- 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.
Storage Superfluity, Data-Driven Design, Twit-Mapping, and DIY Biohacking
- Lacie 10TB Storage — for what used to be the price of a good computer, you can now buy 10TB of storage. Storage on sale goes for less than $100 a terabyte. This obviously promotes collecting, hoarding, packratting, and the search technology necessary to find what you’ve stashed away. Analogies to be drawn between McMansions full of Chinese-made crap and terabyte drive full of downloaded crap. Do we need to keep it? Are there psychological consequences to clutter? (via gizmodo)
- In Defense of Data-Driven Design — a thoughtful response to the “Google hates design!” hashmob formed around designer Douglas Bowman’s departure from Google. When you’ve got the enormous traffic necessary to work out if miniscule changes have some minor, statistically significant effect, then sure, if you can do it quickly, why wouldn’t you? But that’s optimization that should happen at the very end of the design cycle. The cart goes after the horse. Put it the other way ‘round and you have a broken setup. It doesn’t mean horses suck. It doesn’t mean carts suck. Carts are not the enemy of horses. Optimization is not the enemy of design. Get them in the right order and you have something really useful. Get them the wrong way around and you have something broken.
- Just Landed: Processing + Twitter + Metacarta + Hidden Data — Jer searched Twitter for “just landed in”, used Metacarta to extract the locations mentioned, and then used Processing to build visualizations.
- Do It Yourself Genetic Sleuthing — MIT is starting a hotbed of DIY biologists. The 23-year-old MIT graduate uses tools that fit neatly next to her shoe rack. There is a vintage thermal cycler she uses to alternately heat and cool snippets of DNA, a high-voltage power supply scored on eBay, and chemicals stored in the freezer in a box that had once held vegan “bacon” strips. Aull is on a quirky journey of self-discovery for the genetics age, seeking the footprint of a disease that can be fatal but is easily treated if identified. But her quest also raises a broader question: If hobbyists working on computers in their garages can create companies such as Apple, could genetics follow suit? It’s unclear what those DIY-started “genetics” companies would look like–the potential is there, but it’s yet to met the right problem. (via Andy Oram)
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I fell in love with email in 1983. I was a computer-savvy educator and children’s librarian teaching teachers about the new technologies available to them. Email came into my life, offering immediate gratification: no stamp, no trip to the post office, no phone tag, no long messages. Questions were answered quickly. Personal exchanges often felt as intimate as a written…
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The founders of the "Ask a Ninja" Web video series have turned popularity into revenue and opportunities in the movie industry.