A Place in the Crowd

July 10th, 2007 by Larry Smith

parkslopetree.jpgI’m often one step ahead and two days behind, which is how I found myself reading the City section of the Sunday New York Times on Tuesday (confession: reading the Sunday Times in print remains a pleasure, even if it takes all week). The featured story is on what the kids are calling placeblogging, highly localized blogging, which often features a personal story. A recent story on a fallen tree in her neighborhood in Brooklyn, for example, led one blogger to ruminate on bird-watching trips to Prospect Park with her pop. Who places blogs more than anyone? Brooklyn, baby! “On a per capita basis,” Gowanus Lounge placeblogger Robert Guskind tells the Times, “we have more bloggers than any other part of the city, and more than anywhere that I know of. More than in Manhattan, and way more than in Queens.” For more on this excellent trend of people-powered neighborhood storytelling, check out Placeblogger.com.

Speaking of crowds, and things I read in print, the July Wired has a fascinating piece called The Human Advantage. Via the lens of computer scientist named Luis von Ahn (who invented the anti-spam program Captcha), Clive Thompson explores how people-powered intelligence is making artificial intelligence smarter. An aside to this aside: von Ahn just launched a program that is a mind-blowing model of human efficiency. You know when you type in a few letters in a form to prove you’re human, not spam? In many cases, you’re actually typing in a small part of a book (a word that a computer couldn’t quite read when the book was scanned) as a part of the nonprofit Internet Archive project. It’s a great article which my confused description does not do justice. Just read it.

Park Slope tree from Flickr’s DavidGardinerGarcia.