Four short links: 7 July 2010

Work Habits, Smartphone Frameworks, Transparency, and Data Geekery

  1. The Way I Work: Justin Kan of JustinTV (Inc Magazine) — I admit it, I had written Justin off as “that irritating guy who went around with a camera on all the time” but it turns out he’s quite thoughtful about what he does. I try to keep the meetings small, especially when we’re doing product design. If you have eight people in the design meeting, it doesn’t work. Everybody has an opinion. Everyone wants to weigh in on what the font should look like. The end product becomes the average of eight opinions. You don’t get excellent work, just average. (via Hacker News)
  2. Rhodes — open source cross-platform smartphone app development framework, with offline sync and hosted data storage.
  3. How Transparency Fails and Works Too (Clay Johnson) — another thoughtful piece reflecting the general awakening that “being transparent” is a verb not a noun: you don’t “achieve transparency”, but rather you have a set of actors, actions, and objects inside and outside government that provide the checks and balances we hope to get from transparency. It’s a complex system, requiring way more than just “release the data and they will come”. [L]et’s not fool ourselves into thinking though that just because a system has real-time, online disclosure that somehow the system will be cleaned up. It won’t. Data makes watchdogging possible, sure, but more data makes watchdogging harder. Plus, for the transparency solution to work, people have to actually care enough to watchdog. Imagine that your city council, facing terrible obesity rates, decided to enact and enforce a mandatory nudity law to improve its public health. Policy wonks got together and decided that in order to get people to lose weight, they’d outlaw clothing. People went outside naked, and sure, it was a little uncomfortable at first, but basically— the fat people stayed fat, and the thin people stayed thin. The town was more comfortable just averting their collective eyes.
  4. Meta-Optimize — a StackOverflow-like q&a site for data geeks who groove to topics like “unsupervised methods for word polarity detection”. (via Flowing Data)
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