"backstory" entries

On Wikipedia, storms, teacups, and _why's notability

In which our hero ponders the Internet's underwear, the oxymoronic nature of social software, and that not only should you not hate the playa but you shouldn't even hate the game. It must be a weekend, the interwebs have their panties in a bunch again. This time it's about the Wikipedia entry for _why the lucky stiff, one of the…

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O'Reilly School of Technology + Mathematica: What Do They Add Up To?

Last month, the O'Reilly School of Technology and Wolfram Research announced that the school was licensing Wolfram's flagship math program Mathematica to create a web-based version of the system. Right after the announcement, we ran an interview with Scott Gray, director of the O'Reilly School of Technology that gives a solid explanation of the deal and what it means. Tim…

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Why Non-Obvious Brand Icons Work

While pondering why names like Firefox, Fire Eagle, and firedog work for technology products, anthropologist and culture maven Grant McCracken concludes: A Firefox and a Fire Eagle are counter intuitive in exactly the right proportions. These names resist comprehension but only just. They are counter intuitive, but not unintelligible. In the first moment of exposure, we don't quite get…

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Our methodology

Thomas Lord posted an interesting question in a comment on one of my recent posts: "I have a question about how the "Radar" works. Are you tracking Erlang? or following the broader trend around the pi calculus? Is Erlang interesting to you as a technological idea? Or as a particular product?". I realized we haven't talked much about what we…

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Sex, math, and scientific achievement

Scientific American have an interesting article about gender balance, bias, and abilities. The danger in talking about whether ability is sex-linked is that people want to simplify the science and your position down to "girls' brains can't do this stuff" but reality is more complex and inoffensive than this. (update: changed some of what I said about the distribution to…

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The significance of Google's Android

My friend Rod Drury pointed to this great piece explaining the significance of Google's Android mobile platform. There are lots of quotable sound-bites, but I'll tease you with three: [Android is] a platform for building and channeling inventory, much like a web browser Every application on Android is a Web 2.0 citizen. $10 million [Google's Android programming contest prize pool]…

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What does Google's Open Handset Alliance announcement tell us about iPhone third-party apps?

I'm listening in on Google's press call about the Open Handset Alliance, which Google announced today. It's hilarious to hear all of the big wireless companies speaking about open platforms and software. Good for Google. This announcement and the focus on open platforms make me think back to Apple's recent, seemingly rushed announcement that it will finally be supporting third-party…

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Infiltrating the privacy movement

I had a fantastic teacher in high school named Rick Takagaki, who once played a class of mine two speeches in a row: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," and Malcolm X's "Message to the Grassroots." The speeches, while both incredibly compelling, couldn't be more different (and certainly couldn't be more different from what passes for rhetoric today)….

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A Visit to Vanuatu

My friend Skud recently went to Vanuatu, and I caught up with her as she passed through Auckland on her way to SF. Vanuatu is a Micronesian nation with no real industry other than tourism. She has a Flickr set of photos of a "solidly middle class" family that'll blow your mind if you've never been to a developing nation…

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Listen to O'Reilly Radar

O'Reilly Radar adds Listen button so you can have posts read to you.

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