"culture" entries

Four short links: 21 October 2015

Four short links: 21 October 2015

Technology Ideals, Saying No, Future Things, and a Sweet Article Format

  1. How Will We Live?we tend to imbue technology with the ideals of the people who have created it, and the messages of those who market it. However, creators and marketeers only ever set the affordances and suggest a use case. A technology’s true impact will always be defined by those who use it. Whether that’s knitting groups or fascist regimes, technology becomes an amplifier and accelerator of the social, cultural, and political values of the groups who use it, not those who made it. And it will continue to be used in ways you can never imagine.
  2. Fortunate People Say No (Ian Bogost) — you have to say ‘yes’ for a long while before you can earn the right to say ‘no.’ Even then, you usually can’t say ‘no’ at whim. By the time you can say ‘no’ indiscriminately, then you’re already so super-privileged that being able to say ‘no’ is not a prerequisite of success, but a result of it. (via Austin Kleon) (via Cory Doctorow)
  3. The Thing From The Future (Stuart Candy) — a game for creating thought-provoking artifacts from the future. Design fiction idea generator, in other words.
  4. Sweet Article Format — big lede with shortcuts to relevant sections. As Courtney says, “while I don’t know what I’d use this for, I like it.” (via Courtney Johnston)
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Four short links: 19 October 2015

Four short links: 19 October 2015

Academic Robot Kit, Countertop Biolab, Generous Interfaces, and Universal Design

  1. Open Academic Robot KitA common set of parts, specifications, and software to catalyse the design, construction, dissemination, and re-use of robots in an academic and research environment. (via Robohub)
  2. Amino: Desktop Bioengineering for Everyone (Indiegogo) — a counter-top sized biolab that enables anyone to grow living cells to create new and interesting things – like fragrances, flavours, materials, medicine, and more.
  3. Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections (Mitchell Whitelaw) — Decades of digitisation have made a wealth of digital cultural material available online. Yet search — the dominant interface to these collections — is incapable of representing this abundance. Search is ungenerous: it withholds information, and demands a query. This paper argues for a more generous alternative: rich, browsable interfaces that reveal the scale and complexity of digital heritage collections. (via Courtney Johnston)
  4. The Universal Design (Christine Dodrill) — there need to be five basic primitives in your application: State – What is true now? What was true? What happened in the past? What is the persistent view of the world? Events – What is being changed? How will it be routed? Policy – Can a given event be promoted into a series of actions? Actions – What is the outcome of the policy? Mechanism – How should an event be taken in and an action put out? […] All you need is a command queue feeding into a thread pool which feeds out into a transaction queue which modifies state. And with that you can explain everything from VMWare to Google.
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Four short links: 21 September 2015

Four short links: 21 September 2015

2-D Single-Stroke Recognizer, Autonomous Vehicle Permits, s3concurrent, and Surviving the Music Industry

  1. $1 Unistroke Recognizera 2-D single-stroke recognizer designed for rapid prototyping of gesture-based user interfaces. In machine learning terms, $1 is an instance-based nearest-neighbor classifier with a Euclidean scoring function — i.e., a geometric template matcher.
  2. Apple Talking to California Officials about Self-Driving Car (Guardian) — California DMV’s main responsibility for autonomous vehicles at present is administering an autonomous vehicle tester program for experimental self-driving cars on California’s roads. So far, 10 companies have been issued permits for about 80 autonomous vehicles and more than 300 test drivers. The most recent, Honda and BMW, received their permits last week.
  3. s3concurrent — sync local file structure with s3, in parallel. (via Winston Chen)
  4. Amanda Palmer on Music Industry Survival Techniques (O’Reilly Radar) — I’ve always approached every Internet platform and every Internet tool with the suspicion that it may not last, and that actually what’s very important is […] the art and the relationships I’m building.
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Four short links: 16 September 2015

Four short links: 16 September 2015

Data Pipelines, Amazon Culture, Real-time NFL Data, and Deep Learning for Chess

  1. Three Best Practices for Building Successful Data Pipelines (Michael Li) — three key areas that are often overlooked in data pipelines, and those are making your analysis: reproducible, consistent, and productionizable.
  2. Amazon’s Culture Controversy Decoded (Rita J King) — very interesting culture map analysis of the reports of Amazon’s culture, and context for how companies make choices about what to be. (via Mike Loukides)
  3. How Will Real-Time Tracking Change the NFL? (New Yorker) — At the moment, the NFL is being tightfisted with the data. Commentators will have access during games, as will the betting and analytics firm Sportradar. Users of the league’s Xbox One app, which provides an interactive way of browsing video clips, fantasy-football statistics, and other metrics, will be able to explore a feature called Next Gen Replay, which allows them to track each player’s speed and trajectory, combining moving lines on a virtual field with live footage from the real one. But, for now, coaches are shut out; once a player exits the locker room on game day, the dynamic point cloud that is generated by his movement through space is a corporately owned data set, as outlined in the league’s 2011 collective-bargaining agreement. Which should tell you all you need to know about the NFL’s role in promoting sporting excellence.
  4. Giraffe: Using Deep Reinforcement Learning to Play Chess (Matthew Lai) — Giraffe, a chess engine that uses self-play to discover all its domain-specific knowledge, with minimal hand-crafted knowledge given by the programmer. See also the code. (via GitXiv)
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Four short links: 15 September 2015

Four short links: 15 September 2015

Bot Bucks, Hadoop Database, Futurism Biases, and Tactile Prosthetics

  1. Ashley Madison’s Fembot Con (Gizmodo) — As documents from company e-mails now reveal, 80% of first purchases on Ashley Madison were a result of a man trying to contact a bot, or reading a message from one.
  2. Terrapin — Pinterest’s low-latency NoSQL replacement for HBase. See engineering blog post.
  3. Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot (Nautilus) — As the psychologist George Lowenstein and colleagues have argued, in a phenomenon they termed “projection bias,” people “tend to exaggerate the degree to which their future tastes will resemble their current tastes.”
  4. Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm (Quartz) — The robotic arm is connected by wires that link up to the wearer’s motor cortex — the part of the brain that controls muscle movement — and sensory cortex, which identifies tactile sensations when you touch things. The wires from the motor cortex allow the wearer to control the motion of the robot arm, and pressure sensors in the arm that connect back into the sensory cortex give the wearer the sensation that they are touching something.
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Four short links: 14 September 2015

Four short links: 14 September 2015

Robotics Boom, Apple in Communities, Picture Research, and Programming Enlightenment

  1. Uber Would Like to Buy Your Robotics Department (NY Times) — ‘‘If you’re well versed in the area of robotics right now and you’re not working on self-driving cars, you’re either an idiot or you have more of a passion for something else,’’ says Jerry Pratt, head of a robotics team in Pensacola that worked on a humanoid robot that beat Carnegie Mellon’s CHIMP in this year’s contest. ‘‘It’s a multibillion- if not trillion-dollar industry.’’
  2. What the Heck is Angela Ahrendts Doing at Apple? (Fortune) — Apple has always intended for each of them to be a community center; now Cook and Ahrendts want them to be the community center. That means expanding from serving existing and potential customers to, say, creating opportunities for underserved minorities and women. “In my mind,” Ahrendts says, store leaders “are the mayors of their community.”
  3. Imitation vs. Innovation: Product Similarity Network in the Motion Picture Industry (PDF) — machine learning to build a model of movies released in the last few decades, We find that big-budget movies benefit more from imitation, but small-budget movies favor novelty. This leads to interesting market dynamics that cannot be produced by a model without learning.
  4. Enlightened Imagination for Citizens (Bret Victor) — It should be painfully obvious that learning how to program a computer has no direct connection to any high form of enlightenment. Amen!
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Four short links: 7 September 2015

Four short links: 7 September 2015

Nanoscale Motors, Language of Betrayal, Messaging, and Handing Off Culture

  1. Nanoscale Motors (Nature) — “We’ve made 50 or 60 different motors,” says Ben Feringa, a chemist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “I’m less interested in making another motor than actually using it.” An interesting summary of the progress made in nanoscale engineering.
  2. Linguistics Signs of Betrayal — as found by studying Diplomacy players. Betrayers suddenly become more positive, possibly attempting to hide their duplicity. Betrayers suddenly become less polite, after having kept up a façade of politeness, during which the victims were significantly less polite. A reversal of imbalance occurs right before the betrayal. Victims plan more. Making a lot of plans can put pressure on the relationship and hasten betrayal, and, at the same time, if the betrayer’s mind is made up, there is no point for him to plan.
  3. NATS — open source (MIT-licensed) messaging system that shares the best name in the world.
  4. Building a Culture and Handing it Off (Kellan Elliott-McCrea) — Successfully building a culture ensures when you leave you can hand your work off to people you trust and they will run the thing without you and make it better than you could have imagined.
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Four short links: 2 September 2015

Four short links: 2 September 2015

Hard Problems in Distributed Systems, Engineering Bootcamp, Scripted TV, and C Guidelines

  1. There Are Only Two Hard Problems in Distributed Systems — the best tweet ever. (via Tim Bray)
  2. Building LinkedIn’s New Engineering Bootcamp — transmitting cultural and practical knowledge in a structured format.
  3. Soul-Searching in TV Land Over the Challenges of a New Golden Age (NY Times) — The number of scripted shows produced by networks, cable networks and online services ballooned to 371 last year, according to statistics compiled by FX. Mr. Landgraf believes that figure will pass 400 this year, which would nearly double the 211 shows made in 2009. […] predicted that the number of shows would slowly return to about 325 over the next few years, in large part because scripted television is expensive.
  4. C Programming Substance GuidelinesThis document is mainly about avoiding problems specific to the C programming language.
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Four short links: 7 August 2015

Four short links: 7 August 2015

Dating Culture, Resilient Go Services, Engineering Managers, and Ads Up

  1. Tinder and Hook-Up Culture (Vanity Fair) — “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”
  2. Building Resilient Services with Go — case study of building a Go app to survive the real world.
  3. 90-Day Plan for New Engineering Managers — so much truth, from empathy to giving up coding.
  4. Networks Increasing Ad StuffingTV audiences (as determined by Nielsen C3 measurements: TV watched both live and three days after the show was first aired on catch-up services) are down 9% year on year, yet ad loads on some networks are up as much as 10% on last year. The dinosaurs are hungry.
Comment: 1

Finding new in the Web

Learning from the Fluent Conference.

At Fluent 2015, we brought together a variety of stories about front-end engineering – some technical, some social, some more intricately intertwined.

From the very first day, it was clear that React was the big technical story of the conference, taking the place that Angular (which is still clearly important!) had had the previous year. Tutorials and sessions were busy, and I kept hearing conversation about React. Sometimes it was “what is React supposed to do?” but other times people were talking about exciting corners of React Native or techniques for integrating React with a variety of frameworks.

React makes me happy because it solves the problem a lot of people didn’t quite realize they had. Suddenly they are very enthusiastic about stuff that used to be really annoying. The Document Object Model (DOM) has been the foundation of most of the interactive work on the web since 1998, but it wasn’t very much fun then. As developers really get deeper into these things, the DOM has not exactly been a crowd-pleaser. In some ways React is a wrapper for the DOM, and in many ways it’s a just a better way to interact with the document tree.

The other technical key this year was JavaScript, often specifically ECMAScript 6 (ES6), the latest release. Brendan Eich talked about a world in which compiling to JavaScript has become normal, and how that frees much of the future development of JavaScript and the Web. Even Dart, which many of us saw as an attempt to replace JavaScript, has a home in this world.
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