Monday, December 12, 2005

'The year in ideas'

Yes, it is that time of the year when newspapers and magazines (and blogs, too) look back at the year to highlight significant events and people. One of the more worthwhile attempts is by the New York Times Magazine, which seeks to "gain some perspective on what has transpired since January by compiling a digest of the most noteworthy ideas of the past 12 months." The list has 78 ideas!

A lot of the ideas are US-centric. Some are simply inane. I mean, is it really noteworthy that conservatives make better use of the internet to further their cause, or for that matter, republicans are closet elitists?

Let me highlight two really big ideas in that list. The first one should be very familiar to the Indian blog readers: the phenomenon of disaster blogs, epitomized by SEA EAT blog when tsunami struck south Asia; the NYTimes' entry features the Hurricane Katrina Weblog set up by the newspaper The New Orleans Times-Picayune. The other should also be familiar to most blog readers: the rising power of independent news outlets that many blogs have now become by following an open source reporting model.

Among the other interesting ideas, let me just point to a few:

The laptop that will save the world.

Econophysics, though I am not sure why it is being featured; I mean, it is a fairly well established subfield of statistical physics.

The anti-rape condom.

The consensual intterruptions (this is not what I thought it was ;-).

Cobblestones are good for you.