105 miles of steam pipes (NYT video) run beneath the streets of New York, delivering steam to 2,000 buildings for heating, cooling, and other purposes. The system is maintained by Con Edison (1 2 3). [more inside]
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
Andy Baio has created a YouTube channel of early internet informational videos: The VHS-Era Internet (1984-1995)
Jennifer Williams shares the story of how she became a Twitter star amongst ISIS sympathizers.
State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax. The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.
"The long night has come. The Systems Commonwealth, the greatest civilization in history, has fallen. Now, one ship, one crew have vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light of civilization. On the starship Andromeda hope lives again" [more inside]
A Logic Named Joe is a short science-fiction story by Murray Leinster. Published in 1946, the story depicts data-mining, massively networked computers, search engines, privacy/censorship filters and internet porn. Read it here.
A new app has been invented that allows women ('girls only!') to rate and hashtag the men they've met, befriended or dated. The reviews are not positive. [more inside]
"It feels strange to be active and highly visible on the Web for 15 years but it was only when I joined Facebook that someone from elementary school or high school ever contacted me." In which on Ev Williams's platform, Mr Haughey compares his experiences of Facebook and Twitter. [more inside]
"To deride Mr. Fieri for opening his restaurant there as if he’d taken a dump in the Louvre is silly. He pooped on a pile of bright shiny poop, Jeff Koonsian poop, Guy Debordian poop." The New York Observer reviews Guy Fieri's latest restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar.
A good naming scheme is scalable, unique, and easy to remember. The purpose of these naming schemes is to name networked servers, wireless access points or client computers, but it can also be used to name projects, products, variables, streets, pets, kids, or any other project where unique names and rememberable names are required.
In The Geographic Flow of Music (arxiv), researchers Conrad Lee and Pádraig Cunningham propose a method to use data from the last.fm API to track the world's listening habits by location and time, showing where shifts in musical tastes have originated and subsequently migrated. Results show music trends originating in smaller cities and flowing outward in unexpected ways, contradicting some assumptions in social science about larger cities being more efficient engines of (cultural) invention.
When it comes to railways, the British are famous for their colonial legacy of one of the world's most extensive railway networks built across then British India but their lesser known and far grander vision was the Cape to Cairo railway network intended to stretch across the sea of colonial pink on the African continent. Left incomplete due to politics and geography, most of it is still almost as it was built in its day. [more inside]
A hive plot (slides) is a beautiful and compelling way to visualize multiple, complex networks, without resorting to "hairball" graphs that are often difficult to qualitatively compare and contrast. [more inside]
The BBC broadcasted the science and technology showcase show Tomorrow's World (titles on piano) on 7 July 1965 on BBC1, it ran for 38 years until it was cancelled at the beginning of 2003. Unlike the boosterism of US science programs, Tomorrow's World was more famous for it's live stunts and wry outlook ( James Burke experiences the "convenient" office of the future and the future of home gardening and crushing ennui). The BBC has an archive of episodes and clips for UK visitors, everyone else will have to be content with clips concerning Home Computers, New Banking, Nellie The School Computer, The Elliot Light Pen, Mobile Phones, and Moog Synthesizers.
There are those points in every interactive designer’s career when he becomes fed up with producing the same set of graphics all over again for every website he designs. It could be the social network icons or gallery arrows. Similar for interactive developers that have to slice the same GIFs and PNGs each time the art director asks them to. Until now. Just Be Nice Studio came up with a typeface that includes frequently used iconographics and symbols. Although, the idea is not unique — Webdings and Windings have been around for quite some time — all of them have a lot of unnecessary symbols. Web Symbols is a set of vector html-compliant typefaces, so it might be used in any size, color and browser (okay, mostly — but IE7 for sure).
On not reading books. Franco Moretti, author of the controversial Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History, proposes that literary study needs to abandon "close reading" for "distant reading": "understanding literature not by studying particular texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data." He is co-founder of the Stanford Literary Lab, where he and like-minded colleagues have published studies on programming computers to use statistical analysis to identify a novel's genre(PDF) and analyzing plots as networks(PDF). Similar projects are on the way.
Notes of a Screenwriter, Mad as Hell - The New York times on Paddy Chayefsky's notes for his screenplay of Network. I don't have to tell you things are bad...
Eyes of a Generation is a "virtual museum of television cameras, and the broadcast history they captured," curated by actor and radio DJ Bobby F. Ellerbee. The site has hundreds of photos of cameras and of television sets backstage. It also includes vintage articles and a neat look at how the moon backdrop on the Conan set works. [more inside]
Mining the Mother of all Data Dumps We now have a relatively massive haul of digital data from the OBL strike. There are several forensic toolkits in use by the private (commercially available) and public sector as well as open-source. Best practices include inventorying all the sources, cloning the sources so as to not damage pristine data, recovering any partial or damaged content, making the cloned sources read-only, adhering to legally-admissible tools standards, and documenting everything. There is an excellent source titled Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content from the Council on Library and Information Resources [pdf, Resource Shelf]. But what to do next*? [more inside]
How (crowd) curation is making a comeback in search and how Facebook is using it to "remake whole industries."
"On GChat, I type many things – sincere and not – that I would never say in person because it’s easy, when typing certain things into a box, to forget whom you are typing to." From Thought Catalog, writer Caroline Bankoff lists 45 things she thinks about when she thinks about google's chat service. [more inside]
The Haystack application aims to use steganography to hide samizdat-type data within a larger stream of innocuous network traffic. Thus, civilians in Iran, for example, could more easily evade Iranian censors and provide the world with an unfiltered report on events within the country. Haystack earned its creator Austin Heap a great deal of positive coverage from the media during the 2009 Iranian election protests. The BBC described Heap as "on the front lines" of the protesters' "Twitter revolution", while The Guardian called him an Innovator of the Year. Despite the laudatory coverage, however, the media were never given a copy of the software to examine. Indeed, not much is known about the software or its inner workings. Specialists in network encryption security were not allowed to perform an independent evaluation of Haystack, despite its distribution to and use by a small number of Iranians, possibly at some risk. As interest in the project widens and criticisms of the media coverage and software continue to mount, Heap has currently asked users to cease using Haystack until a security review can be performed.
"Facebook's popularity is based on the reality that human beings are social creatures. Staying connected with people we know is innate to us. But maintaining separate social groups that we don't want to clash is also innate." The Five Stages of Facebook Grief.
Hey, let's join Ze Frank's social network for two.
Cybersyn (or Synco, in Spanish) was computer network constructed in 1970 by an English/Chilean team headed by cyberneticist Stafford Beer (his papers). Cybersyn was an electronic nervous system for the Chilean economy, linking together mines, factories and so on, to better manage production and give workers a clear idea of what was in demand and where. The network was destroyed by the army after the 1973 coup. Later that year Stafford Beer drew upon the lessons of Cybersyn to write Fanfare for Effective Freedom, a eulogy for Allende and Cybersyn, and Designing Freedom, a series of six lectures he gave for CBC, outlining his ideas. Besides the first link in this post, the best place to start is this Guardian article from 2003. If you want to go more in-depth, read Eden Medina's Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende’s Chile. And if nothing else, just take a look at the amazing Cybersyn control room.
Remember Adventure Time with Finn and Jake?! Cartoon Network starts airing it Monday, April 5th. Go watch the promo and then play the totally awesome game!
News Dots: The Day's Events as a Social Network. Six degrees of news separation.
Follow that Dabbawalla For nearly 130 years, Mumbai's Dabbawallas have been delivering lunches from customers' homes to their workplaces and taken the empty tiffin boxes back again. The service, with its origins in the mid 1880s when a single textile mill worker paid an errand boy to bring him his lunch from home, is a complex system with in which color coded lunch boxes are passed from Dabbawalla to Dabbawalla to reach their destination, creating a network that, in many ways, resembles the Internet itself. [more inside]
Hip-hop mogul and "fascinating man" Sean Combs sells bubble bath and shares details about the Diddy lifestyle during a narcotizing appearance on the Home Shopping Network. (SLYT)
"It’s like the whole slow-foods thing. I still don’t know what the heck that’s about. Food’s either good or it’s bad."
"...it’s not a title, it’s a job. It’s a position in a kitchen. It comes from an old German word that means 'boss' or 'head of the shop.' In which case I am the chef of my operation, but it’s a production company. It’s not a kitchen, even though we do have a kitchen. That’s the closest thing to chef I am. All the good chefs that I know say that they are cooks employed as chef. All the people that say, 'I’m a chef,' generally aren’t. The good ones will say, 'I’m a cook.' Once people start saying, 'I’m Chef Bob!'—yeah, whatever. I’m Captain Kangaroo. Have a nice day". The Onion AV Club interviews Alton Brown. [more inside]
Keynes & Marx thought "that productivity would grow sufficiently to allow our needs to be met with very little labour," and that humankind's biggest preoccupation in the future would be leading lives of comfortable (or comparative) leisure. Obviously, that has not yet come to pass. But why?** Yochai Benkler (previously), for one, is working on it... [more inside]
"the scale-free network modeing paradigm is largely inconsistent with the engineered nature of the Internet..." For a decade it's been conventional wisdom that the Internet has a scale-free topology, in which the number of links emanating from a site obeys a power law. In other words, the Internet has a long tail; compared with a completely random network, its structure is dominated by a few very highly connected nodes, while the rest of the web consists of a gigantic list of sites attached to hardly anything. Among its other effects, this makes the web highly vulnerable to epidemics. The power law on the internet has inspired a vast array of research by computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. According to an article in this month's Notices of the American Math Society, it's all wrong. How could so many scientists make this kind of mistake? Statistician Cosma Shalizi explains how people see power laws when they aren't there: "Abusing linear regression makes the baby Gauss cry."
Wanna test if your ISP (or company or university) is blocking or throttling BitTorrent traffic? Want some tools to diagnose network problems in your "last mile" connection? Google to the rescue: M-Lab! Predictably, with the recent announcement and publicity, the servers are now getting hammered. So post this? You can help: Host a Glasnost server (tests for BitTorrent). *Results so far. Coming soon are apps to "Determine whether an ISP is giving some traffic a lower priority than other traffic" and "Determine whether an ISP is degrading the performance of a certain subset of users, applications, or destinations". Power to the People, bay-bee!
Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. A new study of the connections in the brain has identified the brain's central hub.
Snail mail isn't that slow, unless you use real snails.... As part of a "slow art" project, Vicki Isley and Paul Smith of Bournemouth University have attached radio frequency identification chips (RFID's) to three gastropods, Austin, Cecil and Muriel. The RFID's will pick up your mail as the carriers amble past an electronic reader and deliver it when (in just a few days! ...or weeks ...or months....) they slip past a second reader.... RealSnailMail! [more inside]
YouTube Hijacking: A RIPE NCC RIS case study is the definitive look at how actions of Pakistan Telecom caused the global outage of YouTube Sunday the 24th of Feb. 2008. This incident has exposed weaknesses of the Border Gateway Protocol as is outlined by Danny McPherson from Arbor Networks as well as on the Renesys blog.
"It's amazing how we rely on them." BlackBerry email service went down this afternoon in "The Americas Network." That's bad. But is over-reliance on a network the worst of it? Or is it the thumb-ache? or the back-ache? or the work-life imbalance? or the shakes?
Much of the Middle East has been without reliable internet access recently due to the somewhat suspicious cutting of four seperate underwater cables, in seperate locations, within a few days of each other. The problem has been alleviated by re-routing of traffic until ships can reach the cables to repair them, a process which may take several weeks. The problem was initially believed to be caused by anchors of passing ships, but that has since been retracted and deals have already been signed by several companies for new cables. [more inside]
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