Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tools from MaRS and other places

Happy post-St. Patty’s Day to ye all,

I hope everyone is still feeling the luck of the Irish today, and are not too under the weather from the cheer last night.

I thought I’d just quickly post some new interesting tools coming down the pipe and also some other items that people might find interesting. First off, here are some of the tools that were demonstrated at the MaRS “Permanent Campaign” event that the Infoscape Lab attended today with Greg Elmer being the keynote:

1) aideRSS: http://www.aiderss.com/

This seems like a generally useful tool for those who read a large number of blogs. However, at the moment, aideRSS are keeping their ranking heuristics hidden, and they do not allow readers to set up their own advanced ranking methods. For instance, it would be useful for someone to just choose to read blogs that have a lot of comments, or that have a large number of blogs linking to them. It would also be useful for the aideRSS tool to present such information as comments and links in an easily readable manner along with the other statistics they offer. Test it out to see what I mean exactly, of course.

2) Blogscope.net: http://www.blogscope.net/

Blog surveillance technology from the U of T. These folks have even automated tone judgments of the postings on blogs in the beta version, which sounds pretty sketchy to me, especially since once again they do not share their heuristics for how they judge tone. Their plan so far is to also make it the blogger’s individual duty to de-list their personal information from their network tracking software, which profiles every blogger on the web. This could be potentially very controversial.

The company linked with Blogscope is: www.Sysomos.com

3) Iotum: http://iotum.com/

Free conference calls for everyone, using Facebook or otherwise. This might be useful, especially if they add video calls some day. It appears to be a step up from plain old Skype.


Here are some other items not connected with the MaRS event, but connected with political tools in general:

1) Microsoft’s Blews: http://research.microsoft.com/projects/blews/blews.aspx

This software seems similar to the Blogscope.net platform above, but it appears to have a more elegant user interface. However, the team that has worked on it does not include any political scientists or sociologists, so I’m not sure how well it will target specific user needs to drill into political blogs and news ("blews") in the social media space.

2) Gapminder.org: Interesting use of data visualization software, and there is a TED video of Hans Rosling from the Gapminder.org group on their powerful use of data visualization here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUwS1uAdUcI

3) Morningside Analytics: http://morningside-analytics.com/
John Kelly from Columbia University who was at the OII SDP this summer has officially launched his company with the help of Leonard Lidov, who is a Torontonian. Their business looks interesting, and I wish them well.

4) Michael Zimmer’s bibliography of ethical and privacy dimensions of web
search engines: http://michaelzimmer.org/2007/06/30/scholarship-on-privacy-and-search-engines/

More to come on the MaRS talk when I get a second to write in April.

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