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Is Piano Chat Roulete Guy Really Ben Folds?

Is this guy Ben Folds in disguise?

Debbie said it was from the start, but I’m not so sure. What do you think?

This Week in This Week in Tech: Genius

I’ve always had a ton of ideas, you know that.

Mentioned previously, I had the idea for a podcast about the best podcast in the world — Leo Laporte’s this WEEK in TECH. It’d be pretty meta, chatting about the actual podcast, the panelists and their takes on the tech news of the week.

Coincidentally, this was right around the time that my friend Noah Wolfe was looking to launch a D.C.-based tech podcast, which eventually became Tech Blab, featuring myself, Dave Weinberg and Noah.

So in addition to Tech Blab, Noah and I launched TWiTWiT — aka this WEEK in this WEEK in TECH.

It’s a short (5-9 minute) podcast, where we go back and forth with thoughts on this week’s episode and talk about our favorite panelists. (His is Leo, mine is obviously John C. Dvorak).

We’ve done 10 episodes so far, but the real pickup is just beginning.

Last week, Jason Calacanis — Internet entrepreneur known for Engadget, Mahalo, TechCrunch50 and often a panelist on TWiT — sent out this tweet to his 80,000+ followers:

GENIUS: This Week in This Week in Tech. The show about the show This Week in Tech! #twit

That gave us a nice pickup, both in downloads and subscriber numbers. But Calacanis wasn’t done, sending out this tweet a week later:

Listening to “this WEEK in this WEEK in TECH” brilliant! @leolaporte #twit #twist #oaf #facebook #wow

He’s timed both of these tweets perfectly, driving people to subscribe the day that we record the show, just in time to deliver the new episode the next day.

While we’re still waiting for Leo to directly say something on the air about us (hopefully the next time Calacanis is on he’ll bring it up), it’s always nice to hear that your idea (and of course the execution — Noah does all the hard work editing and posting) is both genius and brilliant.

Have you subscribed to TWiTWiT yet?

If Redbox is This Bad, It’s Got to Be Good

I love Redbox.

It’s the most convenient way to watch a movie, on a whim, without getting into any long-term contracts or recurring fees and at a great price. They even have an iPhone app for reserving movies before you go to pick them up.

Unfortunately, the movie studios hate Redbox. It’s too cheap. We don’t make any money off of it. It makes DVDs worth less.

Just how bad is Redbox for the movie studios? It’s going to destroy the entertainment industry, says a new report (via NewTeeVee).

This loss in revenue will lead to a slowdown in movie production, crops will wilt, the earth will turn to salt, etc. The study says that Redbox is disrupting the home video industry in four ways:

  • DVD sales are cannibalized
  • Customers will want lower rental prices from other outlets
  • The perceived value of movies will be harmed
  • Redbox’s sale of discs into the aftermarket conflicts with other retail channels

Redbox’s kiosks also will send shock waves throughout the industry and could lead to the loss of 9,280 jobs, $35.4 million in contributions to health and welfare funds being cut, and a reduction of $30 million in tax revenue.

What a load of bullshit. I’m not even going to explain why these accusations are totally off-base. The real story here is that, time and time again, the entertainment industry is too busy fighting the last fight and looking for a scapegoat for its problems.

There’s a reason why Redbox is so popular — it’s cheap and convenient. But it’s a business model that will only last for so long. Look at Netflix; they know that DVDs will become the minority and Internet streaming will become the norm.

Netflix is looking to the future. Redbox, I’m sure, is too. So why are the movie studios always stuck in the past?

When it is Right to Tell Someone They’re Wrong?

Being agreeable is good thing, right?

It’s easier to hold a conversation, share your thoughts and grow relationships with agreeable people. And agreeable people are nicer, more helpful and caring than people who like to argue.

So it’s easy to see why we’re taught to be agreeable, even if it means we have to agree to disagree.

But that doesn’t always work, like when agreeing comes at expense of the truth.

Today, I was given a lesson on some Web usability best practices that were 100% wrong. I mean, I know this — I study usability and have gone to trainings on it. And it wasn’t just one mistake, either, it was two big mistakes that contribute to failure, not success.

But even though I knew better, I didn’t say anything. It just wasn’t worth it. I thought about saying something, though, but there was really no upside to it.

I may not be a totally agreeable person, at least according to Wikipedia and my predictive index. Read this:

Jason is an independent and individualistic person, strong-minded and determined. Venturesome, he will stick his neck out and take responsibility for risks when he believes he is right. He finds the challenge of new problems and new ventures stimulating, and responds to them with action. He has a lot of confidence in himself, his own knowledge, ability and decisions.

I don’t know if that makes me egotistical, or just confident, or what — my PI also says I value my own “ideas, judgments, and opinions more than he does those of most other people” — but it got me thinking: when is it right to tell someone they’re wrong?

Is ignorance really bliss? Does the truth matter?

Let me know what you think in a comment.

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Who Fact Checks the Fact Checkers?

Why did the Associated Press, an organization that recently laid off dozens of employees, assign 11 staffers to fact check Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue?

Is it because Palin is a big, fat liar? Is it liberal bias? Or is it because the AP has nothing better to do?

The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. But this is an unprecedented fact check for a woman who, well, has never held national office and most Americans couldn’t name 2 years ago. (Then again, the same exact thing could have been said about this guy, seen at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.)

Here’s what Palin had to say on her Facebook page:

Imagine that – 11 AP reporters dedicating time and resources to tearing up the book, instead of using the time and resources to “fact check” what’s going on with Sheik Mohammed’s trial, Pelosi’s health care takeover costs, Hasan’s associations, etc. Amazing.

So when the AP uses so many resources to fact check Palin’s book, it’s only fair that the AP’s fact check is fact checked.

Enter the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).

Not normally known to be friendly to Republicans and conservatives, the CJR has put together a great fact check of the AP’s fact check. It’s available here.

Among the worst offenders?

PALIN: “Was it ambition? I didn’t think so. Ambition drives; purpose beckons.” Throughout the book, Palin cites altruistic reasons for running for office, and for leaving early as Alaska governor.

THE FACTS: Few politicians own up to wanting high office for the power and prestige of it, and in this respect, Palin fits the conventional mold. But “Going Rogue” has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto, the requisite autobiography of the future candidate.

Why is this here, other than to sneak in a line about how the memoir is really a campaign autobiography, and a dig at Palin for being motivated by the same things almost all politicians are motivated by? The quote above is self-serving boilerplate, just what you’d expect from a politician’s book. It makes no factual claims, and there’s nothing there that warrants checking.

Major props to the CJR for calling out an unfair article, especially when there has been so much conflicting and misinformation about Palin (some hers, some others). Facts deal in the truth, not opinion. The AP’s fact check obviously included the latter.

Unfortunately, in a society with access to unlimited information, the truth is often the first thing to go.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

© Jason Unger. A Digital Ink Production.