Four short links: 29 August 2011

Rebooting Manufacturing, Politics, Disney Open Source, and CS Magic

  1. Laptops and Looms — very thoughtful and thought-provoking summary of a UK conference on the kinds of Future of Manufacturing tools and businesses that Make and O’Reilly are into. It’s easy to romanticise the industry of old but much of it was horrible and remains so in the countries where we now outsource many of our manufacturing needs. If we’re to bring manufacturing back to Britain (which I think will gradually happen over the coming decade) we need to think differently about the economics of consumer goods including the jobs created and how to eliminate the environmental impacts. (via BERG London)
  2. Can Government Policies Increase National Long-Run Growth Rates?We obtain time series estimates of the long run growth rates of 17 OECD countries, and test the hypothesis that these are the same across countries. We find that we cannot reject this hypothesis for the first and last three decades of the 20th century. We conclude that: (i) there are few, if any, feasible policies available that have a significant effect on long run growth rates, and; (ii) any policies that can raise national growth rates must be international in scope. The results therefore have bleak implications for the ability of countries to affect their long run growth rates. Data-informed policy analysis for the despair. (via Jez Weston)
  3. Walt Disney’s Open Source — texture mapping, library for particle formats, and Python unit test generator, among other things. (via Brenda Wallace)
  4. The Magic of Computer Science — magic tricks and illusions that are informed by computer science. It’s a hook into teaching computer science principles, along the lines of the excellent CS Unplugged.
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  • The irony of Disney putting out open source is not lost on me.

  • The second link (on economic growth) is interesting. There are a few problems though…

    First, it assumes GDP growth to be the goal. That’s a common assumption by politicians, the media and even some economists, but it should not be taken for granted. Also, it does not present “per capita” analysis.

    Second, it uses a logarithmic scale for GDP, which naturally squeezes countries together as they grow.

    Third, it uses data from a set of 17 OECD countries, which may not be that diversified or representative of the full range of policies. Obviously, some policies can dramatically impair growth.