- Hamster Wheel Maps — Jack Schulze has created an interesting way to see the world, in the form of “horizonless maps”. The city unfolds in front of you like it was built on the inside of a hamster wheel and you’re the hamster. Wired UK shipped an enormous foldout version.
- Why Pig Flu is Better Than Bird Flu: Open Data (Glynn Moody) — Glynn points to GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data), a system set up in 2006 because scientists were finding it hard to get timely H5N1 data. Following the correspondence letter in Nature, we have all pledged to share the data, to analyze the findings jointly, and to publish the results collaboratively, on the basis of open sharing of data respecting the rights and interests of all involved parties. This system has been used in the Mexican H1N1 outbreak.
- IBM Plays Sugar Daddy to Smart Grid (CleanTech) — IBM said it’s making $2 billion available to jump-start IT projects, including the smart grid, because of the continued difficulty for partners to get project financing. The $2 billion would come from the company’s lending and leasing arm, IBM Global Financing, in the form of low-rate loans, deferred payments, and other forms of project financing. The money is tied to projects authorized under the U.S. stimulus plan, which set aside $4.5 billion for smart grid projects. (via Freaklabs)
- Lessig’s “Remix” Book Now ccFree — the latest book by Larry Lessig is now available under a CC-BY-NC license. (via Lessig blog)
Spies, Community, International Success, and DNA Origami
- Supermap — The CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, is paying an undisclosed sum to California-based Geosemble Technologies to develop an intelligence version of the “geospatial data integration and layering technology” that the company developed for use by urban planners, real estate investors and market analysts. The technology combines overhead imagery, maps and heavy-duty data mining to create a map-based intelligence capability reminiscent of the Pentagon’s former Total Information Awareness program. When the project is done – and In-Q-Tel won’t say how soon that might be – CIA agents will be able to merge aerial images and electronic maps on a computer screen. Then they will be able to click on the building or other item of interest and all manner of information will pop up: who the tenants are, phone numbers, company records, links to company and organization Web sites, news reports related to the tenants or incidents at the address, property records, tax data and more. I love that Cheap Suit Susan, your local real estate agent, had the technology before the CIA. It’s like learning that Lionel Hutz has a missile defense system to stop his house being TPed.
- 7 Harsh Truths About Running Communities — As the leader of your community, your personality sets the tone. As a result if the community behaves in ways you do not want, then you only have yourself to blame. I have seen many bloggers write about the negative comments they get on their posts. In most cases this is due to the tone they themselves strike in their writing. Although there are exceptions I believe that users will respond in the same voice you yourself set. If you are irreverent, then so will your users be. If you are rude, expect rude responses. “Social software” is an anachronism-software that doesn’t let users interact has become antisocial software. Every web creator needs to know what successful communities have in common. (via Julie Starr)
- Lingopal is Big in Japan (Lance Wiggs) — Turns out we are biggest in Japan. We have done no marketing there – it is all organic growth as our google ad writing and PR ability is not so good in Japanese. More anecdata for my belief that, while chance favours the prepared mind (as Louis Pasteur said), we routinely use post-hoc rationalisation to explain why it was inevitable that this or that lucky SOB hit it big.
- DNA Origami Seeds: Bottom-Up Methods for Molecular Self-Assembly (US News) — Winfree’s coworker at Caltech, Paul W. K. Rothemund, pioneered the seed-DNA technology that allows tiny “DNA origami” structures to self-assemble into nearly arbitrary shapes (such as a smiley face and a map of the Western Hemisphere). The researchers designed several different versions of a DNA origami rectangle, 95 by 75 nanometers, which served as the seeds for the growth of different types of ribbon-like DNA crystals. The seeds were combined in a test tube with other bits of DNA, called “tiles,” heated, and then cooled slowly. At the lower temperature, the tiles start to stick to each other and to the origami. In this way, the DNA ribbons self-assemble, but only into forms such as ribbons with particular widths and ribbons with stripe patterns prescribed by the original seed.
Maps, Africa, Protein, and Rockets
- Old Japanese Maps on Google Earth Unveil Secrets — Google criticised for putting up map layers showing the towns where a discriminated-against class came from, because that class is still discriminated against and Google didn’t put any “cultural context” around it. Google and their maps didn’t make the underclass, Japanese society did. Because they’re sensitive about having the problem, they redirect their embarrassment into anger at Google. You could make a long and profitable career in IT consulting simply by charging to say “it’s not a technical problem” and you’d be right more times than wrong.
- See Africa Differently — using the Internet to reframe a continent. Videos, essays, and more, all designed to get you seeing the majority of Africa, which isn’t defined by conflict and famine. (via NY Times book review)
- Fold.it – Solve Puzzles for Science — science harnesses our “cognitive surplus” by inviting us to help solve the problem of protein folding, one of the hardest in biology. (via auckland_museum on Twitter)
- Arduino Telemetry Payload in Class C Rocket (Jon Oxer) — Because class-C rockets are so small and light they can’t lift much of a payload and I had to keep the mass of the electronics as small as possible. You can get a sense of scale from this photo which shows a small white bundle in the bottom of the nosecone. Inside that bundle is an Arduino Pro Mini 5V/16Mhz, a 433Mhz transmitter module, and a Lilypad 3-axis accelerometer. PCBs … in … Spaaaaace!
Maps, meaning, makers, and orphaned works:
- Lens Tools and Fisheye Map Browsing — a summary of magnification in maps through history, culminating in use of the fisheye/lens as a way to explore layers and data in thematic maps. (via Titine’s delicious stream)
- Socially Relevant Computing — frustrated by the meaningless examples and work in computer science classes, Mike Buckley started sending students into the real world and building projects for handicapped people, firefighters, children, etc. Read their SIGCSE paper (PDF) for more. (via Andy Oram)
- Maker Faire Africa — I wish I could go!
- Google Book Search Lawsuit Settlement Analysis — finally a simple statement of why many folks aren’t happy with the Google Book Search lawsuit settlement: Thanks to the magic of the class action mechanism, the settlement will confer on Google a kind of legal immunity that cannot be obtained at any price through a purely private negotiation. It confers on Google immunity not only against suits brought by the actual members of the organizations that sued Google, but also against suits brought by anyone who doesn’t explicitly opt out. That means that Google will be free to mine the vast body of orphan works without fear of liability. Any competitor that wants to get the same legal immunity Google is getting will have to take the same steps Google did: start scanning books without the publishers’ and authors’ permission, get sued by authors and publishers as a class, and then negotiate a settlement. The problem is that they’ll have no guarantee that the authors and publishers will play along. (via Glynn Moody)
Two links on visualization and two on life:
- Myth of the Concentration Oasis — Vaughan of Mind Hacks takes on the trendy notion that the Internet is turning us into brainless dullards who are unable to focus on any subject for longer than a 15s TV commercial. “The trouble is, it’s plainly rubbish, and you just have to spend time with some low tech communities to see this is the case.”
- UUorld — gorgeous map-based visual analytics environment for Mac OS X. Lovely to see something step beyond the “throw it onto a Google Map”, which has become commonplace.
- Why I Can’t Afford Cheap — great story about an octogenarian talking about her prized possessions. (via Titine’s delicious stream)
- Visualization Trends for the Noosphere (Jon Udell) — thoughtful commentary on what’s needed to make data visualization as simple as email. Viz is an incredibly powerful tool for translating data into understanding, but it’s currently too damn hard to “mix the paint” (Udell’s great term for the data hacking to convert, fix, etc. the data before they can be used). (via Titine’s delicious stream)
Something beautiful, something informative, something mindblowing, something revealing: something for everyone in today’s link set.
- Trees and Forests on Old Russian Maps – old maps, like old books, are works of art. I loved this collection of symbols; it reminded me how much creativity and beauty we’ve lost (temporarily, I hope) in modern maps.
- Distinguishing Decorative from Meaningful Elements in UI Design – as a thoughtless cloth-eyed coder who designs CSS with the same care and attention that a boar on Viagra devotes to lovemaking, I appreciate this detailed explanation of why a simple design choice (a border around something) turns out to have been the wrong thing to do.
- Interview with Clay Shirky and Part 2 – from Columbia Journalism Review. This is as good as the Bruce Sterling improv on the future from last week. Every paragraph has a philosophically sound quotable nugget. This is about the future of newspapers, the fiction of “information overload”, the bogosity of Luddism, and a fine fine rebuttal to Nick Carr’s Google stupidity.
- Sampling Twitter – serious geekery by Dewitt Clinton, who tried to sample the Twitter ID space for an indication of representative user behaviour–follows, friends, active, etc. “Again extrapolating for accounts too new to test and private accounts, this suggests that 23% of all assigned ids, and thus 6.8% of all potential user ids, are assigned to someone who is posting regularly, is following other users, and is being followed by at least one other user. This implies that there there are up to 1,200,000-1,300,000 active, connected users on Twitter.”
Apologies for the delay. Just remember Douglas Adams’s great line: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
- Misconceptions and Objections to Gaza Mapping – Mikel Maron deals to objections about the OpenStreetMap call for help to build an accurate free streetmap of Gaza. This is fantastic work from OSM.
- Twenty Most Practical and Creative Uses of jQuery – I am generally loathe to link to linkbait (“X most Y Zs!”) even though I’m guilty of it myself. This just pushes my jQuery love button, and the jQuery love button loves to be pushed.
- http://rocketstrikes.iamnear.net – as you cruise around London, find out where the bombs struck in WW II. There are huge opportunities for locative services to open up historical geodata like this, in the same way that Pepys Diary Blog and Dear Miss Griffis have brought old diaries to life.
- Differential Synchronization – the solution to the problem of “two people are editing the same document at the same time, and you need to make sure they’re each seeing the same thing”.
Many of the keynote videos from last week's second Web 2.0 Expo Europe are available. The highlight for me was definitely Tim's conversation with Martin Varsavsky, the CEO of Fon. He discussed his path from Argentina to Spain, his handling of the credit crisis a year before Sequoia's warning and his philosphy as an entrepreneur. Other mainstage highlights included:…