Our parents had Dear Abby; we have the hive mind of the Internet. When it comes to resolving arguments and disagreements, technology can play a role. Factual disagreements are easy to resolve – a quick Google search or a visit to WIkipedia can resolve most such disputes. But what about a disagreement that boils down to a matter of opinion? Side With Me is a web site that helps declare winners and losers in arguments that aren’t based solely on fact.
Today is the deadline for most NCAA March Madness brackets — the first game of the second round. If you’ve been invited to participate in a pool or some other sort of friendly competition, you need to get your college basketball stats together in a hurry. It’s a bit of a bear of a project though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re busy, don’t follow basketball like it’s your religion, or statistics make your eyes roll into the back of your head.
Not to worry , though… PickMyBracket.com has come to your rescue! It’s bracket generator algorithm will create a full bracket for you in seconds — and you might even win a “Brand New iPad,” to boot.
PickMyBracket.com was developed by Information Systems students Jerry Potter and Nick Walter at Brigham Young University. The site pulls statistical data on NCAA teams from ESPN and runs comparisons to pick a winner. To make sure everyone has their own bracket flavour, and to keep things interesting, there are random factors you can choose from, as well, such as hotness of coeds, partying reputation of colleges, SAT scores, mascot type, etc.
The idea actually originated with Walter’s father.
“For around the past 10 years he made an excel file that filled out your March Madness bracket for you based off of team’s ranks and some randomness. He called it ‘The Pickalator,’” said Walter. “I thought this would be a great chance to bring The Pickalator to the whole world!”
If you want to participate in this year’s March Madness bracket competitions, but figure you’re out of time or don’t have the know-how, think again! PickMyBracket.com can have you up and running with a good bracket in just a couple of minutes. Get on it now, so you don’t miss out. Who knows… you might win.
Sadly, we live during a time when the U.S. Congress has earned a much-deserved reputation for whoring itself out to the highest bidder. The latest committee hearings on SOPA heightened the average tech geek’s frustration with Congress, where a Congressional committee lined up several supporters of SOPA (the entertainment industry and the Chamber of Commerce, to name two of five), while only allowing the testimony of a Google representative on the other side. Does money play a role in this? While it is impossible to get inside the head of a congressperson, the money trail can be pretty damning in some instances. How do you easily check the money trail? MapLight can help.
One might think that the world wide web, which is still predominantly text-based, would be the spearhead in the rise to new heights of literary articulation. Unfortunately, if you were the one who was thinking that, you were sadly misinformed. In actuality the ability or willingness to write with proper grammar and spelling has been replaced by a general acceptance of a lower standard. The acceptance appears general, that is. Where do you stand on the subject?
I confess that poor spelling and grammar is a pet peeve of mine. When I am reading something that runs rampant with glaring errors, I find it difficult, irritating, and that the work loses credibility in my eyes. There are levels, however. While misspellings like “definately” and “loose” (for lose) always make me cringe a bit, I make allowances for posts and comments that have mistakes in them. I recognize that, while English is the most prominent language on the web (at least in my own experience), many of the active participants of the social and interactive super-real-time web are not native speakers (or writers). If I were to have to communicate in other languages, I have no doubt that my writings could easily be the stuff laughing stocks are made of.
Where I draw the line, however, is with “texting” or “IM” style writing. Some of that has its place, too — or had, before the mass adoption of full hardware and software keyboards — but forgive me if I think that there is never a good excuse to write “wat” in place of “what.” That’s almost enough to get me to stop reading altogether. I also can’t stand l33t. Practically unheard of for a tech-geek, I know, but the secret code of elite nerds always struck me as a really annoying oxymoron.
Now before those that are inclined start tearing apart some of the grammatical inconsistencies of this post, I should mention that I am ok with conversational writing. That is to say that I don’t mind some liberties being taken to convey tone and flow that, on some level, emulates how two friends or acquaintances would talk with one another. In fact, I think that sort of writing is essential on the web. It is part of what makes a blog post resonant, and helps the reader and writer to identify with one another. How far I’m willing to accept this style of writing is dependent on the subject matter, the points I made above, and quite likely, my age/maturity level while reading. And I’m fully aware and accepting of the fact that my maturity level can fluctuate… :P
Is my acceptance of even a limited degradation of writing on the web part of the overall problem? Probably. Is it one of the factors that leads to established journalists getting lazy (and sometimes disappointing) with their writing? Again, probably. It’s all tied in with other factors like language barriers and the attention deficit fostering speed of the online world. Is there a line that should be drawn in the sand somewhere, though? Should people be publicly flogged for ignoring the oh-so-convenient spell-check integrations out there? Personally, I think that spell-check, auto-correct, and especially auto-complete are actually part of the problem. Since I started using the iPhone and iPad, for example, I have noticed a marked increase in mistakes while typing on a full keyboard — especially with contractions.
What about you? Where do you draw the line — or do you care at all? Why?
Just about everybody I know has gotten a laugh out of Damn You Auto Correct, the website that collects embarrassing iPhone messages, thanks to goofy and unintended automatic corrections by the iOS engine. If that is your cup of tea, then you might enjoy Literally Unbelievable, a site that collects Facebook updates from users who think articles from the Onion are true.