Four short links: 26 October 2009

Data Exploration, Evidence-Based Coding, API to the English Language, Dual Licensing

  1. Toiling in the Data Mines — Tom Armitage describes the process that Berg calls “material exploration”. Programmers very rarely talk about what their work feels like to do, and that’s a shame. Material explorations are something I’ve really only done since I’ve joined BERG, and both times have felt very similar – in that they were very, very different to writing production code for an understood product. They demand code to be used as a sculpting tool, rather than as an engineering material, and I wanted to explain the knock-on effects of that: not just in terms of what I do, and the kind of code that’s appropriate for that, but also in terms of how I feel as I work on these explorations. Even if the section on the code itself feels foreign, I hope that the explanation of what it feels like is understandable.
  2. Bits of Evidence — Slides for a talk, “What we actually know about software development and why we believe it is true”. (via Simon Willison)
  3. Wordnik API — definitions, frequencies, examples APIs. See the announcement from the Web 2.0 Summit.
  4. The Peculiar Institution of Dual Licensing — Brian Aker eloquently describes why he feels that dual licensing is anti-open source. Brian obviously has considerable experience informing this opinion–his years as Director of Technology for MySQL.
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  • Mark Dreyer

    Is Wordnik some type of cruel joke? I feel like we’ve time warped back into the dot com days, and this is the new “”. Utterly silly to get as much press and face time as it has.

  • Sarah Guest

    First I’ve heard of Wordnik, so I don’t know that it’s been getting a lot of press and face time. Has a nice look to it, mostly because there aren’t ads all over the place.

  • Anonymous

    Just a heads up: the Wordnik announcement link has a malformed video ID, according to Youtube.

  • Like Mark, I’m somewhat underwhelmed by Wordnik. It doesn’t seem to do anything not done better elsewhere. It aggregates definitions from various dictionaries, but so does Google (with the “define:” keyword). It gives examples of usage, but so does the BNC. It tells you related words, but not as powerfully as Princeton WordNet. On top of which, there are rumours of an API for the OED

    So, as a web-site it may be useful as a that ties everything up in one place, but as an API I’d rather use a combination of the above.