TED Blog: The New TED.com launches today Monday April 16th:

“With the launch of our new website, we’re really saying to the world: We want to share with you our best content for free, and we want you to connect with like-minded people inspired by these talks. In other words, we see the site as a way of dramatically expanding our community from the 1000 people who attend the conference to millions of knowledge seekers around the globe.”

Some of the most interesting features:

  • chapter-marking technology that lets users find and skip to key moments in a given talk
  • ratings system more nuanced than the typical 5-star approach, allowing users to describe talks with adjectives
  • high-resolution video that can be viewed online or downloaded for playback on a computer, iPod or set-top box
  • detailed talk summaries and speaker biographies to provide more context around each talk
  • innovative ways to browse talks, which are grouped into TED-like themes, such as “Inspired by Nature,” “How the Mind Works” and “Tales of Invention”
  • social-networking tools—including Profile Pages, Comments and Favorites—that allow for interaction among members of the extended TED community

Many of the  talks are so dense and often resound with each other: having tools to mark, rate, annotate, and link them can surely enhance their value.

I am looking forward to explore the new site, what it has to offer, and most of all I’m thrilled by the potential of an enlarged community that may build around it.

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March 2, 2007

TED2007 will be next week.

TED brings together extraordinary people from every area of thought, work and culture, and lo and behold, astonishing connections are made, excitement and inspiration follow.

It works this way because all knowledge is connected.

After four days, you gain an understanding of how your own work fits into the larger web of knowledge.

TED2007 Program

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Thanks to Robert Scoble for pointing us to an interview John Battelle did with Micheal Wesch.
I want to take note of some parts of that interview; italics are mine.

So if there is a global village, it is not a very equitable one, and if there is a tragedy of our times, it may be that we are all interconnected but we fail to see it and take care of our relationships with others. For me, the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected. It might help us create a truly global view that can spark the kind of empathy we need to create a better world for all of humankind. I’m not being overly utopian and naively saying that the Web will make this happen. In fact, if we don’t understand our digital technology and its effects, it can actually make humans and human needs even more invisible than ever before. But the technology also creates a remarkable opportunity for us to make a profound difference in the world.

I did not know it would reach so many people, but I had hoped that for those it did reach it would spark some reflection on the power of the technology they were using. Because without proper understanding and reflection, “the machine” is using us – all of us – even those that don’t have access to the machine at all.

I like to learn these technologies on my own through trial and error, because sometimes the errors turn out to be new uses for the tool that I might not have discovered through formal training.

Students are already frequently visiting Facebook, so we can bring our class discussions to them in a place where they have already invested significant effort in building up their identity, rather than asking them to login to Blackboard or some other course management system where they feel “faceless” and out of place.

Interconnected red 1998 photo by Feltbug

Official Google Blog: Scholarly pursuits:

Just as with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article’s author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature.

photo by grytr

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Official Google Blog: Exploring the scholarly neighborhood:

Searching for scientific articles on Google Scholar works especially well when I can find the search terms that are specific enough to narrow down to the subject I’m interested in and yet general enough to not miss relevant articles. When authors use different terminology to refer to the same thing — which often happens when a field is very young — this can be less effective.

Now there’s an additional way to find related work in Google Scholar, which should be helpful in such situations. For every Google Scholar search result, we try to automatically determine which articles in our repository are most closely related to it. You can see a list of these articles by clicking the “Related Articles” link that appears next to each result. The list of related articles is ranked primarily by how similar these articles are to the original result, but also takes into account the relevance of each paper.

Finding sets of related papers and books is often a great way for novices to get acquainted with a topic. However, we’ve found that even experts can sometimes be surprised to discover related work in their area of expertise.

No additional information about the similarity measure is given.

Google Scholar

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getAbstract is a paid service that delivers five-page summaries of business books. 3000 summaries are currently available.
From the FAQ:

A summary is a 5-page compressed summary of the essential ideas in a book. The summary gives you a concise overview of the book’s key points.

Our goal is to give you an overview of the ideas, concepts, and trends in the latest, best business books.

Summaries can be downloaded for three formats: PDF, Palm Reader, eBook  Reader. Alternatively, they can be delivered as email attachments in PDF format. Two free summaries are available for download (email required).

getAbstract’s tagline is “Compressed Knowledge”. The Wikipedia entry for Knowledge starts with the following:

Knowledge is information of which someone is aware. Knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.

Compressed Information would be a more veritable point.

Wouldn’t it be so expensive (unlimited access is US$299/year or US$179/half year, and 30 summaries/year for US$89), it could be a great service to allow people check for the good information in the books before buying.

If you are skeptic, read what Joe Wikert has written about his (positive) experience with getAbstract.

via headrush.

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The Official Google Blog has a post titled Avoiding RSI that is worth reading. It is not about search, it is not a launch of a new beta, and it is not about a Mars base. It is about your health, how easy it is to hurt yourself, how it happens, and what you can do to avoid Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

We’re not designed to remain as sedentary or perform the fine motor movements for the long uninterrupted hours that we have to do in so many of our jobs.

And that is what I do almost every day: seat, type at the keyboard, scroll the mouse, stare at the screen.

The post gives you an intuition of the problem, facts and links to dig, and few tips to start you up. Dig it.

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