Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, March 26, 2021

Christi Sothers, a jewelry store on 42nd Street (if you consider something as hideous as shiny frog sculptures to be “jewelry”), sensibly maintains and promotes the website christisothers.com.

Of course, when I glanced at that URL in the store window yesterday while rushing by, I managed to interpret it not as “Christi Sothers dot com”, but as “Christ Is Others dot com”.

Frankly, I wouldn’t have made a mental note of it had I read it correctly. I was actually quite disappointed when I later called up the site and didn’t find a religious tract, since I was intrigued with the “Christ is others” concept, just on a surface level. If nothing else, I was hoping for a long-belated rebuttal to Jean-Paul Sartre’s “hell is other people” existentialist quip.

Even though Sartre provided something of a rebuttal himself:

…”hell is other people” has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations. But what I really mean is something totally different. I mean that if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because… when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves, …we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself someone else’s judgment always enters. Into whatever I feel within myself someone else’s judgment enters… But that does not at all mean that one cannot have relations with other people. It simply brings out the capital importance of all other people for each one of us. (From the Imago playbill)

So the ultimate lesson here: Christ is not to be found in a jewelry shop window on 42nd Street. And hell is other tacky frog sculptures.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/26/2009 04:56:35 PM
Category: Creative, Internet, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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The title above says it all, regarding my reaction to the prospect of human-edited “discovery sites” tailored toward those challenged by search engine-delivered information overload.

That question mark at the end is because I’m not really sure myself. Actually, AllMyFaves is an appealing-enough interface, with visual logos neatly categorized for quick recognition. If the point of Web navigation for research/information is to reduce the number of clicks before getting at what you want, then a discovery site that’s pre-handrolled accomplishes that quickly. It does what Google and the other search-algorithm shops spend tons of time and money trying to do: Produce “relevance” — albeit by severe reduction.

Of course, that severe reduction is the double-edged sword here. At root, the term “discovery site” is just a rebranding of the preloaded directory splash pages that ISPs pipe into residential browsers. The word “discovery” is less stodgy than “directory”, and positions better to counter “search”. All in all, a marketing exercise to make a Web 1.0 concept look competitive in a Web 2.0 world. And like anything, the extreme end of the abuse spectrum would be sites that tout themselves as “discovery” resources, but are nothing more than link farms.

But again, that’s not necessarily a losing bet. Discovery sites operate on the concept of a walled garden of trusted/reliable information sources, to reduce/eliminate/filter Web clutter; so does Facebook and most other social networks. Even the old-fashioned email channel does this, and successfully. It’s obviously a popular technique because it requires little or no customization from the enduser.

It all comes down to where most of the eyeballs spend most of their time. If discovery sites are refined to the point where people are convinced there’s significant time saved by hitting them first, versus Google or any other search engine, then the advertising will follow, and search becomes relegated to a more specialized second-tier Web navigation tool. To counter that, search engines will be motivated to refine not only their results, but also their presentation, in order to remain appealing to the audience. This might be the beginning of a long evolution in that department.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/26/2009 02:52:20 PM
Category: Internet
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From this story about a newly-discovered 19th-Century photo of New York City (actually a daguerreotype), an interesting little historical tidbit about Manhattan’s early road network, before Gotham absorbed the entire island:

As the Sotheby’s picture predates the laying out of Gotham’s numbered cross streets, the exact location is unknown, but a notation on the back, signed by “L.B.,” identifies it as on “the main road… called a continuation of Broadway.”

[Sotheby's curator of photographs Denise] Bethel says that was a term used by city directories of the day for the Bloomingdale Road, laid out in 1703 as one of two main north-south arteries in early Manhattan — the Boston Road, now Park Avenue, being the other. Bloomingdale was an Anglicized version of the Dutch Bloemendale, as the Upper West Side was once known.

The road cut at times through hilly terrain, now harder to see due to urban expansion of the Upper West Side, noted today for cultural institutions like Lincoln Center and Columbia University as well as gourmet grocery stores, hip restaurants and trendy boutiques.

Both roads, of course, eventually led to Harlem — or Nieuw Haarlem, as the rural community was originally known.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/26/2009 11:24:57 AM
Category: History, New Yorkin', Photography
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