The New York Times’ dialect map can’t figure me out

My first semester of college, one of the copy editors for the student newspaper either minored in linguistics or just enjoyed the subject. He could peg where all of us were from–except me.

The New York Timesinteractive dialect map┬ástruggled with me too. I’ve taken the test five times, and it managed to give me a map just once. Read more

CISPA is trying to solve a legitimate problem

I read yet another anti-CISPA piece today. I’m not comfortable trying to read it and decide whether it’s a good or bad piece of legislation, but I do understand the problem it’s trying to solve.

Those who have tried to paint CISPA as the new SOPA or PIPA are misunderstanding the problem CISPA is trying to solve. CISPA isn’t supposed to be about stopping the scourge of teenaged boys using the Internet to copy music and movies. It’s actually chasing something nefarious.

Let me give you an example.
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On content farms

It looks like Google has taken action against content farms, low-quality sites that publish articles about anything and everything quickly, and try to make money from the ads.

I can’t tell yet if this has really affected my traffic any–my traffic can drop or jump 20 percent on a daily basis for no apparent reason. But I support the change.
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Misspelling for profit (or lack of it)

I read an interesting story today on several sites, quoting an article that originally appeared in the New York Times about misspellings on eBay and people who get bitten by them–and others who exploit them. (This particular link is registration-free.)

Executive summary: A lot of people can’t spell, and that means items sell for much lower prices than they would otherwise, if they attract any interest at all (one has to be able to find them, after all).

Funny how there’s little demand for “Compact Laptops.” Less yet for “Compact Labtops.” (Why would I want a small hat for a Labrador?)

Some people are afraid their secret’s out now, but I suspect there are more people on eBay than there are who regularly read the NYT. Fewer still will try it. Fewer still still will remember it for more than a couple of weeks.

But it gives me an idea. Is there such thing as a dictionary of common misspellings? Not commonly misspelled words, but common misspellings? Imagine plugging that into a piece of software that searches eBay.

I think I need to patent that.

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