- The Uncertain Future of Emotion Analytics — A year before the launch of the first mass-produced personal computer, British academic David Collingridge wrote in his book “The Social Control of Technology” that “when change is easy, the need for it cannot be foreseen; when the need for change is apparent, change has become expensive, difficult, and time consuming.”
- Automatic Face Recognition (Bruce Schneier) — Without meaningful regulation, we’re moving into a world where governments and corporations will be able to identify people both in real time and backwards in time, remotely and in secret, without consent or recourse.
- Really Monitoring Your Systems — If you are not measuring and showing the maximum value, then you are hiding something. The number one indicator you should never get rid of is the maximum value. That’s not noise — it’s the signal; the rest is noise.
- Haunted by Data (Maciej Ceglowski) — You can’t just set up an elaborate surveillance infrastructure and then decide to ignore it. These data pipelines take on an institutional life of their own, and it doesn’t help that people speak of the “data-driven organization” with the same religious fervor as a “Christ-centered life.”
Emotional Phone, Standup Desk, Mobile Sensors, and eBook Travails
- Samsung Develops Emotion-Sensing Smartphone (ExtremeTech) — By analyzing how fast you type, how much the phone shakes, how often you backspace mistakes, and how many special symbols are used, the special Galaxy S II can work out whether you’re angry, surprised, happy, sad, fearful, or disgusted, with an accuracy of 67.5% From a research paper from a research group on an unannounced product. Nice idea and clever use of incidental data, though 2/3 accuracy isn’t something to write home about. Reminds me of Sandy Pentland‘s Reality Mining. (via James Governor)
- The $40 Standup Desk — we’ve solved the usability of software, but hardware remains stubbornly dangerous to use. There’s a reason nobody refers to “laptops” any more (if you use them on your lap, you might as well call them “wristkillers”).
- funf — an extensible sensing and data processing framework for mobile devices being developed at the MIT Media Lab […] an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the collection, uploading, and configuration of a wide range of data types. LGPL, Android.
- eBook Publishing Isn’t That Easy — list of the things you have to worry about when you self-publish. This line is gold: Locating a distributor. Amazon pays me 17 bucks for a 50-dollar book. Can you say “assholes?” LuLu pays me 43 bucks, but only if you buy on their site. Do the math. Platform vendors own authors and small publishers. (via Josh Clark)
Community, Metrics, Sensors, and Unicode
- Your Community is Your Best Feature — Gina Trapani’s CodeConf talk: useful, true, and moving. There’s not much in this world that has all three of those attributes.
- Metrics Everywhere — another CodeConf talk, this time explaining Yammer’s use of metrics to quantify the actual state of their operations. Nice philosophical guide to the different ways you want to measure things (gauges, counters, meters, histograms, and timers). I agree with the first half, but must say that it will always be an uphill battle to craft a panegyric that will make hearts and minds soar at the mention of “business value”. Such an ugly phrase for such an important idea. (via Bryce Roberts)
- On Earthquakes in Tokyo (Bunnie Huang) — Personal earthquake alarms are quite popular in Tokyo. Just as lightning precedes thunder, these alarms give you a few seconds warning to an incoming tremor. The alarm has a distinct sound, and this leads to a kind of pavlovian conditioning. All conversation stops, and everyone just waits in a state of heightened awareness, since the alarm can’t tell you how big it is—it just tells you one is coming. You can see the fight or flight gears turning in everyone’s heads. Some people cry; some people laugh; some people start texting furiously; others just sit and wait. Information won’t provoke the same reaction in everyone: for some it’s impending doom, for others another day at the office. Data is not neutral; it requires interpretation and context.
- AccentuateUs — Firefox plugin to Unicodify text (so if you type “cafe”, the software turns it into “café”). The math behind it is explained on the dataists blog. There’s an API and other interfaces, even a vim plugin.
Twitter Numbers, Online News, Emotional Complexity, and Making Described
- Twitter Numbers — growing at half a million accounts a day (how many are spammers, d’ya think?), over 140M tweets sent each day.
- Online vs Newspaper News (Mashable) — The Poynter Institute, a landmark of American journalism research, has determined that as of the end of 2010, more people get their news from the Internet than from newspapers — and more ad dollars went to online outlets than to newspapers, too. (via Sacha Judd)
- Blue Lacuna: Lessons Learned Writing the World’s Longest Interactive Fiction (PDF) — While I felt Progue was largely a success, the extreme complexity of the character’s code made difficulties with him both intensely difficult to diagnose and repair, and failures all the more mimesis-breaking for an engaged audience. In addition, the subtle text substitutions and altered behaviors provided in many cases too opaque a window into Progue’s interior workings. From informal interviews and published reviews I gathered that players could often not tell which conversation responses might cause Progue to become more submissive, paternal, and so on. In many cases, the change was not noticeable at all, and did not successfully indicate to players that their actions had had an eect on the character. More mechanisms to let the player shape their relationship with Progue more directly might have created a stronger feeling of agency for players, and an increased ability to shape the story more to their liking. Lessons for people designing complex emotional states into their products. (via Zack Urlocker)
- From Head to Hand (Slate) — I was searching for the place where someone, anyone, writes about that epiphany where you see what you have made and it is different from what you had conceived. I was searching for a description of how an object can displace a bit of the world. I was avid. I wanted someone to write a description of Homo faber, the maker of things. I wanted a story of making told without the penumbra of romanticising how hard it is, without nostalgia.