- The Rapture of the Nerds (Charlie Stoss, Cory Doctorow) — available for download and purchase under a CC-A-NC-ND license.
- Amazon Maps API — if there is an API layer of general use to developers, Amazon will build it. They want to be the infrastructure for the web. Tim identified “the Internet Operating System”, and Amazon figured out how to put a pricetag on every syscall.
- Hoektronics — open source 3d printer queue management. (via Daniel Suarez)
- The Machine Gaze (Will Wiles) — Converging, leapfrogging technologies evoke new emotional responses within us, responses that do not yet have names. (via James Bridle)
NeoVictorian Computing, Participatory Budgeting, Micro Thrusters, and Geopositioning Accuracy
- NeoVictorian Computing (Mark Bernstein) — read this! I think we all woke up one day to find ourselves living in the software factory. The floor is hard, from time to time it gets very cold at night, and they say the factory is going to close and move somewhere else. […] The Arts & Crafts movement failed in consumer goods, but it could succeed in software. (via James Governor)
- Participatory Budgeting — research shows participation is more effective than penalties in taxation compliance. Participation is more effective than penalties in almost everything.
- MIT-Developed Microthrusters — a flat, compact square — much like a computer chip — covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward. You say satellite, but it’s only a matter of time until this powers a DIY RC rocket with a camera payload. (via Hacker News)
- Yelp Checkins to Measure Geopositioning Accuracy Across Phones — By analyzing millions of data points, we can easily see how, on average, different platforms perform. iPhones consistently have the most accurate positioning, with a fairly small accuracy radius. Android phones are often inaccurate, but reliably reported that inaccuracy. And finally, iPods using Wi-Fi positioning proved the least accurate and usually reported incorrect accuracy radii.
Reading Minds, Satellites in the Cloud, Units for Risk, and Valuing Autism
- Reconstructing Visual Experiences (PDF) — early visual areas represent the information in movies. To demonstrate the power of our approach, we also constructed a Bayesian decoder by combining estimated encoding models with a sampled natural movie prior. The decoder provides remarkable reconstructions of the viewed movies. These results demonstrate that dynamic brain activity measured under naturalistic conditions can be decoded using current fMRI technology.
- Earth Engine — satellite imagery and API for coding against it, to do things like detecting deforestation, classifying land cover, estimating forest biomass and carbon, and mapping the world’s roadless areas.
- Microlives — 30m of your life expectancy. Here are some things that would, on average, cost a 30-year-old man 1 microlife: Smoking 2 cigarettes; Drinking 7 units of alcohol (eg 2 pints of strong beer); Each day of being 5 Kg overweight. A chest X-ray will set a middle-aged person back around 2 microlives, while a whole body CT-scan would weigh in at around 180 microlives.
- Autistics Need Opportunities More Than Treatment — Laurent gave a powerful talk at Sci Foo: if the autistic brain is better at pattern matching, find jobs where that’s useful. Like, say, science. The autistic woman who was delivering mail became a research assistant in his lab, now has papers galore to her name for original research.
Creative Business, News Design, Google Earth Glitches, and Data Distortion
- Patton Oswalt’s Letters to Both Sides — You guys need to stop thinking like gatekeepers. You need to do it for the sake of your own survival. Because all of us comedians after watching Louis CK revolutionize sitcoms and comedy recordings and live tours. And listening to “WTF With Marc Maron” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and watching the growth of the UCB Theatre on two coasts and seeing careers being made on Twitter and Youtube. Our careers don’t hinge on somebody in a plush office deciding to aim a little luck in our direction. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Headliner — interesting Guardian experiment with headlines and presentation. As always, reading the BERG designers’ notes are just as interesting as the product itself. E.g., how they used computer vision to find faces and zoom in on them to make articles more attractive to browsing readers.
- Google Earth Glitches — where 3d maps and aerial imagery don’t match up. (via Beta Knowledge)
- Campbell’s Law — The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. (via New York Times)
Talkative Virus Writer, QR Codes, Digital Reconstruction, and Renewable Energy
- Researcher Chats To Hacker Who Created The Virus He’s Researching — Chicken: I didn’t know you can see my screen. Hacker: I would like to see your face, but what a pity you don’t have a camera.
- Economist on QR Codes — Three-quarters of American online retailers surveyed by Forrester, a research firm, use them. In April nearly 20% of smartphone users in America scanned one, up from 14% in May last year.
- Reconstructing the Ruins of Warsaw — what an amazing accomplishment!
- The Great German Energy Experiment (Technology Review) — political will: the risk and the successes. Certainly a huge gulf between Germany and America in where they are, and political will to be more renewable.
Map Usage, Transit Data, Mozilla Web Maker, and Print-to-Web Design
- Mobile Maps (Luke Wroblewski) — In the US, Google gets about 31 million users a month on its Maps app on iOS. On average those users spend more than 75 minutes apiece in the app each month.
- The Importance of Public Traffic Data (Anil Dash) — Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first collaboration was a startup called Traf-O-Data, which recorded and analyzed traffic at intersections in their hometown using custom-built devices along with some smart software. Jack Dorsey’s first successful application was a platform for dispatch routing, designed to optimize the flow of cars by optimizing the flow of information. It’s easy to see these debates as being about esoteric “open data” battles with governments and big corporations. But it matters because the work we do to build our cities directly drives the work we do to build our communities online.
- Mozilla Thimble — Write and edit HTML and CSS right in your browser. Instantly preview your work. Then host and share your finished pages with a single click.
- Design of the Guardian iPad App (Mark Porter) — thoughtful analysis of the options and ideas behind the new Guardian iPad app. Unlike the iPhone and Android apps, which are built on feeds from the website, this one actually recycles the already-formatted newspaper pages. A script analyses the InDesign files from the printed paper and uses various parameters (page number, physical area and position that a story occupies, headline size, image size etc) to assign a value to the story. The content is then automatically rebuilt according to those values in a new InDesign template for the app. (via Josh Porter)
Visualizing cities' energy usage, population density, and material intensity.
This week's visualization is an interactive web-mapping tool that lets you explore energy usage, material intensity and the overall "urban metabolism" of major U.S. cities.
Cartographic Data Tool, Astronomical Volumes of Astronomical Data, Faster Touch, and Why MS Open Source?
- CartoDB (GitHub) — open source geospatial database, API, map tiler, and UI. For feature comparison, see Comparing Open Source CartoDB to Fusion Tables (via Nelson Minar).
- Future Telescope Array Drives Exabyte Processing (Ars Technica) — Astronomical data is massive, and requires intense computation to analyze. If it works as planned, Square Kilometer Array will produce over one exabyte (260 bytes, or approximately 1 billion gigabytes) every day. This is roughly twice the global daily traffic of the entire Internet, and will require storage capacity at least 10 times that needed for the Large Hadron Collider. (via Greg Linden)
- Faster Touch Screens More Usable (Toms Hardware) — check out that video! (via
- Why Microsoft’s New Open Source Division (Simon Phipps) — The new “Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.” provides an ideal firewall to protect Microsoft from the risks it has been alleging exist in open source and open standards. As such, it will make it “easier and faster” for them to respond to the inevitability of open source in their market without constant push-back from cautious and reactionary corporate process.
Watercolor Maps, Inside Displays, Numbers API, and Chinese Mobile Activations Boom
- Stamen Watercolour Maps — I saw a preview of this a week or two ago and was in awe. It is truly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen a computer do. It’s not just a clever hack, it’s art. Genius. And they’re CC-licensed.
- Screens Up Close — gorgeous microscope pictures of screens, showing how great the iPad’s retina display is.
- Numbers API — CUTE! Visit it, even if you’re not a math head, it’s fun.
- China Now Leads the World in New iOS and Android Device Activations (Flurry) — interesting claim, but the graphs make me question their data. Why have device activations in the US plummeted in January and February even as Chinese activations grew? Is this an artifact of collection or is it real?