- Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property (MIT Press) — with essays by knowledgeable folks such as Yochai Benkler, Larry Lessig, and Jo Walsh. Available as open access (free) ebook as well as paper. I love it that we can download these proper intellectuals’ intellectual property. (via BoingBoing)
- Be Open from Day One — advice from Karl Fogel (author of the excellent Producing Open Source Software, which O’Reilly publishes) for projects that think they may some day be open source: f you’re running a government software project and you plan to make it open source eventually, then just make it open source from the beginning. Waiting will only create more work. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- MALLET — open source (CPL-licensed) Java-based package for statistical natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modeling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text.
Stuff That Matters, Philanthropy, Internet Protests, and Healthcare
- The New Calculus of Competition (Umair Haque) — Don’t just lower the lowest common denominator. Elevate the numerator. Make it worthier: more meaningful, enduring, significant. A strong call to work on stuff that matters.
- The Troubled History of Google.org (NY Times) — it’s hard to measure “good”, which is one reason it’s difficult to know who’s doing good in philanthropy. Couple that with a product-first measurement mindset, rather than customer-first, and it’s no wonder Google.org struggled. The reported management flapping is gravy. (via Tim O’Reilly on Twitter)
- Andrew Mason at Startup School — So the Internet came along, and the Internet should solve all the problems of organizing people and changing collective action. But the problem is, all we’ve done is we’ve taken the old world tactics that we used offline and ported online. We haven’t really changed the way we think about things. So, for example, here is a protest against the Iraq war that people held in Second Life. [laughter] I call these tactics the tactics of inconveniencing yourself, because all these things, signing a petition or going to a protest, they’re all like mini versions of lighting yourself on fire. [laughter] They’re saying, I will sacrifice a small part of my life to show you how much I care, and that just feels so futile and not very exciting to get to be part of. And the weird thing is if the tactic you’re using is inconveniencing yourself, all the Internet does is make it easier to sign petitions, so by making it easier to inconvenience yourself, you’re making your effort more and more meaningless, right. So, if it only takes one click to write a letter to your congressman, then it takes an order of magnitude more letters for them to actually care. Pay attention, would-be government influencers.
- Why is Medicine Often Not Evidence-Based (Ben Goldacre) — If we assume, fairly generously, that you’ll be 80% successful at each step in this chain – which really is pretty generous – then with 7 steps, you’ll only manage to follow the evidence in practice 21% of the time (0.8^7=0.21). Healthcare needs interaction designers, not just programmers.
Hundreds of high-res videos from House Oversight Committee hearings will be available on a new website.
Broadcast-quality video from the hearings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform becomes available on the Internet.
Illusion of Government, Sterling on Wikileaks, Useful AR, and Real World Programming
- There Is No Such Thing as the Government — absolutely spot on there is no spoon moment for government. And that matters. It matters because once you recognise that fact, you can start to do things differently. People do, of course, recognise it at the level of caricature I have described here and nobody will admit to believing that they can get things done simply by pulling the levers of power. But inactions speak louder than words and the myth of the lever is harder to eradicate than any of us like to admit.
- The Blast Shack (Webstock) — Bruce Sterling on Wikileaks. No hacker story is more common than this. The ingenuity poured into the machinery is meaningless. The personal connections are treacherous. Welcome to the real world. No army can permit this kind of behavior and remain a functional army; so Manning is in solitary confinement and he is going to be court-martialled. With more political awareness, he might have made himself a public martyr to his conscience; but he lacks political awareness. He only has only his black-hat hacker awareness, which is all about committing awesome voyeuristic acts of computer intrusion and imagining you can get away with that when it really matters to people.
- Word Lens — finally, useful AR: it replaces foreign language text with translations.
- Staging Servers, Source Control, Deploy Workflows, and Other Stuff Nobody Teaches You — this guy has a point: when you emerge from programming school, you’re unlikely to have touched this kind of real-world programming.
Got Bugs? The Legal Bug Tracker is now in Alpha. Help us fix our legal system.
Git Library, Uncocked Open Data, Role of Editorial, and Network Neutrality Salvo
- libgit2 — a linkable git library. Ruby and Python bindings.
- Open Data: How Not to Cock It Up — Tom Steinberg lays it out.
- Algorithm and Crowd are Not Enough — My point isn’t that Google, Netflix, Amazon, Yelp or any of the others are doomed. But I do think there’s an opportunity brewing for entrepreneurs, websites and companies to add editorial components to the algo-crowd paradigm. O’Reilly’s business is built on editorial value, whether in book selection or conference creation. We obviously see a continued role for editorial presence. (via John Battelle on Twitter)
- Level 3 vs Comcast (Denver Post) — first shakedown from the carriers. Without mandated neutral carriers, the Internet will dissolve into a fiefdom of consolidated big players willing to pay the shakedowns of the telco goons.
Prison Blogging, 3D Hacks, Budget Simulation, and Enterprise Sales
- Between the Bars — snail-mail-to-blogs transcription service for prisoners, to make visible stories that would otherwise be missed. there is a religous program here called Kairo’s in the program inmates are given letters and drawings made by small children not one in that program did not cry, after reading the words of incouragement from those kids. An unmissable reminder of the complexity of human stories, suffering, and situations, the posts range from the banal to the riveting. (via Benjamin Mako Hill)
- Kinect Opensource News — a roundup of open source Kinect hacks. I like memo’s gestural interface the best. Impressive stuff for just a few days’ access to the open source drivers. (via Andy Baio)
- You Fix The Budget (NY Times) — a simpler version of Budget Hero, which lets you choose policies and see their effect on the deficit. Unlike Budget Hero, the NYT app doesn’t discuss non-deficit consequences of the actions (social consequences, ripple-on economic effects). Like Budget Hero, you can’t add your own policies: you’re forced to choose from the ones presented. Real life is more complex than this simulation, but even something this simple is powerful: by interacting with this, you understand the magnitude of (say) education vs healthcare, and you realize how much of the current debate is froth.
- Meet the New Enterprise Customer, a Lot like the Old Enterprise Customer — Ben Horowitz nails the difficulty of selling to the enterprise, and drives a stake through the “they’ll buy our service with their credit cards, like consumers do” myth. xcellent enterprise sales reps will guide a company through their own purchasing processes. Without an enterprise sales rep, many companies literally do not know how to buy new technology products. (via Mike Olson on Twitter)
Zen of Open Data, Accurate Judging, Disorienting Game, and Grokking HTTP
- The Zen of Open Data (Chris McDowall) — lovely short piece that encapsulates the whole business.
- The Calculus of Committee Composition (PlosONE) — using accuracy of judges, cost of a wrong decision, and cost of judges to arrive at the correct number of judges for any given situation. (Breaking news: ice skating gets it wrong) This might be useful for crowdsourcing.
- First Person Tetris — clever twist on an old game. (via Nick Bilton)
- htty — terminal for interacting with HTTP servers. This would be great for teaching would-be developers how the web actually works on the inside.
Poetry Translation, Smartphone Sales, Freedom for Machines to Read Information, and Free jQuery Book
- “Poetic” Statistical Machine Translation: Rhyme and Meter (PDF) — Google Research paper on how to machine translate text into poetry. This is the best paper I’ve read in a long time: clever premise, straightforward implementation, and magnificent results. There’s a very workable translation of Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol” into a different meter, which you’ll know isn’t easy if you’ve ever tried your hand at poetry more complex than “there once was a young man called Enis”. (via Poetic Machine Translation on the Google Research blog)
- Android Most Popular Operating System in US Among Recent Smartphone Buyers (Nielsen blog) — the graphs say it all. Note how the growth in Android handset numbers doesn’t come at the expense of Blackberry or iPhone users? Android users aren’t switchers, they’re new smartphone owners. (via Hacker News)
- Government Data to be Machine Readable (Guardian) — UK government to require all responses to Freedom of Information Act requests to be machine readable.
- jQuery Fundamentals — CC-SA-licensed book on jQuery programming. (via darren on Twitter)