- Case and Molly, a Game Inspired by Neuromancer (Greg Borenstein) — On reading Neuromancer today, this dynamic feels all too familiar. We constantly navigate the tension between the physical and the digital in a state of continuous partial attention. We try to walk down the street while sending text messages or looking up GPS directions. We mix focused work with a stream of instant message and social media conversations. We dive into the sudden and remote intimacy of seeing a family member’s face appear on FaceTime or Google Hangout. “Case and Molly” uses the mechanics and aesthetics of Neuromancer’s account of cyberspace/meatspace coordination to explore this dynamic.
- Rethinking Ray Ozzie — an inescapable conclusion: Ray Ozzie was right. And Microsoft’s senior leadership did not listen, certainly not at the time, and perhaps not until it was too late. Hear, hear!
- Recursive Deep Models for Semantic Compositionality
Over a Sentiment Treebank (PDF) — apparently it nails sentiment analysis, and will be “open sourced”. At least, according to this GigaOm piece, which also explains how it works.
- PLoS ASAP Award Finalists Announced — with pointers to interviews with the finalists, doing open access good work like disambiguating species names and doing open source drug discovery.
Neuromancer Game, Ray Ozzie, Sentiment Analysis, and Open Science Prizes
PaaS Vendors, Educational MMO, Changing Culture, Data Mythologies
- Amazon Compute Numbers (ReadWrite) — AWS offers five times the utilized compute capacity of each of its other 14 top competitors—combined. (via Matt Asay)
- MIT Educational MMO — The initial phase will cover topics in biology, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics, providing students with a collaborative, social experience in a systems-based game world where they can explore how the world works and discover important scientific concepts. (via KQED)
- Changing Norms (Atul Gawande) — neither penalties nor incentives achieve what we’re really after: a system and a culture where X is what people do, day in and day out, even when no one is watching. “You must” rewards mere compliance. Getting to “X is what we do” means establishing X as the norm.
- The Mythologies of Big Data (YouTube) — Kate Crawford at UC Berkeley iSchool. The six months: ‘Big data are new’, ‘Big data is objective’, ‘Big data don’t discriminate’, ‘Big data makes cities smart’, ‘Big data is anonymous’, ‘You can opt out of big data’. (via Sam Kinsley)
Teaching Future Coders
Ever since PyCon 2013, the interest in the Young Coders class has been intensifying. Practically every Python conference since then has asked about doing one, and several have run their own. Classes outside of conferences have sprung up, as well, from one time workshops to after school clubs.
As more classes happen, more people have been asking about running their own. These classes do take quite a bit of effort to set up, but the payoff is enormous. Also, once you do one, doing subsequent ones gets easier and easier.
Better UIs, Dot Tricks, UAV Camera, and Writing Interactive Fiction
- Good UI — easily digested tips for improving UIs. (via BERG London)
- Mapping Millions of Dots — tips like The other thing that goes along with this brightness scaling is to draw fewer dots at lower zoom levels. By the time you get most of a continent on the screen, the dots are so much smaller than pixels and there are so many of them to draw, that it looks the same and is much faster if you draw half as many dots at twice the brightness apiece. (via Flowing Data)
- 118g 10x Zoom Camera for Drones — little less than 800×600 resolution. (via DIY Drones)
- Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform7 (Amazon) — all you need to write your own Zork, or even do better. With foreword by my hero (I squee like fanboy when I remember meeting him at the first Foo Camp) Don Woods. Yeah, Colossal Cave Adventure Don Woods. WIN. (via Marshall Tenner Winter)
Driverless Intersections, Quantum Information, Low-Energy Wireless Networking, and Scammy Game Tactics
- Autonomous Intersection Management Project — a scalable, safe, and efficient multiagent framework for managing autonomous vehicles at intersections. (via How Driverless Cars Could Reshape Cities)
- Quantum Information (New Scientist) — a gentle romp through the possible and the actual for those who are new to the subject.
- Ambient Backscatter (PDF) — a new communication primitive where devices communicate by backscattering ambient RF signals. Our design avoids the expensive process of generating radio waves; backscatter communication is orders of magnitude more power-efﬁcient than traditional radio communication. (via Hacker News)
- Top Free-to-Play Monetization Tricks (Gamasutra) — amazingly evil ways that free games lure you into paying. At this point the user must choose to either spend about $1 or lose their rewards, lose their stamina (which they could get back for another $1), and lose their progress. To the brain this is not just a loss of time. If I spend an hour writing a paper and then something happens and my writing gets erased, this is much more painful to me than the loss of an hour. The same type of achievement loss is in effect here. Note that in this model the player could be defeated multiple times in the boss battle and in getting to the boss battle, thus spending several dollars per dungeon.
The Contract, Fixing Signin, Pi Gaming, and Glitchy Marketing Constructs
- The Unengageables (Dan Meyer) — They signed their “didactic contract” years and years ago. They signed it. Their math teachers signed it. The agreement says that the teacher comes into class, tells them what they’re going to learn, and shows them three examples of it. In return, the students take what their teacher showed them and reproduce it twenty times before leaving class. Then they go home with an assignment to reproduce it twenty more times. Then here you come, Ms. I-Just-Got-Back-From-A-Workshop, and you want to change the agreement? Yeah, you’ll hear from their attorney. Applies to management as much as to teaching.
- Fixing Signin — The general principle can be stated simply, in two parts: first, give users a trust-worthy way to identify themselves. Second, do so with as little information as possible, because users don’t want to (and simply can’t) remember things like passwords in a secure way. (via Tim Bray)
- Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi (Adafruit) — finally, a clear incentive for kids to work through the frustration of setting up their own Linux box.
- Mieko Haire — Apple’s fictious demo lady. Or is she fictitious? This is a new aesthetic-esque glitch, but while most glitches are glitches because you see something that doesn’t exist, this is glitchy because the fictions are actual people. Ok, maybe I need to lay off the peyote.
Videogame Hyperinflation, Thumbdrive Computing, Distributed Consensus, and Organism Simulation
- Hyperinflation in Diablo 3 — interesting discussion about how video games regulate currency availability, and how Diablo 3 appears to have messed up. several weeks after the game’s debut a source claimed that there were at least 1,000 bots active 24/7 in the Diablo 3 game world, allegedly “harvesting” (producing) 4 million virtual gold per hour. Most of the gold generated by the ruthlessly productive, rapidly adapting bots found its way to third party vendors in a black market which undercut the prices in the sanctioned, in-game auction houses.
- Dell Project Ophelia (PC World) — $100 USB-stick-sized Android computer.
- Call Me Maybe (Kyle Kingsbury) — a series on network partitions. We’re going to learn about distributed consensus, discuss the CAP theorem’s implications, and demonstrate how different databases behave under partition.
- OpenWorm (The Atlantic) — simulating the c. elegans nematode worm in software. OpenWorm isn’t like these other initiatives; it’s a scrappy, open-source project that began with a tweet and that’s coordinated on Google Hangouts by scientists spread from San Diego to Russia. If it succeeds, it will have created a first in executable biology: a simulated animal using the principles of life to exist on a computer.
Google Ingress, Micrometer 3D Printing, Design Thinking, and Tote Bags In The Cloud
- On Google’s Ingress Game (ReadWrite Web) — By rolling out Ingress to developers at I/O, Google hopes to show how mobile, location, multi-player and augmented reality functions can be integrated into developer application offerings. In that way, Ingress becomes a kind of “how-to” template to developers looking to create vibrant new offerings for Android games and apps. (via Mike Loukides)
- Nanoscribe Micro-3D Printer — in contrast to stereolithography (SLA), the resolution is between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude higher: Feature sizes in the order of 1 µm and less are standard. (via BoingBoing)
- Thingpunk — The problem of the persistence of these traditional values is that they prevent us from addressing the most pressing design questions of the digital era: How can we create these forms of beauty and fulfill this promise of authenticity within the large and growing portions of our lives that are lived digitally? Or, conversely, can we learn to move past these older ideas of value, to embrace the transience and changeability offered by the digital as virtues in themselves? Thus far, instead of approaching these (extremely difficult) questions directly, traditional design thinking has lead us to avoid them by trying to make our digital things more like physical things (building in artificial scarcity, designing them skeumorphically, etc.) and by treating the digital as a supplemental add-on to primarily physical devices and experiences (the Internet of Things, digital fabrication).
- Kickstarter and NPR — The internet turns everything into public radio. There’s a truth here about audience-supported media and the kinds of money-extraction systems necessary to beat freeloading in a medium that makes money-collection hard and freeloading easy.
Fit2Cure taps the public's visual skills to match compounds to targets
In the inspiring tradition of Foldit, the game for determining protein shapes, Fit2Cure crowdsources the problem of finding drugs that can cure the many under-researched diseases of developing countries. Fit2Cure appeals to the player’s visual–even physical–sense of the world, and requires much less background knowledge than Foldit.
There about 7,000 rare diseases, fewer than 5% of which have cures. The number of people currently engaged in making drug discoveries is by no means adequate to study all these diseases. A recent gift to Harvard shows the importance that medical researchers attach to filling the gap. As an alternative approach, abstracting the drug discovery process into a game could empower thousands, if not millions, of people to contribute to this process and make discoveries in diseases that get little attention to scientists or pharmaceutical companies.
The biological concept behind Fit2Cure is that medicines have specific shapes that fit into the proteins of the victim’s biological structures like jig-saw puzzle pieces (but more rounded). Many cures require finding a drug that has the same jig-saw shape and can fit into the target protein molecule, thus preventing it from functioning normally.