- PlotDevice — A Python-based graphics language for designers, developers, and tinkerers. More in the easy-to-get-started + visual realm, like Processing. (via Andy Baio)
- Scumblr and Sketchy Search — Netflix open sourcing some scraping, screenshot, and workflow tools their security team uses to monitor discussion of themselves.
- Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read? (Glenn Greenwald) — In the digital age, we are nearing the point where an idea banished by Twitter, Facebook and Google all but vanishes from public discourse entirely, and that is only going to become more true as those companies grow even further. Whatever else is true, the implications of having those companies make lists of permitted and prohibited ideas are far more significant than when ordinary private companies do the same thing.
- Intellectual Property: Law and the Information Society; Cases and Materials (PDF) — James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins’ open law textbook on IP (which even explores the question of whether that’s a valid and meaningful term). (via James Boyle)
Learning Machine Learning, Pokemon Coding, Drone Coverage, and Optimization Guide
- CalTech Machine Learning Video Library — a pile of video introductions to different machine learning concepts.
- Awesome Pokemon Hack — each inventory item has a number associated with it, they are kept at a particular memory location, and there’s a glitch in the game that executes code at that location so … you can program by assembling items and then triggering the glitch. SO COOL.
- Drone Footage of Bangkok Protests — including water cannons.
- The Mature Optimization Handbook — free, well thought out, and well written. My favourite line: In exchange for that saved space, you have created a hidden dependency on clairvoyance.
Drone Journalism, Mobile Web Dev, JS Book, and Chrome App Dev
- Drone Journalism — “The newspaper was for still images,” said Mr. Whyld, who builds his own drones, “but the Internet is for this.” is the money shot from a NY Times piece (not linked to directly, as is paywalled)
- Best UX Patterns for Mobile Web Apps (Luke Wroblewski) — advice from Google Chrome Dev Summit.
- You Don’t Know JS (Github) — book in progress, funded by a Kickstarter.
- Spark — A Chrome app based development environment with a reusable library of GUI widgets.
Downloading Kindle Highlights, Balanced Photos, Long Form, and Crap Regulation
- bookcision — bookmarklet to download your Kindle highlights. (via Nelson Minar)
- Algorithm for a Perfectly Balanced Photo Gallery — remember this when it comes time to lay out your 2013 “Happy Holidays!” card.
- Long Stories (Fast Company Labs) — Our strategy was to still produce feature stories as discrete articles, but then to tie them back to the stub article with lots of prominent links, again taking advantage of the storyline and context we had built up there, making our feature stories sharper and less full of catch-up material.
- Massachusetts Software Tax (Fast Company Labs) — breakdown of why this crappily-written law is bad news for online companies. Laws are the IEDs of the Internet: it’s easy to make massively value-destroying regulation and hard to get it fixed.
Sensor journalism will augment our ability to understand the world and hold governments accountable.
When I went to the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival to host a conversation with NPR’s Javaun Moradi about sensors, society and the media, I thought we would be talking about the future of data journalism. By the time I left the event, I’d learned that sensor journalism had long since arrived and been applied. Today, inexpensive, easy-to-use open source hardware is making it easier for media outlets to create data themselves.
“Interest in sensor data has grown dramatically over the last year,” said Moradi. “Groups are experimenting in the areas of environmental monitoring, journalism, human rights activism, and civic accountability.” His post on what sensor networks mean for journalism sparked our collaboration after we connected in December 2011 about how data was being used in the media.
At a SXSW panel on “sensoring the news,” Sarah Williams, an assistant professor at MIT, described how the Spatial Information Design Lab At Columbia University* had partnered with the Associated Press to independently measure air quality in Beijing.
Prior to the 2008 Olympics, the coaches of the Olympic teams had expressed serious concern about the impact of air pollution on the athletes. That, in turn, put pressure on the Chinese government to take substantive steps to improve those conditions. While the Chinese government released an index of air quality, explained Williams, they didn’t explain what went into it, nor did they provide the raw data.
The Beijing Air Tracks project arose from the need to determine what the conditions on the ground really were. AP reporters carried sensors connected to their cellphones to detect particulate and carbon monoxide levels, enabling them to report air quality conditions back in real-time as they moved around the Olympic venues and city. Read more…
A Pew report says paywalls could yield content that justifies a price tag.
The Pew Research Center is out with its annual “State of the News Media” report. Much of it is what you’d expect: newspapers and local television are struggling, mobile is rising, digital revenue hasn’t — and can’t — replace traditional print revenue, and on and on.
But read carefully, and you’ll find hope.
For example, Pew says the embrace of paywalls might improve the quality of the content:
“The rise of digital paid content could also have a positive impact on the quality of journalism as news organizations strive to produce unique and high-quality content that the public believes is worth paying for.”
I used to criticize paywalls. I thought they could only work for specialized content or material that’s attached to a desired outcome (i.e. subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, use the insights to make money).
My concern was that publishers would slam walls around their existing content and ask people to pay for an experience that had once been free. That made no sense. Who wants to pay for slideshows and link bait and general news?
But content that’s “worth paying for” is a different thing altogether. Publishers who go this route are acknowledging that a price tag requires justification.
Will it work? Maybe. What I might pay is different than what you might pay. There’s that pesky return-on-investment thing to consider as well.
However, my bigger takeaway — and this is why I’m changing my tune on paywalls — is that value is now part of the paywall equation. That’s a good start.
Drone Journalism, DNS Sniffing, E-Book Lending, and Structured Data Server
- Drone Journalism — two universities in the US have already incorporated drone use in their journalism programs. The Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska and the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri both teach journalism students how to make the most of what drones have to offer when reporting a story. They also teach students how to fly drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and ethics.
- passivedns — A network sniffer that logs all DNS server replies for use in a passive DNS setup.
- IFLA E-Lending Background Paper (PDF) — The global dominance of English language eBook title availability reinforced by eReader availability is starkly evident in the statistics on titles available by country: in the USA: 1,000,000; UK: 400,000; Germany/France: 80,000 each; Japan: 50,000; Australia: 35,000; Italy: 20,000; Spain: 15,000; Brazil: 6,000. Many more stats in this paper prepared as context for the International Federation of Library Associations.
- The god Architecture — a scalable, performant, persistent, in-memory data structure server. It allows massively distributed applications to update and fetch common data in a structured and sorted format. Its main inspirations are Redis and Chord/DHash. Like Redis it focuses on performance, ease of use and a small, simple yet powerful feature set, while from the Chord/DHash projects it inherits scalability, redundancy, and transparent failover behaviour.
Cheap Attack Drones, Truth Filters, Where Musicians Make Money, and Dynamic Pricing From Digitized Analogue Signals
- Chinese Attack UAV (Alibaba) — Small attack UAV is characterized with small size, light weight, convenient carrying, rapid outfield expansion procedure, easy operation and maintenance; the system only needs 2-3 operators to operate, can be carried by surveillance personnel to complete the attack mission. (via BoingBoing)
- TruthTeller Prototype (Washington Post) — speech-to-text, then matches statements against known facts to identify truth/falsehoods. Still a prototype but I love that, in addition to the Real Time Coupon Specials From Hot Singles Near You mobile advertising lens, there might be a truth lens that technology helps us apply to the world around us.
- Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives — 5,000 American musicians surveyed, For most musicians, copyright does not provide much of a direct financial reward for what they are producing currently. The survey findings are instead consistent with a winner-take-all or superstar model in which copyright motivates musicians through the promise of large rewards in the future in the rare event of wide popularity. This conclusion is not unfamiliar, but this article is the first to support it with empirical evidence on musicians’ revenue. (via TechDirt)
- Max Levchin’s DLD13 Keynote — I believe the next big wave of opportunities exists in centralized processing of data gathered from primarily analog systems. […] There is also a neat symmetry to this analog-to-digtail transformation — enabling centralization of unique analog capacities. As soon as the general public is ready for it, many things handled by a human at the edge of consumption will be controlled by the best currently available human at the center of the system, real time sensors bringing the necessary data to them in real time.