April 26, 2003

SARs Reporting Discrepancies

There's not a lot of agreement with the WHO travel warning for Toronto - at least not in Toronto. Not being a medical professional means that I can only guess who is doing the right thing here. And of course, the standard rules apply - I can't trust the media's take on this important story, the local politicians are weasels and the national politicians are all liars1.

So I turned to the one place I knew I could get the right answers.

No, not the street corner - that stopped working a long time ago. The internet (now there's a source of perenially impeachable facts).

I figured that the best way to determine whether this he-said/she-said was rooted in biology or politics was to take a look at the number of cases of SARS reported by each country.

Off to the WHO.

China: 4500+ US: 41 UK: 6 Canada: 142 Maybe yes, maybe no?

These numbers were very clear on two points, 1) China has a serious problem on their hands and 2) these aren't the same numbers that the Canadian news media is reporting.

Off to the Health Canada Website. Canada: 345 cases???? The CDC...US: 254 cases??? UKPHLS...6 cases in the entire UK...

I stopped poking around when I got to the UK numbers because it appears that the only numbers that are out of whack are the ones that matter.

What's with that?

I don't have any answers except to note that some of the resources (none of those above) I checked during my research indicated that there were 101 different ways to report a SARs case. Its seems that WHO counts differently than the CDC or Health Canada. Disturbingly, the difference is enough that the numbers are two-fold wrong for Canada and six-fold wrong for the United States.

I sincerely hope that my neighbors to the south are watching their own CDC numbers and not those of the WHO. I'm convinced that if Canada was paying attention to the WHO that we would have lost control of this disease a long time ago. Like I mentioned in my last SARsblog, 'tis definitely better to be safe than quarantined.

1I pay attention to far too many people that grew up in the sixties. What did you expect - warmth, trust and respect for the man? Not this cat.

Posted by ross at 07:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

People Pics from Rio

People Pics from RioGoodness! As promised, here are a few shots of the various ICANNers in attendance at the recent ICANN meeting in Rio.

If anyone is wondering, Alan wasn't able to fit her in his suitcase. And not for lack of effort.

[Thumbnailed]|[Not So Thumbnailed]

Posted by ross at 01:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More ICANNosphere Bloggers...

Both Heather Carle and Esther Dyson started blogging this month.

And they both chose Blogger...

Now if I could just find a few more good xSP bloggers I would be a happy chap.

Posted by ross at 12:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Blogging is Too Difficult

I've come to the conclusion that blogging is too difficult. And, unless something drastically changes, its never going to be more than a content management system for nerds and technophiles (like me) that want to use overly complicated software to keep track of their online diary.

Don't get me wrong, the tools are all great - MovableType, Radio, w.Bloggar, Newzcrawler...etc.

But they're *hard*.

For instance, the way that bloggers look at templates is a bit screwed. Typical users think of templates as pre-packaged goodness that will make whatever it is they are working on, look better. Blog templates are slightly different. They are pre-packaged, but in a different way. Its almost as if everyone that has every designed a blog tool or a blog template has decided, "Well, this should do them to start, but they really should know HTML to do anything fancier." - Like changing the background color, adding a logo or changing the font.

Adding outbound links or pictures to blog entries are just as poorly tended to. Both require users to get under the hood and explicitly do this, that and the other thing before the link or picture will show up on the web.


Everything that the old Userweb suffered from (remember "home pages") has been carried over into the new Userweb. Yuck. I still need to upload "pages" to "servers" by wrestling with "FTP", or worse, some poorly designed abstraction that is supposed to do it automatically for me, but requires me to know all sorts of things that I don't. Cascading Style-Sheets? Ummm...

exumel arpeecee? Hunh?

Like Winer said, "Pfui."

This is all very wrong. A Big design gap. Toolmakers need to stop building tools for me and start building them for my dad. And the challenge doesn't stop there. We also need to figure out better ways of explaining our metaphors and primitives.

The term "trackback" is probably the best example of this. No one really knows how and why this concept matters. I'm sure it has great utility otherwise it probably wouldn't have emerged as a feature. Problem is, we've done a shitty job of explaining what its true value is - why it matters to those that should be using it.

Until and unless the features get more appropriate for everyday users and the real value proposition is dragged out of the technical mud, the blogoshere is destined to become a curious footnote in the development of the web.

Posted by ross at 11:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack