- In-Game Graph Analysis (The Economist) — one MLB team has bought a Cray Ulrika graph-processing appliance for in-game analysis of data. Please hold, boggling. (via Courtney Nash)
- Disney Bets $1B on Technology (BusinessWeek) — MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Stupid Smart Stuff (Don Norman) — In the airplane, the pilots are not attending, but when trouble does arise, the extremely well-trained pilots have several minutes to respond. In the automobile, when trouble arises, the ill-trained drivers will have one or two seconds to respond. Automobile designers – and law makers – have ignored this information.
- What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong — Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they land on. The entire article makes some powerful points about the difference between what’s engaged with and what’s shared. Articles that were clicked on and engaged with tended to be actual news. In August, the best performers were Obamacare, Edward Snowden, Syria and George Zimmerman, while in January the debates around Woody Allen and Richard Sherman dominated. The most clicked on but least deeply engaged-with articles had topics that were more generic. In August, the worst performers included Top, Best, Biggest, Fictional etc while in January the worst performers included Hairstyles, Positions, Nude and, for some reason, Virginia. That’s data for you.
Solitude and Leadership, Data Repository, Copyright History, and Open Source Audio
- Solitude and Leadership — an amazing essay on the value of managing one’s information diet. Far more than yet another Carr/Morozov “the Internet is making us dumb!!” hate on short-form content, this is an eloquent exposition of the need for long-form thoughts. I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing. (via Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011)
- Building The Perfect Data Repository (Cameron Neylon) — in which Cameron talks about solving problems for the people with the data. One of the problems with many efforts in this space is how they are conceived and sold as the user. “Making it easy to put your data on the web” and “helping others to find your data” solve problems that most researchers don’t think they have. […] A successful data repository system will start by solving a different problem, a problem that all researchers recognize they have”
- Macaulay on Copyright — periodically someone rediscovers how the the 1841 debate on copyright mirrors our own, but that it was discovered before does not mean it is not worth reading again. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men.[…] Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot.
- ALAC — Apple Lossless Audio Codec is now open source by Apple.
Jobs Quotes, Tao of Programming, Distraction, and Canvas Tutorials
- Steve Jobs’s Best Quotes (WSJ Blogs) — Playboy: We were warned about you: Before this Interview began, someone said we were “about to be snowed by the best.”; [Smiling] “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.” (via Kevin Rose)
- The Tao of Programming — The Tao gave birth to machine language. Machine language gave birth to the assembler. The assembler gave birth to the compiler. Now there are ten thousand languages. Each language has its purpose, however humble. Each language expresses the Yin and Yang of software. Each language has its place within the Tao. But do not program in COBOL if you can avoid it. (via Chip Salzenberg)
- In Defense of Distraction (NY Magazine) — long thoughtful piece about attention. the polymath economist Herbert A. Simon wrote maybe the most concise possible description of our modern struggle: “What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” (via BoingBoing)
- 31 Days of Canvas Tutorials — a pointer to 31 tutorials on the HTML5 Canvas.
The mindset at Zappos is illustrative of the era of engagement.
At Zappos last year, 25,000 people applied for 250 job openings. Applicants are enthusiastic to be part of an era-of-engagement, post-productivity company. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh discusses Zappo's secret sauce in his new book.
Power lies with those who can decipher attention algorithms.
As our social, economic and political lives are increasingly mediated through a few consolidated technologies such as Facebook and Google, software exerts a profound influence on the way we engage with one another.
- Exploring Computational Thinking (Google) — educational materials to help teachers get students thinking about recognizing patterns, decomposing problems, and so on.
- Feedly — RSS feeds + twitter + other sites into a single magazine format.
- Attention and Information — what appears to us as “too much information” could just be the freedom from necessity. The biggest change ebooks have made in my life is that now book reading is as stressful and frenetic as RSS reading, because there’s as much of an oversupply of books-I’d-like-to-read as there is of web-pages-I’d-like-to-read. My problem isn’t over-supply of material, it’s a shortage of urgency that would otherwise force me to make the hard decisions about “no, don’t add this to the pile, it’s not important enough to waste my time with”. Instead, I have 1990s books on management that looked like maybe I might learn something …. (via Clay Shirky on Twitter)
The very technology that makes our collective integration possible also distracts us from advancing it. In equilibrium, distraction and ambition square off at the singular point of failed progress. If the next generation of Moores, Joys, and Kurzweils are half as distracted as I am, we are going to find ourselves frozen right here, nodes in a wormy borg that never becomes a butterfly. My computer is turning out to be the interface to a giant network Skinner Box. But maybe Twitter is just God's way of making sure we're too distracted to destroy ourselves.
Meatware Hacks, iPhone Web Stats, Distributed Hash Tables, Richard Feynman Fun
- Freedom for OS X — Mac app that disables networking for up to eight hours so you can get work done without Internet distractions. Technology workarounds for meatware bugs. (via Joshua-Michèle Ross).
- iPhone Casts a Giant Shadow on the Web — 43% of mobile web traffic is from iPhone users, as measured by “the world’s largest purveyor of ads on mobile apps and websites”. As I was told today, “more people are spending more time looking at the web through one of these. For how much longer can you afford to ignore it?” (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- Why you won’t be building your killer app on a distributed hash table (Jonathan Ellis) — locking and sophisticated queries. I’m still trying to figure out where we’ll end up with these “let’s do something simple in a way that lets us scale horizontally, and then build on top of that” approaches to solving the big data/graph theory problems behind many modern apps.
- Richard Feynman Interviews at Microsoft — a bit of fun to start the weekend on. (new URL 20090601)
- China is Logging On — blogging 5x more popular in China than in USA, email 1/3 again as popular in USA as China. These figures are per-capita of Internet users, and make eye-opening reading. (via Glyn Moody)
- The Economics of Google (Wired) — the money graf is Google even uses auctions for internal operations, like allocating servers among its various business units. Since moving a product’s storage and computation to a new data center is disruptive, engineers often put it off. “I suggested we run an auction similar to what the airlines do when they oversell a flight. They keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers give up their seats,” Varian says. “In our case, we offer more machines in exchange for moving to new servers. One group might do it for 50 new ones, another for 100, and another won’t move unless we give them 300. So we give them to the lowest bidder—they get their extra capacity, and we get computation shifted to the new data center.”
- Why Washington Doesn’t Get New Media — Things eventually improved, but despite the stunning advances in communications technology, most of federal Washington has still failed to grasp the meaning of Government 2.0. Indeed, much is mired in Government 1.5. Government 1.5? That’s a term of art for the vast virtual ecosystem taking root in Washington that has set up the trappings of 2.0 — the blogs, the Facebook pages, the Twitter accounts — but lacks any intellectual heartbeat. Too many aides in official Washington are setting up blogs and social media pages because they understand that is what they are supposed to do. All the while, many are sweating the possibility that they might actually have to say something substantive or engage the public directly. It is the nature of midlevel know-nothings to grinfuck any idea that would force them to substantially change their behaviour. We incentivize this when we talk about “you must have a blog” (ok, I’ll get comms to write it), or “put up a wiki for this” (ok, but there’ll be no moderation so it’ll be ignorable chaos). Describe the behaviour you want and not a tool that might produce it. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- On the Information Armageddon (Mind Hacks) — Vaughn points out that the much-linked-to New York Magazine article on attention is a crock. I didn’t like it because it was wordy and self-indulgent, Vaughn because it didn’t actually cite any studies other than one which was described incorrectly. History has taught us that we worry about widespread new technology and this is usually expressed in society in terms of its negative impact on our minds and social relationships. If you’re really concerned about cognitive abilities, look after your cardiovascular health (eat well and exercise), cherish your relationships, stay mentally active and experience diverse and interesting things. All of which have been shown to maintain mental function, especially as we age.