Elements of Style: Learning Perceptual Shape Style Similarity — code and data for research that helps perceive stylistic similarity between objects that transcends structure and function. For example, we can see a common style such as “Danish modern” in both a table and chair, though they have different structures. Until now, machines have found it difficult to do the same. (That quote cribbed from the phys.org writeup) Our new AI overlords may be cruel and heartless, but they’ll be able to tell Danish Modern from Shaker.
The Advent of Artisinal Cash (NY Times) — details the rise of local physical currency around the world. Nonetheless, the use of traditional paper money is clearly on the wane. Perhaps these smaller, more attractive artisanal paper notes are merely last bursts of glory before it disappears entirely. Though as Mr. Deller, the artist behind the latest Brixton pound, said, “As long as there are drug deals and criminality, there’ll be a need for cash.”
Documentation at Scale — 1. Acknowledge that brute force doesn’t work; 2. Make documentation a first class citizen; 3. Make documentation executable; 4. Track the intent.
Exposure to Ideologically Diverse Information on Facebook (Facebook Research) — Friends shared substantially less cross-cutting news from sources aligned with an opposing ideology. People encountered roughly 15% less cross-cutting content in news feeds due to algorithmic ranking and clicked through to 70% less of this cross-cutting content. Within the domain of political news encountered in social media, selective exposure appears to drive attention.
Distributed Systems Theory for the Distributed Systems Engineer — I tried to come up with a list of what I consider the basic concepts that are applicable to my every-day job as a distributed systems engineer; what I consider ‘table stakes’ for distributed systems engineers competent enough to design a new system.
Shenzhen Trip Report (Joi Ito) — full of fascinating observations about how the balance of manufacturing strength has shifted in surprising ways. The retail price of the cheapest full featured phone is about $9. Yes. $9. This could not be designed in the US – this could only be designed by engineers with tooling grease under their fingernails who knew the manufacturing equipment inside and out, as well as the state of the art of high-end mobile phones.
Sproutling — The world’s first sensing, learning, predicting baby monitor. A wearable band for your baby, a smart charger and a mobile app work together to not only monitor more effectively but learn and predict your baby’s sleep habits and optimal sleep conditions. (via Wired)
Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft — wonderfully detailed analysis of how photos were lifted, and the underground industry built around them. This was one of the most unsettling aspects of these networks to me – knowing there are people out there who are turning over data on friends in their social networks in exchange for getting a dump of their private data.
Maciej Ceglowski on Our Internet — If you haven’t already read this because someone pushed it into your hands, read it now. If these vast databases are valuable enough, it doesn’t matter who they belong to. The government will always find a way to query them. Who pays for the servers is just an implementation detail.
Design Changes Possible With Robot Cars (Brad Templeton) — While a nice windshield may be good for visibility for forward-facing passengers, there is no need to have a large unobstructed view for safety. The windshield can be reinforced with bars, for example, allowing it to be much stronger in the case of impacts, notably impacts with animals. Other than for passenger comfort, the windshield barely has to be there at all. On behalf of everyone who has ever driven in Australia at dusk … I for one welcome our new robot chauffeurs. (via The Atlantic)