Four short links: 26 August 2009 Four short links: 26 August 2009

Four short links: 26 August 2009

Food, NoSQL, Brain Power, Social Data

  1. Better BBQ Through Chemistry — food is the perfect ground for geek training: there are measurements, there’s science, it’s easy to know whether you’ve succeeded, and you can eat all but the worst of your failures. (via BoingBoing)
  2. NoSQL (East) — conference on East Coast for relationless databases.
  3. Human Brain Processing Speed — clocked at 60bits/second, according to this MIT Technology Review article. Their approach eventually led to Hick’s Law, one of the few laws of experimental psychology. It states that the time it takes to make a choice is linearly related to the entropy of the possible alternatives. The results from various reaction-time experiments seem to show that this is the case. Although one byproduct of this approach is that the results are intimately linked to the type of experiment used to measure the reaction time. And that makes each study peculiarly vulnerable to the idiosyncrasies of the experimental approach. Today, Fermi Moscoso del Prado Martín from the Université de Provence in France proposes a new way to study reaction times by analyzing the entropy of their distribution, rather in the manner of thermodynamics. (via Hacker News)
  4. Truly Social DataData will only be truly social when you can work with it in the kinds of ways we work with information in the real, non-computational, world. In the real world we don’t ask for permission to have an opinion on something, to add to the ball of information surrounding a concept. Our needs don’t have to be anticipated by programmers. We can share information as we please. For example, nobody owns the concept of Barcelona. If I want to essentially “tag” Barcelona as being hot, or noisy, or beautiful, I just do it. I can keep my opinion private, I can share it with certain others, I can hold conflicting opinions, I can organize things in multiple ways at the same time and give things many names.
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Four short links: 12 August 2009 Four short links: 12 August 2009

Four short links: 12 August 2009

Health Data, Python Term Extraction, Network Neutrality, New Database

  1. Improving Health Care — Adam Bosworth’s speech to the Aspen Health Forum. It starts strong and just gets better: There is a lot of talk about improving health care. And there is a lot to improve. Inadequate Evidence: We don’t know enough about what works. We should require sharing of population statistics across practices and hospitals in order to better determine what works for whom. We should reward practices and hospitals that are delivering the best most cost-effective long-term outcomes and penalize those that deliver the worst.
  2. topia.termextract — Python library for term extraction, so you can get a list of the nouns and noun phrases used in a piece of text. (via Simon Willison)
  3. Key to Understanding Network Neutrality — David Pennock neatly identifies the crucial issue, that service quality and price levels be uniformly applied and not arbitrary based on how much the service provider thinks they can gouge from the customer. The key to understanding this debate is recognizing the difference between anonymity and egalitarianism. A mechanism is anonymous if the outcome does not depend on the identity of the players: two players who bid the same are treated equally. It doesn’t matter what their name, age, or wealth is, what company they represent, or how they plan to use the item — all that matters is what they bid. This is a good property for almost any public marketplace that ensures fair treatment, and one worth fighting for on the Internet.
  4. (the item I linked to releases in a week’s time, I will link again when it’s live–sorry for the inconvenience. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of a monkey washing a cat)
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