- The Heritage Health Competition — Netflix-like contest to analyze insurance-claims data to develop a model that predicts the number of days a patient will spend in hospital in the coming year. $3M prize. (via Aza Raskin)
- Historically Hardcore — fantastic fake Smithsonian ads that manage to make the institution sexy. Naturally they’ve been asked to take them down.
- Another Plato Innovation Ignored — turns out the above-the-fold doodle has a long and glorious history, culminating in a fantastic demonstration of our broken patent system.
- Graphite — Enterprise scalable realtime graphing. Apache 2.0-licensed, written in Python. (via John Nunemaker)
Health Prediction, Fake Ads, Bogus Patents, and Realtime Graphing
- Designs, Lessons, and Advice from Building Large Distributed Systems (Slideshare) — in the words of Matt Webb, through whom I found it, There’s a lovely collection of numbers from Jeff Dean at Google, about how long common computer processor and network operations take. […] What makes this more human is this comparison, which reveals a little bit about computer time: your equivalent to a computer looking up data from a chip is remembering a fact from your own brain. Your equivalent to a computer looking up data from a disk is fetching that fact from Pluto. Computers live in a world of commonplace interactions not the size of a house, like us, but the Solar System. On their own terms, they are long, long lived, and vast.. (via Matt Webb)
- Amazon Selling More Kindle Books Than Paperbacks (New Scientist) — Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books. Additionally, during this same time period the company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. (via Brad DeLong)
- The AOL Way — the leaked business plan for AOL’s content farms. I was fascinated by how big companies plan, but this is yet more sausage best made unseen. Most sausagey for me was Slide 33 showing the fantasy: a story suggested by high searches and advertising possibilities, with heavily “SEO optimized” text. (via Chris Heathcote on Delicious)
New Browser, Google APIs, NFC Checkin, and XSS Prevention
- Mozilla Home Dash — love this experiment in rethinking the browser from Mozilla. They call it a “browse-based browser” as opposed to “search-based browser” (hello, Chrome). Made me realize that, with Chrome, Google’s achieved a 0-click interface to search–you search without meaning to as you type in URLs, you see advertising results without ever having visited a web site.
- Periodic Table of Google APIs — cute graphic, part of a large push from Google to hire more outreach engineers to do evangelism, etc. The first visible signs of Google’s hiring binge.
- NFC in the Real World (Dan Hill) — smooth airline checkin with fobs mailed to frequent fliers.
- XSS Prevention Cheat Sheet (OWASP) — HTML entity encoding doesn’t work if you’re putting untrusted data inside a script tag anywhere, or an event handler attribute like onmouseover, or inside CSS, or in a URL. So even if you use an HTML entity encoding method everywhere, you are still most likely vulnerable to XSS. You MUST use the escape syntax for the part of the HTML document you’re putting untrusted data into. That’s what the rules below are all about. (via Hacker News)
- Public Data Corporation — UK to form a corporation to centralize both opening and commercializing government data. “A Public Data Corporation will bring benefits in three areas. Firstly and most importantly it will allow us to make data freely available, and where charging for data is appropriate to do so on a consistent basis. It will be a centre where developers, businesses and members of the public can access data and use it to develop internet applications, inform their business decisions or identify ways to run public services more efficiently. Some of this work is already taking place but there is huge potential to do more. Secondly, it will be a centre of excellence where expertise in collecting, managing, storing and distributing data can be brought together. This will enable substantial operational synergies. Thirdly, it can be a vehicle which will attract private investment.” Did I wake up in crazyland? Private Investment?!!
- What If Flickr Fails — thoughtful piece about business models. Among all the revenue diets a company might have, advertising equates best with candy. Its nutritive value is easily-burned carbohydrates. A nice energy boost, but not the protein-rich stuff comprised of products and services that provide direct benefits or persistent assets.
Facebook Behaviour, Multitouch Modelling, Early Ads, and Gaming Public Transportation
- Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook (danah boyd) — Mikalah uses Facebook but when she goes to log out, she deactivates her Facebook account. She knows that this doesn’t delete the account – that’s the point. She knows that when she logs back in, she’ll be able to reactivate the account and have all of her friend connections back. But when she’s not logged in, no one can post messages on her wall or send her messages privately or browse her content. Two very interesting practices designed to maintain not just some abstract idea of “privacy” but, more important, control.
- Beautiful Modeler — a software tool for gestural sculpting using a multi-touch controller such as an iPad. (via Andy Baio)
- How Telephone Directories Transformed America — this caught my eye: Less than a year after the New Haven District Telephone Company issued its first directory, it issued a second, and that one augmented listings with advertising. (via Pete Warden)
- Chromarama — a game that shows you your movements and location as you swipe your Oyster Card in and out of the Tube. Points are awarded for avoiding rush hour, visiting new stations, etc. They say they want to change behaviour, but I don’t believe people ride public transportation to collect points, so they travel when they have to and so won’t change their commute times. Would love to be proven wrong, though. (via Roger Dennis)
Engineering Management, Open Source Escrow, Media Immunity, and Small-run Production
- Five Google Engineering Management Mistakes — interesting to see informed criticism, because Google’s style is often presented as a winning model. TLs [Tech Leads] were still evaluated as individual contributors. Leads to poor management practices: Grabbing all the sexy work for themselves; Providing negative evaluations for team members so they look good in comparison; Not paying attention to team member needs or requests; Confrontational relationships between team members and TLs (in some dysfunctional cases).
- Community Escrow (Simon Phipps in Computerworld) — interesting take on open source as a way of protecting against the interests of a vendor changing to no longer be aligned with those of the customer. The kicker: If the product was “open core” – with the key commercial features kept proprietary – it will be very hard for anyone to provide continuity. This is especially true if you are using the software as a service, because the critical know-how to make the software reliably run in the cloud is unlikely to be included in the open source project. Hear, hear. Cloud and open core are new enough that we still blow kisses every time we meet, but that honeymoon will pass and before long it’ll be hostile cold stares and long contemplative silences spent gazing out the window, musing on their shortcomings.
- Data Story Telling (Pete Warden) — Pete nails something I’ve been chewing on: in this model, a new form of media is like an infection hitting a previously unexposed population. Some people figure out how it can be used to breach the weak spots in the audience’s mental ‘immune system’, how to persuade people to believe lies that serve the propagator’s purpose. Eventually the deviation from reality becomes too obvious, people wise up to the manipulation and a certain level of immunity is propagated throughout the culture. The same is true for advertising: we’re in an arms race, novelty against neuroplasticity.
- Whimsy (and Clothes) For Sale (NY Times) — “We could never afford to make product in volume, so we adopted kind of like a Beanie Baby approach: we’d create small collections that supremely rabid buyers would end up buying,” Mr. Lindland said, noting that some customers own more than 20 pairs of his signature pants. “They’re a collectors’ item, oddly enough.” Small-run manufacturing embraced as a differentiating advantage, rather than as a competitive disadvantage.
Thrillist founder Ben Lerer on the staying power of newsletters.
Despite predictions of its imminent demise, email continues to be a viable medium — not only for communication, but for advertising as well. In this interview, Thrillist co-founder and Web 2.0 Expo NY speaker Ben Lerer explains why he remains bullish on email.
Facebook Bank, New in NoSQL, Twitter Numbers, and Open Source EEG Driver
- ASB Bank’s Facebook Virtual Branch — the world’s first Facebook branch of a bank, where you can live chat with tellers. (via Vaughn Davis)
- SciDB — GPLv3 NoSQL database. In addition to being multi-dimensional and offering array based scaling from megabytes to petabytes and running on tens of thousands clustered nodes, SciDB’s will be write once read many, allow bulk load rather than single road insert, provide parallel computation, be designed for automatic rather than manual administration, and work with R, Matlab, IDL, C++ and Python. (that from The Register) (via jsteeleeditor on Twitter)
- Twitter By The Numbers (Raffi Krikorian) — given to answer the question “what’s so hard about delivering 140 characters?”. They hit a peak of 3283 inbound tweets/second. Every time Lady Gaga tweets, 6.1M people have to get it. (via Alex Russell)
- EmoKit — an open source driver to the $300 Emotiv EPOC EEG headset. (via BoingBoing)
Two recent ads contradict common attitudes and hint at something bigger.
Grand and bold declarations about the demise of online advertising — and the web itself — get all the attention. But two recent ads serve as countermeasures to the gloom: hackers are calibrating online advertising to serve their own specific needs.