Best. Correction. Ever.

The statement “In New York City, someone stole the penis of a chocolate Jesus” is not true; the source was a satire website that was mistakenly thought to be a genuine news source. Harper’s Weekly apologizes for the error.

Harper’s Weekly is an email with a bunch of odd news mixed in with more serious stuff. The fact that it’s usually pretty funny all on its own made this “retraction” even better.

By the way, Harper’s recently revealed an amazing new site with access to PDF scans of their entire 150 years of back issues, free for subscribers. After my complaints about the lack of a DVD archive, this is amazing news. No new, potentially obsolete hardware to buy, just a low rate of US$16.97 per year, and that gets me the printed magazine as well. Genius! Big ups to the brilliant Paul Ford, who’s behind the curtain.

Wine-ing on the Web

I posted the following entry last June on my company’s blog:

Early last year, I pointed to the excellent Cellar Tracker web site, where the hardcore wine geek (or aficionado, if you please) could keep track of everything in her cellar and even connect with a community to share tasting notes. Despite the overall thoroughness and wealth of features, though, the design is a bit spare, and the site is clearly aimed at people with large cellars.

Now, along come not one but two new sites offering to bring the benefits of online cellar management to the masses. Both WineLog and Cork’d have launched recently, and are in a desperate battle to sign up new users who will share their wine tasting notes and recommendations. I’m happy to see that these sites make use of some newer web technology like tagging to make classifying (and more importantly, finding) wines easier and more intuitive.

Though both sites are evolving rapidly, I’d have to give the edge at the moment to Cork’d, whose playful graphic design really invites users to jump right in. I also like the community features (though calling it “Drinking Buddies” might strike the wrong note with some people) and look forward to using this as a resource in the months to come.

But I won’t be abandoning Cellar Tracker, whose powerful features are just too useful. If we could just get them talking to the folks at Cork’d…

I have to admit that since then, the underdog WineLog seems to have closed the gap considerably, and maybe even pushed ahead. While Cork’d attracted a lot of the web design/blog crowd who enjoyed the work of designers/programmers Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin, there seem to be fewer, well, wine people there, and I find the site harder to actually use, especially when searching for wines. I still think the biggest challenge involved in making sites like these useful is formatting the information consistently and weeding out redundancies. Which is why I still generally use Cellar Tracker over the upstarts. But it’s fun to keep track of how these projects are developing.

Pick Me!

Each March, for the past six years, I’ve attended the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin and have always wondered why there were no panels on faith or spirituality. The Internet has made a huge impact on how people interact with each other and this area in particular has always fascinated me. Will “cyberchurches” replace megachurches? Can people worship together when they’ve never physically met? How is the web changing how we talk to each other about faith? I decided I’d like to find out, so I’ve proposed to moderate a panel at next year’s conference.

About 200 other people have made panel proposals, too. Which is where you come in. Check out the handy-dandy Panel Picker and nominate the ten best ideas. It’s ok if you don’t think mine is one of them. But if you’re intrigued, and are going to be there (hey, even if you’re not going to be there), do me a favour and throw me a vote. My proposal is under the “Community” and “Miscellaneous” categories, and is entitled “Ghost in the Machine: Spirituality Online.”

Your input on the panel is welcome as well.

SXSW 2006: Blog Bubble Bursts

I’ve been back from SXSW Interactive for more than two weeks and yet I still haven’t posted my thoughts. The reason? Well, I wrote something that was very negative and I’ve been sitting on it. I’m going to post it now, unchanged, but I will add that my malaise seems to have been shared by a number of people. And it appears to be affecting a number of conferences, not just SXSW. I heard a lot of complaints that ETech wasn’t so great this year, for instance. And tech conferences seem to be sprouting up all over the place like weeds. All part of the new “Web 2.0” bubble, I suppose.

But before I post my depressing screed, I will say that I managed to have a pretty good time nonetheless. It’s just too bad that I only get to see some of these amazing people just once a year. For evidence of my merrymaking, check out my photos on Flickr. I’ve posted my photos from 2001 and 2002 on there as well. Ah, nostalgia!

Read on if you dare…
Continue reading “SXSW 2006: Blog Bubble Bursts”

Wikipedia = Timesink

I love the Wikipedia. I’ve spent a lot of time recently copyediting and making minor edits to articles in many different areas. But I have to wonder about the sanity of certain people when the Talk page for an extreme right-wing Belgian political party stretches to many times the length of the article itself. I mean, how many people will even read this article?

No disrespect meant to the Belgian fascists, of course.