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March 14-20, 2007

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Technology News - Annalee Newitz

Technology News

Web Trenz!

By Annalee Newitz


IT IS THE TIME of year when we celebrate new ideas and fresh memes on the interwebs. For some reason, March is the month for all the big webbish conferences, such as South by Southwest Interactive and O'Reilly's Emerging Technology shindig in San Diego. Strange new web apps are announced; venture capital is hurled forcefully at people who wear hoodies over button-down shirts; and everybody does freaky shit with their cell phones. In case you're feeling left out, I'll preview a few web trenz (that's how the kids spell it) for you.

Everybody is sick of the blogosphere, because there's only one. I mean, who wants to write things that appear in only one place? That's why the interwebbers are going crazy for the new blogomultisphere trend.

Every liberal blogger needs an anti-sphere where her parallel self is writing about why Bush's new plan to beef up troops in Iraq is a great idea. Or a bizarro sphere where her bizarro self writes about the expressionist era in cute art.

One of the breakout content sites of the blogomultisphere is the sliderzone, where bloggers can jump from sphere to sphere, guest writing for parallel universe blogs and antimatter wikis. Questions raised by denizens of the sliderzone include whether copyright licenses in the sphere also hold for anticontent produced in the antisphere. Or are there anti-licenses? What about bizarro licenses? You can see why this is an idea whose time has come.

MeganSpace is a social network like Facebook that sprang organically out of California's Megan's Law database of sex offenders. People with similar sex offenses wanted to figure out ways to connect and form special interest groups, so they started tagging their profiles in the Megan's Law database. They can add other members as "buddies" or "prison pals."

Next, MeganSpace added RSS feeds so that users could update their MeganBuddies on new events in their lives, like which street they slept on after getting kicked out of apartments by a landlords who don't like streakers. Another great feature of MeganSpace is that you can search on which year people got out of prison, as well as things like hobbies and parole officers. People who are sick of having to use Kevin Poulsen's software program to find convicted sex offenders on MySpace are totally psyched about MeganSpace!

Last year, was all about Podcasting, but this year it's Podthrusting. At last, Apple has figured out that its hardware design sensibility is perfect for mobile sex toys with media capability. With Podthrusting, you don't have to go to iTunes to suck down the latest episode of The Office. Instead, The Office will thrust itself at you.

Each time you get a data thrust, your iPod or other mobile device will play the ring tone of your choice. Then it will burrow into the orifice of your choice. What's great about Podthrusting, as you may have guessed, is that it's all about choices. Plus, it's perfect for selling every kind of content, from new ring tones and songs to new vibration patterns and lube. After just one week of Podthrusting, I really can't believe that I ever thought of my dildo and my phone as separate entities.

One of the biggest problems with wikis is writing. People like the idea of wikis, and they like the word wiki, but they just don't like writing wikis. That's where Annoturk comes in. Using micropayments, Annoturk helps you pay people in the developing world very tiny amounts of money to annotate all the information on all the wikis you're supposed to be using.

It's like micro-outsourcing. You might pay 50 cents to a guy in Sri Lanka to add historical information about Lowell, Mass., to a wiki devoted to an upcoming Boston-area conference you're planning. Or you could pay kids in the Shandong province to write small articles about every noun on your work collaboration wiki. Annoturk is good for the developing world, and it's good for writing. Plus it's just convenient when you're trying to fill up space with information.

When I think about how crazy these trenz are getting, I really feel like the future is happening. We are so connected!


Annalee Newitz (annalee@techsploitation.com) is a surly media nerd who is currently being punished for being a popup ad in a previous life.


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