Sunday, 30 October 2005

Mousetrap - 25

List of Bests
We're coming close to the end of the year, and soon everybody and their Uncle will be putting down lists of the Best of the Year under every category they can think of. Want to join in, but too lazy to make your own? If it's books, movies or music you'd like to make your own "Best Of" of, try this site. If you register, you can merely wander around the site and tick boxes to make your own list. There are 2,104 books, 1,494 movies, and 873 albums listed to date, by over 2,300 users. But that's not why I recommend it. What you get without registering is even more fun: famous lists from the media (like the BBC's Big Read) and awards (like the Academy Awards and the Booker). Caveat - not all the lists are up-to-date.

Pass it On
Found Art
Remember BookCrossing, which featured a while ago? This site takes the idea into a different area. You have to register first, of course. You can then create little works of art — palm-sized, they recommend — slap on a sticker (you can download one from their site, or make your own) with your own unique ID, and set it free. The idea is that someone who finds it comes on to the site, looks up your ID, and tells you they found your art. Beautiful friendships may result. Or at the very least, you'll know your art didn't just mixed up with the trash. Which is not likely, given the state of our streets, hm?

Another nifty little way to interact with strangers across the net. You join, register, download and install a toolbar to your browser, and you're ready to stumble around the web. You rate the sites you stumble upon, Roman Emperor style, with a raised or lowered thumb, thereby helping the database understand your preferences better. Or you can let it help you, by "stumbling" by interest (around 500 topics to choose from) or staggering around randomly. You can also interact with other stumblers. Even more beautiful friendships. Watch your step, now.

Yes Boss!
Pissed off with the colleagues? Disgusted with your boss? Join the club. Go read their stories, and shake your head wisely as you ponder the wisdom of the sages who said the human condition is misery. P’raps, perchance, mayhap, you have a story you’d like to share with the world? Rest easy. Go hit the submit button, and contribute in safe anonymity. Now, get back to reading. Hm. That character in that story... seems like someone doing exactly the same work you do. Hm. The description could be of you too. Hm. They wouldn’t would they? The B@$#@®d$!


Blog of the week

When life gives you lemons...
Spam Poetry
We all live with spam, those unwanted commercial emails (and now, even SMSes) that offer us companionship, free advice, loans, prescription medication, Viagra, porn, millions of dollars if we’d only help the widow of an African dictator get her fortune out of Nigeria, and heaven knows what else. This blogger channelled her irritation into putting that spam to work. She writes poetry that puts together the subject lines of spam she receives. The result? She says it best: “A little bit Found Art, a little bit Whimsy, and mostly, just to find a way for me to find a peaceful intersection between digital communication and my life.”

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 30th October, 2005.

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