Political Contributions

I was originally going to post about
because it has some cool maps, visual representations of the amount of campaign funds (colored according to party) donated by county, city, state, etc. Then I started playing with it and thought, “This is pretty scary!” I typed in my zip code and it showed all of my neighbor’s contributions along with their names, home addresses and company affiliation. I knew most of the names on there!

This has always been public information, but having it right at your fingertips, easily searchable and sorted, brings a whole new dimension to politics and privacy.

A New York Times article orginally pointed me to


Smart Mobs pointed me at this website, THEY RULE, which has to be one of the coolest tools I’ve seen in a long time. The websites objective, according to the website, is:

“They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.”

You can type in two companies names and find out how they are connected. For example, IBM is connected to Microsoft because John Brooks Slaughter, one of IBM’s directors, sits on the Northrop Grumman board with Charles H. Noski. Noski sits on Microsoft’s board:
IBM – John Brooks Slaugher – Northrop Grumman – Charles H. Noski – Microsoft

These are the people that have strong influence in America’s economy, politics and therefore society. Have fun!

P.S. A similar example of political networks that I found on the They Rule website is this map of who contributed to Bush’s campaign funding.

Political Friendster – Visualize!

Smart Mobs pointed me at this new tool: Political Friendster – Visualize!. This is a Standford tool, a paradoy on Friendster, called Political Friendster. Anyone can input people’s names and relationships. You can use the Visualize! tool to see a map (for example, the Bush family) and then you can add other people (like Author Anderson contacts or politicians like Arnold Schwartzennegger) and see how they are related. It’s fun!

Smart Mobs: Baja Beach Club in Barcelona

VIP members of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona can choose to have RFID chip implanted in their arm instead of carrying an ID card. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and can be scanned at 10 cm. Drinks can be charged to the users account by scanning the chip.

Will we all soon carry a microchip in our skin instead of a wallet? Before that happens they will have to figure out how privacy rules apply, how an individual can control what gets scanned by different vendors, and develop a standard. Nobody’s going to want 10-15 chips like we have 10-15 cards in our wallet!


Intelliseek’s BlogPulse is a website that tracks popular topics in blogs. They maintain three main lists: Top Links, Key People, and Key Phrases that appear in blogs.

My favorite, Brad Pitt has consistently ranked #1 in the most featured people list. Right before John Kerry and George Bush today.

Mesh Forum

Here’s another form of social networking – a conference you can only attend if someone else invites you. Sounds like a party not a conference to me!

It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses over the years. On a related note, Google’s gmail beta service is only available via invite by somebody else who has service. I think that definitely adds to the mystic and gives them great publicity.

A friend of mine just pointed me to (See his writeup.) If you sign up, it adds a toolbar to your browser. You can then rate web sites. Your friends can see which web sites you like, and you can tell Stumble to show you websites that you might like. As Tim says, it’s like channel surfing for the web.


If you enjoyed The Tipping Point and you are looking for more information on networks and how information spreads, you’ll enjoy Linked. Barabasi is a professor of physics at Notre Dame studing the properties of networks. He’s found that many networks are scale-free networks and he describes the similarities of a diverse set of networks from the internet, to cells, to Hollywood, to people’s sexual relationships to Al-Queda. He claims that corporations now have to be organized in a network instead of a hierarchy in order to survive. We all have a lot to learn in this area.
Some of the characteristics of a scale-free network is that there is no one central hub, there are a number of hubs that have many links connected to them (Google, Amazon, etc). In addition there are a few nodes (or hubs) with lots and lots of links (like Google and Amazon) and lots of nodes with just a few links. And there’s no controling factor but it’s not random. New nodes tend to connect to existing nodes that have been there the longest and that have the most links.
All that said, Barabasi makes it clear that there’s still a lot of research left to do in this area. Barabasi has a web page that discusses some of his current research at

Reality Mining the Organization

"Reality Mining" the Organization talks about tracking whom employees talk to, what they talk about and what tone of voice they are using. My first response was “how scary!” I mean, I don’t care if my company knows who I’m talking to, but to know when I talk to them, what I say and even what tone of voice I use sounds like big brother. Now, in practice, nobody is actually going to listen to the conversation, like nobody actually reads all my emails that they track. However, I think the data will much more likely be used to correct than to collaborate. So I think it’s much more likely that they would discover someone is antagonistic to 90% of people, and decide that combined with their poor performance, they aren’t worth keeping, then someone would decide that because someone regularly talks about the latest technology with ten of their friends, that they should be on the new technology team. But you never know, like all technology, its usefulness will depend on how well it’s deployed.