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March 14, 2006

social network physics

a social network data visualization based on a model that is based on "mobile particles that randomly bounce off each other". this novel model fits with empirical data to naturally reproduce the community structure, clustering & evolution of general acquaintances & even sexual contacts. the different colored (blue, green, purple, orange) nodes represent students in different grades. links between nodes are drawn when a student nominates another student as a friend. in the recent study, physicists developed a novel model to describe this social network based on rules governing physical systems.
see also the dumpster & livejournal network browser & social network vizster.
[physorg.com|thnkx angusf]

Illustory Create-Your-Own Book

illustory.jpgI love this as a gift idea for parents or a significant other, though it's a fantastic project for kids as well. The Illustory Create-Your-Own Book ($20 from Target) lets you write and illustrate your own book. You send in your work, and the company mails you a hardbound, typeset book. The kit includes ten markers, twenty book pages, an order form, a prepaid mailer and instructions. You can also upload your ideas online for faster turnaround.

Miami Redesigns Itself – Again : Interior Design

"This is a strange and scary time to be a Miamian, unless you're a designer, like Doug and Gene Meyer, in which case it's exhilarating. Roiled by an influx of global cash and high-end development, Miami has flared up once again as a design hot spot." Read more about it at the New York Times.

Amazon Web Services Blog: Amazon S3


How to Survive a Freestyle Rap Battle. "Tip: If someone beats you in a battle and it gets to you, practice more until you think you're really ready. Then challenge them again: if you win, you will earn a lot of respect back. It's a great feeling, and chicks or dudes will dig your system and flair." [ via Projectionist ]

Is there room for another classified site? Vast thinks so

As noted elsewhere today, Vast.com is the latest entrant into the online classified ads space. It's interesting to see how all these sites are taking slightly different approaches, from Google Base, to Edgeio to Oodle and now Vast. Meanwhile, Craigslist keeps chugging along with its years-old business model and legacy technology. But we digress. Vast is super web crawler site. It scours the web looking for structured or unstructured classified info. "It's more akin to how Google used to work, which is you leave your data where it is, and we'll find it,'' said founder Naval Ravikant. "And what we do which is hard is extract the structure out of unstructured data and make it searchable.'' Unlike some listings aggregators and crawlers, which rely on a relatively small set of high-value sites for their data, Vast crawls as much of the web as possible. There's a downside to this since it invites in the possibility of junk data. "That's the tradeoff,'' Ravikant said. But he says the vastness of the crawl (excuse the pun) far outweighs the downside....

Abstractions Require Energy

"Abstractions require energy, whether in the form of increased processing power, more memory (including hard drive storage), greater bandwidth or faster hardware capabilities. An abstraction will not be adopted until a minimum energy threshold is reached, at which point it will seem to coallesce 'overnight'."

Fascinated by Lincoln's Assassination, and the Trail of the Killer

James L. Swanson's obsession is widely shared: his book on the hunt for Lincoln's killer is a best seller, and he's already optioned the film rights.

Scary Movie 4 Trailer

Dragable dhtml RSS boxes

hot. gotta imbed these in my site

Cat Power live MP3s

Four tracks from a session at KVRX, Austin Texas in 1998, classic Cat Power - her best live performances seem to be in radio studios certainly not at concerts.

Posted to

If You Don't Like the Blazers, Ignore this Post

My team is in a profoundly historical moment here, so I'm going to be talking about them a lot. The silly owner is talking up closing the team or moving them. It's time for us fans to be heard.

There's still more news today. In a great article (that echoes a lot of the feelings I published here on Sunday night (to clarify,  I'm not insinuating one iota that Jaynes stole my ideas--he's especially in my good books because he called that post "a masterpiece" in an e-mail, and I'm vain enough for that to matter, plus from the beginning of this thing, he and I have been thinking alike)) Dwight Jaynes of the Portland Tribune adds an important new wrinkle to the argument:
[Blazer owner Paul Allen] is a man who just a few years ago sent his team president, Bob Whitsitt, to a league meeting to be one of only two teams to vote against a collective bargaining agreement and to, in fact, argue against any sort of salary cap. The man wanted to bludgeon the rest of the league with his personal wealth.
See, if you do that, you can't later complain about how much money everything costs, and ask for corporate welfare. Jaynes adds that it would cost less than one percent of Allen's net worth to buy back the arena, which is the big hurdle to profitability.

Of course, there's all kinds of talk about buying the team. Who might buy it? The Trib's Kerry Eggers (who, oddly, is doing tai chi in his author photo) has word of a deep-pocketed Portlander who is interested in being a majority owner, alongside Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, and possibly Detlef Schrempf.

It's a brilliant ploy to make the team popular again, and it would almost certainly work. The only problem is that Drexler sounds like he would insist on some front-office control, and that I am not excited about.

One Other Thing: Why Am I So Hard On Paul Allen?
I have heard from several people saying things along the lines of why be so hard on Paul Allen? He has been generous!

It's true, he has spent money like a drunken sailor, and that's great. I love him for spoiling us all rotten.


That's the money that's supposed to go to educating our children, keeping the streets safe, and preventing invasions from Canada. Anyone who has more yachts than I have cars who wants some of that money deserves to be viewed in a scrutinous light. This is corporate welfare, we're talking about, and Allen simply has not proven in any way, shape, or form that the Blazers need any. He's wrong that we know the economic model is broken. What we know is that if you spend like a maniac for more than a decade straight, then you're going to end up with money troubles.

A chunk of the money he has lost went to detailing the players' humvees while they practiced. And that was some of the smarter money he spent. Another good chunk went to Shawn Kemp, who was known to have a drug problem before he came to Portland and underperformed because of his drug problem.

When I thought he was happy to pay the bills, these mistakes were Paul Allen's to make. He has his management style--make a lot of mistakes, and then use excess cash to fix them. But now that he's getting all whiney, and asking for all of us to pitch in, I'm convinced it's time to stand firm. This is his mess, he's done nothing to deserve tax dollars, and I'll bet you that a different owner could make this team more profitable and more successful.

People are the the weakest (security) link

wccrime.gif Employees are now regarded as a greater danger to workplace cyber security than the gangs of hackers and virus writers launching targeted attacks from outside the firewall, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. "With email and instant messaging proving increasingly popular and devices such as laptop computers, mobile phones and USB storage devices more commonplace in the office, the opportunities for workplace crime are growing." ... The rise in internal security attacks has come about because outside criminal gangs realise that recruiting or tricking employees to hand over insider knowledge is less expensive and traceable than other forms of cybercrime."

(All I ever needed to know about hacking I learned in kindergarten. -kc.)

Rocketboom Blasts Into A New Era In Advertising

Today with Rocketboom’s episode 349, the rules of advertising have changed forever. Rocketboom has created a new, spellbinding advertising format.

Rocketboom Ad3

Rocketboom is an entertaining video-blog with a news-format that hundreds of thousands of people download every weekday morning at 9AM EST. I’ve been staying with them as they burn the midnight oil putting the finishing touches on the internet ad that ushers in a new era in advertising. I’ve watched the team of crackerjack media-makers, Andrew Baron, Amanda Congdon, Mario Librandi, and Kevin Chapados edit long into the night putting the finishing touches on their first episode with an advertisement.

It was only a month ago that they sold their first advertisement package on ebay. The highest bidder, an atm company, gets an advertisement put at the end of every Rocketboom for a week. Rocktboom gets complete creative control and retains the creative commons copyright on it and so if their client likes the advertisement and wants to show it on tv, they have to buy !

Today’s one minute advertisement shows up at the end of their 4 minute show and this is no ordinary advertisement. Normal television ads know that they have thirty seconds to get their message across. They have to rely on simple powerful messages that give a one-two punch to the audience’s reptillian brain.

Rocketboom changes all that. Because they are not limited to television’s thirty seconds, they have added subtlety and intruigue and a great narrative story to the advertisements that will make Rocketboom subscribers sit on the edge of their seats waiting for the next days advertisement. When people download Rocketboom every morning, they have the episode on their computer and the Rocketboom team have taken this advantage and scored a touchdown. They made a commercial where the idea is simple, but the story is full of intruiging and subtle details. If you want to get it, you just watch it once, but if you want to really get it, you have to watch it over and over for all the easter eggs and cool details that lie just below the surface.

Rocketboom can track how many times it’s downloaded, but there is no measure for the millions of times that people around the world will watch this commercial over and over again getting new subtle insights into the clever masterminds of Rocketboom’s creative team.

Rocketboom Ad2

Advertisers, I speak to you when I say that your day has come. You are no longer bound to make your advertisements fit into the square holes of the old media. With video-blog advertisements your world has opened up and the creative possibilities are endless.

Advertisers, the time is now to go forth and find your favorite video-blog and pay creative people to make provoking narrative advertisements that people will watch over and over again. Now is the time to make the investment in video-blogs and internet media, while it is still fresh and the barrier to entry is low and the playing field is wide.

Crossposted by author from I Make Things

SMS bigger than movies, video and software

This is wild if it's true. Total SMS revenues in 2005 were about 75 Billion USD which is much more than Hollywood box office, Videogaming, consoles and all software. SMS is a 90% profit business. [via javablogs via OpenGardens ]

Readers Want To Know: What The Hell Is The Bell Curve Doing On My Bookshelf?

My old sparring partner and current NYU colleague Mark Dery and I have been having an interesting exchange in the comments thread about the presence of The Bell Curve in my personal "canon." This morning, I started typing out a longer response, and thought I'd bump it up to the front door, since others may be interested. Briefly, the conversation involved this exchange:

Me: The Bell Curve is there because I've been dealing with IQ a lot in the past few years, and it's the most influential book about IQ -- though completely wrongheaded on almost every front -- published in the last few decades, maybe ever.

m surprised to hear it, since in the (admittedly closed) circles I travel in, it's viewed as a strain of intellectual leprosy, trapped between two covers. Who has it influenced, I wonder? Are there that many unreconstructed social Darwinists out there?

Now, to the extent that Mark's and my circles don't entirely overlap, I'm sure they're united in agreement that The Bell Curve was an evil, racist book. But that's precisely why it's on my shelf. The Bell Curve was influential in three senses. On the most basic level, it had a reach that no other book about IQ -- as far as I know -- has ever had. It made the Times bestseller list, and had whole issues of magazines and journals devoted to critiques of its argument. (Granted, "emotional IQ" has had even more of an impact in the form of the book Emotional Intelligence, but that's a different IQ.)

Now, that huge response had two polarizing effects. A bunch of largely conservative folks embraced the argument, and particularly embraced the premise that IQ was rigidly determined by genes, which is the basis for the entire book. On the left -- in Mark's and my circles -- the book was not only denounced on its own terms, but it became the poster child for the dangers of talking about IQ seriously in any context. There's a whole crowd out there who -- thanks to the attack on The Bell Curve -- think that IQ is just a completely made-up number, or worse, a racist made-up number.

I happen to consider both those positions to be wrong, for reasons that I spell out in the second half of Everything Bad. The whole point of the Flynn Effect is that it demonstrates convincingly that IQ can be shaped by environmental conditions, and is not purely genetic in nature. That's why I think Flynn is a much more interesting figure in this than Gould, because he's every bit as progressive in his politics, but instead of trying to unravel the entire category of IQ, he instead uses it as a kind of wedge for progressive ends. And so in publicly arguing for the relevance of the Flynn Effect, I knew I would have to battle both sides of the Bell Curve legacy, which made me think that I probably should actually read the book. And in fact, it turned out to be incredibly helpful on a number of fronts. I can't tell you how many radio call in shows and interviews and lectures I did where someone would listen to me talk about the Flynn Effect, and then angrily denounce my biological determinism in invoking IQ in the first place. And I'd have to say: did you just hear what I said? The Flynn Effect is an argument against biological determinism! What's more, it's the one fact in The Bell Curve that causes Murray and Herrnstein to admit that IQ may also be influenced by social factors.

Animal Lost

I haven't been able to write about this much yet because although it seems silly, but it's still painful to talk about. On the flight back from the DICE Summit, I lost my DS--which had sentimental value for me because my boy gave it to me for Valentine's Day. But more crushingly, the DS had in it my copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World, and my town, to which I had become greatly attached.

After all, I was about 10,000 bells away from paying off my third mortgage.

I had caught all the fish for winter, including the rare one that shows up only when it snows or rains, and had selflessly donated them to the museum. I had bred the purple tulip and was on my way to getting the rare black tulip.

I had collected the "exotic" set of furniture. I had decorated my cozy little house with bonsai trees. I had a "music room" with my favorite gyroids. I had I had gotten pictures from my dearest animal friends, Aurora and Pompom and Dizzy and even the snobby Maelle and Baabara. I'd made a killing on the speculative turnip market. I'd carefully cultivated friendships, writing flattering notes like clockwork twice a day.

I won the fishing tourney.

And most of all, I had the satisfaction of watching my town grow over the winter, with new flowers blooming and every kind of fruit dripping from the trees in my orchards; I loved my town theme song, I designed my town flag; in every way, I had made it my town.

I only hope that somewhere a sympathetic stranger has picked up my DS, turned it on, and has marveled at the fact that I have a golden watering can. Perhaps that kindly stranger will act as a guardian of my town, picking weeds and watering the flowers, posing as me to my animal friends to keep them happy.

Highly Efficient News Reading

"Pick your sources well (use collaborative sites like digg and del.icio.us popular), read efficiently by opening interesting feed items in your browser then close your RSS reader, and finally, archive the best stuff to del.icio.us."

Tracking Trader Joe's

Tracking Trader Joe's is a weblog devoted to all-things Trader Joe's. [via sustenance]...

In Memoriam: Slava Bizyayev

geoff writes "Just a short while ago, Slava Bizyayev died unexpectedly. Slava contributed several modules to CPAN, including the popular Apache::Dynagzip compression filter for mod_perl. Dan Hansen, a close friend of Slava, wrote a memorial notice and asked that we share it with the Perl community. As a close community, we deeply regret the passing of our own. If you are interested in shepherding Slava's CPAN work, please contact the module list at modules@perl.org."

Triple Redundnacy

Triple Redundnacy
Originally uploaded by david.

Starbucks makes it's money by replicating the exact same experience thousands of times and analyzing customer behavior. Since Starbucks are built so close together now, I wouldn't mind a little variation. The quiet Starbucks, the no laptop Starbucks, the naked Starbucks, the business Starbucks (better wifi but more expensive coffee), and so on. Eventually, every storefront will be Starbucks, but with a different niche. There's still room for innovation in the burnt beans and hot water vertical.


CNN.com: "Federal judge says he will require Google to turn over some data to Department of Justice."

Amazon.com: "Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web."

A distributed, encrypted backup would get a lot of traction right now. Something like like duplicity or boxbackup but baked into the Operating System at the filesystem level. Sure, it's hard, but having no control over what the government does with your email, pictures and movies is even harder.

China's first Web meme plays havoc with culture

After the highly anticipated Chinese film The Promise tanked, Hu Ge created a spoof for his friends — who posted it to the Web. Perhaps you can imagine how that has played out in a culture that places high value on respect for authority, correct behavior, and is new to the Web.

Atom Publishing Protocol Test Suite | 2006-03-14 | BitWorking


Eight years ago today, I started writing in this space and just never stopped. There are some rewards for compulsive behavior.

As an eight year-old, kottke.org will be starting the third grade this year and tackling such subjects as fractions, cursive writing, the 50 states, photosynthesis, and the Dewey Decimal System. It will also be taking the bus for the first time and is quite excited about that.

"What would your ideal fantasy-baseball lineup be if you had to create it using only characters from classic Nintendo video games?"

"What would your ideal fantasy-baseball lineup be if you had to create it using only characters from classic Nintendo video games?" Toad and Mario from Super Mario Bros make the starting lineup.


Edit and combine your videos online. Share your video and mixes with the world for free.


stampslogo.gif Stamps is a little program that runs on your Mobile phone. Using this program you can see a map of the place where you are, visualised on the screen of your mobile. There, you can write a kind of SMS and attach it to the map so that other friends can see your message appearing on their map. You can write for instance: "this is my preferite pizzeria!", to offer advice to your buddies. All the messages left in the system say something about the city where you live: what are the sport locations, the place to eat, the meeting spots. Stamps is an academic research project of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne, Switzerland.. [via Smart Mobs and pasta and vinegar]

Iron Sudoku

My friend Jamie just released his second simple online game: Iron Sudoku (his first is the ever-addictive Babble). Jamie is also the guy behind the well executed Giftbox. If you’re hooked on Sudoku, here’s your injection.

Iron Sudoku is a friendly community of Sudoku enthusiasts. A new puzzle is made available every day, and players then have 24 hours to complete it. Iron Sudoku isn’t about trying to complete puzzles quickly - it’s about a bunch of people getting together every day and chatting and having fun while doing a Sudoku puzzle.

Now go waste some time, will ya?

Read the numbers on your fruit

Another little tidbit gleaned from April's Food & Wine: those sticker numbers on your fruit actually mean something. Here in the US, fruit often comes with stickers on it, sometimes telling you where it's from and/or what it is. There's also a number, but I never paid attention to that. But on p. 72 I spotted this interesting bit of information:

"[T]he sticker labels on fruit: The numbers tell you how the fruit was grown. Conventionally grown fruit has four digits; organically grown fruit has five and starts with a nine; genetically engineered has five numbers and starts with an eight."

Yesterday I checked out the organic apples at the market, and yes, the numbers did indeed have five digits and started with a nine. Pretty handy, if you can remember it. I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to have the genetic numbers and the organic numbers the same length and begin only one digit off. Seems like a potential source for confusion. I'm remembering it this way: organic is better than genetically engineered (IMO) and nine is a bigger number than eight, therefore it's "better." Uh, yeah. That's honestly what I came up with to differentiate the two.

Amazon.com Amazon Web Services Store: Amazon S3 / Amazon Web Services

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