- High Volume Web Sites — Tim Berners-Lee answers my question on provisioning a popular web server in 1993. The info.cern.ch server which has the Subject Catalogue gets probably a relatively high usage, about 10k requests a day, or (thinks…) one every 9 seconds. the CPU load is negligible. In fact of course the peak rate is higher, but still its not really a factor. That was when the server forked a subprocess for each request, too. See also one of my early contributions to the nascent field of web operations (language alert).
- Tim Berners-Lee Calls For Web Magna Carta (Guardian) — Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.
- BroApp — Automatically message your girlfriend sweet things so you can spend more time with the Bros. Reminds me of the Electric Monk in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The monk notices that humans have machines to watch TV for them. Now we have machines to be shitty boyfriends for us. (via Beta Knowledge)
- World Science U — quick answers, short courses, long MOOCs. I wonder how you’d know whether this was effective at increasing scientific literacy, and therefore whether it’d be worth doing for computational thought or programming.
To properly serve society, cryptocurrencies must support computer hardware that is useful for other things.
Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, could revolutionize money to the same degree that the Internet has revolutionized communication. However, like any economic marketplace, human exuberance is the greatest threat to the cryptocurrency phenomenon. Markets fail to the degree that the market can be dominated by those seeking personal gain, and markets succeed to the degree that they resist domination and focus on benefiting society at large.
The cryptocurrency market place is in danger of becoming so focused on profitability, that it loses sight of the potential computational benefits that it could provide to society. I hope that this article will influence designers of cryptocurrencies to attempt to avoid computational malignancy.
Many people regard the success or failure of the market to be the degree that it works for them, rather than for society as a whole. One of the fundamental motivations for cryptocurrency is the general sense that banks, governments and markets have failed to protect the interest of the common man. It is not an accident that the rise of bitcoin began shortly after the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Read more…
The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange failure illustrates exactly how capitalism should work.
This post originally appeared on Andreas Antonopoulos’ personal biographical site; it is republished here with permission.
In the free market, failure is always an option. The United States has one of the world’s most vibrant entrepreneurial cultures, where millions of people start small businesses, create new products and invent new technology. Part of the startup culture is the idea of failing fast, failing cheap and failing toward success by learning the lessons taught by failure. Cultures that punish even minor failure in business with shame, exclusion and stigma are far less likely to foster entrepreneurs because they prevent experimentation by making it too risky.
Recently, the US has been infected by the “failure is not an option” mantra, a toxic hubristic fallacy, disguised as a truism, which promotes the idea that risk can be removed from life; that 100% security and 100% control are possible, even desirable. Those who attempt to remove the possibility of failure, to de-risk financial systems, end up creating the probability of spectacular failure. By removing the option to fail cheap and fail fast, they instead concentrate risk and ensure we will fail hard, fail expensively, and fail across the board.
Web Past, Web Future, Automated Jerkholism, and Science Education
In the original text mode browser, we had to display everything on an 80×25 screen. It might have been an ANSI terminal, the HTML might have been turned into LaTeX and thence into Postscript and printed … you never really knew what you were going to be displayed on. And some of the tags were for functionality not supported on every device, so the spec helpfully said that renderers could ignore tags they didn’t understand.
It was in that environment that I whipped up a quick guide to using the Word-to-HTML programs, showing how to save on floppy. As a joke I added:
Remember: you must <B>NEVER</B> stick your floppy to the fridge with a magnet!
Imagine my horrors when one terminal client said “bold? I can’t do that. So I’ll just ignore everything between <B> and </B>“. That left the user pondering this helpful message:
Remember: you must stick your floppy to the fridge with a magnet!
So if you find yourself, as I do, puzzling at the complex and occasionally dysfunctional adult that the Web has become, take a moment to consider yourselves grateful that you weren’t working with it when it was a small barely useful gurgling pooping machine.
In the mean time, I’d like you all to charge your glasses and be upstanding. Web, we never thought you’d make it this far, and we’re bloody proud of you. Congratulations! And while we’re here, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the good folks who raised you. Everyone who submitted a patch, everyone who turned to their text editor after asking “I wonder if …”, everyone who looked at the infant and could sense the promise of the adult, all those wonderful folks on the www-talk mailing list in 1992 … thank you.
Connected cars need more UX design emphasis on behavioral science and neuroscience.
Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on Roger Chen’s blog, Beyond the bell curve. It is reposted here with permission.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the connected car recently. That’s nothing new, but it feels a little more serious this time around. The discussion has become more sophisticated, driven by the ongoing maturation of smartphones and device connectivity. My reason for interest in the connected car remains a rather simple one: cars aren’t going away. Smartphones aren’t either. And people will only use information technology more and more going forward. Yup, more selfies and snaps behind a steering wheel (I feel myself getting angry already).
A lot of discussion has centered on how the connected car will evolve. How heavily will car makers lean on third-party platforms like Android or iOS? How will car companies facilitate third-party integration? How much do they want to do on their own? What about cross-brand functionality? What standards will have to be in place? Who’s going to set them — the automotive industry or the government? Given the plethora of existing content and legitimate uncertainty about the answers, I don’t want to focus on those issues here. Instead, allow me to dive into how drivers will interact with the connected car. Sure, people have discussed this as well, but there is a critical point that most seem to overlook: the winning connected car experience will be the safest connected car experience, hands down. Read more…
Game Analysis, Brave New (Disney)World, Internet of Deadly Things, and Engagement vs Sharing
- In-Game Graph Analysis (The Economist) — one MLB team has bought a Cray Ulrika graph-processing appliance for in-game analysis of data. Please hold, boggling. (via Courtney Nash)
- Disney Bets $1B on Technology (BusinessWeek) — MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Stupid Smart Stuff (Don Norman) — In the airplane, the pilots are not attending, but when trouble does arise, the extremely well-trained pilots have several minutes to respond. In the automobile, when trouble arises, the ill-trained drivers will have one or two seconds to respond. Automobile designers – and law makers – have ignored this information.
- What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong — Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they land on. The entire article makes some powerful points about the difference between what’s engaged with and what’s shared. Articles that were clicked on and engaged with tended to be actual news. In August, the best performers were Obamacare, Edward Snowden, Syria and George Zimmerman, while in January the debates around Woody Allen and Richard Sherman dominated. The most clicked on but least deeply engaged-with articles had topics that were more generic. In August, the worst performers included Top, Best, Biggest, Fictional etc while in January the worst performers included Hairstyles, Positions, Nude and, for some reason, Virginia. That’s data for you.