- Practical Typography — informative and elegant.
- Nokia Treasure Tag — Bluetooth-chatty locators for keyrings, wallets, etc.
- Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility — signals for those looking to identify dodgy content, as well as hygiene factors for those looking to provide it.
- App Trains You to See Farther (Popular Mechanics) — UltimEyes exercises the visual cortex, the part of our brain that controls vision. Brain researchers have discovered that the visual cortex breaks down the incoming information from our eyes into fuzzy patterns called Gabor stimuli. The theory behind UltimEyes is that by directly confronting the eyes with Gabor stimuli, you can train your brain to process them more efficiently—which, over time, improves your brain’s ability to create clear vision at farther distances. The app shows you ever fuzzier and fainter Gabor stimuli.
A shift from trusting people to trusting math.
Bitcoin is a distributed consensus network that maintains a secure and trusted distributed ledger through a process called “proof-of-work.”
Bitcoin fundamentally inverts the trust mechanism of a distributed system. Traditionally, as we see in payment and banking systems, trust is achieved through access control, by carefully vetting participants and excluding bad actors. This method of trust requires encryption, firewalls, strong authentication and careful vetting. The network requires investing trust in those gaining access.
The result is that such systems tend to be closed and small networks by necessity. By contrast, bitcoin implements a trust model of trust by computation. Trust in the network is ensured by requiring participants to demonstrate proof-of-work, by solving a computationally difficult problem. The cumulative computing power of thousands of participants, accumulated over time in a chain of increasing-difficulty proofs, ensures that no actor or even collection of actors can cheat, as they lack the computation to override the trust. As proof-of-work accumulates on the chain of highest difficulty (the blockchain), it becomes harder and harder to dispute. In bitcoin, a new proof-of-work is added every 10 minutes, with each subsequent proof making it exponentially more difficult to invalidate the previous results.
Practical Typography, Bluetooth Locators, Web Credibility, and Vision Training App
Humans are messy, illogical beasts — we must create systems that expect us to be human, not punish us for when we are.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Scott Jenson’s blog, Exploring the World Beyond Mobile. This lightly edited version is republished here with permission.
The level of hype around the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is getting a bit out of control. It may be the technology that crashes into Gartner’s trough of disillusionment faster than any other. But that doesn’t mean we can’t figure things out. Quite the contrary — as the trade press collectively loses its mind over the IoT, I’m spurred on further to try and figure this out. In my mind, the biggest barrier we have to making the IoT work comes from us. We are being naive as our overly simplistic understanding of how we control the IoT is likely going to fail and generate a huge consumer backlash.
But let’s backup just a bit. The Internet of Things is a vast sprawling concept. Most people refer to just the consumer side of things: smart devices for your home and office. This is more precisely referred to as “home automation,” but to most folks, that sounds just a bit boring. Nevertheless, when some writer trots out that tired old chestnut: “My alarm clock turns on my coffee machine!”, that is home automation.
Slippy History, TPP Comic, SynBio Barriers, and 3D City Viz
- 1746 Slippy Map of London — very nice use of Google Maps to recontextualise historic maps. (via USvTh3m)
- TPP Comic — the comic explaining TPP that you’ve been waiting for. (via BoingBoing)
- Synthetic Biology Investor’s Lament — some hypotheses about why synbio is so slow to fire.
- vizcities — open source 3D (OpenGL) city and data visualisation platform, using open data.
Being better cyborgs may make us — paradoxically — more human.
There is an existential unease lying at the root of the Internet of Things — a sense that we may emerge not less than human, certainly, but other than human.Well, not to worry. As Kelsey Breseman, engineer at Technical Machine, points out, we don’t need to fret about becoming cyborgs. We’re already cyborgs: biological matrices augmented by wirelessly connected silicon arrays of various configurations. The problem is that we’re pretty clunky as cyborgs go. We rely on screens and mobile devices to extend our powers beyond the biological. That leads to everything from atrophying social skills as face-to-face interactions decline to fatal encounters with garbage trucks as we wander, texting and oblivious, into traffic.
So, if we’re going to be cyborgs, argues Breseman, let’s be competent, sophisticated cyborgs. For one thing, it’s now in our ability to upgrade beyond the screen. For another, being better cyborgs may make us — paradoxically — more human. Read more…
Offensive Security, Sage-Quitting, Ethics Risks, and War Stories
- Offensive Computer Security — 2014 class notes, lectures, etc. from FSU. All CC-licensed.
- Twitter I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down (Quinn Norton) — The net doesn’t make social problems. It amplifies them until they can’t be ignored. And many other words of wisdom. When you eruditely stop using a service, that’s called sage-quitting.
- Inside Google’s Mysterious Ethics Board (Forbes) — nails the three risk to Google’s AI ethics board: (a) compliance-focus, (b) internally-staffed, and (c) only for show.
- 10 Things We Forgot to Monitor — devops war stories explaining ten things that bitly now monitors.