The Guardian is using Twitter as a way of publicising its efforts to bring an up to date viewpoint on swine flu. It is taking information from a number of sources:
We’re listing every case, as it’s reported, either by the World Health Organisation, the US Centers for Disease Control or the mainstream press wires and reports. There are some caveats: not all of these cases have been confirmed as swine flu in the lab; the dates in the spread sheet are mostly the dates they have been reported in the media, not the dates reported to the medical authorities. But as this progresses, we will try to do more with this and get more info – and any ideas, let us know.
This moderated but open form of journalism is how things are progressing at the Guardian…
We’ve cross-referenced these figures repeatedly – let us know if you would like to see anything else
…and seems to be more accurate than the pure crowdsourced material alone. For example, returning to my first Google Map source of information , it is not currently showing any cases in New Zealand:
The Guardian’s figures show New Zealand as having 44 suspected cases, 16 lab confirmed cases, with 1 case withdrawn. On their visualisation shows it as:
… although updating the graphic is a manual process rather than automatic…
The data here is being updated at a faster rate than the interactive graphic – so keep refreshing the page for latest figures.
… so for the most up to date view you have to do the most journalistic of practices and look at the source material.
Google offers another way to look at the swine flu outbreak, using Google.org’s Flu Trends site. They look at the correlation between the number of searches carried out in relation to flu and actual flu activity. This appears to be pretty reliable:
They gave now done an initial rough look at the results for Mexico:
For the moment this may offer a more reassuring view of the situation, although in this case may not be as reliable as usual – Google qualify their findings:
We’ve created experimental estimates of flu activity in Mexico using aggregated search data. Unlike Google Flu Trends for U.S., this data has not been validated against confirmed cases of flu. After conferring with US and Mexican health officials, we’ve decided to share these initial results to provide additional information on the evolving epidemic.
The other (more realistic?) view: WHO fears pandemic is ‘imminent’
Everyone (apparently) is now on Twitter, so I’ve been signed up and using it for a couple of weeks. A lot of it can be inane crap, but I wanted to follow a few people to see what the fuss was about. I normally use it to get links to interesting stories. The swine flu that is breaking out in Mexico and spreading around the world is the first news item I’ve been following:
It is pretty good at getting things in real time, as long as you can judge for yourself what you think may be realible:
The links can be very interesting, such as this interactive Google Map to track the cases of swine flu:
Also, this is the article recommended by Tim O’Reilly in the image above: A few comments on pandemic influenza
Looks like Twitter can be good for getting a feel of how things are progressing as they are happening. The Guardian used this as a way of covering the G20 summit demonstrations in London – maybe it is another possible tool available to journalists, adding depth to a properly written finished, considered article. Maybe the world-at-large using Twitter collectively can do just as good a job as journalists (check out Jay Rosen’s views here.)
Shortly after posting about the videos from Tim O’Reilly and Tim Berners-Lee the latest issue of Nodalities came through the door. The main article is about how developers at O’Reilly (the company) have used some of the principles of the semantic web to help them tidy up their book information and become more responsive to the needs of the business. I can’t say I understand it all, but it is interesting stuff.
• Nodalities: Linking Data and Semantics at O’Reilly (downloads the pdf of the latest issue)
• Semantic Universe: O’Reilly Media Joins the Semantic Web
The launch issue of the UK version of Wired magazine is out. I was a subscriber to the US version until recently, but refused to renew because they always delivered the magazine incredibly late (the whole of the next issue was available on the web before I got the one I was waiting for in the post) and at $70/year I expected to be treated like royalty – Americans get it for $10/yr. So I was glad when I found out that the UK version was coming out soon. (There was a previous incarnation in the mid 90s, but lets not get petty…)
I’ve subscribed as it is only £2 an issue and they managed to get me a copy of this issue. The look remains pretty much the same, which means that stories have some individual character and pages are clear but overall you do feel like you’ve been accosted by the design department. The front cover is a bit too “busy”, but the biggest culprit is:
I like that each section (start, fetish, play, test) has a front page to help navigate around – this is the launch issue, so is quite thick, a healthy 180+ pages. I doubt it will be able to maintain that size regularly (the American version is always very thin at the beginning of the year and gets fatter towards Christmas – I’m generally the reverse.) One of the best things for me is the feel of the cover, the pages, the vibrant colours – I’ve always loved that, and it is something a website can’t emulate.
They have done a good job of balancing stories that have previously appeared in US Wired – the excellent Cowboys of the Deep and the re-named Formula that brought down the global economy – and more UK-specific stories such as The man who saved the BBC and The people who really run Britain. I suggest Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany’s Secret Police as an older piece that would fit nicely into the UK version.
This is where the magazine will ultimately be judged – to justify the UK edition there has to be a distinct UK and European focus (or even just anywhere-that-is-not-the-US.) The worst case scenario would be that it would be hard to find the US version in newsagents and we would have to live with knowing that we are being palmed off with a sub-par knock-off of the real thing. I don’t think that is likely though – I’d like to be spoiled with both. Whatever happens, we still have wired.com (as essential as ever) – and I’d like to think that wired.co.uk will also be riveting stuff. Talking of knock-offs, I wish they’d just copied the styling of the original site as the UK version is just a bit too crowded. What will it be like when there is a lot more content, blogs and more?
Still, a great start – long may it continue…
The Web 2.0 Expo has recently finished and there were a number of interesting talks made available online, in particular Tim O’Reilly covering a number of ideas:
Tim Berners-Lee has been talking linked data at TED:
I found this book when browsing round a second hand book shop in a small town in Scotland, at the beginning of a few days off.
This was one of Len Deighton’s books I’d not tracked down – I now have a number of his books at home waiting to be read – and with some time on my hands I dived in. The book is quite short at 240 (yellowing, faded) pages, with a pretty straight forward setup – a Russian scientist defects so that he can continue his work searching for extra-terrestrial life. The US and British secret services have their own agenda, using him to find out who is leaking information to the Russkies.
The book is written in the first person, and is another in the series of books featuring Deighton’s nameless hero (called Harry Palmer in the Michael Caine films such as Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin.) Despite the excellent reviews (see the back cover) there’s something that has never quite clicked for me with the character, even in the earlier books. The book doesn’t deserve the praise – its no classic. There is a lot of great dialogue between characters, and an exciting car chase through the desert, but they are highlights not matched by the rest of the book.
For me the later Bernard Samson trilogies are a lot better – they are often absolutely stunning. I reviewed some of them on my last incarnation of a website – check them out.
Deighton seems to be largely overlooked these days and it is a real shame. One day he will make a comeback, when people realise that old fashioned espionage brings adventure that modern day thrillers can only dream about.
This is an episode of the always interesting In Business radio programme / podcast. This episode is worth listening to in its entirety as it deals with the impact of the financial crisis on the countries of continental Europe. It’s interesting for once to hear how others are being affected – unemployment rising to dangerously high levels in Spain, Ireland being pounded after the property boom came to an abrupt end, and how Hungary deals with a tarnished reputation after receiving a $15bn IMF loan – it is determined to reduce its national debt so that it meets Eurozone targets rather than going on a massive government spending binge. Not all countries are taking the same action, and UK -specific news doesn’t reflect this