Anatomy of Two Memes — comparing the spread of Gangnam Style to Harlem Shake. Memes are like currencies: you need to balance accessibility (or ‘money supply’) and inflation. Gangnam Style became globally accessible through top-down mainstream sources (High Popularity), but this gave it high social inflation so it wasn’t valuable to share (Low Shareability). However, scale sustained its long term growth. Harlem Shake was not as easily accessible because it was driven more by small communities (Low Popularity), but for the same reason, being less easily accessible, it remained highly valuable (High Shareability). Lack of scale was what made Harlem Shake growth short-term and eventually killed it prematurely. Caution: contains fauxconomics.
Handedness (Github) — determine left or right handedness from pinch gesture.
Innovation Cartography — video of a talk by Richard Jefferson of Cambia’s lens, on the imperative to innovate held at the Skoll World Forum on Social Enterprise. His story of maritime cartography (starts around 5m50s) is awesome.
Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat Are Trademarked Memes (Ars Technica) — the business of this (presumably there will be royalties in the end) is less interesting to me than the murky tension between authorship, ownership, sharing, popularity, and profit. We still lack a common expectation for how memes can be owned and exploited.
Stealing US Military Secrets (Bloomberg) — One former intelligence official described internal Pentagon discussions over whether another Lockheed Martin fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, could safely be deployed in combat, because several subcontractors had been hacked. The article is full of horror stories about Chinese penetration of US military contractors.
The Network of Global Control (PLoS One) — We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. […] From an empirical point of view, a bow-tie structure with a very small and influential core is a new observation in the study of complex networks. We conjecture that it may be present in other types of networks where “rich-get-richer” mechanisms are at work. (via The New Aesthetic)
Using SimCity to Diagnose My Home Town’s Traffic Problems — no actual diagnosis performed, but the modeling and observations gave insight. I always feel that static visualizations (infographics) are far less useful than an interactive simulation that can give you an intuitive sense of relationships and behaviour. once I’d built East Didsbury, the strip of shops in Northenden stopped making as much money as they once were, and some were even beginning to close down as my time ran out. Walk along Northenden high street, and you’ll know that feeling.
How the Harlem Shake Went from Viral Sideshow to Global Meme (The Verge) — interesting because again the musician is savvy enough (and has tools and connections) to monetize popularity without trying to own every transaction involving his idea. Baauer and Mad Decent have generally been happy to let a hundred flowers bloom, permitting over 4,000 videos to use an excerpt of the song but quietly adding each of them to YouTube’s Content ID database, asserting copyright over the fan videos and claiming a healthy chunk of the ad revenue for each of them.
What Was It Like to Browse the Web in the 90s? (Quora) — it was awesome, because the alternative was television. Couple of whiny “you won’t believe how hard we had it” posts, from people who obviously believe that everyone in history has been miserable because they don’t have it as good as we do now. And, thus, by extension, we are miserable because we don’t have it as good as future generations of silver-robot-bearing flying-car-driving humans.
Readings in Education — Dan Meyer has linked to some of the best papers he’s been reading at grad school. If you have opinions about education, or are thinking of doing something to “fix education”, you have to read Public Goods, Private Goods (PDF). It brilliantly, concisely, and clearly sums up the reason that conversations about education are so broken. The other papers Dan linked to are equally wow. Another paper (PDF) on the difference in mindsets between educational researcher and practicing teacher says: The initial [teacher] impulse is still to intervene and ﬁx the problem, or critique the actions of the teacher who made the mistake. It also often leads students to frame their own research around educational success stories. The idea is to pick an intervention that promises to improve education—a new teaching technique, curriculum approach, instructional technology, reform effort, or administrative structure—and study it in practice. The desired outcome is that the intervention works rather well, and the function of the study is to document this and suggest how the approach could be improved in the future. This often leads to an approach to scholarship (and eventually to a kind of scholarly literature) that is relentlessly, unrealistically, sometimes comically optimistic—one that suggests that there is an implementable answer to every educational problem and that help is always on the way. He could be writing about every educational startup.
Truthy — a research project that helps you understand how memes spread online. With our images and statistics, you can help identify misuse of Twitter. (via Pete Warden)
Hackers Are Being Radicalised By Government Policy (Guardian) — As long as it seems that direct action is more effective than democratic engagement, it’s clear that the former will appear a more attractive option to many. The official line that the internet is a dangerous territory to be subdued is responsible for an alarming radicalisation. This is not just an issue for the tabloids’ oddballs and nerds, it’s an issue for everyone who believes in the fundamental importance of freedom. The Internet uprising is not causing bad regulation; bad regulation caused the Internet uprising. (via Gabriella Coleman)
Learn Python The Hard Way — Zed Shaw’s book on programming Python, written as 52 exercises: Each exercise is one or two pages and follows the exact same format. You type each one in (no copy-paste!), make it run, do the extra credit, and then move on. If you get stuck, at least type it in and skip the extra credit for later. This is brilliant—you learn by doing, and this book is all doing.
When The Revolution Comes They Won’t Recognize it (Anil Dash) — nails the importance of Makers. Dale Dougherty and the dozens of others who have led Maker Faire, and the culture of “making”, are in front of a movement of millions who are proactive about challenging the constrictions that law and corporations are trying to place on how they communicate, create and live. The lesson that simply making things is a radical political act has enormous precedence in political history.
Truthy — project tracking suspicious memes on Twitter.