Monday, May 24, 2004

Another knit project finished: a circular spiral shawl in hand-painted wool. More details can be found on my knit stuff page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I love it -- a focus on good news, including items on whether women are worse drivers, Iraqis protesting against Iraqi violence, diabetes research progress, and more. (Link via Instapundit.)
From a Jim Fawcette article (link via Scobleizer):

Blind studies show that users can't distinguish between search results from Google, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, and Teoma. Yet when you put a logo on the page, users show a decided preference for Google. To me, that totally debunks the idea that Google's search algorithms built on the professional-journal-references model is the key to its success. As The Wall Street Journal's Lee Gomes put it: "Some say Google is the Rolls-Royce of search; maybe what it really is, is the Nike. Googlephiles may think they are exhibiting technical sophistication by their loyalty, but what they are really proving is the extent to which they have been conditioned to respond to logos and brands, just like street kids with their sneakers." (ref)

I can't get at the blind study information, unfortunately -- Fawcette's link is to a WSJ subscription article. Anybody got a pointer for me? I'd like to figure out if it was just the logo added to the page that made the difference, not any other formatting. To me, it seems the primary suckage of the MSN search engine was its interface (which is now, oddly, much like that of Google's). So it's not so surprising that by slapping the same interface on results from different engines meant users couldn't distinguish. There are other possible explanations too, besides pure brand loyalty.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I've been thinking for a while about why people are so often so hostile to economics (it's called the "dismal science"), and I'm not the only one. One theory has it that commerce now typically involves non-tribe members (or even non-human, as with our banks' ATMs and Internet orders). That seems to be more a hostility towards modern scalable commerce, although I can see how that would transfer sometimes to economic arguments or prescriptions relating to international trade or similar topics. Another theory is that people just don't understand it (no exposure in early schooling) therefore fear it. A third theory has it that, in part, left-leaning people fear that learning economics (or indeed, lending it any credence) turns people into conservatives!

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