Virtual Touring

Sometimes I want to be somewhere I’m not. Today, it was Yosemite. Fortunately, there’s a high-tech solution: virtual touring.

Here are a few of my favorite resources.

There are many more resources you can use for virtual traveling.

Do you use the Internet to “travel”? What are your favorite resources?

Update (2/15/2010). Here are a couple more resources I should have mentioned:

  1. Twitter — Chances are, there’s someone on Twitter tweeting about the location you’re interested in. Tweeting about the location likely will result in your being followed by that someone. For example, I tweeted about Yosemite and was soon followed by @THEYosemiteBlog. Doing a people search for Yosemite resulted in a lot more hits.
  2. Blogs — Finding blogs about a certain topic is easy. Google’s Blog Search or Technorati are great resources to find blogs.

Democrat Candidates More Wired?

I added networking links for the declared presidential candidates on my Election 2008 page.

The Democrats have more networking links than the Republicans, averaging 3.0 links per Democrat compared with 1.7 links per Republican. I only counted links to Facebook, Flickr, Meetup, MySpace, and YouTube. A couple of the Democrats also had PartyBuilder; I didn’t count those links. If I had, it would only increase this disparity.

For some unknown reasons, the Republicans also make it harder to find their networking links. Duncan Hunter, in an apparent effort to maintain a consistent color theme, camouflaged the networking links in the right column; I found them only after returning to the site for a second time. John McCain hid his networking links two menus down in a press release, and even then they are just text links. Ever the maverick, McCain also posts his videos on veoh.com and reference what appears to be his one and only answer on answers.yahoo.com.

It’s not just the second (or third) tier Republican candidates not trying to do the “networking thing.” Rudy Giuliani (I’ll learn to spell his name before this campaign is over) has exactly zero networking links.

Are networking links necessary? One could argue not. After all, the Internet didn’t propel Howard Dean into the victory circle. Yet, I think that argument is a few years out of date. There’s nothing better than getting buzz going in the voters at virtually no cost. (And there’s probably one thing they’d like to avoid: getting unfavorable posts written about them, like this one…)

So will the networking gap affect my vote? Of course not. My vote will come down to the issues, not whether a candidate is my friend on MySpace or whether I can see pictures of her dog on Flickr.

The Gavel: More transparency in government

Nancy Pelosi has a blog called The Gavel. Of course it’s political. Of course it’s slanted. But, wow!

Where’s John Boehner’s?

Okay, I know the news of the day was that Republican Study Group claimed Pelosi was infringing C-Span’s copyright with the many YouTube videos (and then withdrew their objection). Now, it may be a contractual issue. Who knows? Regardless, this sort of openness should be not only allowed, but encouraged.

YouTube: Still Figuring Out Politics

YouTube is becoming a powerhouse in politics. Where else can people and political organizations post political ads for free, and where if the ads are good enough, people will come looking for them? The ads can go “viral” — viewers will e-mail links to them and embed them in their blogs. For example, consider the political ad created by director David Zucker.

The David Zucker Albright Ad

YouTube still has some rough edges to remove when it comes to politics. Take a look at YouTube’s video categories. There is no “Politics” category. “News and Blogs” is as close as it gets. Let’s not perpetuate the confusion between news and commentary.

YouTube also needs to refine its content policing. On the widely successful, online advertising site Craigslist, anyone can “flag” any ad believed (or not) to violate Craigslist policy. If enough people flag the same ad, it disappears–automatically and with no additional input from the Craigslist operators. It’s not a perfect system, but it seems to work.

YouTube appears to have a similar procedure. According to the YouTube help center:

How does YouTube handle inappropriate content?
Our community understands the terms of use and effectively polices the site for inappropriate content (similar to other open internet communities such as eBay and craigslist). Their vigilance combined with our proprietary technology helps us to enforce our community standards. (emphasis added)

Does this mean an organized group of people could get videos flagged or even banned by clicking “flag as inappropriate”? Or could then even get videos removed? YouTube is not very clear on what causes a video to be flagged as “inappropriate” and what causes a video to be removed. Their Terms of Use don’t help much.

In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not: (i) submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein; (ii) publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage YouTube or any third party; (iii) submit material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any law, or is otherwise inappropriate; (iv) post advertisements or solicitations of business: (v) impersonate another person. (emphasis added)

“Otherwise inappropriate”? A little more guidance, please…

This is not merely an academic question. Michelle Malkin’s video “First They Came” was banned on/by YouTube. Michelle has responded to the banning with another video — on YouTube, naturally.

Ironically, truly offensive material remains on YouTube. Sniper “snuff film” videos from Iraq are still available. Does this mean that YouTube operators give favoritism to one political view? Or are people just not clicking these videos as offensive? Or are they being banned and then re-posted?

How will Google’s buying of YouTube affect these issues?

Like a Bird on a Wire

DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE

Thanks to Rob for e-mailing the link to this video. It brings back memories of energy conversion lab, working with high voltages keeping one hand in my pocket. Though those voltages were nothing like the voltages in this video.

By the way, have you ever pondered YouTube’s business model? Certainly, storing and streaming video can’t be cheap. Yet they provide the service for free. They make their money on ads, you say? I wonder. The ad I saw when watching this video was for YouTube itself. And the only ads you’re going to see associated with this video are those on blogan, not YouTube. The question remains: why does YouTube provide the ability to embed videos on others’ web pages?