- How Magic Leap is Secretly Creating a New Alternate Reality (Gizmodo) — amazing piece of investigative tech journalism.
- Better All The Time (New Yorker) — What we’re seeing is, in part, the mainstreaming of excellent habits. […] Everyone works hard. Everyone is really good.
- Stop Trying to Save the World (New Republic) — What I want to talk shit on is the paradigm of the Big Idea—that once we identify the correct one, we can simply unfurl it on the entire developing world like a picnic blanket. (note: some pottymouth language in this article, and some analysis I wholeheartedly agree with.)
- Christmas in Yiwu — We travelled by container ship across the East China Sea before following the electronics supply chain around China, visiting factories, distributors, wholesalers and refineries. Fascinating! 22km of corridors in the mall that dollar store buyers visit to fill their shelves. I had never seen so many variations of the same product. Dozens of Christmas stockings bearing slightly different Santas and snowmen. Small tweaks on each theme. An in-house designer creates these designs. It feels like a brute force approach to design, creating every single possibility and then letting the market decide which it wants to buy. If none of the existing designs appeal to a buyer they can get their own designs manufactured instead. When a custom design is successful, with the customer placing a large order, it is copied by the factory and offered in their range to future buyers. The factory sales agent indicated that designs weren’t protected and could be copied freely, as long as trademarks were removed. Parallels with web design left as exercise to the reader. (via the ever-discerning Mr Webb)
Debating big data' potential social impact, CISPA is back, and a look at how cities are benefitting from big data.
Big data’s big social impact
In partnership with the Harvard Business Review, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship has been running a series of posts addressing and debating big data’s potential for large-scale social impact. A couple posts from the series published this week stood out.
Robert Kirkpatrick, director of the Global Pulse initiative, argued that donating data needs to be the next evolution of philanthropic giving. He pointed out that many of the public programs we all take for granted in arts, health and education would not exist without support from the private sector, and noted that potential societal benefits from big data initiatives are no less important. Read more…
Michael Maness on why data science research matters and how the Knight News Challenge is adapting.
Big data and open data are attracting big notice: The Knight Foundation is funding data journalism research at Columbia and has chosen "data" as the next theme for its News Challenge.
Financial Data, 21C Learning for Parents, IQ Battles, and Etsy Hacker Grants
- Big Data in Finance (PDF, 9M) — Algo trading systems have begun to resemble an arms race. Competition, data, and the race for real-time.
- A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning (Edutopia, free registration required to download) — What should collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking look like in a modern classroom? How can parents help educators accomplish their goals? We hope this guide helps bring more parents into the conversation about improving education. (via Derek Wenmoth)
- Chess Intelligence and Winning — survey of IQ gaps between contestants needed to win competitions. We could view cops and killers as being involved in a grim contest. In the USA around 65% of all murders are solved. That converts to an average “murder” ELO rating difference between police and murderers of 108 ELO points. It is also known that the mean IQs of murderers and policemen are 87 and 102, respectively. So successfully solving murders is a puzzle then the “a” coefficient is 0.041, and each IQ point difference is worth 7.2 ELO points. I suspect this is masturbatory math extrapolation rather than anything significant or predictive, but the cops-vs-robbers IQ contest was an interesting angle. (via Dr Data’s Blog)
- Etsy Hacker Grants: Supporting Women in Technology — Today, in conjunction with Hacker School, Etsy is announcing a new scholarship and sponsorship program for women in technology: we’ll be hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School in the Etsy headquarters, and we’re providing ten Etsy Hacker Grants of $5,000 each — a total of $50,000 — to women who want to join but need financial support to do so. Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry.
Gamification is Bullshit, Design for Impact, Public Domain, and Network Analysis
- Gamification is Bullshit (Ian Bogost) — [G]amification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway. Bullshitters are many things, but they are not stupid. The rhetorical power of the word “gamification” is enormous, and it does precisely what the bullshitters want: it takes games—a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people—and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.
- Design for (Real) Social Impact (Vimeo) — single best talk I’ve seen on making philanthropy effective. (via Rowan Simpson)
- The Public Domain Review — an online weekly journal dedicated to treasures that have entered the public domain and articles on them. The home page currently features: Boris Karloff in “Last of the Mohicans”, the Boston Revolution in psychotherapy, “Was Charles Darwin an Atheist?”, the Orson Welles audio show, “100 Years of The Secret Garden”, a feature on a 1300 year old illustrated work on the Book of Revelations, and more.
- SNAP — the Stanford Network Analysis Platform, a library for network and graph analysis. (via Joshua Schachter)