There's something for everyone in this week's web survey, from consumers itching to dish the dirt on their latest purchases to web surfers grumbling about pop-up ads and pathetic design. We also have games for mystery fans, fodder for camera buffs, and some tips from Wisconsin on wrapping one's tongue around difficult-to-pronounce place names (sound familiar?).
Let's get started:
Has "wiki" become the suffix (or prefix, perhaps) of the year? A la Wikipedia, many sites are opening up their content so that anyone can edit and contribute. ShopWiki takes the approach to shopping - or more particularly, to comparison shopping, with anyone, anywhere being allowed to review a full range of products. Don't assume this is a grassroots movement; one of the backers of this project made a mint from DoubleClick, the online advertising company. Nonetheless, ShopWiki could become the viral equivalent of Consumer Reports.
How do you drive a Newfoundlander crazy? Mispronouncing "Newfoundland" is a good place to start ... and then there are ham-fisted pronunciations of geographic names, like Baie Verte. Well, it looks like people in Wisconsin have had that grating feeling, too, which led to the creation of Miss Pronouncer, a guide that seems handy enough for anyone to use. (Perhaps this is a project someone here might want to adapt.)
"We Heard You" is the line you'll see in big type on the launch page Microsoft built to sell the latest version of its Explorer web browser, which went live this week. As a brand, Internet Explorer may be as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola, but it's also not much beloved by a lot of web users. Security problems, lack of pop-up controls, clunky design … you're your problem. Explorer still dominates the web marketplace, even though I would argue that many people who create web content have switched to non-IE software. (I use different browsers, including Explorer - in part to ensure web content I create looks all right.) My first impression of the new version of IE is that it apes some of the look and feel of Firefox, while cleaning up some design issues.
Trump the Murderer
Agatha Christie picked a lot of different ways in which to dispatch a human body, from the subtle (poison) to the enormous (train). Trump the Murderer is a game in which you take on the computer, selecting in which element (ease of transport, traceability) your given card outranks your competitor. It's kind of a rock-paper-scissors game for the murder mystery set. Actually, it's just one of three games available on Christie's publisher's site. You have to register, but it's free … and worth a few minutes of perverse fun.
Gloriously Colorful Kodaks
Digital cameras have brought an earthquake to the photography business. On the one hand, sales of film have fallen to the floor, while interest in higher end tools seems as keen as ever. Here's a site that pays tribute to the Kodak cameras that paved the way in the 1920s and 1930s. Click around to see what state-of-the-art shooting looked like 70-odd years ago.
TV Turnoff Week
Quick - you only have a couple of days to shut off the tube and be part of TV Turnoff Week. (What? And miss the playoffs?) Adbusters pats itself on the back with some history on the media-awareness campaign, including two vintage spots it produced to persuade people to stop watching, um, spots - not to mention other TV programming. Personally, I've been watching TV all week with a guiltless conscience, although I'm more than cognizant that too much time in front of the tube can be detrimental to my health.