The Rapture of the Nerds (Charlie Stoss, Cory Doctorow) — available for download and purchase under a CC-A-NC-ND license.
Amazon Maps API — if there is an API layer of general use to developers, Amazon will build it. They want to be the infrastructure for the web. Tim identified “the Internet Operating System”, and Amazon figured out how to put a pricetag on every syscall.
NeoVictorian Computing (Mark Bernstein) — read this! I think we all woke up one day to find ourselves living in the software factory. The floor is hard, from time to time it gets very cold at night, and they say the factory is going to close and move somewhere else. [...] The Arts & Crafts movement failed in consumer goods, but it could succeed in software. (via James Governor)
Participatory Budgeting — research shows participation is more effective than penalties in taxation compliance. Participation is more effective than penalties in almost everything.
MIT-Developed Microthrusters — a flat, compact square — much like a computer chip — covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward. You say satellite, but it’s only a matter of time until this powers a DIY RC rocket with a camera payload. (via Hacker News)
Yelp Checkins to Measure Geopositioning Accuracy Across Phones — By analyzing millions of data points, we can easily see how, on average, different platforms perform. iPhones consistently have the most accurate positioning, with a fairly small accuracy radius. Android phones are often inaccurate, but reliably reported that inaccuracy. And finally, iPods using Wi-Fi positioning proved the least accurate and usually reported incorrect accuracy radii.
Reconstructing Visual Experiences (PDF) — early visual areas represent the information in movies. To demonstrate the power of our approach, we also constructed a Bayesian decoder by combining estimated encoding models with a sampled natural movie prior. The decoder provides remarkable reconstructions of the viewed movies. These results demonstrate that dynamic brain activity measured under naturalistic conditions can be decoded using current fMRI technology.
Earth Engine — satellite imagery and API for coding against it, to do things like detecting deforestation, classifying land cover, estimating forest biomass and carbon, and mapping the world’s roadless areas.
Microlives — 30m of your life expectancy. Here are some things that would, on average, cost a 30-year-old man 1 microlife: Smoking 2 cigarettes; Drinking 7 units of alcohol (eg 2 pints of strong beer); Each day of being 5 Kg overweight. A chest X-ray will set a middle-aged person back around 2 microlives, while a whole body CT-scan would weigh in at around 180 microlives.
Autistics Need Opportunities More Than Treatment — Laurent gave a powerful talk at Sci Foo: if the autistic brain is better at pattern matching, find jobs where that’s useful. Like, say, science. The autistic woman who was delivering mail became a research assistant in his lab, now has papers galore to her name for original research.
Patton Oswalt’s Letters to Both Sides — You guys need to stop thinking like gatekeepers. You need to do it for the sake of your own survival. Because all of us comedians after watching Louis CK revolutionize sitcoms and comedy recordings and live tours. And listening to “WTF With Marc Maron” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and watching the growth of the UCB Theatre on two coasts and seeing careers being made on Twitter and Youtube. Our careers don’t hinge on somebody in a plush office deciding to aim a little luck in our direction. (via Jim Stogdill)
Headliner — interesting Guardian experiment with headlines and presentation. As always, reading the BERG designers’ notes are just as interesting as the product itself. E.g., how they used computer vision to find faces and zoom in on them to make articles more attractive to browsing readers.
Campbell’s Law — The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. (via New York Times)
The Future of a Map is Its Information (The Atlantic) — maps are how we display data when we, the brain, wish to answer a question. Technology is rapidly expanding the questions we don’t need to look at a map to answer: directions, weather forecasts, dining …. (via Flowing Data)
Governments Don’t Have Websites, Governments Are Websites (MySociety) — the best part about MySociety’s recent funding is that Tom Steinberg is blogging more. The majority of citizens don’t have deep, all encompassing, everyday interactions with the state – at most they drop their kids at school every day, or visit the GP a few times a year. That’s as physically close as they get. To these people, interacting with government already feels somewhat like interacting with Amazon. It sends them benefits, passports, recycling bins, car tax disks from mysterious dispatch offices and it demands money and information in return. The difference is in emotional tone – the Amazon online interactions tend to be seamless, the government online interactions either painful or impossible – time to pick up the phone.
Captured America (The Atlantic) — Larry Lessig observes the tilted playing field responsible for America’s inability to govern itself: A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.
Economist on QR Codes — Three-quarters of American online retailers surveyed by Forrester, a research firm, use them. In April nearly 20% of smartphone users in America scanned one, up from 14% in May last year.
The Great German Energy Experiment (Technology Review) — political will: the risk and the successes. Certainly a huge gulf between Germany and America in where they are, and political will to be more renewable.
Mobile Maps (Luke Wroblewski) — In the US, Google gets about 31 million users a month on its Maps app on iOS. On average those users spend more than 75 minutes apiece in the app each month.
The Importance of Public Traffic Data (Anil Dash) — Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first collaboration was a startup called Traf-O-Data, which recorded and analyzed traffic at intersections in their hometown using custom-built devices along with some smart software. Jack Dorsey’s first successful application was a platform for dispatch routing, designed to optimize the flow of cars by optimizing the flow of information. It’s easy to see these debates as being about esoteric “open data” battles with governments and big corporations. But it matters because the work we do to build our cities directly drives the work we do to build our communities online.
Mozilla Thimble — Write and edit HTML and CSS right in your browser. Instantly preview your work. Then host and share your finished pages with a single click.
Design of the Guardian iPad App (Mark Porter) — thoughtful analysis of the options and ideas behind the new Guardian iPad app. Unlike the iPhone and Android apps, which are built on feeds from the website, this one actually recycles the already-formatted newspaper pages. A script analyses the InDesign files from the printed paper and uses various parameters (page number, physical area and position that a story occupies, headline size, image size etc) to assign a value to the story. The content is then automatically rebuilt according to those values in a new InDesign template for the app. (via Josh Porter)
Future Telescope Array Drives Exabyte Processing (Ars Technica) — Astronomical data is massive, and requires intense computation to analyze. If it works as planned, Square Kilometer Array will produce over one exabyte (260 bytes, or approximately 1 billion gigabytes) every day. This is roughly twice the global daily traffic of the entire Internet, and will require storage capacity at least 10 times that needed for the Large Hadron Collider. (via Greg Linden)
Why Microsoft’s New Open Source Division (Simon Phipps) — The new “Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.” provides an ideal firewall to protect Microsoft from the risks it has been alleging exist in open source and open standards. As such, it will make it “easier and faster” for them to respond to the inevitability of open source in their market without constant push-back from cautious and reactionary corporate process.
Penguins Counted From Space (Reuters) — I love the unintended flow-on effects of technological progress. Nobody funded satellites because they’d help us get an accurate picture of wildlife in the Antarctic, but yet here we are. The street finds a use …
What Makes a Super-Spreader? — A super-spreader is a person who transmits an infection to a significantly greater number of other people than the average infected person. The occurrence of a super spreader early in an outbreak can be the difference between a local outbreak that fizzles out and a regional epidemic. Cory, Waxy, Gruber, Ms BrainPickings Popova: I’m looking at you. (via BoingBoing)
Biologic — view your social network as though looking at cells through a microscope. Gorgeous and different.
The Cost of Cracking — analysis of used phone listings to see what improves and decreases price yields some really interesting results. Phones described as “decent” are typically priced 23% below the median. Who would describe something they’re selling as “decent” and price it below market value unless something fishy was going on? [...] On average, cracking your phone destroys 30-50% of its value instantly. Particularly interesting to me since Ms 10 just brought home her phone with *cough* a new starburst screensaver.
OpenStreetMap Welcomes Apple — this is the classy way to deal with the world’s richest company quietly and badly using your work without acknowledgement.