Friday, July 29, 2005

Cellphedia Phever

Couldn’t resist the corny title, but a lot of the current content of Cellphedia registers at the corny level. That aside, the idea behind cellphedia really taps into the fast emerging world of the “always on” internet described by Howard Rheingold. Basically, Cellphedia claims to be the first “Ubiquitous Social Encyclopedia” and comprises an internet-based archive that is built via mobile phone text messages. The archive is a set of questions and their answers (even worng answers, but answers nonetheless) that are organized according to pre-set categories, and contributed by registered members. The posting process begins with members sending questions to everyone registered for cellphedia via text messaging, and then the first person to respond with a text-messaged answer is the "winner" (they accrue points and their response os posted to the archive, along with the question).

So far, the facts being shared on cellphedia aren’t exactly what you’d call ‘knowledge’ in any deep sense (e.g., Q: what is a limpet? A: a gastropod, mollusk), but I did learn some interesting things, like, the second most popular bridge in the US to commit suicide from is the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, where to find serious information on time travel, and how to make Long Island Iced Tea (which, incidentally, doesn’t contain a skerrick of tea).

I can see some potential in Cellphedia for some nice social activism and advocacy (e.g., one question posed by a member reads: “does it seem possible that adhd might be caused by the same metal mechanism of constant anxiety?” And the answer is: “adhd is caused by drug companies that want to sell ritalin to kids”). Nice.

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