On Thneeds and the Death of Display Ads (John Battelle) — the video interstitial. Once anathema to nearly every publisher on the planet, this full page unit is now standard on the New York Times, Wired, Forbes, and countless other publishing sites. And while audiences may balk at seeing a full-page video ad after clicking from a search engine or other referring agent, the fact is, skipping the ad is about as hard as turning the page in a magazine. And in magazines, full page ads work for marketers. If you’d raised a kid on AdBlocker, and then at age 15 she saw the ad-filled Internet for the first time, she’d think her browser had been taken over by malware. (via Tim Bray)
Crowdfunded Genomics — a girl with a never-before-seen developmental disorder had her exome (the useful bits of DNA) sequenced, and a never-before-seen DNA mutation found. The money for it was raised by crowdfunding. (via Ed Yong)
Britain To Provide Free Access to Scientific Publications (Guardian) — the Finch report is being implemented! British universities now pay around £200m a year in subscription fees to journal publishers, but under the new scheme, authors will pay “article processing charges” (APCs) to have their papers peer reviewed, edited and made freely available online. The typical APC is around £2,000 per article.
Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments: Five Puzzling Outcomes Explained (PDF) — Microsoft Research dug into A/B tests done on Bing and reveal some subtle truths. The statistical theory of controlled experiments is well understood, but the devil is in the details and the difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory [...] Generating numbers is easy; generating numbers you should trust is hard! (via Greg Linden)
Data Sequencing Costs (National Human Genome Research Institute) — Cost-per-megabase and cost-per-genome are dropping faster than Moore’s Law now they’ve introduced “second generation techniques” for sequencing, aka “high-throughput sequencing” or a parallelization of the process. (via JP Rangaswami)
Bullseye HD — web app which allows you to make the most of the time you spend with your team, by focusing your attention on the projects and actions that are off-track or not getting enough focus, rather than wasting precious time on status updates. (via Rowan Simpson)
Post-Hadoop (GigaOm) — Google have moved beyond the basic software that Hadoop was copying. Lots of interesting points in this article, including one fundamental reality – MapReduce (and thereby Hadoop) is purpose-built for organized data processing (jobs). It is baked from the core for workflows, not ad hoc exploration.
Stop Treating People Like Idiots (Tom Steinberg) — governments miss the easy opportunities to link the tradeoffs they make to the point where the impacts are felt. My argument is this: key compromises or decisions should be linked to from the points where people obtain a service, or at the points where they learn about one. If my bins are only collected once a fortnight, the reason why should be one click away from the page that describes the collection times.
UK Study Finds Mixed Telemedicine Benefits — The results, in a paper to the British Medical Journal published today, found telehealth can help patients with long-term conditions avoid emergency hospital care, and also reduce deaths. However, the estimated scale of hospital cost savings is modest and may not be sufficient to offset the cost of the technology, the report finds. Overall the evidence does not warrant full scale roll-out but more careful exploration, it says. (via Mike Pearson)
Pay Attention to What Nick Denton is Doing With Comments (Nieman Lab) — Most news sites have come to treat comments as little more than a necessary evil, a kind of padded room where the third estate can vent, largely at will, and tolerated mainly as a way of generating pageviews. This exhausted consensus makes what Gawker is doing so important. Nick Denton, Gawker’s founder and publisher, Thomas Plunkett, head of technology, and the technical staff have re-designed Gawker to serve the people reading the comments, rather than the people writing them.
Informed Consent Source of Confusion (Nature) — fascinating look at the downstream uses of collected bio data and the difficulty in gaining informed consent: what you might learn about yourself (do I want to know I have an 8.3% greater chance of developing Alzheimers? What would I do with that knowledge besides worry?), what others might learn about you (will my records be subpoenable?), and what others might make from the knowledge (will my data be used for someone else’s financial benefit?). (via Ed Yong)
DIY Bio SOPs — CC-licensed set of standard operating procedures for a bio lab. These are the SOPs that I provided to the Irish EPA as part of my “Consent Conditions” for “Contained Use of Class 1 Genetically Modified Microorganisms”. (via Alison Marigold)
Shuffling Cards — shuffle a deck of cards until it’s randomised. That order of cards probably hasn’t ever been seen before in the history of mankind.
What Facebook Knows (MIT Tech Review) — Analyzing the 69 billion friend connections among those 721 million people showed that the world is smaller than we thought: four intermediary friends are usually enough to introduce anyone to a random stranger. and our close friends strongly sway which information we share, but overall their impact is dwarfed by the collective influence of numerous more distant contacts—what sociologists call “weak ties.” It is our diverse collection of weak ties that most powerfully determines what information we’re exposed to.
Human Microbiome Mapped (The Scientist) — the Human Microbiome Project sequenced DNA of bacterial samples collected from 242 healthy volunteers. 3.5 terabytes of data, all accessible through public databases. One fascinating finding: Although each body part is characterised by some signature microbial groups, no species was universally present across every volunteer. “One of the HMP’s original mandates was to define the core microbiome, or the bugs that everyone shares,” said Huttenhower. “It looks like there really aren’t any.”
Kids Today Not Inattentive (Neuroskeptic) — There’s no evidence that children today are less attentive or more distractible than kids in the past, according to research just published by a team of Pennsylvania psychologists. (via Ed Yong)
Teaching Makematics at ITP (Greg Borenstein) — Computer vision algorithms, machine learning techniques, and 3D topology are becoming vital prerequisites to doing daily work in creative fields from interactive art to generative graphics, data visualization, and digital fabrication. If they don’t grapple with these subjects themselves, artists are forced to wait for others to digest this new knowledge before they can work with it.
When Code Can Kill or Cure (The Economist) — I’ve linked to the dangers of closed source devices before, but this caught my eye: “In the 1990s we developed an excellent radiation-therapy treatment-planning system and tried to give it away to other clinics,” says Dr Mackie. “But when we were told by the FDA that we should get our software approved, the hospital wasn’t willing to fund it.” He formed a spin-off firm specifically to get FDA approval. It took four years and cost millions of dollars. The software was subsequently sold as a traditional, closed-source product.
Gut Fungus (Wired) — the microbiome of bacteria in your body is being studied, but now researchers have scoured the poop of different species and found different mycological populations in each, and linked them to diseases.
Evaluating the Harm from Closed Source (Eric Raymond) — whether or not you argue with his ethics, you will appreciate the clear description of the things you’re trading off when you choose to use closed source software.
PyBossa — a free, open-source, platform for creating and running crowd-sourcing applications that utilise online assistance in performing tasks that require human cognition, knowledge or intelligence such as image classification, transcription, geocoding and more! (via The Open Knowledge Foundation)
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2012 (PDF) — what caught my eye: a Japanese games company with USD418 ARPU via in-game currency sales; she has a fantastic array of “technology has changed everything” slides topped by a sharp “and that’s just the beginning” slide; she’s bearish on US and global economies.
DNA Sans — writing 100nm tall, in DNA. There’s even a font sample. This is so cool. (via Ed Yong)
New Digital Divide = Wasting Time Online (NY Times) — “Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.” Self-control and internal discipline is just as important in kids as adults: success in school and in life only comes with the ability to say “no” to Facebook, porn sites, endless IM, and all the other distractions that the Internet offers.
South Korean Kinect+RFID Augmented Reality Theme Park — Sixty-five attractions over seven thematic stages contribute to the experience, which uses 3D video, holograms and augmented reality to immerse guests. As visitors and their avatars move through the park, they interact with the attractions using RFID wristbands, while Kinect sensors recognize their gestures, voices and faces. (via Seb Chan)
Digital Citizenship — computers in schools should be about more than teaching more than just typing to kids, they should know how to intelligently surf, to assess the quality of their sources, to stay safe from scammers and bullies, to have all the training they need to be citizens in an age when life is increasingly lived online. (via Pia Waugh)
Shiri = Japanese Robotic Ass (YouTube) — I couldn’t watch after 2m30s or so when he starts slapping the robot ass. I never imagined a butt as UI. I eagerly await the hobbyist version, the Arduino Ass Shield. (via Ed Yong)
Facebook Tests ‘Pay to Promote’ Tool (BBC) — pay to raise prominence of your message, feature being tested in New Zealand. It’s when they offer splash-screen unclosable must-sit-through autoplay video ads as a product that the shark will have been jumped, caught, stripped off fins, and dumped in the ocean with a “EAT AT MORTIE’S” neon sign on its rotting corpse.
The Newsonomics of Pricing 101 (Nieman Lab) — observes that we are starting to get data on what people will pay for, and how much. Subscribers of the Economist didn’t generally know how much they were paying, and over-estimated the price—suggesting they’d pay more. That suggests pricing power. It makes sense that publishers, new to the pricing trade, have approached it gingerly. Yet the circulation revenue upside may well be substantial. (via Julie Starr)
Head of Google News on the Future of News — In 2009, the typical news site saw 50% of their unique traffic coming to their homepage, 20-25% from search, and 30-35% from story pages. Social was almost nonexistent. We’re now seeing the homepage receive only 25% of inbound traffic, search with 30-35%, and the rest going to story pages, a huge portion of which is driven by social networks. The Atlantic said they’re seeing 30-35% of their traffic coming from social environments. (via Tim O’Reilly)