- Bad Census Data for The Last Decade (Freakonomics blog) — the “representative sample” of statistics data that the Census Bureau releases has apparently been flawed. It’s been used in thousands of studies, and the Census Bureau has refused to correct it.
- Modern Telephone Fraud — it’s actually an old fraud updated: an insecure digital PBX used to route expensive calls. Innocent company is whacked with bill at end of month. Interesting questions raised about what we expect company to do (pay?) and telco to do (forgive?). It’s a good reminder that every electronic product is now an avenue for fraud or intrusion, but we don’t plan or contract for these situations.
- Found Functions — Nikki Graziano adds mathematics to photographs. Her photos let me see the world through a mathematician’s eyes. (via sciblogs)
- Getting Past Good-Enough E-Books — fantastic list of TODOs for ebook publishers.
Nikki Graziano’s intriguing integration of mathematical curves into her photography sparked a Radar discussion about the relationship between mathematics and the real world. Does her work give insight into the nature of mathematics? Or into the nature of the world? And if so, what kind of insight? Mathematically, matching one curve to another isn’t a big deal. Finding an equation that matches the curve of an artfully trimmed hedge is easy. The question is whether that curve tells us anything, or whether it’s just another stupid math trick.
Bad Census Data, Telephone Fraud, Math Art, and EBook Bugs
Digital Art Programming, DIY Construction Set, Open Source Pedant, Design Principles
- Field — a development environment for “experimental code” and digital art. We think that, for many uses, Field is a better Processing than Processing. Includes Python and Java bridges, goal is to connect to as many different programming systems as possible. OS X only at the moment.
- Contraptor — a DIY open source construction set for experimental personal fabrication, desktop manufacturing, prototyping and bootstrapping. (via Hacker News)
- After The Deadline — open source contextual spelling and grammar checker. (via Hacker News)
- Design Principles to Choose the Right Ideas — Often people ask me how we know which ideas to choose from all the hundreds of ideas we’ve generated during brainstorm sessions. Apart from our gut feelings and experience there’s a method that could help us decide: define design principles. Interesting for the different sets of design principles used by Google and Microsoft teams. (via egoodman on Delicious)
Video Art, Synthetic Biology Futures, Crowdsourced Personality, and an 1890s Startup
- Projections (YouTube) — the incredible video projection onto an old English manor house by Kiwi Foo Camp alums The Dark Room.
- Business Cards and Crowdsourced Personality Assessments — we scanned images of a person’s business card and asked crowdsourced workers from the Amazon Mechanical Turk channel to write five kind words about the person based on what they saw. I like the idea of being able to crowdsource a quick impartial aesthetic judgement about a design.
- When Sears Was a Startup (Pete Warden) — one of the first catalogues from Sears (1897) inspires comparisons to Amazon and other web startups. On a mission with a new business model. They can’t stop talking about how they’re cutting out the middle men who’ve been gouging their customers, with pages devoted to messianic rants against the monopolies trying to put them out of business. They contrast their order fulfillment process (dozens of clerks dealing with tens of thousands of orders a day) with the inefficient country stores full of assistants being paid to idly wait for customers, explaining how they can offer such low prices despite the shipping.
Where Will Synthetic Biology Lead Us? (New Yorker) — a thoughtful article about the possibilities and cautions of synthetic biology. . “A house pet is a domesticated parasite,” he noted. “ It is evolved to have an interaction with human beings. Same thing with corn”—a crop that didn’t exist until we created it. “Same thing is going to start happening with energy,” he went on. “We are going to start domesticating bacteria to process stuff inside enclosed reactors to produce energy in a far more clean and efficient manner. This is just the beginning stage of being able to program life.”
A great free book, dead newspaper dig, movie Torrent wakeup, and money from free:
- Digital Foundations with Adobe Illustrator — CC-licensed book that gets you started using Adobe Illustrator. I’m loving it, and I have the artistic ability of a particularly philistine rock. See also their advice to authors on how to negotiate a Creative Commons license. (via bjepson’s delicious stream)
- How to Become a Death Of Newspapers Blogger — tongue-in-cheek dig at the recent imminent deaths of newspapers being predicted. Point taken about how unproductive these are: The point’s not to fix anything. It’s to describe the problem more dramatically than the next guy. If Steve Outing says newspapers have a “death spiral” and Clay Shirky predicts “a bloodbath,” the point goes to Shirky. Basically, imagine a group of people watching a building burn down and bickering amongst themselves about whether it’s a conflagration or an inferno. It’s like that, but with consulting fees. (via migurski’s delicious stream)
- BarTor, Android BitTorrent with a Twist — take a picture of a DVD’s barcode, it looks up the movie, and sends the torrent file to your desktop to be automatically downloaded. NetFlix should have a legit form of this. If iTunes Movie Store had it, you could have racks of “DVDs” in stores that you could browse and snap to “buy” (giving a cut to the store). This feels monumental.
- Survey of Free Business Models Online — an interesting breakdown of ways to make money from “free” on the web. (via glynn moody)
Artist-Engineer Marc Bohlen uses some fairly advanced technology to express his artistic visions. It's not often you find an artist with a degree from CMU in robotics, or an engineer with an Masters in Art History. Bohlen's projects explore how people and technology interact, ranging from the bickering robots Amy and Klara, to his latest project, the Glass Bottom Float. In advance of his appearance at the E-Tech conference in March, Bohlen talked to us about how he approaches art, and just what art is.
Art, astronomy and more fun for you in today’s four short links:
- Found in Space — there’s an astronomy bot on Flickr that identifies stars in the night sky, and from the unique positions of the stars figures out what bit of the night sky is looked at and then adds notes for interesting parts of the sky visible in the shot. A brilliant use of computer vision techniques to add value to existing data. (via Stinky).
- 99 Secrets Twittered — Matt Webb is posting a secret a day from Carl Steadman’s 99 Secrets, an early piece of art on the web. Matt’s explanation is worth reading. Ze Frank really made me realize that every web app is a medium for art, for provoking human responses, and now I keenly watch for signs of art breaking out.
- Internet Ephemera — a brief muse on “if we start with the assumption that everything we put online is ephemeral, how does that change what we put online?”
- Pockets of Potential (PDF) — a 52-page PDF talking about opportunities for supporting learning with the mobile devices already in kids’ lives (via Derek Wenmoth).
Hello from Whakapapa, a ski resort in New Zealand. These four links come to you via the wifi at the “highest hotel in New Zealand“, which serves as a useful reminder that no matter how unremarkable one might seem, anyone can have a claim to fame if only they work at it.
- Apple Show Us DRM’s True Colors – the EFF checks out where Apple has DRM in its products and discovers that in most cases it has little to do with piracy and more about eliminating legitimate competition. DRM is “bundling” for the 2000s. (via stinky)
- Rules of Database Aging – this is so true. I think everyone who read this said, “this is so true”. Cue Santayana quote.
- Blog Converters Released – apparently Google has Data Liberation Front that has released a converter to let you switch between Blogger, LiveJournal, MovableType, and WordPress formats for blog archives. When they add Twitter, they might make Tim Bray feel better about Twitter. (via waxy)
- Hana – an absolutely beautiful screensaver for OS X (other platforms soon, I hope) that simulates every flower it shows. I could try to justify this as tied into the growing trend of simulations as the skills of simulation drive more fields of life, but really it’s just pretty. And who doesn’t need a drop more pretty in their life?
Art meets Open Source in Philly