM shorthand

November 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on My hovercraft is full of IM shorthand

Monty-Python IM slang from RickLibrarian may soon replace smilies and ROFL–for example:

  • IALAIOK – I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay.
  • ANFSCD – And now for something completely different
  • STMIAN – She turned me into a newt! (“A common complaint,” says RickLibrarian)
  • NETSI – Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

But why should Python-ites have all the fun? Star Warsians use MTFBWY (“May the Force be with you”), but surely there’s a lot of good stuff still unmined:

  • IHAVBFAT – I have a very bad feeling about this.
  • DODNTINT – Do or do not. There is no try.
  • WSGTBWCOOMW – Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?

I’d also like to nominate:

  • MSSIT – My Satan sense is tingling.(The Simpsons)
  • FBIFMTQYDCOSC – Far be it from me to question your dumb civilization or stupid customs. (Futurama)
  • SMAKIBBFB – Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast. (Red Dwarf)

That’s enough! Signing off now, but you know I’ll return, so SMAKIBBFB.

Thanks to The Shifted Librarian for this link!

p.s. Awesomely, the Acronym Finder does indeed know about MTFBWY and ANFSCD. Did you know that NETSI also stands for New England Tech Stock Index? I wonder if the Python-ians could patent that acronym as prior art and then sue for damages–wow, maybe enough leftover dotcom options to wallpaper a castle…

Thanks to the improbable Marc Abrahams for his find of this acronym finder…

Tags: Learn to write funny

Declaring identity in a world full of spammers

November 19th, 2005 · Comments Off on Declaring identity in a world full of spammers

Long ago, in a trouble-free galaxy far away where fairies in flannel shirts played Donkey Kong with dinosaurs in Doc Martens, we happily posted our email addresses all over the web.

In today’s world of bots and spammers, the question arises–how can we declare our own ownership of our own web pages, while providing a way for real readers to get in touch.

Dave Winer proposes a simple and standardized way to solve the problem. He’s asking for comments and feedback, so go check it out.

Tags: Reputation systems

Reputation spam in two spammy flavors

November 18th, 2005 · Comments Off on Reputation spam in two spammy flavors

Nigerian spam email. Slashdot trolling. Search engine spam–even ping spam.

Wherever you might expect to find information, spammers will be eager to insert some disinformation.

Consider the various online reputation systems–for example eBay’s feedback system or just about anyone’s list of popular bloggers.

Positive spam attempts to raise reputation scores in some deceptive way–maybe creating a bunch of fake eBay transactions, then giving yourself very positive ratings.

Negative spam has a much higher cost to the commons. Trolls who take pleasure in “gratuitous vituperation, scurrilous disparagement and malignant calumny,” (to quote the online Britannica on defamation) drive productive group members away from the commons.

Tags: Reputation systems