Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #223
July 13th, 2008

UCSF links with patients, donors via YouTube

The University of California, San Francisco, is using a new YouTube channel and a Facebook group to communicate with patients, concerned family members, physicians and — just as important — potential donors, as it begins to explore the brave new world of social networking. And other local hospitals are beginning to move in the same direction. UCSF’s new YouTube channel incorporates videos about Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other forms of dementia that were produced by its Memory and Aging Center.
Source: Chris Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, July 4, 2008

Making Maps Work When Disaster Strikes

GeoCommons, OpenStreetMap, and Mapufacture are three online hubs where people can collaboratively map areas, which could help in emergencies.
GeoCommons.com, for example, runs a Web site where users can explore a huge atlas of maps with various data and add their own information. […] In the wake of devastating flooding in the Midwest in May, people created their own maps of everything from bridge closures to outlines of flood zones to Home Depot (HD) locations where people could get supplies. The maps in turn were made available to anyone.
Source: Rachael King, BusinessWeek, July 7, 2008

Digging a Smarter Crowd

Digg, a popular social bookmarking website, began rolling out a recommendation engine late last week. The design of this recommendation engine, however, is quite different from that of the engines used by companies such as Amazon. While e-commerce sites tend to derive recommendations from a mix of information about users’ browsing and purchasing habits and information about the items for sale, Digg’s system, much like the site itself, places its trust in the wisdom of crowds.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, July 8, 2008

Crawling the Internet to track infectious disease outbreaks

Could Internet discussion forums, listservs, and online news outlets be an informative source of information on disease outbreaks? A team of researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School thinks so, and it has launched a real-time, automated data-gathering system called HealthMap to gather, organize and disseminate this online intelligence. They describe their project in this week’s PLoS Medicine.
Source: Public Library of Science news release, July 7, 2008

Hurry up, the customer has a complaint

As blogs expand the reach of a single voice, firms monitor the Internet looking for the dissatisfied.
When C.C. Chapman noticed a blemish in his high-definition television’s reception during the NBA playoffs recently, he blasted a quick gripe about Comcast into the online ether, using the social network Twitter. Minutes later, a Twitter user named ComcastCares responded, and within 24 hours, a technician was at Chapman’s house in Milford to fix the problem. “I was so floored,” said Chapman, who runs a digital marketing agency and advises companies to do what he experienced with Comcast – listen to what customers are saying about them online and respond.
Source: Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Boston Globe, July 7, 2008

A Patch to Fix the Net

On Tuesday, major vendors released patches to address a flaw in the underpinnings of the Internet, in what researchers say is the largest synchronized security update in the history of the Web. Vendors and security researchers are hoping that their coordinated efforts will get the fix out to most of the systems that need it before attackers are able to identify the flaw and begin to exploit it. Attackers could use the flaw to control Internet traffic, potentially directing users to phishing sites or sites loaded with malicious software.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, July 10, 2008

Texting champ wins $50,000

A 20-year-old college student from Cleveland State University just won the $50,000 grand prize in a national texting competition held in New York this week. The winning text that Nathan Schwartz sent was, “Does everybody here know the alphabet? Let’s text. Here it goes … AbcDeFghiJKlmNoPQrStuvWXy & Z! Now I know my A-B-C’s, next time won’t you text with me?” Schwartz completed the text in 50 seconds with no mistakes.
Source: Marguerite Reardon, CNET’s Wireless Blog, July 10, 2008

Can’t find a parking spot? Check smartphone

The secret to finding the perfect parking spot in congested cities is usually just a matter of luck. But drivers here will get some help from an innocuous tab of plastic that will soon be glued to the streets. This fall, San Francisco will test 6,000 of its 24,000 metered parking spaces in the nation’s most ambitious trial of a wireless sensor network that will announce which of the spaces are free at any moment. Drivers will be alerted to empty parking places either by displays on street signs, or by looking at maps on screens of their smartphones.
Source: John Markoff, The New York Times, July 12, 2008


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