What makes a town a town?

by Eszter Hargittai on September 13, 2006

Buford, WyomingI’m now on on the West coast after spending a chunk of last week driving to Palo Alto from Chicagoland.* I didn’t have much time so I just got on I-80 and drove with few interruptions. I made a stop in one of the more populated parts of Wyoming: Buford. As you can see from the sign, the town has a population of two. It’s also noteworthy due to its high elevation, apparently the highest on I-80. I had no idea I was that high up had it not been pointed out on this sign as the roads on the way weren’t particular steep. In any case, I am curious, what makes a town a town? The Eisenhower Expressway Interstate System (I-80) goes by plenty (more than plenty, in fact) unpopulated areas with just a house here or there. So what makes Buford a town of two vs just a house attached to another town?

[*] For those not familiar with distances in the US, this is similar – in terms of distance, pretty much nothing else – to something like driving from Moscow to Madrid.


by Eszter Hargittai on September 13, 2006

As I mentioned recently, I am hiring for a full-time staff position in my research group. Details are below. If you know of someone in the Chicagoland area who may be interested (or someone somewhere else who’d be up for moving to the area), please let them know about this opportunity. Or if you can think of relevant mailing lists, please let me know. (I’ve posted it on air-l and CITASA. I’ve put an ad on Craig’s List Chicago and on Salon Jobs. And I’ve sent a note to a bunch of people I know both in Chicagoland and elsewhere. I welcome suggestions for additional ways of publicizing it though. For now I’m holding off on posting it on Monster.com.) Thanks!

[click to continue…]

Counterfactual History – slavery

by Jon Mandle on September 13, 2006

Although the U.S. Constitution of 1787 does not include the word “slavery”, there are five more-or-less direct references to it, and other more indirect references. Article IV, Section 2, is the fugitive slave clause – any person “held in service or labor in one state, under the laws thereunto, escaping into another … shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

[click to continue…]

More Nietzsche on Kant (thanks, I’ll be here all week)

by John Holbo on September 13, 2006

This post contains more newly translated bits of Nietzsche on Kant. (The response to my first post was good, so I am encouraged to follow up.) [click to continue…]

Gnome scandal in the West Country

by Harry on September 13, 2006

This one’s for John.

Update: The bizarrest bit of the story is at the end:

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said: “This isn’t just a petty issue. This has been ongoing for two or three years.”

Most elaborate spam site of the month

by Maria on September 13, 2006

I thought I’d lost the ability to be shocked and awed by spammers’ ability to construct useless spam sites full of spammy spam. A google search for “learning and development consultancy” yields a top of the page result as follows:

“Learning and Development – consultancy and services from …
Performance By Design provides consultancy on how to increase the benefits of learning in organisations and enhance management development.
www.performance-by-design.com/Learn.htm – 38k”

Plausible tagline, plausible blurb, plausible url. But when you get there, it’s a bunch of advertising links for curtains, drapes and after-dinner speeches.

It looks like these people aren’t just busy gaming search engines for the top spot, but are putting significant effort into appearing to Internet users to be content-rich, legitimate sites. And yes, I do believe it is illegitimate to fool users into thinking they’ll find something relevant and useful when they click through, and not a page full of third party advertising, however ‘relevant’ it may be. (Parked domain monetization was a hot topic at a recent ICANN meeting. I wrote a long MBA paper about this issue a while back, and found these two papers on search engine gaming absolutely fascinating. And my colleague Dave Piscitello has rather firm views on the topic.)