- Poor Economics — this is possibly the best thing I will read all year, an insightful (and research-backed) book digging into the economics of poverty. Read the lecture slides online, they’ll give you a very clear taste of what the book’s about. Love that the website is so very complementary to the book, and 100% aligned with the ambition to convince and spread the word. Kindle-purchasable, too. Sample boggle (one of many): children of children born during the Chinese famine are smaller, and children who were in utero during Ramadan earn less as adults.
- The Web Is Shrinking (All Things D) — graph that makes Facebook look massively important and the rest of the web look insignificant. It doesn’t take into account the nature of the interaction (shopping? research? chat?), and depends heavily on the comScore visits metric being a reliable proxy for “use”. I’d expect to see other neutral measures of “use” decreasing (e.g., searches for “school holidays”) if overall web use were decreasing, yet they don’t seem to be. Nonetheless, Facebook has become the new millennium’s AOL: keywords, grandparents, and a zealous devotion to advertising. At least Facebook doesn’t send me #&#^%*ing CDs.
- Orphan Works Project (University of Michigan) — library will digitize orphaned works for researchers. Lovely to see someone breaking the paralysis that orphaned works induce. (via BoingBoing)
- log.io — node.js system for real-time log monitoring in your browser. (via Vasudev Ram)
ENTRIES TAGGED "books"
Poor Economics, Shrinking Web, Orphans Put to Work, Realtime Log Monitoring
Eliza Aftermath, Open Textbook, Crowdsourcing Music Fingerprinting, Singularity Skepticism
- Eliza pt 3 — delightful recapitulation of the reaction to Eliza and Weizenbaum’s reaction to that reaction, including his despair over the students he taught at MIT. Weizenbaum wrote therein of his students at MIT, which was of course all about science and technology. He said that they “have already rejected all ways but the scientific to come to know the world, and [they] seek only a deeper, more dogmatic indoctrination in that faith (although that word is no longer in their vocabulary).”
- Computer Vision Models — textbook written in the open for public review. (via Hacker News)
- Echoprint — open source and open data music fingerprinting service from MusicBrainz and others. I find it interesting that doing something new with music data requires crowdsourcing because nobody has the full set.
- Three Arguments Against The Singularity (Charlie Stross) — We clearly want machines that perform human-like tasks. We want computers that recognize our language and motivations and can take hints, rather than requiring instructions enumerated in mind-numbingly tedious detail. But whether we want them to be conscious and volitional is another question entirely. I don’t want my self-driving car to argue with me about where we want to go today. I don’t want my robot housekeeper to spend all its time in front of the TV watching contact sports or music videos. And I certainly don’t want to be sued for maintenance by an abandoned software development project.
ASCII Diagrams, Bayesian Textbook, Telehacks Interview, and Table Resizing in CSS
- ASCII Flow — create ASCII diagrams. Awesome. (via Hacker News)
- Principles of Uncertainty — probability and statistics textbook, for maths students to build up to understanding Bayesian reasoning.
- Playable Archaeology: An Interview with the Telehacks Anonymous Creator (Andy Baio) — The inspiration was my son. I had shown him the old movies Hackers, Wargames, and Colossus: The Forbin Project and he really liked them. After seeing Hackers and Wargames, he really wanted to start hacking stuff on his own. I’d taught him some programming, but I didn’t want him doing any actual hacking, so I decided to make a simulation so he could telnet to hosts, hack them, and get the feel of it, but safely. (Andy was the interviewer, not the creator)
- Responsive Data Tables — CSS ways to reformat data tables if the screen width is inadequate for the default table layout. (via Keith Bolland)
In-Line Computing, What Price All The Books?, Android SIM Toolkit, and Small Manufacturing Grows
- Raspberry Pi — the creator of the game Elite has made an inline computer the size of a thumb drive–it plugs into an HDMI cable on one end and USB on the other. 700MHz CPU, OpenGL, 1080p-capable, running Ubuntu. Pricetag: $25. The mission is to supply them to schools.
- A Budget for Babel (Tim Carmody) — What would you pony up for instant access to every book? Interesting insight into the value and utility of such a service.
- Android’s Achilles Heel: The Sim Toolkit — Now if you live in the States, you might not even know what the STK is, so a bit of explaining is in order. Put simply, the STK allows carriers to load a simple set of menus and ‘applications’ on your SIM card. Again, on your fancy iPhone, you may question the need or purpose for such a thing, but that’s because you are still years behind and using a credit card. Here, where credit cards are virtually unknown, the present and future of payments is Mobile Money, which is almost always delivered via.. you guessed it, the STK.
- Democratizing Design — AutoDesk partner with Ponoko and Techshop to allow anyone to design 3-D models, and then turn them into real-life products. Great to see this kind of small-run custom manufacturing heading toward the mainstream.
MongoDB for Guardian, Visualization Book, Mobile CouchDB, and Fast Approximate String Retrieval
- Why We Chose MongoDB for Guardian.co.uk (SlideShare) — they’re using MongoDB’s flexible schema, as schema upgrades were pain in their previous system (Oracle). I think of these as the database equivalent of dynamic typing in languages like Perl and Ruby. (via Paul Rowe)
- Solving Problems with Visual Analytics — This book is the result of a community effort of the partners of the VisMaster Coordinated Action funded by the European Union. The overarching aim of VisMaster was to create a research roadmap that outlines the current state of visual analytics across many disciplines, and to describe the next steps that have to be taken to foster a strong visual analytics community, thus enabling the development of advanced visual analytic applications. (via Mark Madsen)
- iOS-Couchbase (GitHub) — a build of distributed key-value store CouchDB, which will keep your mobile data in sync with a remote store. No mean feat given CouchDB itself has Erlang as a dependency. (via Mike Olson)
- SimString — A fast and simple algorithm for approximate string retrieval in C++ with Python and Ruby bindings, opensourced with modified BSD license. (via Matt Biddulph)
Fluidinfo's new API allows anyone to add information to O'Reilly book and author objects.
Fluidinfo's new O'Reilly API contains information from O'Reilly, Amazon, Google Books, LibraryThing, and GoodReads. But most importantly, anyone can "write" their own information to the book and author objects.
Twitter Numbers, Online News, Emotional Complexity, and Making Described
- Twitter Numbers — growing at half a million accounts a day (how many are spammers, d’ya think?), over 140M tweets sent each day.
- Online vs Newspaper News (Mashable) — The Poynter Institute, a landmark of American journalism research, has determined that as of the end of 2010, more people get their news from the Internet than from newspapers — and more ad dollars went to online outlets than to newspapers, too. (via Sacha Judd)
- Blue Lacuna: Lessons Learned Writing the World’s Longest Interactive Fiction (PDF) — While I felt Progue was largely a success, the extreme complexity of the character’s code made difficulties with him both intensely difficult to diagnose and repair, and failures all the more mimesis-breaking for an engaged audience. In addition, the subtle text substitutions and altered behaviors provided in many cases too opaque a window into Progue’s interior workings. From informal interviews and published reviews I gathered that players could often not tell which conversation responses might cause Progue to become more submissive, paternal, and so on. In many cases, the change was not noticeable at all, and did not successfully indicate to players that their actions had had an eect on the character. More mechanisms to let the player shape their relationship with Progue more directly might have created a stronger feeling of agency for players, and an increased ability to shape the story more to their liking. Lessons for people designing complex emotional states into their products. (via Zack Urlocker)
- From Head to Hand (Slate) — I was searching for the place where someone, anyone, writes about that epiphany where you see what you have made and it is different from what you had conceived. I was searching for a description of how an object can displace a bit of the world. I was avid. I wanted someone to write a description of Homo faber, the maker of things. I wanted a story of making told without the penumbra of romanticising how hard it is, without nostalgia.
Titles that caught the attention of Radar's contributors.
I asked the Radar folks for the best books they read in 2010. Perhaps somewhere in this list of recommendations you'll find a title that tickles your fancy enough to push aside the old books.
Experimental Design, Distributed Microsatire, Annotations, and Machine Learning
- Evaluating Extraordinary Claims — science isn’t easy, and the most difficult part of science is experimental design. Peter Norvig takes us through a handful of studies that claim to have found prayers to be effective, and critiques their experimental design. Lest you think scientists only criticize prayer experiments, read the Atlantic’s profile of John Ioannidis.
- Thimbl — decentralized microblogging using SSH and finger with an hilarious manifesto. Performance art at its finest. (via Jason Ryan)
- Annotator — open source toolkit for annotating
text, written for The Open Shakespeare project. (via Rufus Pollock‘s blog about it)
- Machine Learning: A Love Story — presentation on the history of machine learning, by Hilary Mason of bit.ly. (via Julie Steele)