Will Dean's Ideas Factory: A social network for buildings isn't as daft as it might sound


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The Independent Culture

As a species, we don't really need any more social networking. But do our buildings?

Honest Buildings is a US website that hopes to allows buildings, or at least their owners or developers, to share details about a building's past, present and future (ie, building works, repairs) to create a profile for millions of addresses on Google maps.

And sure, information about square footage may be handy for those in development. But even for the layman, information on the architects and clients behind buildings we know, love or even live in could prove to be a real treat – though the profiles will depend on crowdsourcing, so may take years to fill up (if at all).

It's only in beta at the moment and so most buildings, including famous ones like New York's Empire State and 30 Rockefeller Plaza still have empty profiles. In order to kickstart things in the UK, I spent an hour researching The Independent's home, Northcliffe House and adding as much history as I could find. An oddly addictive task. honestbuildings.com

Is that your forearm ringing? Nokia's new patent is a skinful

The days of eight people reaching for their handbags when they hear the iPhone "Marimba" theme go off might one day be over if a new patent filed by Nokia in September is ever created. Unwired View's Vlad Bobleanta discovered that the Finnish firm had filed an idea for a tattoo that attaches to your skin and can emit a specification vibration when your phone rings or receives a text message or email.

As well as stick-on "tattoos", the plans also allow users to get actual tattoos using special, information-containing inks (called ferromagnetic inks). It's all very clever, but surely the only kind of people devoted enough to get a Big Tech-related tattoo are Macolytes? For more see: ind.pn/nokiatats

The science of watching word trends

The ability to search for specific words in Google Books – the search giant's scanned-in archive of 5m-plus books from 1800 to the present day, presents myriad opportunities for researchers. One of which is the study of language in a data-driven matter. This field has been dubbed "culturonomics" and it sees scientists being able to measure word usage over time; seehow spellings have morphed and how many unique words there are in the English language (around 1m, much more than previously thought).

The great thing about Google Books, though, is that normal users can do their own, slightly less scientific experiments with word trends and usage at the site's wonderful Ngram Viewer. Which, if you've not tried it for yourself, is at: books.google.com/ngrams.