Mike Loukides

Mike Loukides is Vice President of Content Strategy for O'Reilly Media, Inc. He's edited many highly regarded books on technical subjects that don't involve Windows programming. He's particularly interested in programming languages, Unix and what passes for Unix these days, and system and network administration. Mike is the author of System Performance Tuning", and a coauthor of "Unix Power Tools." Most recently, he's been fooling around with data and data analysis, languages like R, Mathematica, and Octave, and thinking about how to make books social.

Biomimicry in the real world

There's good reason to believe nature has clues about how to do a good job — can it also help with web designs?

A couple of years ago, I visited the World Science Festival in New York and saw Festo’s robotic bird. It was amazing. I’ve seen things that looked more or less like a bird, and that flew, but…
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Announcing BioCoder issue 3

Advances in biology and biotechnology are driving us in exciting new directions — be part of the revolution!

We’re excited about the third issue of BioCoder, O’Reilly’s newsletter about the revolution in biology and biotechnology. In the first article of our new issue, Ryan Bethencourt asks the question “What does Biotechnology Want?” Playing with Kevin Kelly’s ideas about how technological development drives human development, Bethencourt asks about the directions in which biotechnology is driving us….
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Distributed science

In the future, we will solve biological problems by running experiments in parallel.

In my post on biohacking and bioterrorism, I briefly mentioned the possibility of vaccines and other treatments developed outside of institutional research. That may be far-fetched, and I certainly…
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Full-stack developers

Developers who understand the whole stack are going to build better applications.

Since Facebook’s Carlos Bueno wrote the canonical article about the full stack, there has been no shortage of posts trying to define it. For a time, Facebook allegedly only hired “full-stack developers.” That probably wasn’t quite true, even if they thought it was. And some posts really push “full-stack” developer into Unicorn territory: Laurence Gellert writes that it…
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Biohacking and the problem of bioterrorism

Natural bioterrorism might be the bigger threat, and the value of citizens educated in biosciences can't be overstated.

You don’t get very far discussing synthetic biology and biohacking before someone asks about bioterrorism. So, let’s meet the monster head-on. I won’t downplay the possibility of a bioterror attack. It’s already happened. The Anthrax-contaminated letters that were sent to political figures just after 9/11 were certainly an instance of bioterrorism. Fortunately (for everyone but the victims), they only resulted…
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The backlash against big data, continued

Ignore the hype. Learn to be a data skeptic.

Yawn. Yet another article trashing “big data,” this time an op-ed in the Times. This one is better than most, and ends with the truism that data isn’t a silver bullet. It certainly isn’t. I’ll spare you all the links (most of which are much less insightful than the Times piece), but the backlash against “big data” is clearly in…
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Wearing the future

Current wearable computing technology is just scratching the surface — the really interesting tech has yet to be invented.

In an interview at SXSW, Google’s Sundar Pichai said something about wearables that I’ve been waiting to hear. Wearables aren’t about Google Glass; they aren’t about smart watches; they’re much, much more, and these technologies are only scratching the surface. I’ve tweaked Apple a couple of times for their inability to deliver a watch, despite years of leaks and rumors….
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Academic biology and its discontents

Disaffected grad students and postdocs increasingly turn to DIYbio to do work that makes a difference.

When we started BioCoder, we assumed that we were addressing the DIYbio community: interested amateur hobbyists and experimenters without much formal background in biology, who were learning and working in independent hackerspaces. A couple of conversations have made me question that assumption — not that DIYbio exists; it’s clearly a healthy and growing movement, with new labs and hackerspaces…
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Bluetooth Low Energy: what do we do with you?

Why the dearth of imagination — we need to get beyond different flavors of spyware.

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” as Jeff Hammerbacher said. And it’s not just data analysts: it’s creeping into every aspect of technology, including hardware. One of the more exciting developments of the past year is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Unfortunately, the application that I’ve seen discussed most frequently is user…
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Cheese, art, and synthetic biology

Christina Agapakis discusses the intersection of art and science in the new edition of BioCoder.

We’ve published the second issue of BioCoder! In this interview excerpt from the new edition, Christina Agapakis talks with Katherine Liu about the intersection of art and science, and the changes in how we think about biotechnology. It’s one of many reasons we’re excited about this new issue. Download it, read it, and join the biotechnology revolution! Katherine…
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