- Earth Turns 6015 — my plan to celebrate on Saturday the amazing thing that is our universe. Scientists know humility, curiosity, and awe. All the scientists I know speak of their awe at the natural world. I’d like to see data scientists take a moment to soak in the complexity of a problem, appreciating it in all its tangled majesty, separate from attempts to unravel it.
- Data Jujitsu — Luke Wroblewski took notes at DJ Patil’s Web 2.0 Expo talk, and this caught my eye: Unstructured data is harder to work with. Open text fields in forms are can cause issues. There are between 4 and 8 thousand variations of IBM and “Software Engineer” in LinkedIn’s database.
- Secret iOS Business — the dirty innards of iOS apps: phoning home, crap security, and bloated lazy design. My horror grew with every example.
- Culinary Reactions: Everyday Chemistry of Cooking — Simon Quellen Field’s new book on the chemistry of cooking. Simon’s the man behind scitoys and his passion for understanding is a force of nature.
Earth's Birthday, Messy Data, Evil iOS Apps, and Cooking Chemistry
Artists on Piracy, Web Tracking, Thinking about Future Food, and Library Futures
- Pirate Verbatim — artists, in their own words, talking about piracy. The mix of opinions, attitudes, and nuance shows that there’s far from any single consistent view out there. (via Graham Linehan)
- What Rapleaf Knows About You — aggregating information from various sites, and your ad clickthroughs, to build a dossier about you that relates your email address to real name, age, shopping history, political leaning, and more. How do I control others’ ability to gather information about me? (via Mauricio Freitas)
- By Design — Australian radio show episode where five interesting people (artist, author, etc.) talk about water, electricity, food, and technology and then have Q&A. Dan Hill helped it happen.
- Rare Book Room — read high-resolution scans of important and beautiful old books (Shakespeare Folios, Galileo, Books of Hours, etc.) online. Digital for libraries means new ways for customers to view materials, and new customers: I can read an item from the Bodleian Library, but I’m in New Zealand and they’re in Oxford. Am I a Bodleian customer? Do they change what they do to support me? Who pays for the services I use? These are the questions many collections organisations are struggling with. (via Paul Steele)
iPad Designers, Scientific Cooking, Twitter Psych, Courseware Reach
- 10 Essential iPad Apps for Publication Designers — a couple of interesting new suggestions here, including the New Zealand Herald (hated at home for including a bloated intro movie, but with interesting article presentation), and Paris Match (adding interactive features to almost every story). (via Simon St Laurent)
- Cooking in Silico: Heat Transfer in the Modern Kitchen (YouTube) — In this talk at the University of Washington, Nathan Myhrvold and Chris Young of Intellectual Ventures show how computationally intense heat-transfer calculations can reveal the subtle factors that influence the success or failure of a cook’s efforts in the kitchen. Explore the virtues of computational cooking, and watch novel techniques and creations made possible when science informs the culinary arts. Mhyrvold has a new cookbook (six volumes!) coming out. (via TechFlash)
- Ten Psychological Insights re: Twitter — summary of ten psychological studies about Twitter users. Many but not all of the most-followed Twitter users are, unsurprisingly, celebrities. This top-heavy usage reflects the fact that being interesting is a talent that not everyone can acquire (without relying on the halo effect of being famous that is). Occasionally, though, some manage the trick of being famous and quite interesting, e.g. Stephen Fry. (via vaughanbell on Twitter)
- MIT OpenCourseWare: Unlocking Knowledge, Empowering Minds — Ten years later, MIT Open-CourseWare (OCW) [...] contains the core academic content used in 2000 classes, presenting substantially all the undergraduate and graduate curriculum from MIT’s 33 academic departments. A selection of courses, including introductory physics, math, and engineering, contain full video lectures. Partner organizations have created more than 800 translations of OCW courses in five languages. The OCW team has distributed over 200 copies of the entire Web site on hard drives primarily to sub-Saharan Africa, where Internet access is limited. OCW has grown into a global educational resource. (via Sara Winge)
Digital Textbooks Rock, Diagrammed Sentences, Urban Games, Quirky Food
- CK-12 Textbooks Accepted by State of California — kudos to open textbook non-profit CK-12 for having many of their textbooks okayed for use in classrooms. Their books did better than those from commercial publishers! (via Slashdot)
- Diagrammr — web app to diagram simple sentences. (via brian on delicious)
- Noticings — Noticings is a game of noticing things in cities. Snap a photo of something interesting you happen upon, upload it to Flickr, tag it with ‘noticings’ and geotag it with where it was taken. (via migurski on delicious)
- White Castle Microwavable Frozen Hamburgers — Cal Henderson and Joshua Schachter can be bribed with these after midnight. (via direct observation)
Ancient Language, NoSQL, Molecular Gastronomy, SQL Weirdness
- Computers Unlock More Secrets of the Indus Valley Script — Four-thousand years ago, an urban civilization lived and traded on what is now the border between Pakistan and India. During the past century, thousands of artifacts bearing hieroglyphics left by this prehistoric people have been discovered. Today, a team of Indian and American researchers are using mathematics and computer science to try to piece together information about the still-unknown script. The team led by a University of Washington researcher has used computers to extract patterns in ancient Indus symbols. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows distinct patterns in the symbols’ placement in sequences and creates a statistical model for the unknown language. (via ACM TechNews)
- NoSQL: If Only It Was That Easy — war stories of the problems with nosql systems to handle big throughput. We liked Tokyo Tyrant so much, we put it in production. In fact, every request to AboutUs.org hits Tokyo. One of the uses is as a persistent memcached replacement for caching 10 million+ wiki pages (as a json document of all the pieces of our page, which comes out to around 51gb(edited) of data), and it works great. It runs on a single server, it serves up a single type of data, very quickly, and has been a pleasure to use. We keep other ancillary data sets on some other servers too, and it’s great for this. Tokyo Tyrant is a great example of very performant software, but it doesn’t scale. (via straup on Delicious)
- WillPowder — Specialty Powders and Spices from Chef Will Goldfarb — molecular gastronomy products from “the golden boy of pastry”. (via joshua on Delicious)
- What is the Deal with NULLs? — In the past, I’ve criticized NULL semantics, but in this post I’d just like to explain some corner cases that I think you’ll find interesting, and try to straighten out some myths and misconceptions. [...] I believe the above shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that NULL semantics are unintuitive, and if viewed according to most of the “standard explanations,” highly inconsistent. (via bos on Delicious)
I'm just reading a Wendell Berry essay from 2000, entitled In Distrust of Movements, reprinted on a blog with the inspired name The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles. I was going to just tweet the link, but realized that more people need to read this, and I ought to quote more extensively. (I hope that fans of Michael Pollan's books like…