- Mark Your Territory — Urine integration for Foursquare. (via Beta Knowledge)
- TL;DR — news summaries. Finally.
- Zombie Ideas and Online Instruction — The repeated return of mistaken ideas captures well my experiences with technologies in schools and what I have researched over decades. The zombie idea that is rapidly being converted into policies that in the past have been “refuted with evidence but refuse to die” is: new technologies can cure K-12 and higher education problems of teaching and learning. The most recent incarnation of this revolving-door idea is widespread access to online instruction in K-12 education cyber-charter schools, blended schools where online instruction occurs for a few hours a day, and mandated courses that children and youth have to take.
- Google Open Sources Their Book Scanner — hardware designs for their clever system for high-throughput non-destructive book-scanning. (via Hackaday)
Finding ways to make media interact with the physical world
Reporters, editors and designers are looking for new ways to interact with readers and with the physical world–drawing data in through sensors and expressing it through new immersive formats.
In this episode of the Radar podcast, recorded at News Foo Camp in Phoenix on November 10, Jenn and I talk with three people who are working on new modes of interaction:
- Mark Trammell, of Sonos, previously of Obama HQ and Twitter
- Rebekah Monson, of the University of Miami
- Robert Hernandez, of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School
Along the way:
- SensorSub, a project Rebekah is working on that uses data-gathering submarines to measure water quality
- Robert’s students are working on augmented-reality projects at the Los Angeles Central Library–building story-time experiences for children and interpreting the library’s famous murals
- How a lengthier sign-up process brought more people onto Twitter
- Mark’s efforts to understand user interaction on physical hardware
- Wise Kaplan and Cranky Kaplan, the fictional Twitter alter-egos of former New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan, who passed away shortly after we recorded this episode. In the same vein: Mayor Emanuel, Twitter satire from Dan Sinker that was subsequently anthologized.
- Snow Fall
For more on the intersection of software and the physical world, be sure to check out Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference program about the collision of real and virtual.
Urine Checkins, News Summaries, Zombie Ideas, and Scanner Plans
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)
Data Journalism, Fast Web Servers, Android App Inventor, and Daily Deal Dirt
- S0rce — gorgeous infographics. They purport to let you Think for Yourself which is bald-faced bullshit: the choice of which data to present, and the invisible collection and curation practices behind the data, is the choice of what story to tell and what it will say. That said, it’s wonderful to see the numbers (and they are attributed) behind the Republican Primary and Copyright and Piracy Legislation.
- Modern HTTP Servers are Fast — I remember when the best web engineering in the world would still fall over if a box got more than 10 hits/second. Yes, yes, I’m writing this on my grandpa box. Check out the hardware specs of the box these numbers are from.
- MIT App Inventor — web-based app designer. Does not appear to be open source. There is no long-term sustainability for this kind of development environment: when MIT decide “nah screw it, not going to run this any more” or “hmm, maybe we’ll charge for it”, you’re boned–you can download the “source” to your app in a zip file but AppInventor is the only dev environment which can consume it. I hope it’ll become the awesome and easy dev environment that Android needs, but I hope they prevent it from being a dead end.
- Daily Deals: Prediction, Social Diffusion, and Reputational Ramifications — we consider the effects of daily deals on the longer-term reputation of merchants, based on their Yelp reviews before and after they run a daily deal. Our analysis shows that while the number of reviews increases significantly due to daily deals, average rating scores from reviewers who mention daily deals are 10% lower than scores of their peers on average. (via Greg Linden)
Maximum MySQL, Digital News, Unbiased Mining, and Congressional Clue
- How Twitter Stores 250M Tweets a Day Using MySQL (High Scalability) — notes from a talk at the MySQL conference on how Twitter built a high-volume MySQL store.
- How The Atlantic Got Profitable With Digital First (Mashable) — Lauf says his team has focused on putting together premium advertising experiences that span print, digital, events and (increasingly) mobile.
- Data Mining Without Prejudice — an attempt to measure fit without pre-favouring one type of curve over another.
- It Is No Longer OK Not To Know How Congress Works (Clay Johnson) — looking for a specific innovation to try and change the way Washington works by the time Congress votes on SOPA is about as foolish as Steve Jobs trying to diet his way out of having pancreatic cancer.
Pay for News?, Outages Compendium, CSS Sudoku Solver, and Open Source in the Military
- A Simple Test For Whether People Will Pay For News — an excellent thought experiment, one which sends shivers down the spines of editors.
- Outages.org — This is as complete a list as possible of links to carrier and other provider network status pages as well as links to network diagnostic tools; user contributions are strongly encouraged. (via Jesse Vincent)
- Sudoku Solver Just in CSS — boggle. (via Paul Irish)
- MIL-OSS Conference Writeup — Alex S. Voultepsis explained how the intelligence community has built up an internal infrastructure with the tools that people want to use; in a vast number of cases, they use OSS to do this. For example, Intellipedia is implemented using MediaWiki, the same software that runs Wikipedia. (via John Scott)
Communities, Statistics, News, and Doubting Data
- The Wisdom of Communities — Luke Wroblewski’s notes from Derek Powazek‘s talk at Event Apart. Wisdom of Crowds theory shows that, in aggregate, crowds are smarter than any single individual in the crowd. See this online in most emailed features, bit torrent, etc. Wise crowds are built on a few key characteristics: diversity (of opinion), independence (of other ideas), decentralization, and aggregation.
- How to Fit an Elephant (John D. Cook) — for the stats geeks out there. Someone took von Neumann’s famous line “with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk”, and found the four complex parameters that do, indeed, fit an elephant.
- How to Run a News Site and Newspaper Using WordPress and Google Docs — clever workflow that’s digital first but integrated with print. (via Sacha Judd)
- All Watched Over: On Foo, Cybernetics, and Big Data — I’m glad someone preserved Matt Jones’s marvelous line, “the map-reduce is not the territory”. (via Tom Armitage)
Ben Huh's new project focuses on news presentation. Here he talks about who's doing it well.
Ben Huh, the CEO of Cheezburger, Inc., loves his Cheezburger project but is ready to engage in a fling with news. Huh's new Moby Dick project will address the limitations and frustrations of stagnant news presentation. In this short interview, Huh discusses news outlets that are headed in the right direction.