Monday, December 03, 2007

The What Medal?

It's common in popular writing to use the Nobel Prize as a moniker for acts of genius, usually in a sarcastic way (“that certainly won't earn him a Nobel prize”). So it was with some shock that I saw an article today in the magazine (aimed, naturally, at Chief Financial Officers) the following paragraph:

When it comes to rating the technological progress of office equipment, the telephone probably runs a close second to the stapler. Walk in to almost any place of business and you'll see the same rectangular boxes companies have been using for years. The only change has been a proliferation of blinking lights. If this qualifies as advanced technology, then the inventor of Lite-Brite deserves a Fields medal.

Curiously, I could have sworn that the print version (which I leafed through at a restaurant) said “Fields medal”, but the on-line version says “Fields metal”.

I realize financial folks are often quants, but it's still a curious reference.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scribd or Cribd?

Scribd is a new document-sharing Web site.

Does that immediately remind you of something? Where did the content for the music-sharing networks come from?

Sure enough, the reason I found Scribd is because I was searching on a phrase, found a hit on Scribd, and realized it was in an uploaded copy of my book. Needless to say I didn't upload it, nor did I authorize it.

You would think the site would take real precautions to validate uploaded content. But they don't seem to (I pretty quickly found other copyrighted content). This has got to be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

What really curdles my cream is Scribd's copyright handling:

Please note that Scribd may, at our discretion, send a copy of such notices to a third-party for publication. As such, your letter (with personal information removed) may be forwarded to Chilling Effects ( for publication.

How's that again? Chilling Effects was created to protect fair use, fan fiction, parodies, and the like. Of course, you might say, some of the people writing Scribd really are nasty or stupid lawyers (I've received such email once—a story for another day). But these are hardly the people who care about Chilling Effects, either.