Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Long March

For teachers and students, March is one of the most dreaded months on the calendar. People in the "time is money" corporate world might take issue with their complaint, but for those in education (except at universities) March means an endless month of five-day work weeks: no mid-winter or spring break weeks, not even a long holiday weekend to look forward to.

Yet, as a member of the corporate citizenship, in a marketing role no less, I have to bring a whole new outlook to events that dot my calendar: What’s the next big date to talk up? While March ranks low compared to other months like December, there are a few standouts that make this month newsworthy. Take St. Patrick’s Day, the vernal equinox and let’s not forget March Madness.

A stretch? Perhaps, but did garner some press mentions for the events, nonetheless. The Carroll County Times and Detroit Free Press borrowed some St. Patty’s Day trivia from the answer engine, a blog pointed to for info on spring, while the Charlotte Observer complimented the sports stats on the college basketball AnswerPage.

Speaking of compliments, Brainboost received one from Indy Star reporter Erika Smith. She tells readers to stop by the next time they have a nagging “Why” question.

OK — here’s two I’ve been wondering about lately: Why doesn’t big business take spring break? And why is the Atlantic 10 conference so bad?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Check and double check, all at

We’ve all heard the cautionary tales that Wikipedia isn’t as accurate as some would have you believe. Scores of people abuse the openness of the system to insert their bias, promote false claims or just exact revenge.

Tom Taulli, a Wikipedia user, understands these pitfalls, and offers a solution: check your results against In a blog post called “Wikipedia’s false promise,” Taulli states:

“I always double-check things. For example, a good source for this is, which licenses its content from well-established content sources.”

Let’s just chalk this up to better late than never: NYMag just picked up on the fact that the NYTimes website has AnswerTips capability. The author, Tayt Harlin, crows about the simplicity of the feature, but can’t understand why more people don’t know about this service (we don’t either). Must be why this was filed under the headline, “Point, Click and Tell No One.”

Did you know that March is Caffeine Awareness Month? Unfortunately, it is not an event Starbucks will be celebrating. It’s more of a crusade to raise awareness against the dangers of everyone’s favorite morning upper. Gary Puleo protested by touting some of the benefits of caffeine: it’s been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cell damage in some studies, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t cause high blood pressure. One thing that caffeine can’t do: cure a hangover. That tip came courtesy of

Need to decode some geek speak? Figure out just exactly what is comfort food? Why you’re being charged VAT? Or whether your second cousin is technically your third cousin? One place gets journalists the answers to these questions and more …

Monday, March 5, 2007

Lists, American Idol and TCEA Fans

WikiAnswers and AnswerTips continue to garner press a week after their initial coming-out. Barbara Quint wrote a piece early in the week on both features in a piece for InfoToday. The article highlights some of the positive feedback the tool has received, as well as some of the questions tools like AnswerTips raise for blog publishers. also made the cut on a couple of lists this week. In the Pensacola Journal, reporter Kate Peabody made a roundup of five hot sites on the web. was listed second with this description:

Want fast facts? This free Internet site has it all. If you've got the questions, they'll most likely have the answers. Not only can you get help on topics such as health, technology and business, the site is user-friendly and a great resource tool for school work. I've used it about a dozen times to help my son with his homework and special projects

Then, made an appearance on a list of 27 favorite Firefox add-ons.

Something to keep your eye on … hakia, a search engine, recently announced that it created an American Idol Search Guide. Putting your opinion of the singing reality show aside, it is interesting to note that in the press release hakia compared their service to that of Wikipedia. The company says:

Unlike Wikipedia or, hakia Galleries(TM) presents pure Web search results which are neither edited by hakia, nor by the visitors.”

After visiting the site, I can see this search engine differentiates itself by categorizing, but it still just looks like links to me.

After attending the TCEA trade show, one attendee decided to post a blog about a couple of interesting companies exhibiting: Google and The blogger notes that comparatively one company is a “giant” and the other “a flea,” but sometimes bigger isn’t always better.