- On the Problem of Money, Politics, and SOPA (John Battelle) — My first step will be to read this new book from Larry Lessig, an intellectual warrior who many (including myself) lament as bailing on our core issue of IP law to tilt at the supposed windmill of political corruption. But I think, upon deeper reflection, that Larry is simply playing chess a few moves ahead of us all. It’s time to catch up, and move forward together. THIS.
- Student Study Techniques — How to focus in the age of distraction. cf Clay Johnson’s Information Diet.
- Code Racer — interesting addition to the “teach me to program” world: a competitive game to drill your HTML/CSS recall. You race to add HTML and CSS in response to prompts like “add a level 1 heading with the words: Racing Car”. Requires Facebook login. It’s how kids learn to type these days, so it just might work for web design too. (In my day it was with a typewriter and a bib)
SOPA Politics, Google+ Scraping, Information Overload, Coding Education Game
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.
Technocracy's Blind Spot, Progressive Enhancement, Libraries and ebooks, and Library Fablab
- Nudge Policies Are Another Name for Coercion (New Scientist) — This points to the key problem with “nudge” style paternalism: presuming that technocrats understand what ordinary people want better than the people themselves. There is no reason to think technocrats know better, especially since Thaler and Sunstein offer no means for ordinary people to comment on, let alone correct, the technocrats’ prescriptions. This leaves the technocrats with no systematic way of detecting their own errors, correcting them, or learning from them. And technocracy is bound to blunder, especially when it is not democratically accountable. Take heed, all you Gov 2.0 wouldbe-hackers. (via BoingBoing)
- Country Selector — turns a dropdown into an autocomplete field where available. Very nice! (via Chris Shiflett)
- Ebook Users Wanted — Pew Internet & American Life project looking at ebooks, looking for people who use ebooks and tablet readers in libraries.
- The Public Library, Complete Reimagined (KQED) — the Fayetteville public library is putting in a fab lab. [L]ibraries aren’t just about books. They are about free access to information and to technology — and not just to reading books or using computers, but actually building and making things. (via BoingBoing)
Rebooting Manufacturing, Politics, Disney Open Source, and CS Magic
- Laptops and Looms — very thoughtful and thought-provoking summary of a UK conference on the kinds of Future of Manufacturing tools and businesses that Make and O’Reilly are into. It’s easy to romanticise the industry of old but much of it was horrible and remains so in the countries where we now outsource many of our manufacturing needs. If we’re to bring manufacturing back to Britain (which I think will gradually happen over the coming decade) we need to think differently about the economics of consumer goods including the jobs created and how to eliminate the environmental impacts. (via BERG London)
- Can Government Policies Increase National Long-Run Growth Rates? — We obtain time series estimates of the long run growth rates of 17 OECD countries, and test the hypothesis that these are the same across countries. We find that we cannot reject this hypothesis for the first and last three decades of the 20th century. We conclude that: (i) there are few, if any, feasible policies available that have a significant effect on long run growth rates, and; (ii) any policies that can raise national growth rates must be international in scope. The results therefore have bleak implications for the ability of countries to affect their long run growth rates. Data-informed policy analysis for the despair. (via Jez Weston)
- Walt Disney’s Open Source — texture mapping, library for particle formats, and Python unit test generator, among other things. (via Brenda Wallace)
- The Magic of Computer Science — magic tricks and illusions that are informed by computer science. It’s a hook into teaching computer science principles, along the lines of the excellent CS Unplugged.
Hard truths about our values, the economy and the outlook for the future.
Mark Sigal says we're entering a period where the promise of a better tomorrow is no longer a generational expectation and our sense of a (mostly) fair and balanced system is being drowned by an elite class.
Poor Economics, Shrinking Web, Orphans Put to Work, Realtime Log Monitoring
- Poor Economics — this is possibly the best thing I will read all year, an insightful (and research-backed) book digging into the economics of poverty. Read the lecture slides online, they’ll give you a very clear taste of what the book’s about. Love that the website is so very complementary to the book, and 100% aligned with the ambition to convince and spread the word. Kindle-purchasable, too. Sample boggle (one of many): children of children born during the Chinese famine are smaller, and children who were in utero during Ramadan earn less as adults.
- The Web Is Shrinking (All Things D) — graph that makes Facebook look massively important and the rest of the web look insignificant. It doesn’t take into account the nature of the interaction (shopping? research? chat?), and depends heavily on the comScore visits metric being a reliable proxy for “use”. I’d expect to see other neutral measures of “use” decreasing (e.g., searches for “school holidays”) if overall web use were decreasing, yet they don’t seem to be. Nonetheless, Facebook has become the new millennium’s AOL: keywords, grandparents, and a zealous devotion to advertising. At least Facebook doesn’t send me #&#^%*ing CDs.
- Orphan Works Project (University of Michigan) — library will digitize orphaned works for researchers. Lovely to see someone breaking the paralysis that orphaned works induce. (via BoingBoing)
- log.io — node.js system for real-time log monitoring in your browser. (via Vasudev Ram)
Internet Access Rights, Statistical Peace, Vintage Jobs, and Errata Etymology
- Right to Access the Internet — a survey of different countries’ rights to access to access the Internet.
- Peace Through Statistics — three ex-Yugoslavian statisticians nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. In war-torn and impoverished countries, statistics provides a welcome arena in which science runs independent of ethnicity and religion. With so few resources, many countries are graduating few, if any, PhDs in statistical sciences. These statisticians collaboratively began a campaign to collect together the basics underlying statistics and statistics education, with the hope of increasing access to statistical ideas, knowledge and training around the world.
- Vintage Steve Jobs (YouTube) — he’s launching the “Think Different” campaign, but it’s a great reminder of what a powerful speaker he is and a look at how he thinks about marketing.
- Anatomy of a Fake Quotation (The Atlantic) — deconstructing how the words of a 24 year old English teacher in Japan sped around the world, attributed to Martin Luther King.
National Facebook Relations, Personality Design, Lessons Learned, and Khan Academy
- The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks (The Atlantic) — After more than ten days of intensive investigation and study, Facebook’s security team realized something very, very bad was going on. The country’s Internet service providers were running a malicious piece of code that was recording users’ login information when they went to sites like Facebook. By January 5, it was clear that an entire country’s worth of passwords were in the process of being stolen right in the midst of the greatest political upheaval in two decades. Sullivan and his team decided they needed a country-level solution — and fast. […] Sullivan’s team decided to take an apolitical approach to the problem. This was simply a hack that required a technical response. “At its core, from our standpoint, it’s a security issue around passwords and making sure that we protect the integrity of passwords and accounts,” he said. “It was very much a black and white security issue and less of a political issue.” cf Google and China. National politics of snoopiness vs corporate ethic of not being evil aren’t directly compatible, and the solution here only works because (let’s face it) Tunisia is not a rising economic force. If you’re selling ads in China, you don’t get to pretend that the Great Firewall of China is a security issue.
- Emoticomp — what happens if you subtly imbue objects with personalities? Obviously it could be incredibly annoying (cue Douglas Adams’s Sirius Cybernetics Corporation) but there’s potential here to add depth to devices. We are, after all, customized over hundreds of thousands of years to read and interact with the emotional objects known as people. (via Matt Jones)
- My Mistakes (Slideshare) — Perry Evans (Mapquest, Jabber, Local Matters, Closely) gave a presentation on what he’s learned from his failures. I bought into the strategy of growth via acquisition. In most cases, this is an excuse for not fixing your current business.
- The Autodidact and the Khan Academy (Chris Lehmann) — […] it seems to me to be one more moment when people who should know better are, essentially, saying, “See! We don’t need teachers anymore!” As if every student could learn from a pre-packaged delivery model of content. It doesn’t work that way. I like the Khan Academy but, as Chris says, it’s not a replacement for education for most kids.
PM Plugs Tech, Science Bloggers, History Repeats, Beautiful Math
- British Prime Minister’s Speech — a huge amount of the speech is given to digital issues, including the funding and founding of an “Institute for Web Science” headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. (via Rchards on Twitter)
- Periodic Table of Science Bloggers — a great way to explore the universe of science blogging. (via sciblogs)
- For All The Tea in China — a tale of industrial espionage from the 1800s. The man behind the theft was Robert Fortune, a Scottish-born botanist who donned mandarin garb, shaved the top of his head and attached a long braid as part of a disguise that allowed him to pass as Chinese so he could go to areas of the country that were off-limits to foreigners. He forged a token and stole IP, in some ways it’s like the reverse of the Google-China breakin. (via danjite on Twitter)
- Nature by Numbers — relating numbers, geometry, and nature. Beautiful and educational. (via BoingBoing)