Friday, January 25, 2008

Information on the Net: Instant, and everlasting

Yesterday I blogged about the race to be first with news on the Internet.  And today I'm blogging about how news on the Internet never stops being "news."   So Internet news is produced in an instant, but has perpetual life.

Today I received an email from my sister, with a great subject header:  


This email had been widely circulated several times in the past day by sophisticated people, so I figured its story may actually be true.  And indeed it was;  a local TV news story showing that children are not awakened by conventional smoke alarms.  I can't say this surprised me; my younger brothers would have slept through a meteor crashing into our house.  But it wasn't surprise that set this email trail in motion.  It was the realization that our kids were vulnerable to something  - particularly since we use young teens as sitters - and we hadn't done anything about it.

But the story also offered hope - a prototype in early development that lets a parent record a familiar voice calmly saying "wake up, get out of bed" into a smoke alarm. And my sister wants to know when it hits the market.

An hour later, she's learning  that it is available.  Now.   Here.  And they even have a way to train your dog to respond to the smoke alarm.

How did the development of this product conclude so quickly ?  Because the "news" story is from February 2004.  And indeed the knowledge base that informed this story is at least 25 years old.

And yet a slew of intelligent, informed and caring parents was unaware of it, as they had not seen the original news report, which appeared but once, or any of several other reports that have appeared - once each - in recent years.  But they did learn it because on the Internet, news lives forever, and an email trail that starts in 2004 continues to circulate four years later, albeit without any updated information appended to it.  

At findingDulcinea, we unearth and append updates to terrific news reports and columns created over time, and gather them all in one place.   Do you wonder what happened to that spy who was controversially convicted in 1950?  We did too, and published our findings.  Those columns that point out healthcare Web sites with credible information ? We put this intelligence all in one place.    Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier in the 1950s.  Was that it for him ?  Not by a longshot.   Every day, we gather credible Web sites together, update you on a "Day in History," introduce innovative people and far flung places, and string together a cogent theme from several news reports created over time.  Because no one should have to rely on outdated, unappended information.

And now I just have to figure out what I can record onto that smoke alarm that will rouse my kids from their slumber, if ever needed.  "Wake up, get out of bed," has been known to fail, even when loudly shouted repeatedly.   

I'm thinking something like, "your brother is in your room, he's stealing your stuff."  

That should work at a whisper.


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