"open" entries

The Web welcomes

Access not just to content, but technology.


“They learn a bit of Web stuff, and the next thing you know they think they understand programming.” I’ve heard variations of that lament for the past two decades. I’ve heard it less lately, because so many recent computing professionals built their technical careers from that bit of Web stuff.

The Web succeeded in large part because it was the easiest way for people to create electronic content and share it. Indexes and search engines made it easier to find that content. While administering files on a server and learning HTML weren’t trivial, they were much more approachable tasks than creating and distributing traditional (now largely considered desktop or native) applications.

For the most part, they still are easier.
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Four short links: 11 July 2014

Four short links: 11 July 2014

Curated Code, Hackable Browser, IoT Should Be Open, and Better Treemaps

  1. Awesome Awesomeness — list of curated collections of frameworks and libraries in various languages that do not suck. They solve the problem of “so, I’m new to (language) and don’t want to kiss a lot of frogs before I find the right tool for a particular task”.
  2. Breach — a hackable, modular web browser.
  3. The CompuServe of Things (Phil Windley) — How we build the Internet of Things has far-reaching consequences for the humans who will use—or be used by—it. Will we push forward, connecting things using forests of silos that are reminiscent the online services of the 1980’s, or will we learn the lessons of the Internet and build a true Internet of Things? (via Cory Doctorow)
  4. FoamTree — nifty treemap layouts and animations, in Javascript. (via Flowing Data)
Four short links: 24 May 2013

Four short links: 24 May 2013

Repurposing Dead Retail Space, Open Standards, Space Copyright, and Bridging Lessons

  1. UbiquitySears Holdings has formed a new unit to market space from former Sears and Kmart retail stores as a home for data centers, disaster recovery space and wireless towers.
  2. Google Abandons Open Standards for Instant Messaging (EFF) — it has to be a sign of the value to users of open standards that small companies embrace them and large companies reject them.
  3. How Does Copyright Work in Space? (The Economist) — amazingly complex rights trail for the International Space Station-recorded cover of “Space Oddity”. Sample: Commander Hadfield and his son Evan spent several months hammering out details with Mr Bowie’s representatives, and with NASA, Russia’s space agency ROSCOSMOS and the CSA. That’s the SIMPLE HAPPY ENDING.
  4. Great Lessons: Evan Weinberg’s “Do You Know Blue?” (Dan Meyer) — It’s a bridge from math to computer science. Students get a chance to write algorithms in a language understood by both mathematicians and the computer scientists. It’s analogous to the Netflix Prize for grown-up computer scientists.
Four short links: 22 January 2013

Four short links: 22 January 2013

Open Pushing Innovation, Clear Intentions, Druids vs Engineers, and Reimagined Textbooks

  1. Design Like Nobody’s Patenting Anything (Wired) — profile of Maker favourites Sparkfun. Instead of relying on patents for protection, the team prefers to outrace other entrants in the field. “The open source model just forces us to innovate,” says Boudreaux. “When we release something, we’ve got to be thinking about the next rev. We’re doing engineering and innovating and it’s what we wanna be doing and what we do well.”
  2. Agree to Agree — why I respect my friend David Wheeler: his Design Scene app, which features daily design inspiration, obtains prior written permission to feature the sites because doing so is not only making things legally crystal clear, but also makes his intentions clear to the sites he’s linking to. He’s shared the simple license they request.
  3. The Coming Fight Between Druids and Engineers (The Edge) — We live in a time when the loneliest place in any debate is the middle, and the argument over technology’s role in our future is no exception. The relentless onslaught of novelties technological and otherwise is tilting individuals and institutions alike towards becoming Engineers or Druids. It is a pressure we must resist, for to be either a Druid or an Engineer is to be a fool. Druids can’t revive the past, and Engineers cannot build technologies that do not carry hidden trouble. (via Beta Knowledge)
  4. Reimagining Math Textbooks (Dan Meyer) — love this outline of how a textbook could meaningfully interact with students, rather than being recorded lectures or PDF versions of cyclostyled notes and multichoice tests. Rather than using a generic example to illustrate a mathematical concept, we use the example you created. We talk about its perimeter. We talk about its area. The diagrams in the margins change. The text in the textbook changes. Check it out — they actually built it!
Four short links: 14 December 2012

Four short links: 14 December 2012

Reviewing Peer Review, Two Drones One Bitbucket, The Past Was Awesome, and The Future Will Be Monitored By Drone

  1. Which Science to Fund: Time to Review Peer Review? (Peter Gluckman) — The study concluded that most funding decisions are a result of random effects dominated by factors such as who was the lead reviewer. In general the referee and panel review process is considered problematic. Few scientists are trained to fulfil such roles and bad peer review must result in unfair outcomes.
  2. A Bot’s Eye View (National Library of New Zealand) — Yeah, we filmed a drone with a drone.
  3. The Web We Lost (Anil Dash) — so much that has me thumping the table bellowing “YES!” in this, but I was particularly provoked by: Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn’t yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren’t about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links.
  4. The Robotics Revolution (Peter Singer) — Moore’s Law has come to warfare. It won’t be tens of thousands of today’s robots, but tens of thousands of tomorrow’s robots, with far different capabilities. […] The key to what makes a revolutionary technology is not merely its new capabilities, but its questions. Truly revolutionary technologies force us to ask new questions about what is possible that wasn’t possible a generation before. But they also force us to relook at what is proper. They raise issues of right and wrong that we didn’t have to wrestle with before.
Four short links: 24 September 2012

Four short links: 24 September 2012

Open Publishing, Theatre Sensing, Reddit First, and Math Podcasts

  1. Open Monograph Pressan open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes and, scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities. (via OKFN)
  2. Sensing Activity in Royal Shakespeare Theatre (NLTK) — sensing activity in the theatre, for graphing. Raw data available. (via Infovore)
  3. Why Journalists Love Reddit (GigaOM) — “Stories appear on Reddit, then half a day later they’re on Buzzfeed and Gawker, then they’re on the Washington Post, The Guardian and the New York Times. It’s a pretty established pattern.”
  4. Relatively Prime: The Toolbox — Kickstarted podcasts on mathematics. (via BoingBoing)
Four short links: 11 May 2011

Four short links: 11 May 2011

API Explorer, Random Sampling, Open Cultural Collections, and Video Lectures

  1. webshell — command-line tool for debugging/exploring APIs, open sourced (Apache v2) and written in node.js. (via Sean Coates)
  2. sample — command-line filter for random sampling of input. Useful when you’ve got heaps of data and want to run your algorithms on a random sample of it. (via Scott Vokes)
  3. Yale Offers Open Access To PD Materials in CollectionsThe goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale’s vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available. No license will be required for the transmission of the images & no limitations imposed on their use. (via Fiona Rigby)
  4. Resistance to Putting Lectures Online (Sydney Morning Herald) — lecturers are worried that their off-the-cuff mistakes would be mocked on YouTube (they will be), but also that students wouldn’t attend lectures. Nobody seems to have asked whether students actually learn from lectures.
Four short links: 13 May 2010

Four short links: 13 May 2010

Open Facebook, Internet Stats, Handling Interviews, and Textual Relationships

  1. Don’t Simply Build a More Open Facebook, Build a Better OneMost people don’t care so much about whether technology is “open” or “closed” so long as it works. (Case in point: iPhone.) Rather than starting your plans by picking which “open” standards you’ll use, start by designing a better social networking service and then determine how “open” specs will help you build that service. (via David Recordon)
  2. Internet Stats from Google — very nice categorized factoids about internet use, technology, trends, etc. 64% of C-level executives conduct six or more searches per day to locate business information.
  3. Qualitative Methods for IS Research — summary of qualitative methods (interviews, documents, observation data) as applied to IS. Written for academics, so you have to choke back passive voice vomit (sorry, “passive voice vomit must be choked back”) but it’s got lots of useful information on approaches and tools. (via johnny723 on Twitter)
  4. Social Signaling and Language Use — turns out the stopwords like “to”, “be”, and “on” are the ones that indicate manager-subordinate relationships. In so many fields I see again and again that you keep data at each stage of transformation, because transforming for one use prevents others. (via terrycojones on Twitter)
Four short links: 19 January 2010

Four short links: 19 January 2010

Stack Overflow Data, Open Source GSM, Nostalgia, and Openness

  1. Stack Overflow Data Dumpall public data in Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User.
  2. OpenBTSan open-source Unix application that uses the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) to present a GSM air interface (“Um”) to standard GSM handset and uses the Asterisk software PBX to connect calls. Portable mobile phone basestation that routes calls over the Internet.
  3. Should We Encourage Self-Promotion and Lies? (Tom Coates) — And while encouraging people to spot the talented and the creative, we should also be considering how we shame those people who self-promote without creating. The financial collapse has taught us that rhetorical bubbles divorced from reality are a danger to us all. We’re already approaching this point – our industry has become venal, insular and dominated by marketing. We have come to value the wrong things. And if we want a continued vigorous, creative, free, open and equal environment, that’s something we have to fix. It’s not something to aspire to. Related: danah boyd’s tweet, Sometimes I feel deeply nostalgic about the days when the interwebs were filled with the techno-utopian dreams of geeks and freaks.
  4. The Opposite of Open is Theirs (David Weinberger) — absolutely nails the nature of openness. A quick must-read. (via timo on Delicious)
Four short links: 23 December 2009

Four short links: 23 December 2009

Social Shopping, Data Loss, Open by Google, Better Blogging Tools

  1. BlippyAutomatically share your favorite purchases from iTunes, Amazon, Zappos, Visa, MasterCard, and more. See what your friends are buying. Interesting premise, and interesting possibilities for buyers to influence each other.
  2. Thousands of lost Durham health records spark probe — not remarkable in itself but rather indicative that the lost USB key is the new vector for data loss, whereas five years ago it was the “lost laptop”. Each data loss incident like this represents a failure to follow simple protocols to encrypt data placed on moveable media. (via scilib on Twitter)
  3. The Meaning of Open (Google Blog) — a Google exec writes up what he thinks Open should mean for Google. The open source argument is fairly conventional, but it heats up at the open data section. For a rebuttal, see Daring Fireball.
  4. On Blogging Tools — Joshua Schachter wonders whether blogging tools can be rebuilt as small pieces loosely joined. I wonder if there is a way to define loose interfaces between these systems so that they could both work together but also not set APIs in concrete solid enough to stop innovation. Because the various pieces of the systems currently are all tightly bound together, it is very hard for the parts to move forward separately. For example, I’ve wanted to be able to specifically reply to comments in place in a visually differentiated way as the publisher, rather than just as another commenter. But this feature hasn’t emerged, and if I hacked it into one platform via plugins, I’d be stuck with it forever.