a Great Doctor
So you found a high school heartthrob on Facebook and
polished your resume on LinkedIn. Yet social networking isn’t
all “friending”; there’s also the expertise you can gather from
strangers—a phenomenon known as crowdsourcing.
Amazon pioneered crowdsourcing by posting readers’
reviews of the books it sells. Now online ratings are ubiquitous—from Angie’s List to Yelp—and Twitter users call on
their followers to answer all manner of questions. But even
if you don’t have thousands of online pals to quiz, you can
still call on the wisdom of crowds. Aardvark ( vark.com),
from Google, makes crowdsourcing less obtrusive. You sign
up, list topics you’d like to opine on (say, Chinese restaurants in Atlanta), then ask Aardvark a question. It scans
your friends, friends of friends, and everyone in its database. Then it anonymously asks the 8 or 10 people most
likely to have an answer.
When we asked Aardvark to find a specialist for a friend in
Minnesota just diagnosed with prostate cancer, an answer
came in a few hours from a respondent named Kerstin: “I
can personally recommend two surgeons very highly,” she
wrote. Then she followed up with their names and numbers.
PAGE 65: COURTESY OF RESEARCH IN MOTION. PAGE 67: ADRIAN LYON/ ALAMY. PAGE 68: HEART BY MARK LUND
HOMEROOM (PROP STYLIST: LISA EDSÄLV); PORTRAITS: GREGG SEGAL (PROP STYLIST: WENDY SCHELAH; HAIR
AND MAKEUP FOR ARIANA DIPRETA AND KAYLA CONWAY: SYLVIA DIMAKI/ HALLEY RESOURCES; GROOMING FOR
MARLON SMITH JR.: VICTORIA JACKNOW)
“High Tech, My Tech” was written by George Blooston, Peter Brown, Ron Burley, Ty Burr, Tim Carman,
Annie Gottlieb, John A. House, Sharon Kay, Dolly Setton, and Abby Stokes. Consulting editor: Peter Brown.
FIND EVERY BARGAIN
Are you getting the best
deal on your cell phone
plan? Clothing? Peanut
butter? These online
services promise they can
find you better prices.
BILLSHRINK. COM says
it can start saving you
money “in under a minute”
on your cell phone and
cable TV by comparing
your current plan with the
website’s selected offer-
ings. And you can always
take BillShrink’s best
offer and try to beat it on
BILLEO. COM flags savings
opportunities when you
search for products on the
Web. Its Offer Assistant,
part of a suite of browser
add-ons, matches any
results with its database
of online coupons. When
any discount is available, a
Billeo icon appears next to
BACK UP YOUR FILES
Don’t let today be the day you lose everything. Backing
up your files is a bother, but so is brushing your teeth,
and most of us manage that twice a day. CDs and DVDs
are convenient, and there are plenty of safe alternatives:
a FLASH DRIVE ($20 for 8 gigabytes), an EX TERNAL
HARD DRIVE ($100 for a terabyte), or an ONLINE
STORAGE SERVICE such as dropbox.com or mozy.com.
RECORD IMAGES LIKE A PRO
Check out these video tips from Erik Ewers, principal
film editor at Florentine Films, the postproduction
company for documentarian Ken Burns.
1 A tripod is mandatory
if you want to capture
the essence of a subject.
It allows you to record
small gestures, such as
those of a child.
2 For stationary
objects set your camera
on manual focus, zoom as
far in as possible, focus,
then zoom back out. The
image will be much crisper.
3 Look at the edges
of your image before
recording. Say a leg is
sticking into the frame—
zoom in to crop it, or
zoom out to include
the whole person.
4 Shoot during the
hours just after dawn
and just before dusk—
whenever possible. That’s
when colors are at their
most dramatic. ;