Thursday, July 23, 2009

Idle Hands are the Devil's Playthings

If you were a cartoon character, which cartoon character would you be?
If you were a Dunkin donut, which Dunkin donut would you be?
If you were one of the Seven Seas, which Sea would you be?
If you were an disContinued Car, which disContinued Car would you be?
If you were a Failed Financial Firm which Failed Financial Firm would you be?
If all the brain cycles spun on these fantasies could be synchronized, what real problems could be solved?

This isn't an entirely whimsical question. Luis von Ahn, a professor at Carnegie Mellon invented the "captcha" used to separate humans from "bots" on web sites. He realized that the uniquely human ability to "fill in the gaps" could be used to solve real problems, like correcting OCR errors.

On the other hand, a friend recently suggested that Facebook quizzes may serve another purpose - collecting valuable profile information to sell to 3rd parties. After all, that which is rendered to Facebook, belongs to Facebook.

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