Archive for the ‘technology’ tag
The First World War really was, as this very neat little photo series illustrates, a clear embarkation point where the history of war changed dramatically and it became indisputably technologized.
The well-known Apple analyst Horace Dediu has a nice profile of what innovation is, and how it differs from things people common call “innovative.” His post whole post is well worth reading, but his point can be summed up in these bullet points:
- Novelty: Something new
- Creation: Something new and valuable
- Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
- Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful
Nothing I didn’t really expect here, but I’d been caught on the term in the Bitcoin revelations of last week the piece mentions, I think she captures the odd morality of the term “doxing” well. What’s doxing?
It refers to the fact that, often, it is documents (public or not) that lead to a formerly anonymous person’s identity being revealed.
Inspired by yesterday’s time video, I Googled to discover how GPS is owned. Turns out, it’s owned by the US national government, which constitutes an understandably a troubling monopoly to rival powers. So China, India, Russia, and Europe all have systems that provide similar functionality to GPS. I went on a mini rant about the whole topic on Twitter.
A really interesting point I’d never encountered:
How many calls to a typical U.S. fire department are actually about fires? Less than 20%. If fire departments aren’t getting calls about fires, what are they mostly getting calls about? They are getting calls about medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and, yes, cats in trees, but they are rarely being called about fires. They are, in other words, organizations that, despite their name, deal with everything but fires.
Why, then, are they called fire departments? Because of history. Cities used to be built out of pre-combustion materials—wood straight from the forest, for example—but they are now mostly built of post-combustion materials—steel, concrete, and other materials that have passed through flame. Fire departments were created when fighting fires was an urgent urban need, and now their name lives on, a reminder of their host cities’ combustible past.
The post goes on to explore how this exists for other models in the world, and is well worth reading, but I never really recognized that specifically about fire departments.
I enjoyed this column from David Brooks. His points about the abilities that humans have that machines don’t and likely won’t:
Second, the era seems to reward people with extended time horizons and strategic discipline. When Garry Kasparov was teaming with a computer to play freestyle chess (in which a human and machine join up to play against another human and machine), he reported that his machine partner possessed greater “tactical acuity,” but he possessed greater “strategic guidance.”
Maria Konnikova pens a nice think-piece about virality on the internet. And while it’s fitting that the New Yorker would name a piece like it would be easy to digest and then not deliver, it is honestly annoying me a little bit that not only does the piece lack a list, but it even lacks something approximating it within the structure. But this is intersting:
First, he told me, you need to create social currency—something that makes people feel that they’re not only smart but in the know. “Memes like LOLcats, I think, are a perfect example of social currency, an insider culture or handshake,” Berger told me. “Your ability to pass it on and riff on it shows that you understand. It’s the ultimate, subtle insider signal: I know without yelling that I know. When your mom sees an LOLcat, she has no idea what it is.”
I’ve needed to transcribe some audio recently, and found it quite a bear of a task. Transcription services aren’t error-free, and they typically take at least 24 hours to turn around. But YouTube videos get free machine transcription, and while it’s more error-full than a human transcription it’s probably faster.
Andy Baio explain:
How’s the quality? Pretty mediocre! It’s about as good as you’d expect from a free machine-generated transcript. The caption files have no punctuation between sentences, speakers aren’t broken out separately, and errors are very common.
But if you’re transcribing interviews, it’s often easier to edit a flawed transcript than starting from scratch. And YouTube provides a solid interface for editing your transcript audio and getting the results in plaintext.
I’d not really thought about it, but it’s probably true. I type a lot less periods than I should for the amount of text I write, and this may well be the reason:
I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”