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Saturday, May 24, 2008

News and olds

Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't be a little tougher on the use of the word "news". There must be some way that Google or someone can apply some rudimentary information theory so that news feeds could actually be restricted to news. The definition of news must include so element of surprise: something that you know already isn't news. There would be no point sending out a news bulletin saying that the sun has risen or that a government IT project is late and massively overbudget. We already know these things: it's only if they don't happen that we need to be told. The problems come at the margins, of course. I was thinking about this the other day, when this article turned up in a news feed:

Internet consultant firm Gartner claims that only 1 in 10 commercial virtual worlds succeeds, and most fail within 18 months

[From Slashdot | Most Business-Launched Virtual Worlds Fail]

As soon as I read this I thought, hold on, don't only 1 in 10 of all new restaurants succeed and don't most fail within 18 months? In fact, don't only 1 in 10 of all new businesses succeed and don't most fail within 18 months? So shouldn't the headline have been that "commercial virtual worlds are exactly the same as commercial anything else". Is that news?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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