- Wormhole — Facebook’s pub/sub system. Wormhole propagates changes issued in one system to all systems that need to reflect those changes – within and across data centers.
- Nanocubes — Fast Visualization of Large Spatiotemporal Datasets.
- Sean Gourley on Relevance (YouTube) — Is Silicon Valley really doing what it should be doing? he asks, 3m30 in. Good to see him pondering stuff that matters, back in 2011.
- Shortcat — a keyboard tool for Mac OS X that lets you “click” buttons and control your apps with a few keystrokes. Think of it as Spotlight for the user interface.
ENTRIES TAGGED "stuff that matters"
Facebook Pub/Sub, Space/Time Visualization, Sean That Matters, and Keyboard Control
Backbone Stack, Automating Card Games, Ozzie on PRISM, and Stuff that Matters
- Our Backbone Stack (Pamela Fox) — fascinating glimpse into the tech used and why.
- Automating Card Games Using OpenCV and Python — My vision for an automated version of the game was simple. Players sit across a table on which the cards are laid out. My program would take a picture of the cards and recognize them. It would then generate valid expression that yielded 24, and then project the answer on to the table.
- Ray Ozzie on PRISM — posted on Hacker News (!). In particular, in this world where “SaaS” and “software eats everything” and “cloud computing” and “big data” are inevitable and already pervasive, it pains me to see how 3rd Party Doctrine may now already be being leveraged to effectively gut the intent of U.S. citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights. Don’t we need a common-sense refresh to the wording of our laws and potentially our constitution as it pertains to how we now rely upon 3rd parties? It makes zero sense in a “services age” where granting third parties limited rights to our private information is so basic and fundamental to how we think, work, conduct and enjoy life. (via Alex Dong)
- Larry Brilliant’s Commencement Speech (HufPo) — speaking to med grads, he’s full of purpose and vision and meaning for their lives. His story is amazing. I wish more CS grads were inspired to work on stuff that matters, and cautioned about adding their great minds to the legion trying to solve the problem of connecting you with brands you love.
Etsy did something significant. I’m not talking about funding scholarships to Hacker School, though kudos to Etsy, 37Signals, and Yammer for putting money into it. And serious respect to Marc Hedlund for putting it together—he didn’t just submit a bug report on the world, he submitted a patch. Marc’s Ignite talk at Foo about this was incredibly moving: he accomplished something at scale, something beyond a single hiring decision.
What I find truly significant is the stark quantification of the untapped (previously uninvited) interest: 661 women applied where 7 had applied before. The number of scholarships and the size of the programming class were dwarfed by the number of women who wanted in, and jubilation at the success of the Etsy campaign has to be accompanied by serious thought about how to tackle the next order of magnitude in scale. And because it’s a problem worthy of your cleverness, I’ve made this the only short link today. Use the time you would have spent reading about Map/Reduce and devops to solve this scaling problem instead—you’ll truly be working on something that matters.
Lagging Latency, Don't Take the Extra Cookie, Amazon's Print Plans, and Maker Schools
- Why Latency Lags Bandwidth (PDF) — across disk, memory, and networking we see bandwidth growing faster than latency comes down. This paper covers why and what we can do about it. (via Ryan Dahl)
- Michael Lewis’s Princeton Commencement Speech — a subtle variation on “work on stuff that matters” that I simply love. Commencement speeches fly around this time of the year, but this one is actually worth reading.
- The Amazon Effect (The Nation) — Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. [...] Amazon swiftly struck an alliance with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to handle placing its books in physical stores. In a transparent subterfuge aimed at protecting its tax-avoidance strategies, Amazon intends to publish many of its books under a subsidiary imprint of Houghton’s called New Harvest, thus keeping alive the increasingly threadbare fiction that it has no physical presence in states where it does business online. I did not know these things. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Learn by Doing (Slate) — Dale Dougherty’s excellent call to arms to turn away from zombie-producing standardised test classes to learning by making real things. The empty campus on test day horrified me.
Stuff That Matters, Web Waste, Learning Analytics, and Thoughtful Quotes
- SoupHub — NZ project putting a computer with Internet access (and instruction and help) into a soup kitchen. I can’t take any credit for it, but I’m delighted beyond measure that the idea for this was hatched at Kiwi Foo Camp. I love that my peeps are doing stuff that matters. (See also the newspaper writeup)
- Bandwidth of Pages — view a 140 character tweet on the web and you’re load 2MB of, well, let’s call it crap.
- On The Reductionism of Analytics in Education (Anne Zelenka) — Learning analytics, as practiced today, is reductionist to an extreme. We are reducing too many dimensions into too few. More than that, we are describing and analyzing only those things that we can describe and analyze, when what matters exists at a totally different level and complexity. We are missing emergent properties of educational and learning processes by focusing on the few things we can measure and by trying to automate what decisions and actions might be automated. A fantastic post, which coins the phrase “the math is not the territory”.
- Quotes Worth Spreading (Karl Fisch) — collection of thought-provoking quotes from recent TED talks. Be generous by graciously accepting compliments. It’s a gift you give the complimenter (John Bates) is something I’m particularly working on.
Steve Jobs shifted Apple's motivation to great products, not profit.
Profit in a business is like gas in a car. You don't want to run out of gas, but neither do you want to think that your road trip is a tour of gas stations.
Mobile Gambling, Science Copyright, Failure of Advertising, and Data Businesses
- Mobile Gaming Device — Cantor Gaming (division of Wall St’s Cantor Fitzgerald) has released a Windows Mobile device to make live bets during a game. Real-time isn’t just for trading, it’s also for sports gambling too.
- Copyright Isn’t Just Hurting Creativity, It’s Killing Science (Video) — Larry Lessig tackles science. I’ve been grappling with technology transfer and the commercialization of academic research for a while, and most scientific discoveries aren’t immediately useful. Some, a rare few, are eventually useful, but even then only after a long time and lot of money spent making repeatable, efficient, and scalable processes from those discoveries. Most science is useless in this sense, never leading to product, so perhaps the general advance of knowledge would happen faster if we worried less about universities doing the commercialization and instead let them get back to focus on discovering more about the world around us. (via BoingBoing)
- This Tech Bubble is Different (BusinessWeek) — notable for this killer quote: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he [Hammerbacher] says. “That sucks.”
- How US News Abandoned Print and Learned to Love Its Data — now has multiple revenue streams including advertising, lead generation, special-edition print, and licenses, all keyed around its data.
Stuff That Matters, Philanthropy, Internet Protests, and Healthcare
- The New Calculus of Competition (Umair Haque) — Don’t just lower the lowest common denominator. Elevate the numerator. Make it worthier: more meaningful, enduring, significant. A strong call to work on stuff that matters.
- The Troubled History of Google.org (NY Times) — it’s hard to measure “good”, which is one reason it’s difficult to know who’s doing good in philanthropy. Couple that with a product-first measurement mindset, rather than customer-first, and it’s no wonder Google.org struggled. The reported management flapping is gravy. (via Tim O’Reilly on Twitter)
- Andrew Mason at Startup School — So the Internet came along, and the Internet should solve all the problems of organizing people and changing collective action. But the problem is, all we’ve done is we’ve taken the old world tactics that we used offline and ported online. We haven’t really changed the way we think about things. So, for example, here is a protest against the Iraq war that people held in Second Life. [laughter] I call these tactics the tactics of inconveniencing yourself, because all these things, signing a petition or going to a protest, they’re all like mini versions of lighting yourself on fire. [laughter] They’re saying, I will sacrifice a small part of my life to show you how much I care, and that just feels so futile and not very exciting to get to be part of. And the weird thing is if the tactic you’re using is inconveniencing yourself, all the Internet does is make it easier to sign petitions, so by making it easier to inconvenience yourself, you’re making your effort more and more meaningless, right. So, if it only takes one click to write a letter to your congressman, then it takes an order of magnitude more letters for them to actually care. Pay attention, would-be government influencers.
- Why is Medicine Often Not Evidence-Based (Ben Goldacre) — If we assume, fairly generously, that you’ll be 80% successful at each step in this chain – which really is pretty generous – then with 7 steps, you’ll only manage to follow the evidence in practice 21% of the time (0.8^7=0.21). Healthcare needs interaction designers, not just programmers.
Speculation about the demise of the news business and advice about what they should do about it is everywhere. It makes for great, self-congratulatory sport but it won’t help the news industry. Why? Because the news industry doesn’t suffer from a shortage of ideas or possible revenue models, it suffers from a different but more acute malady: being an institution…