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Know Rule 240!

I recently was on a trip with United Airlines. It's a long story, but basically the short form is that the pilot didn't show up, our flight was about 2 hours late, and I was going to miss the connection, also on United.

A bunch of us were in the same boat (or plane) and so there was quite a buzz in the gate area, upon which a lawyer who knew something about air travel said, "Make sure you mention Rule 240". Huh?

Rule 240 is like a magic code word. When you use it with airline personel they know exactly what you mean and they seem to act on it (a little bit scared of it, even.) Rule 240 states that, if you miss a connection and it's the airlines fault (i.e. pilot doesn't show up, but not a snowstorm) then the airline is obligated to put on the next flight they have to your destination (free of charge) and if that's not possible, on another airline (free of charge.) Pretty amazing, eh?

Of course the rule is a little more complicated but that's the key idea. Read more about it here: Welcome to MY Travel

More musings on the not-better-RSS-aggregator

One correspondent asked : "Isn't this what bb:library is about or Technorati Blog Directory or egs. like Corante Web Hub, Global Voices, World Changing?"

Well, it might be a reinvention of those wheels. I don't know yet. I know I am not interested in reinventing wheels. But let me play some more. Here's what I wrote back:

"But I imagine this new product/service if it is built, will have in it's plumbing information like what we have in the library and also an rss aggregator.

But the idea is that this thing will never include the words rss, opml etc. To give you and idea, some of the names I've played with are:

the daily ME

Why? Because I imagine this being something that someone who loves to keep up looks at daily and finds stuff of interest. Corante Web hub is kind of like that, but for a few (3 I think) topics. Also they have original content.

This thing is more like a tv with 1000 channels that you can pick from depending on what your interested in.

By the way the target for this would be very different than for BlogBridge. BB is for power feed readers, this thing would be for people that barely know how to check their email.

Am I nuts? Please stop me before I go off the deep end again :)"

By the way, which name speaks to you the most? None of them available anyway, sigh…

Technorati Tags: eclectica,, puppy

The answer is not a better RSS Aggregator, continued

Yesterday's post drew some interesting comments and emails. Several people wondered what the heck I was talking about. More about that later. First:

A couple of good analogies were raised. Isn't this idea a lot like Digg? Or like Top Ten Sources? For me the Top Ten Sources, which I know reasonably well, is the better analogy. Certainly Digg is hot but the reason it doesn't work for what I am talking about is that it bring you links to content or sites that (random) others have marked as interesting.

A key part of the idea that I am groping for is that the user somehow tells what he or she is interested in.

Example: Alice is interested in:

  • Cars

  • Any article that Tom Friedman writes

  • News about Belgium

  • Classical Music

And with that very minimal bit of guidance this new product or service, if it is ever built, starts delivering articles, pictures, information to alice, Alice. And this info includes sources that she never heard of before nor had any way to locate or read. A little bit like she opens her weekly Time Magazine or Car and Driver every month.

So yeah, Top Ten Sources is a little bit like that isn't it? Maybe. Maybe not.

[Let me stress again, these are literally musings. We are not building this product. But we might.]

Technorati Tags:, dailyme, readinglists

The answer is not a better RSS Aggregator

Before I discuss this new product idea I am turning over in my mind, I want to say a few things about why I keep working in this area. I mean there are so many people working on aggregators, and after all Microsoft is building it into IE, and it's been in FireFox for a while. Why bother?

I've thought all along, and I still believe, that all these blog readers, or aggregators, or whatever you want to call them are really important but still very primitive.

I've also said and still believe that all of them, BlogBridge included , are very much generation zero, and are more or less following the same pattern, in a way set by email readers.

The reason I am very bullish on this space(and I use that vague term on purpose) is that there is so much useful, general, non geek, high quality information out there, that such a large percentage of people have no idea about, and yet if they could see it they would devour it.

Just recently I was reading Discover Magazine, and I came across an interesting article that mentions that mathematician Peter Woit has a blog called "Not Even Wrong." I've not looked at that yet, but, I am intrigued. Every day I come across an example of that.

So I say: Are you interested in Politics? Geology? Mathematics? Joint Ventures? Model Airplanes? Medicine? Rock and Roll? I can guarantee that I can find information on your passion that you will want to look at as often as you look at your magazine subscriptions.

This is my belief: great stuff, regularly written, by experts in every field, is there (supply.) There is a large class of people who would stand up and cheer if we could bring that information to them easily. (demand)

I want to help bring those two together.

The answer is not a better aggregator. It's something else.

Technorati Tags: aggregators

Book report: A million little pieces

I don't know if you followed the spat a few months ago. This book, "A million little pieces" by James Frey was chosen by Ms. "O" (Oprah) for her book club. A lot of fanfare, a lot of press. It's a memoir about one man's experiences as a totally out of control addict, then joining a rehab program and getting on the road to recovery.

The problem is / was that after Oprah made all this fuss about James Frey, it turned out that certain details of the book were fictionalized. It was not exactly clear whether 10%, 20% or what were not from his real life experience. But Oprah threw a fit in a famous 'come to Oprah' episode where she publicly berated and humiliated James Frey for misleading Her and making her stake her reputation on a true life story which turned out not to be 100% true. It was good TV, but an unpleasant affair to watch. Even Wikipedia got into the act!

Well I finally got around to reading this book. It is excellent, outstanding, informative, dramatic, well written and compelling. Frankly it matters not a wit whether it's 100% true or not. It was instructive to actually read the object of Oprah's wrath because from hearing and reading about it , you'd easily bypass the book and not read it. I really **recommend it!


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