Thinking about the IBM Blue Brain Project … thinking …

The IBM Blue Brain
project is working to model a human brain using computers. They expect to have a neocortical column, which they think is likely the key building block for conscious thought, modelled by 2008. If they succeed the next step will be to connect these columns and allow them to exchange information. At the point where enough information is exchanged it seems reasonable to assume the machine will probably become conscious, and that will be … cool.

Spam hyped stock study indicates they did go up in value. SEC suspends trading on 35 “spam hyped” stocks for 10 days.

    The SEC has suspended trading in stocks that were hyped by spam campaigns. Incredibly the spam campaigns appear to have lifted the prices on some of these companies as indicated by the SEC study:

  • On Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, shares in Apparel Manufacturing Associates, Inc. (APPM) closed at $.06, with a trading volume of 3,500 shares. After a weekend spam campaign distributed emails proclaiming, “Huge news expected out on APPM, get in before the wire, We’re taking it all the way to $1.00,” trading volume on Monday, Dec. 18, 2006, hit 484,568 shares with the price spiking to over 19 cents a share. Two days later the price climbed to $.45. By Dec. 27, 2006, the price was back down to $.10 on trading volume of 65,350 shares.
  • On Dec. 19, 2006, trading in Goldmark Industries, Inc. (GDKI), closed at $.17 on trading volume of 126,286 shares. On Dec. 20, 2006, the spam campaign started, with e-mail proclaiming “GDKI IS MAKING EVERYONE BANK!,” and setting a 5-day price target of $2. By Dec. 28, 2006, spam emails boasted of the price spike that had already been achieved — “$.28 (Up 152% in 2 days!!!)” — and promised a 5-day price target of $1. That same day, GDKI closed at $.35 on a volume of more than 5 million shares. By January 9, 2007, the closing share price was back down to $.15.
  • A spam campaign in Healtheuniverse, Inc. (HLUN) stock began on Sept. 4, 2006, with emails incorporating a Healtheuniverse press release proclaiming that HLUN was “focused on being the first to commercialize stem cell applications in the $15 billion worldwide plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery market.” On Sept. 7, 2006, HLUN closed at $.12 per share on trading volume of 3,000 shares. The spam campaign accelerated, and HLUN shares spiked to $.22 per share on Sept. 11, 2006, with over 2.2 million shares trading hands. By Sept. 22, 2006, the closing price had dropped back down to $.11.

Global community spirit

Over at Techmeme I’m struck by three stories that nicely showcase the importance of *community* to dot commers and to the expanding online universe.

The most interesting is that Yahoo Answers is going social, offering social networking as part of the answers concept.  I was bullish on Yahoo Answers a year ago and it appears they’ve done a great job at growing this project.   Incredibly the number of answers users is comparable to the number of Myspace people. This is not entirely apples to apples comparison because I’m guessing the Myspacers spend a lot more time online at Myspace, but if Answers can get the community ball rolling there is huge potential to become something of a “thinking persons” (or at least a “questioning person’s”?) Myspace.

The second item is Kevin Rose reporting that Digg has a *million* users. That is quite a milestone (though a long way from the approximately 60-100 million users claimed by Yahoo Answers and Myspace. I’ve never really understood the appeal of Digg as more than a superficial way to identify oddball news, feeling that dedicated diggers tend to prefer goofy stories rather than substantive ones, but the concept is brilliant and provocative.

Third, and perhaps most significant, is SONY’s Playstation 3 virtual world that launches this spring. Critics are raving about SONY’s brave new world, some suggesting it’s superior to the top virtual world “Second Life” which suffers from technical complexity, a steep learning curve, and a lot of skeptics who think second lifers are just escaping their first lives. It seems to me the Playstation world could become the “Myspace” of virtual worlds and captivate the teen crowd that already is practically living online ( WI or XBOX could also get smart super fast and get their own virtual world going. Both appear to be on the road for more widespread adoption as gaming systems than Sony’s PS3, though this can all change quickly).