- The Care and Feeding of Weird Machines Found in Executable Metadata (YouTube) — talk from 29th Chaos Communication Congress, on using tricking the ELF linker/loader into arbitrary computation from the metadata supplied. Yes, there’s a brainfuck compiler that turns code into metadata which is then, through a supernatural mix of pixies, steam engines, and binary, executed. This will make your brain leak. Weird machines are everywhere.
- European Libraries May Digitise Books Without Permission — “The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitize the works in question,” the court said. Even if the rights holder offers a library the possibility of licensing his works on appropriate terms, the library can use the exception to publish works on electronic terminals, the court ruled. “Otherwise, the library could not realize its core mission or promote the public interest in promoting research and private study,” it said.
- CausalImpact (GitHub) — Google’s R package for estimating the causal effect of a designed intervention on a time series. (via Google Open Source Blog)
- Laws of Crappy Dashboards — (caution, NSFW language … “crappy” is my paraphrase) so true. Not talking to users will result in a [crappy] dashboard. You don’t know if the dashboard is going to be useful. But you don’t talk to the users to figure it out. Or you just show it to them for a minute (with someone else’s data), never giving them a chance to figure out what the hell they could do with it if you gave it to them.
Massive Security Problems, Hardware Locks, Closed Libraries, and Entrepreneurial Chaos in Detroit
- Information Security Breaches 2013 Report (UK Gov) — over 80% of small UK firms reported a breach, and over 90% of large. (via The Register)
- Google Glass Forbids Resales (Wired) — leaving aside the braying naysayers with their “GLASS WILL DESTROY THE SOCIAL FABRIC AND OUR ESSENTIAL HUMANITY”, there’s a valid point about software being used to control what users do with their devices. Given that this run of Glass is limited edition and they’ve hand-picked to whom they go and for what reason, Ed from Philadelphia is both greedy and naive if he believes Google’s letting him buy a pair to resell on eBay.
- Locked Stacks — As the British Library makes a glacially paced transition from being an analog behemoth to being a digitized one, an opportunity arises to lower the institution’s ivory tower-like walls and to create extensive access to its impressive catalog. The only problems, of course, are a lack of money and the currently insurmountable problem of UK copyright law.
- Young Community Entrepreneurs Rebuilding Detroit (Fast Company) — from information-sharing real estate ventures to transportation startups and doomsday clocks to see how close the city is to bankruptcy, it’s a crazy world out there. Should be easy for them: Detroit comes pre-disrupted.
Bootstrap Fun, Digital Public Library, Snake Robots, and Aboriginal Data
- geo-bootstrap — Twitter Bootstrap fork that looks like a classic geocities page. Because. (via Narciso Jaramillo)
- Digital Public Library of America — public libraries sharing full text and metadata for scans, coordinating digitisation, maximum reuse. See The Verge piece. (via Dan Cohen)
- Snake Robots — I don’t think this is a joke. The snake robot’s versatile abilities make it a useful tool for reaching locations or viewpoints that humans or other equipment cannot. The robots are able to climb to a high vantage point, maneuver through a variety of terrains, and fit through tight spaces like fences or pipes. These abilities can be useful for scouting and reconnaissance applications in either urban or natural environments. Watch the video, the nightmares will haunt you. (via Aaron Straup Cope)
- The Power of Data in Aboriginal Hands (PDF) — critique of government statistical data gathering of Aboriginal populations. That ABS [Australian Bureau of Statistics] survey is designed to assist governments, commentators or academics who want to construct policies that shape our lives or encourage a one-sided public discourse about us and our position in the Australian nation. The survey does not provide information that Indigenous people can use to advance our position because the data is aggregated at the national or state level or within the broad ABS categories of very remote, remote, regional or urban Australia. These categories are constructed in the imagination of the Australian nation state. They are not geographic, social or cultural spaces that have relevance to Aboriginal people. [...] The Australian nation’s foundation document of 1901 explicitly excluded Indigenous people from being counted in the national census. That provision in the constitution, combined with Section 51, sub section 26, which empowered the Commonwealth to make special laws for ‘the people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State’ was an unambiguous and defining statement about Australian nation building. The Founding Fathers mandated the federated governments of Australia to oversee the disappearance of Aboriginal people in Australia.
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.
Penguin and library lending, ebook cost accounting, and Knight News Challenge winners.
Two NYC libraries will get Penguin books, ebooks often cost more to make than publishers earn, and one news startup addresses shrinking resources with editorial analytics.
Why We Make, Kickstarter Stats, Dodgy Domains, and Pretty Pretty Pictures
- Reality Bytes — We make things because that’s how we understand. We make things because that’s how we pass them on, and because everything we have was passed on to us as a made object. We make things in digital humanities because that’s how we interpret and conserve our inheritance. Because that’s how we can make it all anew. Librarians, preservation, digital humanities, and the relationship between digital and physical. Existential threats don’t scare us. We’re librarians.
- Kickstarter Stats — as Andy Baio said, it’s the one Kickstarter feature that competitors won’t be rushing to emulate. Clever way to emphasize their early lead.
- ICANN is Wrong (Dave Winer) — Dave is right to ask why nobody’s questioning the lack of public registration in the new domains. You can understand why, say, the Australia-New Zealand bank wouldn’t let Joe Random register in .anz, but Amazon are proposing to keep domains like .shop, .music, .app for their own products. See all the bidders for the new gTLDs on the ICANN web site.
- The Art of GPS (Daily Mail) — beautiful visualizations of uncommon things, such as the flights that dead bodies make when they’re being repatriated to their home states. Personally, I think they tend too much to the “pretty” and insufficient to the “informative” or “revealing”, but then I’m notorious for being too revealing and insufficiently informative.
Canada Shoots Self In Brain, Voracious Mobile Phone, Using Tech in Education, and Mac Tool
- Canada Wages War on Knowledge — Library and Archives Canada is ending acquisitions, not digitizing material, dispersing its collection to underfunded private and public collections around Canada, and providing little in the way of access to the scraps they did keep. Apparently Canada has been overrun by Huns and Vandals. Imminent sack of Toronto predicted. (via BoingBoing)
- Cyberpunk Dress Code (BoingBoing) — what caught my eye was how many gadgets have been subsumed into the mobile phone.
- Brief Intro to TPCK and SAMR (PDF) — slides from a workshop framing technology in education. SAMR particularly good: technology first Substitutes, then Augments (substitutes and improves), then Modifies (changing the task), and then finally Redefines (makes entirely new tasks possible).
- Virtual CDRW — awesome Mac tool: gives you a fake CD/RW drive so when you have to play the burn/rip game to get music out of DRM, you don’t have to waste plastic.
Inside Personalized Advertising, Printing Presses Were Good For The Economy, Digital Access, and Ebooks in Libraries
- Web-Scale User Modeling for Targeting (Yahoo! Research, PDF) — research paper that shows how online advertisers build profiles of us and what matters (e.g., ads we buy from are more important than those we simply click on). Our recent surfing patterns are more relevant than historical ones, which is another indication that value of data analytics increases the closer to real-time it happens. (via Greg Linden)
- Information Technology and Economic Change — research showing that cities which adopted the printing press no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses. [...] The second factor behind the localisation of spillovers is intriguing given contemporary questions about the impact of information technology. The printing press made it cheaper to transmit ideas over distance, but it also fostered important face-to-face interactions. The printer’s workshop brought scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and mechanics together for the first time in a commercial environment, eroding a pre-existing “town and gown” divide.
- They Just Don’t Get It (Cameron Neylon) — curating access to a digital collection does not scale.
- Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business? — provocative thought: the ebook industry is nascent, a small number of patrons have ereaders, the technical pain of DRM and incompatible formats makes for disproportionate support costs, and there are already plenty of worthy things libraries should be doing. I only wonder how quickly the dynamics change: a minority may have dedicated ereaders but a large number have smartphones and are reading on them already.
Two surveys bode well for digital publishing, HMH teams with Amazon, and books aren't the library's only game.
One survey said ereader and tablet ownership doubled during the holidays; a second showed that Amazon may not be losing money on its Kindle Fire sales. Also, Amazon got a new print edition distributor and the library discussion elevated beyond ebooks.