- Aaron Swartz Defense Fund — American computer systems are under attack every day of the week from foreign governments, and the idiot prosecutor is wasting resources doubling down on this vindictive nonsense.
- Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops (Kickstarter) — Makerspace in Baghdad, built by people who know how to do this stuff in that country. (via BoingBoing)
- Teaching Web Development in Africa — I used the resources that Pamela Fox helpfully compiled at teaching-materials.org to mentor twelve students who all built their own websites, such as websites for their karate club, fashion club, and traditional dance troupe. One student made a website to teach others about the hardware components of computers, and another website discussing the merits of a common currency in the East African Community. The two most advanced students began programming their own computer game to help others practice touch typing, and it allows players to compete across the network with WebSockets.
- Transient Faces (Jeff Howard) — only displaying the unchanging parts of a scene, effectively removing people using computer vision. Disconcerting and elegant. (via Greg Borenstein)
Aaron Swartz, Baghdad Makerspace, Teaching in Africa, and Ephemeral People
Tired of waiting, hackers and billionaires alike are building the future they want to see.
We may be living in the future, but it hasn’t entirely worked out how we were promised. I remember the predictions clearly: the 21st century was supposed to be full of self-driving cars, personal communicators, replicators and private space ships.
Except, of course, all that has come true. Google just got the first license to drive their cars entirely autonomously on public highways. Apple came along with the iPhone and changed everything. Three-dimensional printers have come out of the laboratories and into the home. And in a few short years, and from a standing start, Elon Musk and SpaceX has achieved what might otherwise have been thought impossible: late last year, SpaceX launched a spacecraft and returned it to Earth safely. Then they launched another, successfully docked it with the International Space Station, and then again returned it to Earth.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is grappled and berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. EDT, May 25, 2012. Credit: NASA/SpaceX
Right now there is a generation of high-tech tinkerers breaking the seals on proprietary technology and prototyping new ideas, which is leading to a rapid growth in innovation. The members of this generation, who are building open hardware instead of writing open software, seem to have come out of nowhere. Except, of course, they haven’t. Promised a future they couldn’t have, they’ve started to build it. The only difference between them and Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Steve Jobs is that those guys got to build bigger toys than the rest of us.
The dotcom billionaires are regular geeks just like us. They might be the best of us, or sometimes just the luckiest, but they grew up with the same dreams, and they’ve finally given up waiting for governments to build the future they were promised when they were kids. They’re going to build it for themselves.
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.
Facebook Sociology, Microbiome Mapping, Attention Surplus Disorder, and Makematics
- What Facebook Knows (MIT Tech Review) — Analyzing the 69 billion friend connections among those 721 million people showed that the world is smaller than we thought: four intermediary friends are usually enough to introduce anyone to a random stranger. and our close friends strongly sway which information we share, but overall their impact is dwarfed by the collective influence of numerous more distant contacts—what sociologists call “weak ties.” It is our diverse collection of weak ties that most powerfully determines what information we’re exposed to.
- Human Microbiome Mapped (The Scientist) — the Human Microbiome Project sequenced DNA of bacterial samples collected from 242 healthy volunteers. 3.5 terabytes of data, all accessible through public databases. One fascinating finding: Although each body part is characterised by some signature microbial groups, no species was universally present across every volunteer. “One of the HMP’s original mandates was to define the core microbiome, or the bugs that everyone shares,” said Huttenhower. “It looks like there really aren’t any.”
- Kids Today Not Inattentive (Neuroskeptic) — There’s no evidence that children today are less attentive or more distractible than kids in the past, according to research just published by a team of Pennsylvania psychologists. (via Ed Yong)
- Teaching Makematics at ITP (Greg Borenstein) — Computer vision algorithms, machine learning techniques, and 3D topology are becoming vital prerequisites to doing daily work in creative fields from interactive art to generative graphics, data visualization, and digital fabrication. If they don’t grapple with these subjects themselves, artists are forced to wait for others to digest this new knowledge before they can work with it.
Lagging Latency, Don't Take the Extra Cookie, Amazon's Print Plans, and Maker Schools
- Why Latency Lags Bandwidth (PDF) — across disk, memory, and networking we see bandwidth growing faster than latency comes down. This paper covers why and what we can do about it. (via Ryan Dahl)
- Michael Lewis’s Princeton Commencement Speech — a subtle variation on “work on stuff that matters” that I simply love. Commencement speeches fly around this time of the year, but this one is actually worth reading.
- The Amazon Effect (The Nation) — Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. […] Amazon swiftly struck an alliance with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to handle placing its books in physical stores. In a transparent subterfuge aimed at protecting its tax-avoidance strategies, Amazon intends to publish many of its books under a subsidiary imprint of Houghton’s called New Harvest, thus keeping alive the increasingly threadbare fiction that it has no physical presence in states where it does business online. I did not know these things. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Learn by Doing (Slate) — Dale Dougherty’s excellent call to arms to turn away from zombie-producing standardised test classes to learning by making real things. The empty campus on test day horrified me.
Maker Tribe, Concept Mapping, Magic Wand, and Site Performance Matters
- Last Saturday My Son Found His People at the Maker Faire — aww to the power of INFINITY.
- Dictionaries Linking Words to Concepts (Google Research) — Wikipedia entries for concepts, text strings from searches and the oppressed workers down the Text Mines, and a count indicating how often the two were related.
- Magic Wand (Kickstarter) — I don’t want the game, I want a Bluetooth magic wand. I don’t want to click the OK button, I want to wave a wand and make it so! (via Pete Warden)
- E-Commerce Performance (Luke Wroblewski) — If a page load takes more than two seconds, 40% are likely to abandon that site. This is why you should follow Steve Souders like a hawk: if your site is slower than it could be, you’re leaving money on the table.
Complex Exploit, Better Coding Tools, Online Coding Tools, and DIY 3D-Printed Dolls
- Tale of Two Pwnies (Chromium Blog) — So, how does one get full remote code execution in Chrome? In the case of Pinkie Pie’s exploit, it took a chain of six different bugs in order to successfully break out of the Chrome sandbox. Lest you think all attacks come from mouth-breathing script kiddies, this is how the pros do it. (via Bryan O’Sullivan)
- The Future is Specific (Chris Granger) — In traditional web-MVC, the code necessary to serve a single route is spread across many files in many different folders. In a normal editor this means you need to do a lot of context switching to get a sense for everything going on. Instead, this mode replaces the file picker with a route picker, as routes seem like the best logical unit for a website. There’s a revolution coming in web dev tools: we’ve had the programmer adapting to the frameworks with little but textual assistance from the IDE. I am loving this flood of creativity because it has the promise to reduce bugs and increase the speed by which we generate good code.
- Makie — design a doll online, they’ll 3d-print and ship it to you. Hello, future of manufacturing, fancy seeing you in a dollhouse!
Adoption Curves, Highschool Makerspaces, Google Glass, and OAuth Design Fiction
- Overlapping S-Curves of Various Products (PNG) — product adoption speed over time. (via Beta Knowledge)
- High School Makerspaces Q&A with Dale Dougherty (Radioshack) — Experimentation is one of the things we’re trying to promote. If you do experiments, a number of them fail and you learn from that failure and say, “Gee, I could have done that differently.” It’s metacognitive skills that we’re trying to develop—a way of thinking, a way of doing that increases your confidence in your own abilities and in your capacity to learn. I’d like students to believe that anybody can do these things, not that only a few people are good at math or only a few people are good at programming. The goal is to reduce the barrier to those subjects and show that anybody can be good at them. (via Tim O’Reilly)
- Google Glass Patent: Infrared Rings and Fingernails (The Verge) — The patent describes a wearable computing device whose interface can be controlled by infrared markers in the form of bracelets, rings, artificial fingernails, or effectively invisible temporary decals. A camera in the glasses would pick up radiation reflected from the marker, giving it a point of reference for user control. (via Chris Arkenberg)
- OAuth is Your Future (Flickr) — design fictions to provoke thought. DHS accessing your Foursquare history? Aie. (via Dan Hon)
We're on a path toward personalized learning.
Schoolers, Edupunks and Makers are showing us what's possible when learners, not institutions, own the education that will define their lives.
MAKE's Hardware Innovation Workshop is coming May 15-16 at PARC.
Being held May 15-16, MAKE's Hardware Innovation Workshop is an intensive introduction to the business of making and the makers who are creating these businesses.