Archive for May, 2006

The real trend is toward bad journalism

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

According to a report in The Age, Melbourne is the second most lonely city in the world - based on a Google Trends search for the word “lonely”. Talk about drawing a long bow!

A search today shows the following as the top ten searchers for “lonely”:

  1. Dublin Ireland
  2. Melbourne Australia
  3. Auckland New Zealand
  4. Sydney Australia
  5. Perth Australia
  6. London United Kingdom
  7. Vancouver Canada
  8. Brentford United Kingdom
  9. San Francisco United States
  10. Manchester United Kingdom

But how about searching for “lonely planet”:

  1. Dublin Ireland
  2. Melbourne Australia
  3. London United Kingdom
  4. Auckland New Zealand
  5. Sydney Australia
  6. Brisbane Australia
  7. Adelaide Australia
  8. Perth Australia
  9. Edinburgh United Kingdom
  10. Bletchley United Kingdom

That’s almost identical, isn’t it? I think The Age could just as easily have reported that Melbournians (indeed, Australians in general) are avid consumers of travel guide books.

Even trying some synonyms like alone, loneliness, and isolated don’t show anything conclusive.


The Google Trends about page explains:

Keep in mind that instead of measuring overall interest in a topic, Google Trends shows users’ propensity to search for that topic on Google on a relative basis. For example, just because a particular region isn’t on the Top Regions list for the term “haircut” doesn’t necessarily mean that people there have decided to stage a mass rebellion against society’s conventions. It could be that people in that region might not use Google to find a barber, use a different term when doing their searches, or simply search for so many other topics unrelated to haircuts that searches for “haircut” make up a very small portion of the search volume from that region when compared to other regions.

One could substitute “lonely” for “haircut” in that explanation and using Google Trends data to conclude that Melbourne is the second most lonely city in the world is shown to be incredibly foolish.

Apparently the story originates from Reuters. Wherever it came from, that’s sloppy, sloppy journalism.

What a Guy

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Have a look at this interview:

Big blunder, but nice recovery and bluffing from the interviewee who was, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, a London cabbie who

suffered an awkward few moments of fame when the BBC mistook him for a computer expert and interviewed him live on the flagship News 24 channel.

The real expert was Guy Kewney, a journalist specialising in computer issues who had been invited to comment on Apple Computer’s legal battle with Apple Corporation, the Beatles’ music publishing company.

As Joshua Gans says: not even on Frontline would you see such a priceless moment as this - truth is funnier than fiction.

The BBC wouldn’t even share the video with the Guy they meant to interview, which is a bit rude I think…

Mind you, the Guy they got sounds surprisingly lucid for someone who was making it up on the spot. Of course real industry experts would never do that, would they?

Update: 17 May 2006

According to a report The Age today, the BBC

realised too late that they had put on Guy Goma, a Congolese man applying for a technology-related job.

You can imagine how the conversation went at reception:

“Hello. My name is Guy and I’m here for an interview.”

“Right, Mr [checks interview schedule] Kewney, just step into this studio and we’ll get you some make-up.”

Earlier reports that the wrong Guy was a taxi driver were apparently incorrect.

Inform 7 released

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Oh wow!

I haven’t had a look at anything Interactive Fiction for ages but things have kept moving along. Inform, one of the big two authoring systems, has just gone to version 7 with a stack of features. And is that a spiffy new IDE I see there?

screen cap of Inform 7 IDE

I notice this version has been a real team effort with recognisable names like Emily Short and Andrew Plotkin being added to Graham Nelson’s in the credits.

OK, downloaded and ready to play - it looks like I’ve got a few more wasted weekends ahead!