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Steve Jobs is away

Outside of government or popular music, it's difficult to remember of an instance when the value, fortunes and apparent future of an organisation have been so utterly tied to one man. Apple has spent so long being so obtuse about the issue of Job's health that it's becoming difficult now to read anything other than the gravest of possibilities into any statement made. Thus, when Jobs announced he was taking six months off this week with, "my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought" - it's becoming ever more difficult not to assume that these aren't the thoughts of a dying man. The enigmatic mystery which has been so key to Apple's mystique and brand charisma may prove yet to be it's undoing. When Steve sneezes, Apple catches a cold. He is doing considerably more than sneezing.

Google search fails to boil water

The Times ran with a story this week claiming that performing two Google searches generates the same amount of CO2 as boiling a kettle. Based on research by Harvard academic Alex Wissner-Gross, the report briefly became the tech-meme of the moment, lighting up the internet in a flurry of linked commentaries. Google rapidly rebutted the claims as one might expect, but more surprisingly Wissner-Gross did the same claiming his research has, "nothing to do with Google", but was based on the web as a whole. Curiously tea-drinkers, when confronted with the evidence that each cup of their habit was producing the same amount of CO2 as a google search, simply smiled and asked for another biscuit.

Virtual tax causes real-world headaches

Neowin has a
splendid story claiming that the IRS is investigating the feasibility of taxing virtual currencies, potentially leaving a number of avatars and their owners short of pocket. Whilst the taxing of virtual goods being transformed into real-world cash seems like an obvious target, more interesting is the potential taxing of virtual transactions themselves. For example, Second Life residents trading between each other in Linden Dollars (the SL currency) may suddenly find themselves submitting part of that virtual currency over to the IRS. It's often said that virtual worlds are creeping ever closer to being compelling reproductions of reality, but I'm sure most avatars, would see this as a step too far - Warlocks in particular would not respond favorably to their stockpiles of gold coming under the eye of the IRS.

Internet produces statistics, enjoy. Adam Singer over at The Future Buzz has an engaging list of stats about the social web he has pulled together from various sources. Highlights include:

346,000,000 - number of people globally who read blogs 900,000 - average number of blog posts in a 24 hour period 63 per cent - percentage of Twitter users that are male 68,000,000 - the average number of times people Googled the word Google each month for the last year 70,000,000 - number of total videos on YouTube (March 2008) 200,000 - number of video publishers on YouTube

Data visualisation of the week The BBC has produced a lovely, if melancholic graph of the (brief) rise and prolonged, painful fall of the popularity rating of President Bush.

Scott McCloud on TED

It's an old talk, but a recent TED mailer reminded me of just what a great speaker Scott McCloud is. Comic book theorist and master of modern power-point McCloud gives a wonderful presentation you can see below.

Enjoy it? You should check out the comic he produced for the Google Chrome launch earlier this year.

Interface leak of the week Ars Technica has the first leaked screenshots of the forthcoming Microsoft Office suite, Office 14. As office suites move further into the cloud, this might be the last gasp for Microsoft's most ubiquitous piece of bloatware. Rumours of the re-introduction of Clippy the talking paperclip are sadly, unfounded.

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.