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Web Monitor

15:48 UK time, Monday, 29 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

As Susan Boyle slowly slips down the the top 10 of the viral video chart replaced entirely by Michael Jackson videos, Web Monitor has unearthed a moonwalking flashmobber and bloggers asking if it all should matter anyway. Send your favourite links to via the post form on the top right of this page.

Michael Jackson moonwalking• Perhaps the most fitting tribute to Michael Jackson was the mass-moonwalking gathering at London's Liverpool Street Station on Friday. Web Monitor has tracked down the organiser of the flash-mob, Rob Manuel, who revealed how it all started on his own blog:

"I say to my wife, 'You know there's going to be one of those internet flash mobs over this. People are going to group up and moonwalk or something.' 'You should organise it', she says. 'Yeah, but I don't really want to. I'm just saying it's probably going to happen.'"

• On a more high-minded pursuit, Epeus' epigone looks at why the death of Michael Jackson, celebrity but a stranger to most, interests so many and leads to some public grieving, not to mention flash-mob moonwalking. Epeus brings together views from across the blogosphere including Doc Searl's view that celebrity is a poisonous waste of time, Jyri Engeström's view that celebrities serve the purpose of having something shared that we can all feel united by and Mary Hodder 's belief that celebrity worship fills the void in our daily schedule where religion used to sit.

• Why do philosophers love motorcycle maintenance? First there was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, sometimes described as the most widely read philosophy book ever. Now, the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about a doctor in philosophy Matthew B Crawford who became a motorcycle mechanic. Crawford's book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work with excerpts published in the New York Times is arguing for manual labour to be a higher aim than higher education:

"When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail... But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it?"

• Another case for avoiding the academic life is the cost. An age old economic justification is that overall, the rise in earnings will justify the cost. On myth busting duty is financial advisor John Lounsbury on the Seeking Alpha blog (quoting Jack Hough on Smart Money blog). He says the interest from savings is never taken into account when making these equations. When included, in the US at least, the person who saves early instead of going to college ends up with more money.

• How difficult is it to make a toaster? Surely not that difficult if you can buy one in Argos for £3.99. Thomas Thwaites in The Toaster Project is documenting his journey to making his own toaster all in the name of art, or the Royal College of Art end of year show to be precise. So far he's got up to smelting iron ore in a microwave, which only leaves mining copper, nickel and mica (a mineral a bit like slate) and then all he has to do it make plastic and put it all together. Thwaites contemplates whether it's all worth it, when we could just settle for sandwiches:

"..the scale of industry involved in making a toaster (etc.) is ridiculous but at the same time the chain of discoveries and small technological developments that occurred along the way make it entirely reasonable."

• Don't follow your dreams, unless your dream is to suffer from depression.
In the Economist's More Intelligent Life blog, Emily Bobrow cites an article in the American Psychological Association's journal which gives an evolutionary reason for depression. It finds that it's better for your health to be unambitious, as dogged persistence creates despair, and, Emily Bobrow says, could lead to the answer as to why the US have the highest depression rate in the world. So, if at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations.

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