- The Seductive Allure of Edu-Tech Reform (Chris Lehmann) — While it may be seductive to think that rooms of children on computers, each following some computerized instruction at their pace, monitored by school aides, with a handful of teachers around when things get particularly tough is a solution to both the educational and fiscal crisis we find ourselves, we need to understand that it’s fools gold we would be chasing.
- human.io — write microapps, tasks for people to do. This is a simple way to allow a publisher to turn a passive audience into a mobile army of participants. This allows publishers to easily create missions and activities to get people involved more directly than just reading stuff on a screen. If Twitter is HTML, then Human.io is CGI. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Why Contracts Have UPPER CASE PARAGRAPHS — fascinating! (via Anil Dash)
- Designing Meetings to Work (Luke Wroblewski) — notes from Kevin Hoffman’s talk. Doing something is better than seeing something, which is better than hearing something. THIS.
Edu Tech, Harnessing Audiences, ALL CAPS, and Effective Meetings
Music Industry, Subscribe to Me, Pipe Progress, and Modern Careers
- Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss — transcript of a thoughtful music industry insider considering the effect of the net on the business. The other problem? I’ve been expecting for years now to see aggregate revenue flowing to artist increase. Disintermediation promised us this. It hasn’t happened. Everywhere I look artists seem to be working more for less money. And every time I come across aggregate data that is positive it turns out to have a black cloud inside. Example: Touring revenues up since 1999. Because more bands are touring, staying on the road longer and playing for fewer people. Surely you all can see Malthusian trajectory?
- Kottke on Quarterly — I eyed TED’s book club and thought “hmm, interesting business model: you like my taste, sign up and I’ll send you things”. Quarterly is a “my taste as a service” service. (via Sacha Judd)
- Pipe Viewer — clever little command-line utility to show progress of pipes.
- Sheryl Sandberg’s HBS Class Day Speech — two things stood out, beyond the honesty of the talk: If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat (that’s her quoting Eric Schmidt) and [careers] are not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym (her quoting Facebook’s head of HR). (via Sacha Judd)
MAKE's Hardware Innovation Workshop is coming May 15-16 at PARC.
Being held May 15-16, MAKE's Hardware Innovation Workshop is an intensive introduction to the business of making and the makers who are creating these businesses.
Being Contrary, Microsoft Tools, JOBS Doom Warnings, and Fibre ROI
- Change the Game (Video) — Amy Hoy’s talk from Webstock ’12, on being contrary and being successful. Was one of the standout talks for me.
- Rise4Fun — software engineering tools from Microsoft Research. (via Hacker News)
- Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse (Rolling Stone) — get ready for an avalanche of shareholder suits ten years from now, since post-factum civil litigation will be the only real regulation of the startup market.
- Socio-economic Return Of FTTH Investment in Sweden (PDF) — This preliminary study analyses the socio-economic impacts of the investment in FTTH. The goal of the study was: Is it possible to calculate how much a krona (SEK) invested in fibre will give back to society? The conclusion is that a more comprehensive statistical data and more calculations are needed to give an exact estimate. The study, however, provides an indication that 1 SEK invested over four years brings back a minimum of 1.5 SEK in five years time. The study estimates the need for investment to achieve 100% fibre penetration, identifies and quantifies a number of significant effects of fibre deployment, and then calculates the return on investment. (via Donald Clark)
Why Mobile Matters, Towards Better Textbooks, Kinect Hack, and Greece Cantrepreneurial Spirit
- Why Mobile Matters (Luke Wroblewski) — great demonstration of the changes in desktop and mobile, the new power of Android, and the waning influence of old manufacturers.
- It’s Called iBooks Author Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results (Dan Meyer) — It’s curious that even though students own their iBooks forever (ie. they can’t resell them or give them away), they can’t write in them except in the most cursory ways. Even curiouser, these iBooks could all be wired to the Internet and wired to a classroom through iTunes U, but they’d still be invisible to each other. Your work on your iPad cannot benefit me on mine. At our school, we look for “software with holes in it”–software into which kids put their own answers, photos, stories.
- DepthCam — It’s a live-streaming 3D point-cloud, carried over a binary WebSocket. It responds to movement in the scene by panning the (virtual) camera, and you can also pan and zoom around with the mouse. Very impressive hack with a Kinect! (via Pete Warden)
- Starting an Online Store is Not Easy in Greece — At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Note to Greece: this is not how you check whether a business plan is full of shit. (via Hacker News)
Corruption Remains, Automated Instruction, Eolas Victory Incomplete, and CI Arduino Hack
- Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) — an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it’s needed most. We won’t see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
- Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) — Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher’s voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it’s doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
- Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) — those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it’s a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn’t go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
- Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino — nifty little hardware hack. It’s an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it’s tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)
Indie Businesses, Frontend Sluggards, Beautiful Graphics, and Big Data Patterns
- Rise of the Independents (Bryce Roberts) — companies that don’t take VC money and instead choose to grow organically: indies. +1 for having a word for this.
- Starry Night Comes to Life — wow, beautiful, must-see.
- MapReduce Patterns, Algorithms, and Use Cases — In this article I digest a number of MapReduce patterns and algorithms to give a systematic view of the different techniques that can be found in the web or scientific articles. Several practical case studies are also provided. All descriptions and code snippets use the standard Hadoop’s MapReduce model with Mappers, Reduces, Combiners, Partitioners, and sorting.
- Weave — web-based visualization platform designed to enable visualization of any available data by anyone for any purpose. GPL and MPL-licensed. (via Flowing Data)
- What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong About Math Education Again And Again (Dan Meyer) — nicely said: it’s hard to test true understanding, easy to automate only part of the testing and assessment support for learners.
- mitmproxy — GPLv3-licensed SSL-aware HTTP proxy which lets you snoop on the traffic being sent back to the mothership from apps.
Digital is creating fertile ground for startups.
Books, publishing processes and readers have all made the jump to digital, and that's creating considerable opportunities for publishing startups.
Finland Schools, Open Source Prezi, Debit Cards for Hackers, and Sensor Startups
- What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success (The Atlantic) — Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted. This is a magnificent article, you should read it. (via Juha Saarinen)
- impress.js (github) — MIT-licensed Prezi-like presentation tool, built using CSS3 3d transforms. I’ve never been happy with the Prezi because I fear data lock-in. This might be a way forward. (via Hacker News)
- Facebook Offers Debit Cards to White Hat Hackers (CNet) — paying vulnerability bounties without handing out cash. I figure it’s the start of a loyalty program. Will Facebook learn what the hackers spent the money on? Interesting possibilities opened up here.
- Green Goose — interesting startup selling consumer sensor hardware. My intuition is that we’re platforming too soon: that we need a few individual great applications of the sensors to take off, then we can worry about rationalising hardware in our house. The biggest problem seems to me that we’re talking about “sticking sensors on milk cartons” rather than solving an actual problem someone has. (“There are no sensors on my milk cartons” is not an oft-heard lament)