- China is Logging On — blogging 5x more popular in China than in USA, email 1/3 again as popular in USA as China. These figures are per-capita of Internet users, and make eye-opening reading. (via Glyn Moody)
- The Economics of Google (Wired) — the money graf is Google even uses auctions for internal operations, like allocating servers among its various business units. Since moving a product’s storage and computation to a new data center is disruptive, engineers often put it off. “I suggested we run an auction similar to what the airlines do when they oversell a flight. They keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers give up their seats,” Varian says. “In our case, we offer more machines in exchange for moving to new servers. One group might do it for 50 new ones, another for 100, and another won’t move unless we give them 300. So we give them to the lowest bidder—they get their extra capacity, and we get computation shifted to the new data center.”
- Why Washington Doesn’t Get New Media — Things eventually improved, but despite the stunning advances in communications technology, most of federal Washington has still failed to grasp the meaning of Government 2.0. Indeed, much is mired in Government 1.5. Government 1.5? That’s a term of art for the vast virtual ecosystem taking root in Washington that has set up the trappings of 2.0 — the blogs, the Facebook pages, the Twitter accounts — but lacks any intellectual heartbeat. Too many aides in official Washington are setting up blogs and social media pages because they understand that is what they are supposed to do. All the while, many are sweating the possibility that they might actually have to say something substantive or engage the public directly. It is the nature of midlevel know-nothings to grinfuck any idea that would force them to substantially change their behaviour. We incentivize this when we talk about “you must have a blog” (ok, I’ll get comms to write it), or “put up a wiki for this” (ok, but there’ll be no moderation so it’ll be ignorable chaos). Describe the behaviour you want and not a tool that might produce it. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- On the Information Armageddon (Mind Hacks) — Vaughn points out that the much-linked-to New York Magazine article on attention is a crock. I didn’t like it because it was wordy and self-indulgent, Vaughn because it didn’t actually cite any studies other than one which was described incorrectly. History has taught us that we worry about widespread new technology and this is usually expressed in society in terms of its negative impact on our minds and social relationships. If you’re really concerned about cognitive abilities, look after your cardiovascular health (eat well and exercise), cherish your relationships, stay mentally active and experience diverse and interesting things. All of which have been shown to maintain mental function, especially as we age.
If legislatures could rely on public participation during the
implementation of the law, they could write laws that embrace such
New practices in government transparency are just intensifications of
things democracies have done for a long time: public comment periods,
expert consultation, archiving deliberations, and so forth. So let's
look back a bit at what democracy has brought to government so far.
The grand vision for government/public collaboration is a set of
feedback loops that intensify the influence of the collective will on
government policy. But will the White House have the time and
resources to establish a foothold for a solid and lasting open
Youth, Government, Tween Arduino Hackers, and Table Slurpage
- Ypulse Conference — conference on marketing to youth with technology, from the very savvy Anastasia Goodstein who runs the interesting Ypulse blog on youth culture that I’ve raved about before. Register with the code RADAR for a 10% discount (thanks, Anastasia!).
- Government in the Global Village — departing post by the NZ CIO (and Kiwi Foo Camper) Laurence Millar. The principles here are applicable to almost every nation. We need to recognise the network effects of opening up government data in a form that means others can access it. Economic value is created by businesses building innovative new services using government data. Public value is created by enabling a richer and deeper understanding and dialogue among interested individuals about what the data tells us about our lives.[…] The legal, policy, and moral position is clear – New Zealanders own the data, having paid for its collection through taxes. These “problems” will all be solved by the community, and our role as government is to give priority to this. These efforts are stuff that matters. See also Google adds search to public data.
- Children’s Arduino Workshop (Makezine) — video of three eleven-year old girls working on an Arduino project, and should be inspiration to anyone who has ever wanted to work on hardware projects with kids. Whoever did it succeeded in making it fun! (via followr on Twitter)
China, databases, storage, and git:
- China’s Complicated Internet Culture (Ethan Zuckerman) — summary of Rebecca McKinnon’s talk at the Berkman Internet Center. Democracy is complex and hard to transition to, online democracy doubly so. Rebecca questions the widespread but unjustified belief that the Great Firewall of China is all that separates Chinese citizens from the empowered liberty of the West, and lays out the tangled state of affairs in China’s political Internet. Despite the rise of web video, “no one has managed to organized an opposition party on the web,” Rebecca points out. “There’s no Lech Walenza, no religious movement – Falun Gong has been squished pretty thoroughly.” (via cshirky’s delicious stream)
- Drop ACID and Think About Data — Bob Ippolito‘s talk from PyCon about the things you can do easily when you foresake the promises of ACID. More in the ongoing reinvention of databases for the needs of modern web systems. (via cesther’s Twitter stream)
- The Pogoplug — The Pogoplug connects your external hard drive to the Internet so you can easily share and access your files from anywhere. We’re accumulating terabytes of storage at home, where it’s very useful to all the computers in the home. This offers an easy way for non-technical civilians to make these drives useful outside the home as well. There are many possibilities for Interesting Things in the massive storage we’re accumulating. (via joshua’s delicious stream)
- Gitorious — open source (AGPLv3) clone of github. (via edd’s delicious stream)
Accessibility, trails, Pacman, and power today. Have a fun weekend!
- Social Accessibility Project — clever IBM approach to solving web accessibility problems: a sidebar for Firefox that lets people with assistive devices like screenreaders say “hey, I had this problem with this page”, and a crowd will help fix it. (via Derek Featherstone‘s Webstock talk, notes here)
- Why I Want a Million Quid (mySociety) — Tom’s onto something. I am hooked by this vision of “systems where each person who is helped to solve a problem leaves a trail of advice, contacts, insider information and new user-friendly web services behind them”. We’re used to the data people leave behind being discrete and implicit (another purchase for the recommendation engine) rather than longitudinal and explicit (people who looked at this item eventually went on to find their answer here).
- The PacMan Dossier — everything there is to know about Pacman, from designer Toru Iwatani’s inspiration and design process, through to the logic errors behind bugs and why it’s better to move the joystick before you reach the turn. (via Grand Text Auto)
- Two Stanford Students Rethink the Light Switch — a power switch with a network connection and tactile feedback: teh awesome.
The previous government in New Zealand enacted an amendment to the Copyright Act that required ISPs to have a policy to disconnect users after repeated accusations of infringement, over the objections of technologists. While it's possible to have a policy that requires proof rather than accusation, APRA (the RIAA of New Zealand) strongly opposes any such attempts at reasonable interpretation…