The Wisdom of Communities — Luke Wroblewski’s notes from Derek Powazek‘s talk at Event Apart. Wisdom of Crowds theory shows that, in aggregate, crowds are smarter than any single individual in the crowd. See this online in most emailed features, bit torrent, etc. Wise crowds are built on a few key characteristics: diversity (of opinion), independence (of other ideas), decentralization, and aggregation.
How to Fit an Elephant (John D. Cook) — for the stats geeks out there. Someone took von Neumann’s famous line “with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk”, and found the four complex parameters that do, indeed, fit an elephant.
Hackers, Transparency, and the Zen of Failure — If hackers can’t create something with the data, they won’t do anything with it. The idea of an “army of armchair auditors” becomes a functional paradox, as the people the Government has in mind for the data apparently sit in armchairs, while the hackers sit in cafes, meet in pubs, and generally find comfy chairs far too comfy to code in. (via Public Strategist)
Learning from Libraries: the Literacy Challenge of Open Data (David Eaves) — a powerful continuation of the theme from my Rethinking Open Data post. David observes that dumping data over the fence isn’t enough, we must help citizens engage. We have a model for that help, in the form of libraries: We didn’t build libraries for an already literate citizenry. We built libraries to help citizens become literate. Today we build open data portals not because we have a data or public policy literate citizenry, we build them so that citizens may become literate in data, visualization, coding and public policy.
OpenPCR on Kickstarter — In 1983, Kary Mullis first developed PCR, for which he later received a Nobel Prize. But the tool is still expensive, even though the technology is almost 30 years old. If computing grew at the same pace, we would all still be paying $2,000+ for a 1 MHz Apple II computer. Innovation in biotech needs a kick start!