- 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)
Public Spending Links, Telemedicine Questioned, Comments Re-examined, and Informed Consent
- 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)
Social Mining, Machine Learning, Traffic Patterns, and OpenOffice Autophoenixes
- Digital Mirror Demo (video) — demo of the Digital Mirror tool that analyses relationships. Some very cute visualizations of social proximity and presentation of the things you can learn from email, calendar, etc. (via kgreene on Twitter)
- Free Machine Learning Books — list of free online books from MetaOptimize readers. (via newsycombinator on Twitter)
- Chewie Stats — sweet chart of blog traffic after something went memetic. Interesting for the different qualities of traffic from each site: As one might expect, Reddit users go straight for the punchline and bail immediately. One might assume the the same behavior from Facebook users, but no, among the visitors that hang around, they rank third! Likewise I would have expected MetaFilter readers to hang around and Boing Boing users to quickly move along; but in fact, the opposite is the case. (via chrissmessina on Twitter)
- The Document Foundation — new home of OpenOffice, which has a name change to LibreOffice. I hope this is the start of a Mozilla-like rebirth, as does Matt Asay. (via migueldeicaza on Twitter)
Google Acquisitions, Good Ideas, Data Taxonomy, and Jukebox Firmware
- Google Acquisition Spending Spree (Venturebeat) — Google is now on track to acquire a new company every two weeks this year. (via azaaza on Twitter)
- Where Good Ideas Come From (YouTube) — this perfectly describes Foo.
- A Taxonomy of Data Science — great first post on a new blog by data practitioners.
- Rockbox — open source (GPL) firmware for MP3 player hardware, which turns it into a full-featured “jukebox” player.
Crowdsourced Climate Science, Underground Map of Science, Programming Clue, and Great Molbio Writing
- GalaxyZoo for Climate Science? — GalaxyZoo is the crowdsourced physics research. A group of climate scientists want the same, to help predict “weather events”. See also the Guardian article. (via adw_tweets on Twitter)
- Crispian’s Science Map — gorgeous Underground-style map showing scientists and their contributions. (via arjenlentz on Twitter)
- Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier (Ted Dziuba) — opinionated piece, but boils down to “keep it simple until you can’t”, and “the more you know about the actual hardware, the better you can code”. With EC2, when Amazon says “I/O performance: High”, what does that even mean? Is that suitable for a heavy random read scenario? (via Hacker News)
- The Molecular Biology Carnival, 2ed — collection of excellent blog writing about molecular biology. (via BioinfoTools on Twitter)
Science Blogs, AppEngine Community, Kickstarter for Good, Manmade Geography
- Guardian Science Blogs — the latest in a series of science blog aggregators. Nobody is too sure what benefits a blog umbrella like Discovery or Nature (or the Guardian) offers bloggers. Regardless of this, the content is fantastic.
- v2ex: A Community Running on AppEngine — no hosting costs, massive scalability.
- Raising Money for Vanuatu Arts Center — a Kickstarter project to fund a 6-hectare/14.8-acre off-the-grid artists retreat, cultural preservation and technological education space in the remote Pacific island of Vanuatu. Kickstarter is incredible. (via BoingBoing)
- Orbiter (XKCD) — names are human artifacts, as every Internet mapping company knows. I’m reminded of how Gracenote, who run CDDB, store every datum submitted to them, and consequently have nearly fifty spellings of Britney Spears.
Science Blogs, Concussion Games, Packet Sniffer, and an Astonishing Product Name
- Sci Blogs — aggregated and hosted blogs from New Zealand scientists and researchers. A planet aggregator has become a key part of building a community, even outside programming.
- Super Better, or How To Turn Recovery Into a Game — Jane McGonigal had a concussion, and created a game to keep her doing things that aided her recovery. Interesting discussion of how to build a game around a serious real-life problem. And honestly, people: if she can make concussion into a game, surely you can make your crap websites suck less?
- Justniffer — packet sniffer that identifies HTTP requests and emits an Apache-style logfile showing what was requested. (via Simon Willison)
- Vegemite Names New Spread — the original name was crowdsourced in 1923. They decided to repeat the process for their new product, a spread made from Vegemite and Cream Cheese. The winning name came from an Australian web designer: “Vegemite iSnack 2.0″. This does not appear to be a joke (no mention that the commercial will use music from Rick Astley). Unsure which will make Americans more ill: the name, the idea of eating Vegemite mixed with cream cheese, or the idea of eating Vegemite at all.
Brace yourself: kids, design, newspapers, and robots. It can only be another collection of four tasty links (or the key elements of the least successful Disney holiday movie ever).
- Our Work So Far This Year – amazing blog entry about St Pauls high school in England, which has had exceptional technologists come to speak to their ITC class. Who? Oh, only the CEO of Arduino company tinker.it, Steven Johnson, Cory Doctorow, Gavin Starks, Phil Gyford, Tom Armitage, …. They recorded the talks and are building their own YouTube channel. The really interesting bit is at the top where they talk about the skills that their 13-year olds are coming into their ICT class with: last year they were teaching tabbed browsing to the first years, this year the first years are coming in with Firefox on a USB drive so they can keep their bookmarks wherever they go ….
- Infinite Zoom Into Milk – a glimpse at a delectable series of books that drill into everyday items to reveal manufacturing and design decisions, materials, etc.
- Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet – a very classy compilation of favourite blog posts and Tweets, assembled into a tabloid-sized newspaper with tastefully typesetting. Are there sufficient numbers of offline people left that it’s worth producing a mainstream magazine compiled, like this, from online material? If so, how long until those economics no longer apply?
- Anybots Launches – congrats to Trevor Blackwell, whose presence and work have graced several Foo camps. Anybots, his telepresence robot company, revealed their products at CES last week.