- How to Redesign Your App Without Pissing Everybody Off (Anil Dash) — the basic straightforward stuff that gets your users on-side. Anil’s making a career out of being an adult.
- Clockwork Raven (Twitter) — open source project to send data analysis tasks to Mechanical Turkers.
- Updates from the Tour in China (Bunnie Huang) — my dream geek tourism trip: going around Chinese factories and bazaars with MIT geeks.
- How to Implement an Algorithm from a Scientific Paper — I have implemented many complex algorithms from books and scientific publications, and this article sums up what I have learned while searching, reading, coding and debugging. (via Siah)
Comms 101, RoboTurking, Geek Tourism, and Implementing Papers
MOOCs get the attention, but DIY and peer-to-peer exchange are more fertile grounds for development
Somehow, recently, a lot of people have taken an interest in the broadcast of canned educational materials, and this practice — under a term that proponents and detractors have settled on, massive open online course (MOOC) — is getting a publicity surge. I know that the series of online classes offered by Stanford proved to be extraordinarily popular, leading to the foundation of Udacity and a number of other companies. But I wish people would stop getting so excited over this transitional technology. The attention drowns out two truly significant trends in progressive education: do-it-yourself labs and peer-to-peer exchanges.
In the current opinion torrent, Clay Shirky treats MOOCs in a recent article, and Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, writes (in a Boston Globe subscription-only article) that traditional colleges will have to deal with the MOOC challenge. Jon Bruner points out on Radar that non-elite American institutions could use a good scare (although I know a lot of people whose lives were dramatically improved by attending such colleges). The December issue of Communications of the ACM offers Professor Richard A. DeMillo from the Georgia Institute of Technology assessing the possible role of MOOCs in changing education, along with an editorial by editor-in-chief Moshe Y. Vardi culminating with, “If I had my wish, I would wave a wand and make MOOCs disappear.”
There’s a popular metaphor for this early stage of innovation: we look back to the time when film-makers made the first moving pictures with professional performers by setting up cameras before stages in theaters. This era didn’t last long before visionaries such as Georges Méliès, D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, and Luis Buñuel uncovered what the new medium could do for itself. How soon will colleges get tired of putting lectures online and offer courses that take advantage of new media? Read more…
3D Printing Booth, Crowdsourcing Nanoscience, Mobile Numbers, and Web Techniques
- 3D Printing Photobooth Opening in Japan (io9) — A technician at the lab will scan your body (much like with early photography, you’ll need to be able to hold a certain pose for 15 minutes) and print out an impressively realistic 3D photo that captures not only your features, but also the basic textures of your clothing and hair. (via Julie Starr)
- Feynman Flowers — crowdsourcing analysis of STM imagery for nanoscale physics research. (via OKFN)
- Mobile Trends — Android on exponential growth vs iOS’s linear growth, and many more data-driven observations. Apple has a mobile product at every $50 price point between $0 and $850.
- The Definitive Guide to Forms-Based Website Authentication (Stack Overflow) — exactly what the title says.
A doctor looks to software communities as inspiration for her own research
(The following article sprang from a collaboration between Andy Oram and Brigitte Piniewski to cover open source concepts in an upcoming book on health care. This book, titled “Wireless Health: Remaking of Medicine by Pervasive Technologies,” is edited by Professor Mehran Mehregany of Case Western Reserve University. and has an expected release date of February 2013. It is designed to provide the reader with the fundamental and practical knowledge necessary for an overall grasp of the field of wireless health. The approach is an integrated, multidisciplinary treatment of the subject by a team of leading topic experts. The selection here is part of a larger chapter by Brigitte Piniewski about personalized medicine and public health.)
Medical research and open source software have much to learn from each other. As software transforms the practice and delivery of medicine, the communities and development methods that have grown up around software–particularly free and open source software–also provide models that doctors and researchers can apply to their own work. Some of the principles that software communities can offer for spreading health throughout the population include these:
Like a living species, software evolves as code is updated and functionality is improved.
Software of low utility is dropped as users select better tools and drive forward functionality to meet new use cases.
Open source culture demonstrates how a transparent approach to sharing software practices enables problem areas to be identified and corrected accurately, cost-effectively, and at the pace of change.
Crowdsourcing Flights, Teaching Programming, Redeploying Finance Engineers, and Recognising Cat Faces
- Flightfox — Real people compete to find you the best flights. Crowdsourcing beating algorithms …. (via NY Times)
- Code Monster (Crunchzilla) — a fun site for parents to learn to program with their kids. Loving seeing so much activity around teaching kids to program. (via Greg Linden)
- Telling People to Leave Finance (Cathy O’Neil) — There’s an army of engineers in finance that could be putting their skills to use with actual innovation rather than so-called financial innovation.
Edu Tech, Harnessing Audiences, ALL CAPS, and Effective Meetings
- The Seductive Allure of Edu-Tech Reform (Chris Lehmann) — While it may be seductive to think that rooms of children on computers, each following some computerized instruction at their pace, monitored by school aides, with a handful of teachers around when things get particularly tough is a solution to both the educational and fiscal crisis we find ourselves, we need to understand that it’s fools gold we would be chasing.
- human.io — write microapps, tasks for people to do. This is a simple way to allow a publisher to turn a passive audience into a mobile army of participants. This allows publishers to easily create missions and activities to get people involved more directly than just reading stuff on a screen. If Twitter is HTML, then Human.io is CGI. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Why Contracts Have UPPER CASE PARAGRAPHS — fascinating! (via Anil Dash)
- Designing Meetings to Work (Luke Wroblewski) — notes from Kevin Hoffman’s talk. Doing something is better than seeing something, which is better than hearing something. THIS.
Open Invention Network plans to mine open source projects for patent busters
Patent ambushes are on the rise again, and cases such as Apple/Samsung shows that prior art really has to swing the decision–obviousness or novelty is not a strong enough defense. Obviousness and novelty are subjective decisions made by a patent examiner, judge, or jury.
In this context, a recent conversation I had with Keith Bergelt, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Invention Network takes on significance. OIN was formed many years ago to protect the vendors, developers, and users of Linux and related open source software against patent infringement. They do this the way companies prepare a defense: accumulating a portfolio of patents of their own.
A portrait of a design contest and what it says about the future of co-creation.
I had decided to update the branding at one of my companies, and that meant re-thinking my logo.
Here’s the old logo:
When it was all done, I had been enveloped by an epic wave of 200 designs from 38 different designers.
It was a flash mob, a virtual meetup constructed for the express purpose of creating a new logo. The system itself was relatively lean, providing just enough “framing” to facilitate rapid iteration, where lots of derivative ideas could be presented, shaped and then re-shaped again.
The bottom line is that based on the primary goal of designing a new logo, I can say without hesitation that the model works.
Not only did the end product manifest as I hoped it would (see below), but the goodness of real-time engagement was intensely stimulating and richly illuminating. At one point, I was maintaining 10 separate conversations with designers spread across the Americas, Asia and Europe. Talk about parallelizing the creative process.
In the end, the project yielded eight worthy logo designs and not one but two contest winners! It was the creative equivalent of a Chakra experience: cathartic, artistic and outcome-driven at the same time.
OpenROV Funded, Teen Surprises, Crowdsourced Net Transparency, and Like Humour
- OpenROV Funded in 1 Day (Kickstarter) — an open source robotic submarine designed to make underwater exploration possible for everyone. (via BoingBoing)
- McAfee Digital Divide Study (PDF) — lots of numbers showing parents are unaware of what their kids do. (via Julie Starr)
- Herdict — crowdsourced transparency to reveal who is censoring what online. (via Twitter)
- You Really Really Like Me (NY Times) — cute collection of visual riffs on “like” and “tweet this” iconography. I like my humour pixellated.