Intellectual Ventures Making Things (Bloomberg) — Having earned billions in payouts from powerful technology companies, IV is setting out to build things on its own. Rather than keeping its IP under lock and key, the company is looking to see if its ideas can be turned into products and the basis for new companies. Crazy idea. Madness. Building things never works.
Thiel’s Contrarian Strategy (Fortune) — the distinction Thiel draws between transformative, “vertical” change—going from zero to one—and incremental, “horizontal” change—going from one to n. “If you take one typewriter and build 100, you have made horizontal progress,” he explains in the book’s first chapter. “If you have a typewriter and build a word processor, you have made vertical progress.”
The Death and Life of Great Internet Cities — “The sense that you were given some space on the Internet, and allowed to do anything you wanted to in that space, it’s completely gone from these new social sites,” said Scott. “Like prisoners, or livestock, or anybody locked in institution, I am sure the residents of these new places don’t even notice the walls anymore.”
What You’re Not Supposed To Do With Google Glass (Esquire) — Maybe I can put these interruptions to good use. I once read that in ancient Rome, when a general came home victorious, they’d throw him a triumphal parade. But there was always a slave who walked behind the general, whispering in his ear to keep him humble. “You are mortal,” the slave would say. I’ve always wanted a modern nonslave version of this — a way to remind myself to keep perspective. And Glass seemed the first gadget that would allow me to do that. In the morning, I schedule a series of messages to e-mail myself throughout the day. “You are mortal.” “You are going to die someday.” “Stop being a selfish bastard and think about others.” (via BoingBoing)
What We Know and Don’t Know — That highly controlled approach creates the misconception that fossils come out of the ground with labels attached. Or worse, that discovery comes from cloaked geniuses instead of open discussion. We’re hoping to combat these misconceptions by pursuing an open approach. This is today’s evolutionary science, not the science of fifty years ago We’re here sharing science. […] Science isn’t the answers, science is the process. Open science in paleoanthropology.
Computer Software Archive (Jason Scott) — The Internet Archive is the largest collection of historical software online in the world. Find me someone bigger. Through these terabytes (!) of software, the whole of the software landscape of the last 50 years is settling in. (And documentation and magazines and …). Wow.
Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python — teaches complete beginners how to program in the Python programming language. The book features the source code to several ciphers and hacking programs for these ciphers. The programs include the Caesar cipher, transposition cipher, simple substitution cipher, multiplicative & affine ciphers, Vigenere cipher, and hacking programs for each of these ciphers. The final chapters cover the modern RSA cipher and public key cryptography.
Reconstructing My Grandfather (JP Rangaswami) — this is how libraries will be used in the future, by ordinary people (i.e., not professional researchers) reconstructing their families. See my library essay for more thoughts on this.
Physical Conservation vs Digitisation for Preservation (Leeds) — they chose deliberately compromised paper materials (acid-riddled paper) and found that it still would take 50 years for digitisation to pay off. Digitisation, even destructive, is bloody expensive compared to just keeping the paper ticking along.
Libraries: Where It All Went Wrong — I was asked to provocatively help focus librarians on the opportunities offered to libraries in the Internet age. If I ask you to talk about your collections, I know that you will glow as you describe the amazing treasures you have. When you go for money for digitization projects, you talk up the incredible cultural value. ANZAC! Constitution! Treaties! Development of a nation! But then if I look at the results of those digitization projects, I find the shittiest websites on the planet. It’s like a gallery spent all its money buying art and then just stuck the paintings in supermarket bags and leaned them against the wall. CC-BY-SA licensed, available in nicely-formatted A4 and Letter versions.
On the Perpetuation of Ignorance (PDF) — ignorance about an issue leads to dependence leads to government trust leads to avoidance of information about that issue. Again I say to Gov 2.0 advocates that simply making data available doesn’t generate a motivated, engaged, change-making citizenry. (via Roger Dennis)
Phantom of the Flopera (YouTube) — Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565) as performed by floppy drives. Creative intimacy with one’s tools is a sign of mastery. (via Andy Baio)
Save Entire BBC Archive (Ben Goldacre) — I pointed earlier to the questionable BBC closure of scores of websites in the name of cost-cutting. It’s a torrent of an archive of spidered BBC websites. (via Andy Baio)
Android Hidden NFC Capabilities Unlocked — Gibraltar Software Factory, based in Argentina, went through the source code of Android 2.3 and found that Google has purposefully hidden several NFC related API calls, most likely due to the fact that they’re not quite stable enough for public release. Some minor tweaking of the source code, and boom, they’ve enabled write support for NFC tags. This means mobile phones will not just read RFID tags, but also act like RFID tags. (via Chris Heathcote on Delicious)
Pinboard Creator Maciej Ceglowski (ReadWriteWeb) — I think many developers (myself included) are easily seduced by new technology and are willing to burn a lot of time rigging it together just for the joy of tinkering. So nowadays we see a lot of fairly uninteresting web apps with very technically sweet implementations. In designing Pinboard, I tried to steer clear of this temptation by picking very familiar, vanilla tools wherever possible so I would have no excuse for architectural wank. The other reason I like the approach is that the tried-and-true stuff is extensively debugged and documented. The chances of you finding a bug in MySQL or PHP as the author of a mid-sized website are microscopic. That’s not the case for newer infrastructure like NoSQL or the various web frameworks.
Comments Off on Four short links: 11 February 2012
Interview with Marcin Wichary (Ajaxian) — interview with the creator of Google’s Pacman logo, the original HTML5 slide deck. One of the first popular home video game consoles was 1977’s Atari VCS 2600. It was an incredibly simple piece of hardware. It didn’t even have video memory – you literally had to construct pixels just moments before they were handed to the electron gun. It was designed for very specific, trivial games: two players, some bullets and a very sparse background. All the launch games looked like that. But within five years, companies figured out how to make games like Pitfall, which were much, much cooler and more sophisticated. Here’s the kicker: if you were to take those games, go back in time, and show them even to the *creators* of VCS, I bet they would tell you “Naah, it’s impossible to do that. The hardware we just put together won’t ever be able to handle this.” Likewise, if you were to take Google Maps or iPhone Web apps, take your deLorean to 1991 and show them to Tim Berners-Lee, he’d be all like “get the hell out of here.” (via Russ Weakley)
Liberating Lives — The historian Tim Hitchcock, behind projects such as the Old Bailey Online and London Lives, has reflected on the impact of digitisation on our access to archives. Archives, he notes, tend to reflect the assumptions and practices of the institutions that created them. But by providing new ways into these records systems, technology can undermine the power relations that persist within their structures. Read the entire post, which has a moving description of the bureaucracy of Australia’s racism and the modern-day projects built on it. (via spanishmanners on Twitter)
50 Years of Cyborgs: I Have Not the Words (Quinn Norton) — We need language that lets us talk about the terrorism of little changes. Be they good or bad, they are terrible in aggregate. Thought-provoking essay pushing our ideas of change, future, technology, and culture until they break. (via kevinmarks on Twitter)
Fan Feeding Frenzy — Amanda Palmer sells $15k in merch and music in 3m via Bandcamp. Is the record available on iTunes yet? Absolutely not. We have nothing against iTunes, it’ll end up there eventually I’m sure, but it was important for us to do this in as close to a DIY manner as possible. If we were just using iTunes, we couldn’t be doing tie-ins with physical product, monitoring our stats (live), and helping people in real-time when they have a question regarding the service. Being able to do all of those things and having such a transparent format in which to do it has been a dream come true. We all buy stuff on the iTunes store – or AmazonMP3 or whatever – but it’s not THE way artists should be connecting to fans, and it’s certainly not the way someone is going to capture the most revenue on a new release. (via BoingBoing)
Sad State of Open Source in Android Tablets — With the exception of Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader, a device that isn’t even really a tablet, I found one tablet manufacturer who was complying with the minimum of their legal open source requirements under GNU GPL. Let alone supporting community development.