- A Taxonomy of Social Networking Data (Bruce Schneier) — he divides information by who gave it, why, and who controls it. Useful to remember that not all social data are equal.
- Five Ways to Revolutionise Computer Memory (New Scientist) — the physics and economics of new memory technology.
- News at Seven — project to automatically generate news report, complete with Flash-animated news readers and text-to-speech voices. A project from the Intelligent Information Lab at Northwestern University.
- Bacteria-Powered Micro-Machines — A few hundred bacteria are working together in order to turn the gear. When multiple gears are placed in the solution with the spokes connected like in a clock, the bacteria will begin turning both gears in opposite directions and it will cause the gears to rotate in synchrony for a long time. Video embedded below (via BoingBoing)
Access to local information is great, but context is even better
There’s plenty of enthusiasm for local / hyperlocal projects, but the sweepstakes has yet to be won. So many of these local efforts rely on traditional information delivery through news articles or databases. That material has use, no doubt. Yet few projects take the extra step and put that data into context.
Chris Lee thinks that people don't get enough news they need, as opposed to want.
One of the basic questions in journalism these days is the one of what news consumers actually want. Chris Lee believes that today’s citizenry is getting too much of what they want, and too little of what they need. With the Tools of Change for Publishing conference approaching, it seemed appropriate to talk to Lee, who has spent his professional life in the trenches of broadcast journalism, about where the industry is going and what the future of news looks like.
Speculation about the demise of the news business and advice about what they should do about it is everywhere. It makes for great, self-congratulatory sport but it won’t help the news industry. Why? Because the news industry doesn’t suffer from a shortage of ideas or possible revenue models, it suffers from a different but more acute malady: being an institution…
Moody Twitter, Future Geohistory, News Sucks, Whyless in Wonderland
- TwitterMood — using Twitter as a giant mood sensor for the world (see also temporal correlations, via kellan on delicious).
- What Will Remain of Us — The sea that brought trade to Dunwich was not entirely benevolent. The town was losing ground as early as 1086 when the Domesday Book, a survey of all holdings in England, was published; between 1066 and 1086 more than half of Dunwich’s taxable farmland had washed away. Major storms in 1287, 1328, 1347, and 1740 swallowed up more land. By 1844, only 237 people lived in Dunwich. Today, less than half as many reside there in a handful of ruins on dry land. (via blackbeltjones on Delicious)
- The Three Key Parts of Stories You Don’t Usually Get — In reality, these longstanding facts provide the true foundation of journalism. But in practice, they play second-fiddle to the news, condensed beyond all meaning into a paragraph halfway down in a news story, tucked away in a remote corner of our news sites. Take a look at that WaPo page again. Currently, a link sits on the far right side of the page, a third of the way down, labeled “What you need to know.” Click on that link, and you’re taken here: a linkless, five-paragraph blog post from May. This basically captures our approach to providing the necessary background to follow the news.
- Eulogy to _why — a pseudonymous Ruby character, _why the Lucky Stiff, recently vanished from the net: all his sites and accounts were deleted. It’s possible this is because someone tried to identify him, it’s possible that his accounts were hacked. Either way, this is a touching tribute to him from John Resig. I for one would like to see more appreciation while the people are still around. Today, tell two good people that you enjoy what they do. You know you can.
iPhone App Backstory, Cookie Resurrection, The Entrepreneuralism Lickmus test, and An Interesting Database
- The Making of the NPR News iPhone App — interesting behind-the-scenes look, with sketches and all. Station streams, however, presented a larger challenge. To begin with, NPR didn’t have direct stream links for any of its stations, so we built a Web spider that identified and captured more than 300 iPhone-compatible station streams. After that first pass, we worked with our station representatives to manually test each stream. In the process they found enough new streams to double our database. All of these streams are delivered to the app from NPR’s Station Finder API. (via mattb on Twitter)
- You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again (Wired) — Flash keeps its own cookies, which are harder to delete. Several services even use the surreptitious data storage to reinstate traditional cookies that a user deleted, which is called ‘re-spawning’ in homage to video games where zombies come back to life even after being “killed,” the report found. So even if a user gets rid of a website’s tracking cookie, that cookie’s unique ID will be assigned back to a new cookie again using the Flash data as the “backup.” (via Simon Willison)
- Would You Lick It? (Rowan Simpson) — clever example of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
- FluidDB — a shared “in the cloud” database built around tags: an object is a container for a set of tags which are name:value pairs, tag names have simple namespaces (e.g., “gnat/review” is the “review” tag in my namespace), all objects are world readable and writable but there are ACLs for tags, values can be any type (string, number, URL, Excel spreadsheet), and there’s a simple query language. I’m curious to see what applications spring up around shared data. They’re in limited alpha, controlling the # of users, so register now to play before everyone else.
Daniel Jacobson Will Talk About the NPR Open API at OSCON
News providers, like most content providers, are interested in having their content seen by as many people as possible. But unlike many news organizations, whose primary concern may be monetizing their content, National Public Radio is interested in turning it into a resource for people to use in new and novel ways as well. Daniel Jacobson is in charge making that content available to developers and end users in a wide variety of formats, and has been doing so using an Open API that NPR developed specifically for that purpose. Daniel will talk about how the project is going at OSCON next week, here's a preview of what he'll be talking about.
What you're selling as an artist (or an author, or a publisher for that matter) is not content. What you sell is providing something that the customer/reader/fan wants. That may be entertainment, it may be information, it may be a souvenir of an event or of who they were at a particular moment in their life (Kelly describes something similar as his eight "qualities that can't be copied": Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, and Findability). Note that that list doesn't include "content." The thing that most publishers (and authors) spend most of their time fretting about (making it, selling it, distributing it, "protecting" it) isn't the thing that their customers are actually buying. Whether they realize it or not, media companies are in the service business, not the content business.
Google sometimes finds itself at an difficult crossroad of wanting to make as much information available to as many people as possible, while still trying to obey the laws of the countries they operate in. I recently had a chance to talk to Marissa Mayer, who started at Google as their first female engineer, and has now risen to the ranks of vice president in charge of some of Google’s most critical product areas, such as search, maps and Chrome. We talked about some of Google’s future product directions, and also about how Google makes the decision as to when information has to be withheld from the users. Marissa will be delivering a keynote address at the O’Reilly Velocity Conference next week.
Storage Superfluity, Data-Driven Design, Twit-Mapping, and DIY Biohacking
- Lacie 10TB Storage — for what used to be the price of a good computer, you can now buy 10TB of storage. Storage on sale goes for less than $100 a terabyte. This obviously promotes collecting, hoarding, packratting, and the search technology necessary to find what you’ve stashed away. Analogies to be drawn between McMansions full of Chinese-made crap and terabyte drive full of downloaded crap. Do we need to keep it? Are there psychological consequences to clutter? (via gizmodo)
- In Defense of Data-Driven Design — a thoughtful response to the “Google hates design!” hashmob formed around designer Douglas Bowman’s departure from Google. When you’ve got the enormous traffic necessary to work out if miniscule changes have some minor, statistically significant effect, then sure, if you can do it quickly, why wouldn’t you? But that’s optimization that should happen at the very end of the design cycle. The cart goes after the horse. Put it the other way ‘round and you have a broken setup. It doesn’t mean horses suck. It doesn’t mean carts suck. Carts are not the enemy of horses. Optimization is not the enemy of design. Get them in the right order and you have something really useful. Get them the wrong way around and you have something broken.
- Just Landed: Processing + Twitter + Metacarta + Hidden Data — Jer searched Twitter for “just landed in”, used Metacarta to extract the locations mentioned, and then used Processing to build visualizations.
- Do It Yourself Genetic Sleuthing — MIT is starting a hotbed of DIY biologists. The 23-year-old MIT graduate uses tools that fit neatly next to her shoe rack. There is a vintage thermal cycler she uses to alternately heat and cool snippets of DNA, a high-voltage power supply scored on eBay, and chemicals stored in the freezer in a box that had once held vegan “bacon” strips. Aull is on a quirky journey of self-discovery for the genetics age, seeking the footprint of a disease that can be fatal but is easily treated if identified. But her quest also raises a broader question: If hobbyists working on computers in their garages can create companies such as Apple, could genetics follow suit? It’s unclear what those DIY-started “genetics” companies would look like–the potential is there, but it’s yet to met the right problem. (via Andy Oram)