T-Shirt search engines tag and help you find shirt designs

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/09/01/the-vaynerchucks-launch-t-shirt-search-engine-pleasedressme/

Sounds silly, right?  Why would you need an entire search engine devoted to t-shirts?  However, clothing falls into that category of items that are plentiful and searchable online, yet difficult to search on for meaningful (visual) characteristics.

This new search engine, PleaseDressMe, was recently launched.  It searches some of the top t-shirt websites and tags them with useful, more general or esoteric keywords, such as “sarcasm”, “politics”, or “typography”.  Clothing is a good example of something that is easy to find when you’re not looking for it, but much more difficult to search precisely on concepts, or characteristics like fabric or sleeve length.  This search engine aims to make it easier for people to find comprehensive results of the kinds of t-shirts they’re looking for without having to visit sites individually or wade through pages of non-product google search results.

The TechCrunch article also has several comments pointing to Teenormous, a similar search engine with many more shirts indexed.

Lecture: CONTROLLED NAMES AND VOCABULARIES

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Pensieve, Delicious and “trails”

About a month ago, IBM published a press release about a project for personal memory organization called “Pensieve“.  There are a lot of similarities to MyLifeBits — its focus is on recording disparate types of information (business cards, photographs, timestamps, etc.) and then associating them together in the data store to ease retrieval.

That associative quality reminds me a lot of Vannevar Bush’s “trails”.  The reader wants to connect several documents together (or have it done automatically) so that they can be easily retrieved together later.  I can’t wait for this sort of technology to be commonplace (though I wonder if it will need to be done with a monolithic application like MyLifeBits or PENSIEVE rather than a series of integrated applications like Flickr, Delicious, GMail, etc.).

And just finding this link for this blog posts gives an example of why I’d like this “associative” information organizer.  Using delicious (a bookmark organizer that I’d heartily recommend to all of you), I wanted to connect the MyLifeBits link and the Pensieve link since there was such an explicit comparison there.  But delicious doesn’t provide functionality for explicit connections (Vannevar Bush’s trails are still lacking, even for something as simple as links in a single service).  Instead I’m forced to awkwardly create a unique tag (“cPensieve”) for the connection between them (that won’t recall lots of Harry Potter links as well).  So to see all the projects I’d like to compare to MyLifeBits (there’s another called Daytum that’s also worth looking at), you can go to this link: http://delicious.com/npdoty/cPensieve

(This should fit into the next lecture, or whenever we talk about Vannevar Bush and MyLifeBits.)

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Classifying Terrorism

From: Terror Watchlist is “Imploding,” Legislator Says

According to a letter from the chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, the Terrorist Identites Datamart Enviornment (TIDE), commonly known as the Terror Watch List, is failing miserably. In theory, the list should take the form of a  database that accepts information from a number of government organizations such as the FBI, CIA and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). It should accept and classify that information in the database, and then allow authorized organizations to query that information.

Unfortunately, the letter says, the database can’t keep up with the data that is being submitted for classification, nor can queries be accurately done on the information already in the system. Furthermore, it lacks the capability to do fuzzy searches, so if my name is on the watchlist, it’s not a big deal because I can just travel under my middle name and get right by. The letter says that the database consists of “463 separate tables, 295 of which are undocumented.” The only way to query it is via SQL commands.

From the lecture: How do people search for information, How can we organize information, What is meaning? Where is meaning? Defining what something means.

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