Another parody.


Check it out. You IM vark a question (my first question: “how do I IM?”) and a minute or three later, one of your friends (or their friends), IM’s you an answer.

It’s the emerging field of Social Search, and it could also work with email or text-messaging from your iPhone; but, as best I can tell, this particular service, Aardvark, does not yet do so. (Wouldn’t you think a site all about Asking Questions would have an FAQ section? I couldn’t find one, so I don’t know for sure.)

Rather than blast your question to everyone (“how do I get red wine stains out of my carpet?” “is an Amex platinum card worth paying for?” “who should I vote for in the city council primary?” “what’s in a vanilla egg cream?” “is my money safe at Fidelity?” “do you know a good dermatologist?”), Aardvark selects someone whom (a) it knows is online and (b) it thinks is likely to have a good answer (because it can figure out what kind of question you’re asking and knows the areas of expertise and commonalities of taste within your extended network) . . . and then sends the question. If the selected answerer is busy or not interested in answering, Aardvark goes on to the next best answerer. But within a few minutes, you’re likely to have an answer.

Google et al are best for objective information; social search, the theory goes, is best for conceptual and subjective search. Humans talking to humans. What a concept. (BTW: there’s no egg in a vanilla egg cream. Just vanilla syrup, selzer and a little milk. But Google could have told you that.)


Gary Diehl:Remember the Lumens: Many companies sell undersized ‘replacement’ CFL bulbs that produce significantly less light (Lumens) than the incandescents they are allegedly replacing. If you want the same light you have now, check the package of the incandescent your replacing at the store and buy a CFL with a matching Lumen rating. Forget the socket rating: People forget that you can actually have more light with CFL bulbs than you could ever have with Incandescents in the exact same fixture. I loved my matching 40 Watt bedroom lamps, but the room was barely bright enough to find the bed. I replaced the 40 Watt (500 Lumen) bulbs with a couple of 19 Watt (1200 Lumen) CFL bulbs. Now I have over twice the light at half the electricity cost. I upgraded the lights in a few other places around my home as well, and in every case I saved money and electricity. Rotate before recycling: Unlike incandescent bulbs which tend to go from full output to fully dead in the blink of an eye, CFL bulbs slowly dim with age. After enough years it tends to become noticeable. But don’t recycle them just yet. A bulb that has become dim in a 100 Watt fixture may be plenty bright in a lamp that normally uses a 60 or 75 Watt bulb.”


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