Posts tagged “disaster”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Ferreting Out Fake Reviews Online [New York Times] – We recently worked with a client exploring how online reviews impact purchase decisions. It’s a fascinating, emergent space . Our focus was more on using reviews than creating reviews but we surfaced a lot of insights around authenticity and more importantly, credibility (choosing who to believe is fundamentally different than identifying what is “fake”).

“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” offered one entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site Fiverr, one of a multitude of similar pitches. On another forum, Digital Point, a poster wrote, “I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.” A Craigslist post proposed this: “If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.” The boundless demand for positive reviews has made the review system an arms race of sorts. As more five-star reviews are handed out, even more five-star reviews are needed. Few want to risk being left behind. Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.

Curator Andrew Robison decides what goes into National Gallery’s emergency box [WaPo] – Extant Cold War scenarios are aging out faster than naming your kids after soap opera characters, meanwhile there’s an overwhelmed-by-stuff story lurking in here. What would you take from your house if you could take 3 things in 30 seconds? If you could take 20 things in an hour? If you had three days to pack a large duffel bag? These decisions are terrifying ones and for all our curation, enthusiasm for collection, etc., the accumulation of analog and digital artifacts alike is continually proving to be one of the defining problems of our time.

But in an emergency, not everything can be saved, and so he carefully ranks which works should be spared. The Canaletto is an obvious candidate for his top-priority list of 74 works on paper, but if it is included, something else has got to go. In 1979, with Washington worried about 52 hostages in Tehran and terrorist threats at home, Robison’s boss asked him to create a big container for works of the highest value. If catastrophe hit, the container could be spirited away to an undisclosed location. Today, Robison has seven boxes in two separate storerooms – four for European holdings, three for American. These do not include the museum’s 10,000 photographs, 3,800 paintings and 2,900 sculptures, outside of Robison’s purview and mostly too big for any mad dash out the building. In the two storerooms that Robison asked not be photographed or their locations disclosed, the black, cloth-lined boxes, each the shape of very large books, bear the label “WW3,” drawn in calligraphy. These in-case-of-World-War-III containers lie ready for any possibility, and in Robison’s absence, security guards have a floor plan that shows their exact location, like an X on a pirate map.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] newWitch Magazine – Cutting Edge Paganism – [Seen in a "magic" shop today during a post-fieldwork ramble] newWitch is a magazine dedicated to, featuring, and partially written by young or beginning Witches, Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, and other earth-based, ethnic, pre-Christian, shamanic, and magical practitioners. Everyone from Traditional Wiccans to potion-makers to Asatruar to eco-Pagans can find something in these pages. The one thing we all have in common is a willingness to look at the world, our magical and spiritual paths, and ourselves in new ways. We hope to reach not only those already involved in what we cover, but the curious and completely new as well.
  • [from steve_portigal] Can the Kindle and Its Ilk Ease Textbook Inflation? [Village Voice] – [Thanks @dastillman] Pace offered the Kindle to students with course materials already preloaded on the device. Students had the option to buy the Kindle (at a discounted price) at the end of the course. Student complaints ranged from difficulties in taking notes to clumsy navigation controls. The electronic annotation feature was especially “slow and cumbersome,” requiring students to manipulate a tiny button to underline passages and type notes on the Kindle’s ergonomically unfriendly keyboard. The photos, pictures, and diagrams in the e-textbook were all black and white and image quality was not quite as sharp as in print….Soares found time eaten away by technical issues. Kindle books have no page numbers, so it was a challenge to get all the students on the same page. “It’s one thing to read a mystery or novel on the Kindle, but the way you read a textbook is different. You are flipping back and forth while reading, and navigation was cumbersome, even with bookmarks.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Doomsday shelters making a comeback [USATODAY.com] – The Vivos network, which offers partial ownerships similar to a timeshare in underground shelter communities, is one of several ventures touting escape from a surface-level calamity. Vicino, who launched the Vivos project last December, says he seeks buyers willing to pay $50,000 for adults and $25,000 for children. The company is starting with a 13,000-square-foot refurbished underground shelter formerly operated by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location near Barstow, Calif., that will have room for 134 people. Vicino puts the average cost for a shelter at $10 million. Vivos plans for facilities as large as 100,000 square feet, says real estate broker Dan Hotes, who over the past four years has collaborated with Vicino on partial ownership of luxury homes and is now involved with Vivos. Catastrophe shelters today may appeal to those who seek to bring order to a world full of risk and uncertainty, says Alexander Riley, an associate professor of sociology at Bucknell University.
  • [from steve_portigal] Market researchers get new tool in iPad [USATODAY.com] – [No doubt getting people to participate in surveys is an exercise in persuasion or seduction, but if there's a cool factor, something seems wrong to me] The gadget is luring curious consumers who've never seen one to participate in research projects conducted at shopping malls, primarily because they just want to see how it works. At many of the centers response was so good that survey takers collected the required information in about three weeks instead of the four they'd anticipated. The iPad presented its own set of research challenges. Some overheated in direct sunlight and shut down. In one case, a consumer at a mall in Rhode Island was so enamored with the iPad, he grabbed it from the interviewer and ran off.

Loyalty Cuts Both Ways

In a full-page ad in today’s SF Chronicle jobs section, Columbus Foods asks for help in hiring their employees who have lost their jobs after a recent fire. It’s a pretty dramatic and heartfelt demonstration of an employer’s loyalty to its employees, a vector of loyalty we don’t consider as often as its inverse.

We Need A Hand After The Disaster

On Thursday, July 23, 2009, a significant fire hit Columbus' Cabot Packaging and Slicing facility in South San Francisco. The building was completely destroyed.

Being in business for over 90 years, we have faced many challenges, but it is our employees'strength, dedication and resilience that has brought us our continued success. At Columbus, we have always had pride in the quality of our people.

We are still in business and, long-term, fully expect to come out stronger from this challenge. We have been able to relocate about 40% of the work force of this facility to our other locations and to associated companies. However, because of the fire, the remainder of the workers from the affected facility will be displaced. While we have provided generous severances, we want to do more to help these employees find new jobs.

So we are reaching out to the greater business community for help placing these skilled and loyal employees. It is important to us that we do everything we can to help them, as without them we would have never gotten to the place we are today. If you have any openings, please send correspondence to helpcabot@Columco.com. We will work with you and the employees affected by this disaster to ensure minimal disruption to their lives. And thank you in advance for lending any support.

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