Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse (Rolling Stone) — get ready for an avalanche of shareholder suits ten years from now, since post-factum civil litigation will be the only real regulation of the startup market.
Socio-economic Return Of FTTH Investment in Sweden (PDF) — This preliminary study analyses the socio-economic impacts of the investment in FTTH. The goal of the study was: Is it possible to calculate how much a krona (SEK) invested in fibre will give back to society? The conclusion is that a more comprehensive statistical data and more calculations are needed to give an exact estimate. The study, however, provides an indication that 1 SEK invested over four years brings back a minimum of 1.5 SEK in five years time. The study estimates the need for investment to achieve 100% fibre penetration, identifies and quantifies a number of significant effects of fibre deployment, and then calculates the return on investment. (via Donald Clark)
Web-Scale User Modeling for Targeting (Yahoo! Research, PDF) — research paper that shows how online advertisers build profiles of us and what matters (e.g., ads we buy from are more important than those we simply click on). Our recent surfing patterns are more relevant than historical ones, which is another indication that value of data analytics increases the closer to real-time it happens. (via Greg Linden)
Information Technology and Economic Change — research showing that cities which adopted the printing press no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses. […] The second factor behind the localisation of spillovers is intriguing given contemporary questions about the impact of information technology. The printing press made it cheaper to transmit ideas over distance, but it also fostered important face-to-face interactions. The printer’s workshop brought scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and mechanics together for the first time in a commercial environment, eroding a pre-existing “town and gown” divide.
Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business? — provocative thought: the ebook industry is nascent, a small number of patrons have ereaders, the technical pain of DRM and incompatible formats makes for disproportionate support costs, and there are already plenty of worthy things libraries should be doing. I only wonder how quickly the dynamics change: a minority may have dedicated ereaders but a large number have smartphones and are reading on them already.
Why Mobile Matters (Luke Wroblewski) — great demonstration of the changes in desktop and mobile, the new power of Android, and the waning influence of old manufacturers.
It’s Called iBooks Author Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results (Dan Meyer) — It’s curious that even though students own their iBooks forever (ie. they can’t resell them or give them away), they can’t write in them except in the most cursory ways. Even curiouser, these iBooks could all be wired to the Internet and wired to a classroom through iTunes U, but they’d still be invisible to each other. Your work on your iPad cannot benefit me on mine. At our school, we look for “software with holes in it”–software into which kids put their own answers, photos, stories.
DepthCam — It’s a live-streaming 3D point-cloud, carried over a binary WebSocket. It responds to movement in the scene by panning the (virtual) camera, and you can also pan and zoom around with the mouse. Very impressive hack with a Kinect! (via Pete Warden)
Starting an Online Store is Not Easy in Greece — At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Note to Greece: this is not how you check whether a business plan is full of shit. (via Hacker News)
Comments Off on Four short links: 23 February 2012
Smarter Cameras Plumb Composition — A new type of smarter camera can take a picture but also assess the chemical composition of the objects being imaged. This enables automated inspection systems to discern details that would be missed by conventional cameras. Interesting how cameras are getting smarter: Kinect as other significant case in point. (via Slashdot)
Not So Open — 3D printing lab at the University of Washington had to stop helping outsiders because of a crazy new IP policy from the university administration. These folks were doing amazing work, developing and sharing recipes for new materials to print with (iced tea, rice flour, and more) (via BoingBoing)
Comments Off on Four short links: 15 February 2012
Readings in Education — Dan Meyer has linked to some of the best papers he’s been reading at grad school. If you have opinions about education, or are thinking of doing something to “fix education”, you have to read Public Goods, Private Goods (PDF). It brilliantly, concisely, and clearly sums up the reason that conversations about education are so broken. The other papers Dan linked to are equally wow. Another paper (PDF) on the difference in mindsets between educational researcher and practicing teacher says: The initial [teacher] impulse is still to intervene and ﬁx the problem, or critique the actions of the teacher who made the mistake. It also often leads students to frame their own research around educational success stories. The idea is to pick an intervention that promises to improve education—a new teaching technique, curriculum approach, instructional technology, reform effort, or administrative structure—and study it in practice. The desired outcome is that the intervention works rather well, and the function of the study is to document this and suggest how the approach could be improved in the future. This often leads to an approach to scholarship (and eventually to a kind of scholarly literature) that is relentlessly, unrealistically, sometimes comically optimistic—one that suggests that there is an implementable answer to every educational problem and that help is always on the way. He could be writing about every educational startup.
Truthy — a research project that helps you understand how memes spread online. With our images and statistics, you can help identify misuse of Twitter. (via Pete Warden)
Hackers Are Being Radicalised By Government Policy (Guardian) — As long as it seems that direct action is more effective than democratic engagement, it’s clear that the former will appear a more attractive option to many. The official line that the internet is a dangerous territory to be subdued is responsible for an alarming radicalisation. This is not just an issue for the tabloids’ oddballs and nerds, it’s an issue for everyone who believes in the fundamental importance of freedom. The Internet uprising is not causing bad regulation; bad regulation caused the Internet uprising. (via Gabriella Coleman)
Poor Economics — this is possibly the best thing I will read all year, an insightful (and research-backed) book digging into the economics of poverty. Read the lecture slides online, they’ll give you a very clear taste of what the book’s about. Love that the website is so very complementary to the book, and 100% aligned with the ambition to convince and spread the word. Kindle-purchasable, too. Sample boggle (one of many): children of children born during the Chinese famine are smaller, and children who were in utero during Ramadan earn less as adults.
The Web Is Shrinking (All Things D) — graph that makes Facebook look massively important and the rest of the web look insignificant. It doesn’t take into account the nature of the interaction (shopping? research? chat?), and depends heavily on the comScore visits metric being a reliable proxy for “use”. I’d expect to see other neutral measures of “use” decreasing (e.g., searches for “school holidays”) if overall web use were decreasing, yet they don’t seem to be. Nonetheless, Facebook has become the new millennium’s AOL: keywords, grandparents, and a zealous devotion to advertising. At least Facebook doesn’t send me #&#^%*ing CDs.
Orphan Works Project (University of Michigan) — library will digitize orphaned works for researchers. Lovely to see someone breaking the paralysis that orphaned works induce. (via BoingBoing)
log.io — node.js system for real-time log monitoring in your browser. (via Vasudev Ram)
Chinese Political Prisoners Gold-Farming (Guardian) — “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”
Correlate — Google Correlate finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends. You upload your time series or geographic data, they find search terms that correlate. Very cool!
McKinsey Internet Matters Report (PDF, free registration required) — Internet responsible for 3.4% of GDP in the countries they studied, 21% of GDP growth in last 5 years in mature countries, 2.6 jobs created for every one lost, and 75% of the Internet’s impact arises from traditional industries. Lots more like this in here. The United States captures more than 30 percent of global internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income.
Google Creates New Inflation Measure (The Guardian) — The Google Price Index will be based on the cost of goods sold online and could use real-time search data to forecast official figures. Clever use of unique data, but can the GPI findings be reproduced by another agency? I do like the idea of moving national statistical measures into real-time.
How To Break The Trust of Your Customers In Just One Day — some horrifying revelations about how freemium worked for Chargify and their customers: Over the past year, we discovered that the customer that never paid had the highest support load. […] Everyone’s always talking about freemium, but very few people actually use it, and we discovered this in looking at our customers for the past year. The reality was that less than 0.4% of customers had any sizeable number of free customers on their accounts. (via Hacker News)
Germany’s Industrial Expansion Fueled by Absence of Copyright Law? (Der Spiegel) — fascinating article about the extraordinary publishing output in 1800s Germany vs other nations, all with no effective and enforceable copyright laws. Sigismund Hermbstädt, for example, a chemistry and pharmacy professor in Berlin, who has long since disappeared into the oblivion of history, earned more royalties for his “Principles of Leather Tanning” published in 1806 than British author Mary Shelley did for her horror novel “Frankenstein,” which is still famous today. Books were released in high-quality high-price format and low-quality low-price format, and Germans bought them in record numbers. When copyright law became established, publishers did away with the low-quality low-price version and authors complained about the drop in revenue.
Competing Hypotheses — a free, open source tool for complex research problems. A software companion to a 30+ year-old CIA research methodology, Open Source Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) will help you think objectively and logically about overwhelming amounts of data and hypotheses. It can also guide research teams toward more productive discussions by identifying the exact points of contention. (via johnmscott on Twitter)
Economics of Scholarly Production: Supplemental Materials — scholarly publications include data and documentation that’s not in the official peer-reviewed article. Storing and distributing this has been the publication’s responsibility, but they’re spitting the dummy. Now the researcher’s organisation will have to house these supplemental materials. If data is as critical to science as the article it generates, yet small articles can come from terabytes of data, what’s the Right Thing To Do that scales across all academia? (via Cameron Neylon)
The Men Who Stare at Screens (NY Times) — What was unexpected was that many of the men who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised. Quite a few of them said they did so regularly and led active lifestyles. The men worked out, then sat in cars and in front of televisions for hours, and their risk of heart disease soared, despite the exercise. Their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of sitting. (via Andy Baio)
Caring with Cash — describes a study where “pay however much you want” had high response rate but low average price, “half goes to charity” barely changed from the control (fixed price) response rate, but “half goes to charity and you can pay what you like” earned more money than either strategy.
Behavioural Economics a Political Placebo? (NY Times) — As policymakers use it to devise programs, it’s becoming clear that behavioral economics is being asked to solve problems it wasn’t meant to address. Indeed, it seems in some cases that behavioral economics is being used as a political expedient, allowing policymakers to avoid painful but more effective solutions rooted in traditional economics. (via Mind Hacks)
Protege — open source ontology editor and knowledge-base framework.