Blog posts

  • Time for THEM to agree to OUR terms

    Doc Searls wants to create a system to let your web browser signal your terms to the sites you read:

    Try to guess how many times, in the course of your life in the digital world, you have "agreed" to terms like these:


    Hundreds? Thousands? (Feels like) millions?

    Look at the number of login/password combinations remembered by your browser. That'll be a fraction of the true total.

    Now think about what might happen if we could turn these things around. How about if sites and services could agree to our terms and conditions, and our privacy policies?

    We'd have real agreements, and real relationships, freely established, between parties of equal power who both have an interest in each other's success. […]

    I'd really like to think that he's right about this. Worth watching.

    [Via Doc Searls, via Memex 1.1]

  • Harbin Opera House

    Say what you will about the building's long-term prospects, 1 but the Harbin Opera House looks like a proper 21st century successor to the Sydney Opera House: huge, weird-looking and just plain awe-inspiring when seen from a distance.

    Harbin Opera House


    1. Let's face it, forty years from now it might just be a shattered ruin after the New Revolution has swept China's capitalist/communist government away for spending so much of their nation's resources on playthings for princelings. Or it could be the shining symbol of the neo-Confucian world order that rose in China once the West and the Russions drove one another's economies into oblivion and left China to resume the nation's rightful role. Or it could be the lair of the 21st century's greatest Bond Villain. Or Google China's new HQ. Or possibly just an absurdly cool backdrop for a certain type of fashion shoot.

  • SeeNote

    The SeeNote advertises itself as an "always on, digital sticky note."


    I could almost see myself buying one - it's so pretty, so neat - but I have a feeling that I'd be haunted by the thoughts that:

    1. It's really not doing anything that my smartphone or tablet couldn't do just as well;
    2. I don't necessarily want to be pinning it up in public where just anyone can see that next incoming message 1 or who my next appointment is with.

    [Via @ttscoff]

    1. In the demo picture it's an encouraging message from Emily, but it could just as easily be "Whatever you do don't mention Feature X when you do that demo this afternoon: we've just found a horrendous bug and we have no clue how long it'll take to fix it. Love, Emily." Better to be reading that on your phone, I think.

  • Mapping character interactions in 'Game of Thrones'

    I suppose it's one way to kill time until season 6 starts:

    Fans of the Game of Thrones books and TV series have long quarreled over who the true hero of the story is. […] Every time a character seems to be developing into a protagonist, he or she is brutally killed. […]

    But several main characters remain. And in order to determine the one true hero of them all […] we must turn to math.

    Andrew J. Beveridge, an associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College, and Jie Shan, an intrepid undergraduate, decided to turn the world of the Game of Thrones books into a social network using network science, a branch of applied graph theory that draws from several disciplines, including economics, sociology, and, computer science, to examine how information flows from one thing to another. […]

    Unsurprisingly, Tyrion Lannister turns out to be a Very Big Deal. 1

    [Via The Morning News]

    1. It would be weirdly satisfying if the writers of the TV version of the story end their version of the tale a couple of seasons from now with Tyrion still alive but far away from the action, a figure whose long term importance will be seen to lie in his having provided the Mother of Dragons with some useful pointers in the degree of pragmatism required in order to rule at a crucial moment.

  • A Typical Day in a Blockchain-Enabled World

    Let’s follow Crowley as his day unfolds:

    After a long day at work, finally at home, Crowley relaxes in his recliner in front of the tube. In the middle of his favorite movie (Harry Potter and the Forked Blockchain), a pizza commercial appears. "Darn!" he exclaims. "That was a healthy salad I had for dinner today, but I could really go for a pizza chaser."

    The reason this commercial suddenly interrupts Crowley's movie is not coincidental. Just at that moment, a pizza van driving by his house enters an automatic Bitcoin ad auction with Crowley's TV, earning the right to show its pizza commercial!

    All Crowley has to do is simply open his mouth: In response, the gesture-recognition system in Crowley's TV automatically sends 8 satoshis to the pizza van.

    In short order, the pizza van places a slice of pizza on a conveyor belt that extends from Crowley's house.

    Within seconds, a robotic arm reaches out from the base of Crowley's recliner, grabs the slice of pizza from the conveyor belt, and stuffs it into Crowley's mouth. […]

    Please, let's not.

    [Via @cityofsound]

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