Archive for February, 2007

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Opening the Gates of Bessed

February 28, 2007

In the spirit of social media and a wikified world, I’ve been looking for ways to open Bessed up to contributors without completely giving away the keys to the castle.  In other words, we’d like people to contribute their ideas of the best sites for topics/keyword searches, but we want enough editorial control that it doesn’t hurt the usefulness of the site.  And, having others contribute obviously allows us to build on the number of searches we cover much more quickly.

A possibility is to actually open up a secondary domain, call it the Bessed Scratchpad or something like that, and give anyone interested the ability to make a short list of links on a topic/keyword phrase of their choosing and publish it to that site, and then take the best of those contributions into the Bessed.com domain.  I’m sure many Webmasters and people interested in certain subjects would be interested in doing this.

The only thing that worries me is that allowing these contributions to publish to a different domain could then make it confusing as to what’s what with Bessed.  People may not understand why the secondary domain exists.  It is possible with WordPress to let people write a topic list and save it without it actually being published, so that might be a way to make sure that only what passes muster sees the light of day on Bessed.

Alternately, we could have people simply e-mail us lists or even have them publish them to their own blogs and invite us us to incorporate them into Bessed.

Not sure how to go about this, but we definitely want to get there.  If you have any thoughts on the best way to make user contributions a reality, I’d appreciate it.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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Book Review: Need More Love by Aline Kominsky Crumb

February 28, 2007

In what could best be described as a mixed-media autobiography, underground comic author Aline Kominsky Crumb pieces together her real-life comics, written text, interviews, paintings and photographs to capture a life less ordinary in Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir.  From chronicling her warring parents and emotionally abusive father (“you can’t shine shit” he says of her use of makeup as a teen) to her sexually promiscuous early adulthood (which included getting pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption) to her non-traditional 30-plus year marriage to legendary comic writer R. Crumb (Fritz the Cat, Mister Natural), Aline Kominsky Crumb has plenty of material to fill the book’s 400+ pages.

Kominsky Crumb’s childhood on Long Island obviously resonates deeply with her, as multiple comics discuss her father’s poor treatment of her and his questionable business enterprises that seem to have included mob connections.  While she continually draws herself as ugly and fat in these comics, pictures interspersed throughout show her to be a cute, normal girl quite unlike that of her imagination.  Her father’s death from cancer at 42 adds to the strange dynamics of her memories.

An early marriage, followed by a a move to Arizona, followed by an early divorce lead to Aline Kominsky’s San Francisco advenure, where she falls in with a group of women chronicling their experiences through comics. Kominsky becomes part of the scene and meets R. Crumb during this period. Her relationship with him strains her relations with the women authors, as R. Crumb (and perhaps men in general) are seen as at best misogynist and at worst the enemy. Aline’s not interested in going that route.

In many ways, Aline Kominsky and R. Crumb’s life together from that point is traditional storybook, living out in the country, having a daughter—if it wasn’t for that pesky open-marriage thing.  She talks about or alludes to multiple affairs on both sides of the ledger that remind you the marriage isn’t quite as traditional as it appears on its face.  In fact, she describes having a “second husband” in France (where she and R. Crumb live) and his dalliances when he returns to the United States for business reasons. Well, you wouldn’t expect underground artists to be completely normal, would you?

Need More Love is an interesting ride for any reader, but will especially appeal to fans of R. Crumb and/or Aline or graphic novel fans in general. In addition to the many photos, you’ll also get plenty of Aline’s solo work and many of the combination comics that the husband-wife team created together.  (Aline says R. Crumb fans complained about her artwork when put up against his in these collaborations.)  But don’t be surprised if your own life seems a bit dull in comparison.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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On Wikipedia, No One Knows You’re A Dog

February 28, 2007

Via the Freakonomics blog, a New Yorker story from last year on Wikipedia included a couple of paragraphs about an editor named Essjay who claimed to be “a tenured professor of religion at a private university” with “a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon law.” Turns out Essjay is a 24-year-old guy with no advanced degrees and no teaching background. He now works for Jimmy Wales’ for-profit Wikia.

To me, things like this don’t really take away from Wikipedia—it’s still very useful for most bits of information you wat to know or for background on a subject. You just have to be sure you’re not taking anything there as complete fact, or that you cross-reference a fact if it’s something that’s really important—such as a statistic that you’d use in a report for example.

On the other hand, for a site that aims to be all about transparency, Wikipedia does allow its administrators to simply make up information about themselves, and, since they’re allowed to be anonymous, no one has the ability to edit their self-written biographies in the way they have the ability to edit everything else on Wikipedia. That’s weird, huh?

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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Startupping

February 28, 2007

Came across a new hub today for those interested in business startups from whatever angle.  It is known, fittingly enough, as Startupping.  And it has startupped with some interesting quotes from former of current startup heads about their smartest and dumbest moves.

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Ask the Wizard

February 20, 2007

I’ve already forgotten where I read about it, but I found the blog of Dick Costello, the founder of FeedBurner (which does something with blog feeds), and it’s really good. It’s especially good if you are a startup trying to understand the whole angel/venture capital game, so take a look if that’s you.

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Book Review: What A Party! By Terry McAuliffe

February 20, 2007

In 2004 I was a delegate for John Kerry and attended the Democratic National Convention. Having never been particularly active politically, it was strange to suddenly be in a big arena, sitting 20 feet away while Bill Clinton spoke and jumping up and down waving maniacally the latest sign they’d just put in our hands, so as to look pumped up for the TV cameras.  While I thought it was important, it also felt kind of silly.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chairman at the time has just released a new book, What A Party!, that validates the opinion I had—politics is important and silly at the same time.

McAuliffe traces his political roots back to his childhood in Syracuse, where his dad was a mainstay in local Democratic circles. And once he became an adult, it wasn’t long before McAuliffe got into the game, but on a national level, riding on Air Force One with President Jimmy Carter while in his early 20s.  How did he rise so fast? McAuliffe knew how to bring in the bucks.  His fundraising prowess put him in demand in Democratic circles. McAuliffe was willing to do what it took to get the dough, from wrestling an alligator to a quick karaoke tune.

Of course after those heady days on Air Force One, it would be a while before Democrats would be in the seat of power, but McAuliffe’s role in raising cash for Bill Clinton gave him a front row seat for an eventful presidency.  It’s clear that McAuliffe has a huge amount of affection for the Clintons, and he makes no apologies for it, so don’t expect much juicy stuff there. Still, Bill Clinton holds so much fascination for so many that it’s interesting to hear McAuliffe’s stories about their time together.

As you might imagine, McAuliffe doesn’t have much bad to say about anyone on the Democratic side, but he’s not shy about being the hero of the anti-Republican brigade, offering a number of stories that portray him as the fearless pit bull when other Democrats were weak. One of his few shots at the Dems comes when he expresses his dismay at the John Kerry campaign in 2004, including their refusal to attack George W. Bush at the convention and other missteps. He also portrays Kerry as being somewhat removed from what his campaign managers were even doing.

What A Party! offers plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff that Democrats will enjoy, but it is marred somewhat by McAuliffe’s high opinion of himself.  This is not a man who has a problem with self-love, and at times it is grating to listen to him tell us of his heroism in the face of this or that calamity. On the other hand, McAuliffe’s joy in doing his job, along with his oft-stated amazement at how far the Syracuse kid had come, makes it easier to not hold it against him. And it does sound like a pretty amazing life (although not exactly conducive to being an active father to his five children).

If you’re a diehard Dem or a Clinton fan, pick it up.  If not, you can expect Terry McAuliffe at your door any day to tell you the error of your ways.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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My TurboTax Rap

February 20, 2007

I read about this TurboTax contest on the Church of the Customer blog. It’s a contest where you make up a rap song about TurboTax and then make a video of yourself rapping it. Vanilla Ice is the spokesperson for the contest, and who doesn’t love Vanilla Ice?

I’m not planning on videotaping myself rapping, but I’ve decided to lay down a few rhymes to help out my homies who love to entertain but don’t have the mad skillz as writers. All y’all can feel free to use these ill rhymes to win you the dope prize & chill with my man ‘Nilla.

Here goes…

Awww, yeah….

You ain’t Turbotaxin’?

Maaaannnn, you’d be relaxin

down there poolside wif a drink in yo hand

instead a sittin inna office with a pasty white accountant

bitin yer nails while he’s goin through a mountain

of papers that show you ain’t got no dough

Conjunction junction

What’s a deduction?

My man TurboTax don’t miss a trick

Dependents? Yeah, I got ’em, what’s it to you?

You mean they givin’ me money back for sweet Sarah Sue?

Aw, TurboTax, you saved my ass

From the IRS tryin to take my pants

And my shirt and my shoes and my undies, too

TurboTax, my brotha, I owe it all to you.

Did I tell you I had it goin’ on? I’m cookin’ MCs like a pound of bacon.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.