Biweekly links for 11/21/2008

  • John Doerr sees salvation and profit in greentech | Video on
    • One of my favourite TED talks.
  • Etherpad Shows Google Docs How It’s Done
    • “[Etherpad is] comparable to Google Docs or a wiki, but it’s far more useful. You start off by creating a new workspace. You type basic text on numbered lines at will. Then invite someone else in and have them type as well. Each user’s edits are highlighted a different color. Changes are made in absolute real time, something even Google hasn’t been able to do (Google docs update every fifteen seconds).

      Users can also chat in the sidebar, save versions and make a few tweaks to the settings like removing line numbers. One great feature optionally highlights Javascript syntax (making this a great way to write code collaboratively) And that’s it for now. There is very little bling to the site at this point.”

  • …My heart’s in Accra » Michael Heller and the gridlock economy
    • Another good liveblog of Heller’s talk on the tragedy of the anticommons.
  • Uncertain Principles: Baby Quantization Update
    • Linguists watch babies acquire language. Psychologists watch them as different pieces of cognitive gear gradually switch into place. Experimental physicists make frequency plots of the interval between feeding times. Major geek props to Chad.
  • Marginal Revolution: Outliers
    • A thoughtful review from Tyler Cowen.
  • Charlie’s Diary: “Where do you get your ideas?”
    • “designers are the unacknowledged legislators of the human condition insofar as they design the objects that populate our environment, and we are tool-using, object-wielding, primates. “
  • LIFE photo archive
    • Searchable archive, hosted by Google.
  • Rome Reborn 2.0
    • Very cool project creating a 3d version of ancient Rome. The interesting bit is that in some sense the model will be “peer reviewed”: they’re looking for many scholars to contribute to the model, with the expectation that there will be arguments and resolutions. The friend who pointed me to the project described it as a “peer-reviewed virtual world”, and that seems to capture the spirit.
  • A Blog Around The Clock : Outliers
    • Bora points to various reviews of Gladwell’s new book, all of which seem to take something different away from it.
  • ProfCast
    • From the website promo text: “ProfCast is a versatile, powerful, yet very simple to use tool for recording presentations including PowerPoint and/or Keynote slides for creating enhanced podcasts. ProfCast provides a low cost solution for recording and distributing lectures, special events, and presentations as podcasts. ProfCast offers an integrated workflow that makes creating, recording, and publishing podcasts easy. It’s as simple as Launch, Load, and Lecture!”
  • The Long Tail: The miraculous power of scale
    • “In this talk at UC Berkeley, Google’s Sergey Brin confesses (at minute 1:27) that he thought Wikipedia couldn’t work. Most people wouldn’t contribute, he rightly assumed, and it would never reach critical mass. “
  • wikirage: What’s hot now on wikipedia
    • “This site lists the pages in Wikipedia which are receiving the most edits per unique editor over various periods of time. Popular people in the news, the latest fads, and the hottest video games can be quickly identified by monitoring this social phenomenon. Mouse over items for edit statistics.”
  • Daniel Lemire: Measuring the diversity of recommended lists, at last
    • Daniel blogs about a new approach to recommendation lists that increases the diversity of recommendation lists. I hope this kind of thing is implemented at places like Amazon etc.
  • Peter Turney: A Uniform Approach to Analogies, Synonyms, Antonyms, and Associations
    • “Recognizing analogies, synonyms, antonyms, and associations appear to be four distinct tasks, requiring distinct NLP algorithms. In the past, the four tasks have been treated independently, using a wide variety of algorithms. These four semantic classes, however, are a tiny sample of the full range of semantic phenomena, and we cannot afford to create ad hoc algorithms for each semantic phenomenon; we need to seek a unified approach. We propose to subsume a broad range of phenomena under analogies. To limit the scope of this paper, we restrict our attention to the subsumption of synonyms, antonyms, and associations. We introduce a supervised corpus-based machine learning algorithm for classifying analogous word pairs, and we show that it can solve multiple-choice SAT analogy questions, TOEFL synonym questions, ESL synonym-antonym questions, and similar-associated-both questions from cognitive psychology.”
  • Caveat Lector » John Wilbanks keynote, SPARC Digital Repositories 2008
    • Dorothea Salo’s notes on John Wilbanks’ thoughtful keynote speech about institutional repositories for academic publication.
  • Thingiverse – Digital Designs for Physical Objects
    • A site to share digitial designs for physical objects. In principle, open source techniques could be applied. (“ObjectForge”?)

Click here for all of my bookmarks.

1 comment

  1. I’ll offer the opinion that, although John Doer’s TED Lecture (on the future of the planet) was good, Lee Smolin’s lecture “How science is like democracy” is even better.

    I especially appreciated Smolin’s succint and imaginative summary for the next era of science: “the merger of Darwinism and relationalism.”

    Smolin’s viewpoint is very congenial to engineers, because (1) the process of design in engineering can be viewed as essentially Darwinian (i.e., bad designs die while good designs evolve into better designs), and (2) quantum system engineering (in particular) is founded upon the Smolin-esque principle that quantum instruments are machines whose purpose is to construct relations (specifically, to construct a correlative relation between the classical knowledge of a system and the quantum state of a system).

    The point being, that Smolin’s talk offered a (reasonably) clear vision for the future of science, whereas Doer’s vision was more of a sobering, semi-apocalyptic “ruh-rho”!

    If we are lucky, Smolin-type methods will provide the necessary resources and tools for allaying Doer’s concerns. 🙂

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