- The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble — hilarious economics parable.
- The ZenPad — look for more Android-powered tablets. (via azaaza on Twitter)
- Diigo — browser plugin to archive, highlight, and annotate web pages, then share and collaborate on those augmentations. (via an annotation of Zittrain’s Future of the Internet and How to Stop It)
- So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users (Microsoft, PDF) — To make this concrete, consider an exploit that affects 1% of users annually, and they waste 10 hours clearing up when they become victims. Any security advice should place a daily burden of no more than 10/(365 * 100) hours or 0.98 seconds per user in order to reduce rather than increase the amount of user time consumed. This generated the profound irony that much security advice … does more harm than good. (via Greg Linden)
ENTRIES TAGGED "economics"
Goat Economics, Android Tablets, In-Browser Annotation, Rational Security Rejection
Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
investigates the social, historical, and psychological traits that
produce extraordinarily creative people–and significantly, creative
people who can translate their cranial light-bulbs into technologies
with the potential to change the world.
Intellectual property wars are fiercer than ever, although the institutions most affected (including the media) prefer not to talk about them. But we may be in for a pendulum shift. I recently put out a tweet on this topic and was asked to expand on it. The issues are too big and complex for me to give them a proper…
CRM on Rails, Data Mining on Hadoop, Disappointing Keynotes, The Teapot Effect
- Fat Free CRM — open source (Affero GPL) Ruby on Rails CRM system.
- Bixo — open source data mining toolkit that runs as a series of pipes on top of Hadoop. Built on Cascading workflow system for Hadoop that hides MapReduce. (via kdnuggets)
- Andy Kessler’s Keynote at Defrag Stank (Pete Warden) — I’m sorry to hear it, because I loved Andy’s book How We Got Here about the intersecting histories of economics, finance, and technology. Read the book instead of reading about the disappointing keynote.
- The Teapot Effect — the thing I love about geeks is how their passion causes them to explore, ruthlessly and quantitatively, the everyday phenomena that the rest of us take for granted. Such as dribbling teapots: “Previous studies have shown that dribbling is the result of flow separation where the layer of fluid closest to the boundary becomes detached from it. When that happens, the fluid flows smoothly over the lip. But as the flow rate decreases, the boundary layer re-attaches to the surface causing dribbling.” Read the post and the research it talks about to learn how to prevent Dribbling Teapot Syndrome ….
Nobody knows you as well as you do. Or do they? Let's run a test. Do you
know what percentage of your food bill went to processed products? Or
what type of coupons (store coupons, newspaper coupons, etc.) is most
likely to get you to switch brands? I bet someone out there knows.This kind of data mining is the modern companion to Customer Relations Management, which is the science of understanding customers and trying to get repeat business. CRM can offer many valuable benefits, but ultimately the control lies
with the vendor. A Vendor Relationship Management workshop at
Harvard looked at what it would take to leave control with the
One of my favorite sources of interesting reading material these days is Hacker News (follow them at @newsycombinator), and this week they pointed me to a piece from Derek Sivers that applies to many of the emerging digital and mobile markets for media: He kept saying, "If only one percent of the people reading this magazine buy my CD……
What you're selling as an artist (or an author, or a publisher for that matter) is not content. What you sell is providing something that the customer/reader/fan wants. That may be entertainment, it may be information, it may be a souvenir of an event or of who they were at a particular moment in their life (Kelly describes something similar as his eight "qualities that can't be copied": Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, and Findability). Note that that list doesn't include "content." The thing that most publishers (and authors) spend most of their time fretting about (making it, selling it, distributing it, "protecting" it) isn't the thing that their customers are actually buying. Whether they realize it or not, media companies are in the service business, not the content business.
Fonts, Medicine, Healthcare, Project Natal
- TypeKit — Jeff Veen’s new startup, making typography on the web fail to suck. Every major browser is about to support the ability to link to a font. That means you can write a bit of CSS, include a URL to a font file, and have your page display with the typography you expect. While it’s technically quite easy to link to fonts, it’s legally more nuanced. We’ve been working with foundries to develop a consistent web-only font linking license. We’ve built a technology platform that lets us to host both free and commercial fonts in a way that is incredibly fast, smoothes out differences in how browsers handle type, and offers the level of protection that type designers need without resorting to annoying and ineffective DRM.
- Talking With Jamie Heywood About PatientsLikeMe (Jon Udell) — the creator of patientslikeme, a site that provides people with serious conditions a chance to report on the efficacy of their treatment, their unique symptoms, and (if they wish) to connect with the researchers in the drug companies who made the treatments. It’s a new closure for the feedback loop of medical research.
- The Cost Conundrum:
What a Texas town can teach us about health care. (New Yorker) — the lesson is that you tolerate bad ethics, bad business, bad behaviour at your own risk because the rogue you tolerate may become the anchor tenant for a mall of villainy you’ll find very hard to dismiss.
- Microsoft Announces Project Natal — full-body motion capture for XBox 360, as game controller. I’m keen to see whether having nothing in your hand is as satisfying as having something to hold. Kudos to MSFT for bringing research to market as mainstream entertainment.
- 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.
Bias, RFCs, virus batteries, and a glimpse at life beyond record labels (the last item features profanity, beware):
- Bias We Can Believe In (Mind Hacks) — Vaughn asks the tricky question about the current enthusiasm for Behavioural Economics in government: where are the sceptical voices? As he points out, It’s perhaps no accident that almost all the articles cite a 2001 study that found that simply making the US’s 401(k) retirement savings scheme opt-out instead of opt-in vastly increased participation simply because it’s a hassle to change and employees perceive the ‘default’ as investment advice.
But it’s probably true to say that this example has been so widely repeated but it’s one of the minority of behavioural economics studies that have looked at the relation between the existence of a cognitive bias and real-world economic data from the population.
And it’s notable that behavioural economists who specialise in making this link, a field they call behavioural macroeconomics, seem absent from the Obama inner circle.
- How The Internet Got Its Rules (NYTimes) — about the first RFCs, which became IETF. The early R.F.C.’s ranged from grand visions to mundane details, although the latter quickly became the most common. Less important than the content of those first documents was that they were available free of charge and anyone could write one. Instead of authority-based decision-making, we relied on a process we called “rough consensus and running code.” Everyone was welcome to propose ideas, and if enough people liked it and used it, the design became a standard. (via Glynn Moody)
- Viruses Could Power Devices (Science News) — Ions and electrons can move through smaller particles more quickly. But fabricating nano-sized particles of iron phosphate is a difficult and expensive process, the researchers say. So Belcher’s team let the virus do the work. By manipulating a gene of the M13 virus to make the viruses coat themselves in iron phosphate, the researchers created very small iron phosphate particles. (via BoingBoing)
- Amanda Palmer’s Label-Dropping Game — interesting email from Amanda Palmer to her fans about trying to get dropped from her label. i had to EXPLAIN to the so-called “head of digital media” of roadrunner australia WHAT TWITTER WAS. and his brush-off that “it hasn’t caught on here yet” was ABSURD because the next day i twittered that i was doing an impromptu gathering in a public park and 12 hours later, 150 underage fans – who couldn’t attend the show – showed up to get their records signed. no manager knew! i didn’t even warn or tell her! no agents! no security! no venue! we were in a fucking public park!
life is becoming awesome. and then the times they are a-changing fucking dramatically, when pong-twittering with trent reznor means way more to your fan-base/business than whether or not the record is in fucking stores (and in my case, it ain’t in fucking stores).