PlotDevice — A Python-based graphics language for designers, developers, and tinkerers. More in the easy-to-get-started + visual realm, like Processing. (via Andy Baio)
Scumblr and Sketchy Search — Netflix open sourcing some scraping, screenshot, and workflow tools their security team uses to monitor discussion of themselves.
Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read? (Glenn Greenwald) — In the digital age, we are nearing the point where an idea banished by Twitter, Facebook and Google all but vanishes from public discourse entirely, and that is only going to become more true as those companies grow even further. Whatever else is true, the implications of having those companies make lists of permitted and prohibited ideas are far more significant than when ordinary private companies do the same thing.
Dat — an open source project that provides a streaming interface between every file format and data storage backend. See the Wired piece on it.
Smithsonian Crowdsourcing Transcription (Smithsonian) — 49 volunteers transcribed 200 pages of correspondence between the Monuments Men in a week. Soon it’ll be mathematics test questions: “if 49 people transcribe 200 pages in 7 days, how many weeks will it take …”
MIT Guide to Family CompSci Sessions — This guide is for educators, community center staff, and volunteers interested in engaging their young people and their families to become designers and inventors in their community.
Grasping with Robots: Which Object is in Reach? (Robohub) — This post is part of our ongoing efforts to make the latest papers in robotics accessible to a general audience. … a new approach to build a comprehensive representation of the capabilities of a robot related to reaching and grasping. Very short, very readable, as promised.
Mining of Massive Datasets (PDF) — book by Stanford profs, focuses on data mining of very large amounts of data, that is, data so large it does not fit in main memory. Because of the emphasis on size, many of our examples are about the Web or data derived from the Web. Further, the book takes an algorithmic point of view: data mining is about applying algorithms to data, rather than using data to “train” a machine-learning engine of some sort.
Lessons from Iceland’s Failed Crowdsourced Constitution (Slate) — Though the crowdsourcing moment could have led to a virtuous deliberative feedback loop between the crowd and the Constitutional Council, the latter did not seem to have the time, tools, or training necessary to process carefully the crowd’s input, explain its use of it, let alone return consistent feedback on it to the public.
Thread a ZigBee Killer? — Thread is Nest’s home automation networking stack, which can use the same hardware components as ZigBee, but which is not compatible, also not open source. The Novell NetWare of Things. Nick Hunn makes argument that Google (via Nest) are taking aim at ZigBee: it’s Google and Nest saying “ZigBee doesn’t work”.
Misjudgements Will Drive Social Trials Underground (Nature) — 34 ethicists write to explain why they see Facebook’s mood-influence trials as not an egregious breach of either ethics or law. Notable: No one knows whether exposure to a stream of baby announcements, job promotions and humble brags makes Facebook’s one billion users sadder or happier. The exposure is a social experiment in which users become guinea pigs, but the effects will not be known unless they are studied.[...] But the extreme response to this study, some of which seems to have been made without full understanding of what it entailed or what legal and ethical standards require, could result in such research being done in secret or not at all. Compare wisdom of the ethicists to wisdom of the crowd. (via Kate Crawford)
Problem-Free Activity in the Mathematics Classroom (PDF) — interesting not just for the bland crap work we make kids do, but for the summary of five types of need that stimulate learning: for certainty (“which of the two is right?”), for causality (“did X cause Y?”, “what will happen next?”), for computation (“how much will it cost?”, “how long will it take?”), for communication and persuasion (“it’s more fun when we work on this together”, “let me show you why I’m right!”), and for connection and structuring (“that can’t be right, it goes against all I know!”, “ah, that makes sense because …”). (via Kathy Sierra)
Survey of Academic Field Experiences (PLoSone) — Our survey revealed that conducting research in the field exposes scientists to a number of negative experiences as targets and as bystanders. The experiences described by our respondents ranged from inadvertent alienating behavior, to unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances, to, most troublingly, sexual assault including rape. is immediately followed by These proportions of respondents experiencing harassment are generally consistent with other studies of workplace harassment in other professional settings. This will change when men’s behaviour and expectations change. Male readers, do your part: don’t harass and don’t tolerate it. This message brought to you from future generations who will wonder how the hell we turned a blind eye to it.
sentry (github) — a realtime, platform-agnostic error logging and aggregation platform. It specializes in monitoring errors and extracting all the information needed to do a proper post-mortem without any of the hassle of the standard user feedback loop.
Exploring CS — Both courses are designed to teach the fundamental concepts and big ideas of computing along with coding, and to inspire kids about computer science’s creative potential to transform society.
Why Computer Literacy Is Key To Winning the 21st Century (Mother Jones) — [teaching CS to] middle and high schoolers at the UCLA Community School, an experimental new public K-12 school. “I saw this as a new frontier in the social-justice fight,” she says. “I tell my students, ‘I don’t necessarily want to teach you how to get rich. I want to teach you to be a good citizen.'”
Hardware By The Numbers (Renee DiResta) — slides from her keynote at the Solid conference. The mean success rate across all sectors is 19.8%. On average, only 10% of hardware startups raise a second round.
Humans Beating Computers (Wired) — Newman assembled a small team that became known as the “Air Divers”–the people who would dive deep into the individual complaints and surface with answers. Each was given a couple hundred support tickets connected to a specific issue that the data had identified as a hot-button topic. They would go off and read through each one, then come back and propose a fix. And in the end, this is what turned the situation around. Sometimes it’s easier to put people on the job than try to code the data analysis.
Hadoop’s Uncomfortable Fit in HPC — Hadoop is being taken seriously only at a subset of supercomputing facilities in the US, and at a finer granularity, only by a subset of professionals within the HPC community.
3D Printers Have a Lot to Learn from Sewing Machines — Sewing does not create more waste but, potentially, less, and the process of sewing is filled with opportunities for increasing one’s skills and doing it over as well as doing it yourself. What are quilts, after all, but a clever way to use every last scrap of precious fabric? (via Jenn Webb)
OpenStack: A Plea — critical take on OpenStack, also in this presentation. Notes the proliferation of inefficiency, devops bolted onto the side, and the long feedback cycle. You code differently when you have a pager. (via Sam Ramji)
Some Lecturing Heuristics — Realize further that your mood may be determined by only a few people. A smiling nodder will make you feel good, and you will do better. People reading newspapers will make you feel bad, and you will do worse. Do not permit people to do things that make you feel bad.