How to Cram the Wikipedia onto an 8GB iPhone
Think about Wikipedia, what some consider the most complete general survey of human knowledge we have at the moment. Now imagine squeezing it down to fit comfortably on an 8GB iPhone. Sound daunting? Well, that’s just what Patrick Collison’s iPhone application does. App Store purchasers of Collison’s open source application can browser and search the full text of Wikipedia when stuck in a plane, or trapped in the middle of nowhere (or as defined by AT&T coverage…) Collison will be presenting a talk on how he did it at OSCON, O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention at the end of July, and he spent some time talking to me about it recently.
Google sometimes finds itself at an difficult crossroad of wanting to make as much information available to as many people as possible, while still trying to obey the laws of the countries they operate in. I recently had a chance to talk to Marissa Mayer, who started at Google as their first female engineer, and has now risen to the ranks of vice president in charge of some of Google’s most critical product areas, such as search, maps and Chrome. We talked about some of Google’s future product directions, and also about how Google makes the decision as to when information has to be withheld from the users. Marissa will be delivering a keynote address at the O’Reilly Velocity Conference next week.
The psychology of engineering user experiences on the web can be difficult. How much rich content can you place up on a page before the load time drives away your visitors? Get the answer wrong, and you can end up with a ghost town; get it right and you’re a star. Eric Schurman knows this well, since he is responsible for just those kind of trade-off decisions on some of Microsoft’s highest traffic pages. He’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s Velocity Conference in June, and he recently talked with us about how Microsoft tests different user experiences on small groups of visitors.
Today, Google is releasing support for parsing and display of microformat data in their search results. While the initial launch will be limited to a specific set of partners (including LinkedIn, Yelp and CNet reviews), the intent is that very quickly, anyone who marks their pages up with the appropriate microformat data will be able to make their information understandable…
If there’s a site that exemplifies explosive growth, it has to be Twitter. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is Tweeting, or talking about Tweeting, or Tweeting about Tweeting. Keeping the site responsive under that type of increase is no easy job, but it’s one that John Adams has to deal with every day, working in Twitter Operations. He’ll be talking about that work at O’Reilly’s Velocity Conference, in a session entitled Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World’s Most Popular Micro-blogging Site, and he spent some time with us to talk about what is involved in keeping the site alive.
Soldiers on the ground need to know the territory they patrol like the back of their hand. Knowing where insurgents like to plant IEDs or that an important political leader lives in a certain house can prove the difference between success and failure. But what happens when a platoon transfers out of Baghdad and a brand new one moves in? All that experience used to go out the window. But thanks to TIGR, a map-based knowledge-base developed by DARPA, platoons can now document information they learn on patrol, as well as accessing the latest intelligence. In this interview, hear how TIGR was developed, how it is helping troops stay alive and perform their missions better, and what the realities of deploying a brand new technology into a war zone are.
A lot of information we have about cities comes through direct and intentioned observation and study, but could a lot of the time and expense spent on this research be garnered just as well by mining the data that citizens generate in their day-to-day lives through cell phone traffic and internet usage? That's one of the questions that Andrea Vaccari, a research associate at the MIT SENSEable City Lab, is trying to find out. Andrea will be speaking at the Where 2.0 Conference in May on the research that the SENSEable City Project is doing.
Location can be a vague concept to pin down. To a surveyor, location means latitude and longitude accurate to a few millimeters, while to a cab driver, a street address would be much more useful. If you’re German, I can tell you that I live in the United States. To a Californian, I live in New Hampshire. And to someone from Manchester, I live in Derry. Unfortunately, the way that location is currently stored and presented online is both non-uniform and frequently at a level of precision inappropriate for the end-user. That’s part of what Open Location is trying to fix. Tyler Bell, who took his doctorate from Oxford to Yahoo, is currently the product lead for the Yahoo Geo Technology Group. At O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 Conference, he’ll be discussing Open Location.
Tools like Twitter and Facebook have let people share in near real-time what they are doing. Now with a new generation of location aware mobile devices, you can tell your friends or the entire world where you’re doing it. Jeff Holden’s company, Pelago, is one of many trying to come up with a killer application that blends location, images, text and social networking to create a new kind of group awareness. Before starting Pelago, Jeff had a long career as the Senior Vice President of Consumer Websites for Amazon and before that, the Director of Supply Chain Optimization Systems. In this preview of his talk at Where 2.0, Jeff talks about creating stories through location-tagged information, distributing software through Apple’s App Store, his work at Amazon, and the privacy implications of location becoming ubiquitous.
When we think about how government uses geographic information, we tend to think about USGS maps or census data, very centralized and preplanned projects meant to produce a very specific set of products. But Development Seed believes that there are a lot more that could be done if these types of data could be mashed up easily with each other as well as with alternate sources such as social networks. Eric Gunderson, President of Development Seed, will speaking at O'Reilly's Where 2.0 Conference in June, and he recently took some time to speak to us about the potential benefits that open access to government data brings.