- 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)
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No April Fools jokes because I’m a Grinch. Instead you get architecture, research, visualization, and pain:
- Stacks, Readers, Staff–Building the British Library is an overview of what a momentous accomplishment the British Library was. And a reminder that no matter how gorgeous, loved, and inevitable the final product seems, there’s always a pitched battle to get it made. Architect Sir Colin St. John ‘Sandy’ Wilson used to refer to the project that took up the bulk of his professional career as ‘the thirty years war’. There was no overall budget, and so from year to year, the architects never knew how much was going to be available for construction. That meant a constant process of re-design and re-assesment of priorities, as the eventual shape and size of the building always seemed to be in flux.
- Richard Hamming: You and Your Research (Paul Graham) — transcript of a talk Hamming gave at Bell Labs in 1986, talking about how to do great research. Many a second-rate fellow gets caught up in some little twitting of the system, and carries it through to warfare. He expends his energy in a foolish project. Now you are going to tell me that somebody has to change the system. I agree; somebody’s has to. Which do you want to be? The person who changes the system or the person who does first-class science? Which person is it that you want to be?
- CS171 – Harvard course on visualization, with links to video, slides, etc.
- Carpal Tunnel Exercises That Really Work (BoingBoing) — no idea whether they do or not, but I know enough people who are looking for something that does that I’m posting this. If you recommend a book or program that’s worked for your Carpal Tunnel, please post in the comments.
Happy Monday! Kid coding and web-powered political transparency form the artisanal wholewheat organic bread slices around a sandwich filling of meaty (or tofuy) web travel APIs and blogly angst:
- Art and Code — conference on programming environments for “artists, young people, and the rest of us”. Alice! Hackety Hack! Scratch! Processing! And more! March 7-9 at CMU. Want! (I’ve written before about my ongoing experiences teaching kids to program)
- TripIt API — clever, they’re building a single point where hotels, airlines, travel agents, mobile apps, etc. can access your integrated booking (use case: flight delayed, which hotel and mobile car rentals learn and react to by not assuming you’ve bailed on them) (disclaimer: OATV has invested in TripIt).
- Organically Grown Audiences (Danny O’Brien) — good point from Danny that I’ve been thinking about for a while: maintaining an audience is hard work, and the audience isn’t necessarily comprised of people you’d choose to hang out with. Perhaps the answer is to grow the audience slowly, but I’m not convinced. I’d say that unreciprocated intimacy from your audience is a sign that you’re doing things wrong, but it’s how fame works: the things people say to people in the public eye, on and off the web, are astonishingly presumptuous and familiar. Then again perhaps I should retreat back to the British Isles from which my frosty social distance comes and tend my tweed elbow patch farm until I die from bad teeth, bad beer, or a surfeit of Benny Hill.
- Promoting Open Government (Economist) — state and central governments are making expenditure public, in varyingly useful ways. Links to Missouri Accountability Portal and ReadTheStimulus.org (the former as well-designed, the latter as crowd-sourcing).
code_swarm was created by Michael Ogawa with Processing. This visualization, called code_swarm, shows the history of commits in a software project. A commit happens when a developer makes changes to the code or documents and transfers them into the central project repository. Both developers and files are represented as moving elements. When a developer commits a file, it lights…