Gongol.com Archives: February 2010
Brian Gongol

February 10, 2010

Computers and the Internet Google launches a shot at Twitter and Facebook simultaneously
Calling it "Google Buzz", the company appears to be trying to ape the "status update" concept and integrate it with the tool people still use most online: e-mail. There will be stumbling blocks: Some serious privacy flaws have emerged right out of the gate (not the least of which is that Buzz advertises a user's most-contated friends by default, which isn't necessarily the kind of thing a person wants to advertise), and there are probably as many unanswered questions about the tool as there are posts already on it -- not the least of which is whether Google will show the wherewithal to stick with the project over the long term. But its launch is irrefutable evidence that it's remarkably tough to be in the online-services business. A service like Twitter has to be constantly on guard against new, powerful, and well-funded rivals like Google, and giants like Google have to work so hard to maintain their dominance that they have to be seen as operating in a perpetual state of innovation. Consumers win in the long term, but it's hard not to imagine that these kinds of companies, on balance, are destroying more investor wealth than they're actually creating. Expect vast turmoil for Twitter, Facebook, and Google over the next decade, as well as any of the companies trying to be like them.

The United States of America Don't expect a Tea Party political party to emerge
It's just a temporary movement built on voter frustration. But "Taxed Enough Already" is not enough of a platform upon which to build a durable political party. Are we taxed enough already? Self-evidently not: We have a $12.3 trillion debt, built not on loans for roads and bridges, but mainly on our failure to pay for things as we go along. Clearly we spend far more than we tax, so rather than saying we're "taxed enough already", perhaps we should talk about how we're "lavishing ourselves too much already". But "LOTMA party" doesn't quite have the same ring to it at "TEA party", now does it?

The United States of America How American regions can be defined by Facebook relationships
Using data from Facebook profiles, a researcher has come up with his suggested map of the regions of the United States, marking where people have the most connections with out-of-town friends. It should probably come as no surprise that the map ends up looking a lot like the map from Joel Garreau's "Nine Nations of North America", published in the 1980s.

Humor and Good News Craig Ferguson arrives on Twitter
He's doing exactly what any smart celebrity should be doing right now -- building a durable online brand that doesn't depend upon networks or production companies to promote the talent. Conan O'Brien would have been much better off had he done the same thing long before it became apparent that NBC was going to push him around for Jay Leno. O'Brien didn't, and now he's silenced by a non-compete agreement. Had he established himself online independently before the need became apparent, it would have been much harder for NBC to have pushed him out.

Aviation News The rise of the commuter airlines
PBS's often-excellent program "Frontline" did an interesting piece on the rise of commuter airlines, and they've developed an interesting interactive map illustrating where commuter airlines fly and just how prevalent they are at a wide range of airports

Water News Parts of South Dakota go without water service for two weeks

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