- Just Say No To Freegal — an interesting view from the inside, speaking out against a music licensing system called Freegal which is selling to libraries. Libraries typically buy one copy of something, and then lend it out to multiple users sequentially, in order to get a good return on investment. Participating in a product like Freegal means that we’re not lending anymore, we’re buying content for users to own permanently so they don’t have to pay the vendor directly themselves. This puts us in direct competition with the vendor’s sales directly to consumers, and the vendors will never make more money off of libraries than they will off of direct consumer sales. What that does is put libraries in a position of being economic victims of our own success. I would think that libraries would remember this lesson from our difficulties with the FirstSearch pay-per-use model that most of us found to be unsustainable.
- Cost of Computing in Coal (Benjamin Mako Hill) — back-of-the-envelope estimation of the carbon costs of running an overnight multicore Amazon number-crunching job. Thinking about the environmental costs of your crappy coding might change the way you code, much as punched cards encouraged you to model and test the program by hand before you ran it. How many tons of coal are burnt to support laziness or a lack of optimization in my software?
- Friction in Computer Human Symbiosis (Palantir blog) — Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process. (via Tim O’Reilly)
Library Licensing, Mac Graphics, Coal Computing, and Human Augmentation
Vector Graphics, Processing Maps, Augemented Senses, and Graph Analysis
- TileMill for Processing — gorgeous custom maps in Processing. (via FlowingData)
- Research Assistant Wanted — working with one of the authors of Mind Hacks on augmenting our existing senses with a form of “remote touch” generated by using artificial distance sensors, such as ultrasound, to stimulate tactile stimulators (vibrating pads) placed against the surface of the head.. (via Vaughn Bell)
- GoldenORB — a cloud-based open source project for massive-scale graph analysis, built upon best-of-breed software from the Apache Hadoop project modeled after Google’s Pregel architecture. (via BigData)
Shadowy CSS, Bitcoin Mining, Graphics API, Date Design
- OMG Text — a plugin for CSS framework Compass for directional text shadows. (via David Kaneda)
- Build a Cheap Bitcoin Mine — some day it will be revealed that the act of generating a bitcoin token is helping the Russian mafia to crack nuclear missile launch codes and Afghan druglords built the Bitcoin system to destabilize the US dollar.
- Polycode — a free, open-source, cross-platform framework for creative code. You can use it as a C++ API or as a standalone scripting language to get easy and simple access to accelerated 2D and 3D graphics, hardware shaders, sound and network programming, physics engines and more. The core Polycode API is written in C++ and can be used to create portable native applications. Lua interfaces. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Flickr Date Design — interesting thoughts on Flickr’s date design. The date your photos was taken is stored in a MySQL datetime technically giving you the ability to label your photo as being taken solidly 800+ years before anything most of us would describe as the invention of photography. Which is a little silly.[...]Fundamentally this split between system activity time, and human editable creation date models a world where the people who use your software do something other then use your software. You have to decide how you feel about admitting that possibility. (via Nelson Minar)
Health Prediction, Fake Ads, Bogus Patents, and Realtime Graphing
- The Heritage Health Competition — Netflix-like contest to analyze insurance-claims data to develop a model that predicts the number of days a patient will spend in hospital in the coming year. $3M prize. (via Aza Raskin)
- Historically Hardcore — fantastic fake Smithsonian ads that manage to make the institution sexy. Naturally they’ve been asked to take them down.
- Another Plato Innovation Ignored — turns out the above-the-fold doodle has a long and glorious history, culminating in a fantastic demonstration of our broken patent system.
- Graphite — Enterprise scalable realtime graphing. Apache 2.0-licensed, written in Python. (via John Nunemaker)
Trading platforms, truth in graphs, European financial stats, and Mandelbrot's passing.
In this edition of Strata Week: The London Stock Exchange moves from .Net to open source; learn how graphical scales can lie; the Euroean Central Bank president calls for better financial statistics; and we bid farewell to the father of fractals.
Teaching Design Thinking, Client-Side Graphics, Removing Logos, and Tweeting the Revolution
- Design Thinking in Schools — materials to help teach design thinking in schools and education. My favourite: Design MadLibs (though until they can include “fart” in the list of acceptable words, it won’t be as interesting to my kids as the original MadLibs). (via Justine Sanderson)
- Unlogo — a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from videos. Very clever use of computer vision technology: “if we have all these demos of CV that put logos on blank sheets of paper and otherwise inject them into our lives, why not use the same technology to remove logos from the world around us?” There’s a nifty demo replacing logos with the head of the relevant corporation’s CEO. (via Phil Lindsay)
- Gibbets, Dismemberment, and Dickens (Julie Starr) — evocative and well-written Dickens account of witnessing a guillotining. If the next revolution is tweeted, it’ll be a sad day for journalism, literature, and history. Do read this, it’s not revolting.
Delicious Graphs, Charities and Data, Climate Psychology, Data Structure Portability
- Delicious Links Clustered and Stacked (Matt Biddulph) — six years of his delicious links, k-means clustered by tag and graphed. The clusters are interesting, but I wonder whether Matt can identify significant life/work events by the spikes in the graph.
- Open Data and the Voluntary Sector (OKFN) — Open data will give charities new ways to find and share information on the need of their beneficiaries – who needs their services most and where they are located. The sharing of information will be key to this – it’s not just about using data that the government has opened up, but also opening your own data.
- Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges in Responding to Climate Change — At the deepest level, large scale environmental problems such as global warming threaten people’s sense of the continuity of life – what sociologist Anthony Giddens calls ontological security. Ignoring the obvious can, however, be a lot of work. Both the reasons for and process of denial are socially organized; that is to say, both cognition and denial are socially structured. Denial is socially organized because societies develop and reinforce a whole repertoire of techniques or “tools” for ignoring disturbing problems. Fascinating paper. (via Jez)
- Blueprints — provides a collection of interfaces and implementations to common, complex data structures. Blueprints contains a property graph model its implementations for TinkerGraph, Neo4j, and SAIL. Also, it contains an object document model and implementations for TinkerDoc, CouchDB, and MongoDB. In short, Blueprints provides a one stop shop for implemented interfaces to help developers create software without being tied to particular underlying data management systems.
Open Source Government Tools, Insider Journalism, Open Clip Art, Mining Facebook Profiles
- OSOR.eu — The OSOR is a platform where public administrations can exchange information and experiences and collaborate in developing free and open source software. The platform has managed to bring together more than 2000 such open source software applications in just sixteen months after its launch. (via EUPractice and vikram_nz on Twitter)
- Inside Glitch — writeup of behind-the-scenes during the development of the game Glitch, the new project from Stewart Butterfield, Cal Henderson, Eric Costello, and Serguei Mourachov. The historical details themselves are banal, but what’s interesting is how the reporter got access: “I’ll let you determine when the piece runs (but not editorial control over what goes in it), and in return I get to meet regularly with you and you tell me all.” It’s analogous to the Newsweek tell-alls that come out after the election. (via Waxy)
- Open Clip Art — archive of public domain-contributed clip art. (via Mark Osbourne)
- How To Split Up The US — clique analysis from 210 million public Facebook profiles. Some of these clusters are intuitive, like the old south, but there’s some surprises too, like Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas having closer ties to Texas than Georgia. To make sense of the patterns I’m seeing, I’ve marked and labeled the clusters, and added some notes about the properties they have in common.