- The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (BoingBoing) — Cory Doctorow’s barnburner talk on how the only way copyright maximalists can win is if general purpose computers are locked down like infectious disease agents or fissionable material.
- Valve Price Experiments (Geekwire) — The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates. For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market. […] We don’t understand what’s going on. All we know is we’re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us. And there are clearly things that we don’t understand because a simple analysis of these statistics implies very contradictory yet reproducible results. Read the whole thing, it’s fascinating.
- Android Updates Are a Mess Because of the Business Model (ZDNet) — interesting analysis that hardware fragmentation plus the manufacturer/carrier/consumer disconnect makes delayed updates almost inevitable. The Android community is traveling along a path that the old Windows Mobile platform followed a few years ago. It was a disaster then, and Microsoft wisely abandoned that entire business model when it developed Windows Phone 7. Alas, Google doesn’t have that option, which means that Android users are going to continue to face a mess when it comes to updates.
- Organized Readthrough of Godel Escher Bach (Reddit) — online book club, essentially, for this computing classic. First chapters kick off on Jan 17.
Copywars, Pricing, Fragmentation, and Book Clubbery
Version Control, Web-based ID, Mobile Design, and Node.js Tools
- The History of Version Control (Francis Irving) — concise history of the key advances in managing source code versions. Worth it just for the delicious apposition of “history” and “version control”.
- A Look Inside Mobile Design Patterns — Sample chapter on how different apps handle invitations, from a new [O’Reilly-published, huzzah!] book on mobile design patterns. (via David Kaneda)
- Node Toolbox — concise compendium of resources for node.js development.
Newton's Notebooks, Creative Commons, Node HTTP, and Data Business
- Newton’s Notebooks Digitised — wonderful for historians, professional and amateur. I love (a) his handwriting; (b) the pages full of long division that remind us what an amazing time-saver the calculator and then computer was; (c) use of “yn” for “then (the y is actually a thorn, pronounced “th”, and it’s from this that we get “ye”, actually pronounced pronounced “the”). All that and chromatic separation of light, inverse square law, and alchemical mysteries.
- Creative Commons Kicks Off 4.0 Round — public discussion process around issues that will lead to a new version of the CC licenses.
- Holding Back the Age of Data (Redmonk) — Absent a market with well understood licensing and distribution mechanisms, each data negotiation – whether the subject is attribution, exclusivity, license, price or all of the above – is a one off. Very good essay into the evolution of a mature software industry into an immature data industry.
Future Tech, Book Lawsuits, Site Design, and Sundae Problems
- Russell Davies: Four Thought (audio) — some very nice thinking on the future of technology.
- The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books (The Atlantic) — Authors Guild v. HathiTrust is a strange legal twist. For an association of professional writers, the Guild seems to have forgotten some of the basic principles of its craft, such as not placing sympathetic figures like librarians in the role of villains. Almost comically, the Guild’s press release trumpeting its lawsuit against HathiTrust augurs a dark day in the not-too-distant future when old works, including obscure Yiddish texts, are “abducted” and “released” to thousands of students and professors.
- The Design Behind How Many Really — this is fantastic stuff, showing the evolution of their thinking.
- Science Museums are Failing Grownups — I think this is a sundae problem. A sundae is a bowl full of ice cream. You put some stuff on top of it, but it remains, fundamentally, a bowl full of ice cream. And when I talk about examples of really great adult engagement in science museums, I am, generally, talking about the sprinkles, not the ice cream. The museums acknowledge the problem, but they’re dealing with it by adding in a couple of things here and there. A traveling exhibit. One exhibit out of the whole museum. One night a month. What they really need are serious changes to the bulk of the experience. Sundae problem. I like this.
With Metro, it's clear Microsoft has put a lot of thought into touchscreen design.
Microsoft's Metro interface offers plenty for digital book designers to study. The best part? Whether or not Microsoft actually ships something that matches their demo, designers can benefit from the great thinking they've done.
Gamification Critique, Google+ API, Time Series Visualization, and SQL on Map-Reduce
- A Quick Buck by Copy and Paste — scorching review of O’Reilly’s Gamification by Design title. tl;dr: reviewer, he does not love. Tim responded on Google Plus. Also on the gamification wtfront, Mozilla Open Badges. It talks about establishing a part of online identity, but to me it feels a little like a Mozilla Open Gradients project would: cargocult-confusing the surface for the substance.
- Google + API Launched — first piece of a Google + API is released. It provides read-only programmatic access to people, posts, checkins, and shares. Activities are retrieved as triples of (subject, verb, object), which is semweb cute and ticks the social object box, but is unlikely in present form to reverse Declining numbers of users.
- Cube — open source time-series visualization software from Square, built on MongoDB, Node, and Redis. As Artur Bergman noted, the bigger news might be that Square is using MongoDB (known meh).
- Tenzing — an SQL implementation on top of Map/Reduce. Tenzing supports a mostly complete SQL implementation (with several extensions) combined with several key characteristics such as heterogeneity, high performance, scalability, reliability, metadata awareness, low latency, support for columnar storage and structured data, and easy extensibility. Tenzing is currently used internally at Google by 1000+ employees and serves 10000+ queries per day over 1.5 petabytes of compressed data. In this paper, we describe the architecture and implementation of Tenzing, and present benchmarks of typical analytical queries. (via Raphaël Valyi)
Doctorovian Keynote, Bagcheck Tech, Render Webpages, and Science Reading
- Cory Doctorow’s SIGGRAPH Keynote (BoingBoing) — the latest from Cory on reforming copyright.
- Bagcheck Technology — great list of services and systems used by the Bagcheck folks.
- Berkelium — library to render webpages via Google’s Chromium web browser. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Sci Foo Reading List — Edd Dumbill shared his reading list from Science Foo Camp.
Poor Economics, Shrinking Web, Orphans Put to Work, Realtime Log Monitoring
- 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)
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)