- Improvisation and Forgiveness (JP Rangaswami) — what makes us human is not repetitive action. Human occupations should require human intellect, and there’s no more human activity than making a judgement call when processes have failed a customer.
- Kinect Tech in Laptop Prototypes — “waving your hands around at your laptop” will be the new “bellowing into your walkie-talkie phone”. (via Greg Linden)
- Beautiful Web Type — demo page for the best from Google’s web fonts directory. Source on GitHub.
- Ethics of Brain Boosting, Discussion (Hacker News) — this comment in particular: in my initial reckless period of self-experimentation, I managed to induce phosphenes by accident — blue white flashes in the entire visual field, blanking out everything else. Both contacts were in the supraorbital region. I ceased my experiments for a while and returned to the literature. And you thought that typo where you accidentally took the database offline was bad ….
Turning off, opting out, and disconnecting to save my brain for the things I really want to use it for.
Jim Stogdill is tired of running on the info treadmill, so he's changing his media habits. His new approach: "Where I can, adapt to my surroundings, where I can't, adapt my surroundings to me."
Human Labour, Kinect in Laptops, Web Fonts, and Brain Boosting
Free Service Isn't Sustainable, Big Data, Crowdsourced Historic Science, and Cognitive Biases
- Don’t Be a Free User (Maciej Ceglowski) — pay for your free services, else they’ll go away.
- Katta — Lucene for massive data sets in the cloud. (via Pete Warden)
- Old Weather — crowdsourced transcription of old nautical journals to yield historical information for climate researchers. (via National Digital Forum)
- Siddhartha Mukherjee Talks About Cancer (Guardian) — fascinating profile of the author of a “biography of cancer”. Touches on the cognitive biases we’re all prone to, and their damaging effects on patients. Mukherjee cites a study which found that women with breast cancer recalled eating a high-fat diet, whereas women without cancer did not. But the very same study had asked both sets of women about their diets long before any of them developed cancer, and the diet of those who now had breast cancer had been no more fatty than the rest (via Courtney Johnston)
Dispel Your Illusions, Simple Mac OS X Apps, Assisted Translation, and AutoTagging
- How to Dispel Your Illusions (NY Review of Books) — Freeman Dyson writing about Daniel Kahneman’s latest book. Only by understanding our cognitive illusions can we hope to transcend them.
- Appify-UI (github) — Create the simplest possible Mac OS X apps. Uses HTML5 for the UI. Supports scripting with anything and everything. (via Hacker News)
- Translation Memory (Etsy) — using Lucene/SOLR to help automate the translation of their UI. (via Twitter)
- Automatically Tagging Entities with Descriptive Phrases (PDF) — Microsoft Research paper on automated tagging. Under the hood it uses Map/Reduce and the Microsoft Dryad framework. (via Ben Lorica)
MIND CONTROL COPTERS!, Better Security, Ratings Systems, and Lightweight Reference
- Continuous Three-Dimensional Control of a Virtual Helicopter Using a Motor Imagery Based Brain-Computer Interface (PLOSone) — direct brain control is becoming a reality, tiny step by tiny step. Also: HELICOPTERS!
- Forward Secrecy for HTTPS — Google contributed a better HTTPS cipher suite to OpenSSL, one that doesn’t share keys between conversations. Yay the Goog for giving back.
- Ratings Systems (Quora) — very good answer from the VP of Engineering at Netflix about the purposes and effects of different ratings and feedback systems. Full of pithy and true guidelines like: Your users have a certain mental budget they will invest in your rating system. The more work you make each decision, the fewer decisions you will get. This is true in many contexts other than rating systems as well. You can’t randomly throw feedback mechanisms into your app, you must design them as deliberately and thoughtfully as the rest of your site.
- InstaCSS — very simple very useful reference site. Grod like simplicity.
Libraries and the Internet, Cheap Multicore, Online Exceeds Print, Perpetuating Ignorance
- Libraries: Where It All Went Wrong — I was asked to provocatively help focus librarians on the opportunities offered to libraries in the Internet age. If I ask you to talk about your collections, I know that you will glow as you describe the amazing treasures you have. When you go for money for digitization projects, you talk up the incredible cultural value. ANZAC! Constitution! Treaties! Development of a nation! But then if I look at the results of those digitization projects, I find the shittiest websites on the planet. It’s like a gallery spent all its money buying art and then just stuck the paintings in supermarket bags and leaned them against the wall. CC-BY-SA licensed, available in nicely-formatted A4 and Letter versions.
- Green Array Chips — 144 cores on a single chip, $20 per chip in batches of 10. From the creator of Forth, Chuck Moore. (via Hacker News)
- The Atlantic’s Online Revenue Exceeds Print — doesn’t say how, other than “growth” (instead of the decline of print). (via Andy Baio)
- On the Perpetuation of Ignorance (PDF) — ignorance about an issue leads to dependence leads to government trust leads to avoidance of information about that issue. Again I say to Gov 2.0 advocates that simply making data available doesn’t generate a motivated, engaged, change-making citizenry. (via Roger Dennis)
Android Charting, Illusion of Insight, Mapping API, and Science Storytelling
- A Chart Engine — Android charting engine.
- The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight — we are driven to create and form groups and then believe others are wrong just because they are others.
- Urban Mapping API — add rich geographic data to web and non-web applications.
- Tell Us A Story, Victoria — a university science story-telling contest.
Illusions, Crowdsourcing, Translations, and Favourite Numbers
- Illusion Contest — every year they run an open contest for optical illusions. Every year new perceptual illusions are discovered, exploiting hitherto unresearched areas of our brain’s functioning.
- Citizen Science Alliance — the team behind GalaxyZoo, who help other researchers in need of crowdsourcing support.
- Ancient Lives — crowdsourced translation and reconstruction of ancient papyri from Oxyrhyncus, already found new gospels (in which the number of the beast is 616, not 666).
- Favourite Number — tell a story about your favourite number. Alex Bellos is behind it, and talked about the great stories he’s collected so far. Contribute now, watch this space to learn more about the stories.