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How Philosophers at Stanford Have Mastered the Online Encyclopedia

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If you haven't studied philosophy, you've probably never heard of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but that doesn't mean the compendium isn't relevant to your interests. In fact it's extremely relevant, especially if you've ever looked anything up on an internet encyclopedia. As Quartz reports, the SEP has accomplished something few reference guides have: Unlike printed books and online references like Wikipedia, it's simultaneously authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date, achieving a so-called “impossible trinity of information.”

While crowd-sourced encyclopedias like Wikipedia tend to have up-to-date information, and a wide range of entries, they’re neither comprehensive (some topics are significantly more detailed than others) nor authoritative. There’s limited oversight regarding who writes what, and the majority of entries are not written by professionals. Print reference books, meanwhile, present the opposite challenge: They’re written by professionals, but the moment new information comes out, they’re rendered incomplete.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, meanwhile, strikes a balance between these two poles: Unlike Wikipedia, it’s written by experts in the field of philosophy; unlike a print encyclopedia, it’s continuously updated. Periodically, Stanford identifies experts in specific fields, and requests that they provide entries for the encyclopedia. There’s a peer review process, and even once an entry is published, writers—who are providing entries without payment, for the pure devotion to philosophy—are responsible for keeping them up-to-date.

While that process might sound like common sense, it’s actually pretty revolutionary. Quartz explains that few online information resources have managed to achieve that same level of quality and comprehensiveness. However, that may be because the SEP had a significant head start: It’s actually been around since 1995 (Wikipedia was founded in 2001), when it launched with two entries, and its creator, Edward Zalta, has been refining the information acquisition process since then. Zalta hopes that the SEP could eventually serve as a model for other online information resources, including Wikipedia. All you need to succeed, he claims, is people willing to work hard. “What we had was several people single-mindedly focused on making this work,” he told Quartz. “I think our model could be reproduced if you get the right people involved.”

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an essential resource, not only for philosophers, but for anyone interested in the future of internet information. It's full of beautifully written articles on everything and everyone from aesthetics to zombies, Aristotle to Zhuangzi, and was designed to make philosophy accessible to anyone. "If you're a member of the public, you have the greatest chance of interacting with philosophy via the SEP than via any other academic project," Zalta said in a statement. Visit the website to learn more. 

[h/t Quartz]

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door
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Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit primenow.com to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]

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