Posts tagged Tech

Well if that wasn’t the largest digital coffee break in the world, I don’t know what tops it.

Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.

Via Vice:

That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation.

Via The New York Times:

The government’s opponents said three recent actions had been intended to incite the more radical protesters and sow doubt in the minds of moderates: the passing of laws last week circumscribing the right of public assembly, the blocking of a protest march past the Parliament building on Sunday and the sending of cellphone messages on Tuesday to people standing in the vicinity of the fighting that said, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”…

…The phrasing of the message, about participating in a “mass disturbance,” echoed language in a new law making it a crime to participate in a protest deemed violent. The law took effect on Tuesday. And protesters were concerned that the government seemed to be using cutting-edge technology from the advertising industry to pinpoint people for political profiling.

Enhancing Sex with Google Glass
So you can use Google Glass to live-stream and switch between multiple angles during sex. The point is basically to try to do what Google likes to do best. Use design and technology to disrupt at scale. 
The Guardian:

The project started off with the question “how can we make sex more awesome with Google Glass”, says Sherif Maktabi, the founder of the project.
The answer to that question is, apparently, shared live streaming, ephemeral video recording and voice controls for your connected home.
Maktabi, a Lebanese product design student at London’s Central Saint Martins art college, had only one day with the smart-glasses at a hackathon held in November 2013, but development has continued in the months since then.
The cornerstone of Sex with Glass is the shared live streaming: “See what your partner can see… Just say ‘OK glass, it’s time’ and Glass will stream what you see to each other. And if you feel like stopping everything, just ask: ‘OK glass, pull out’.”
"Some people find what we do repulsive," Maktabi says. "But a lot of other people – and I am basing this from the emails we are getting online – really desire to try this. People have fantasies, desires and needs. It’s personal.

Still, there are lots of questions to be answered. 
Image: The Ancient Book of Sex and Science. Because the impulse behind this stuff is certainly not new.

Enhancing Sex with Google Glass

So you can use Google Glass to live-stream and switch between multiple angles during sex. The point is basically to try to do what Google likes to do best. Use design and technology to disrupt at scale. 

The Guardian:

The project started off with the question “how can we make sex more awesome with Google Glass”, says Sherif Maktabi, the founder of the project.

The answer to that question is, apparently, shared live streaming, ephemeral video recording and voice controls for your connected home.

Maktabi, a Lebanese product design student at London’s Central Saint Martins art college, had only one day with the smart-glasses at a hackathon held in November 2013, but development has continued in the months since then.

The cornerstone of Sex with Glass is the shared live streaming: “See what your partner can see… Just say ‘OK glass, it’s time’ and Glass will stream what you see to each other. And if you feel like stopping everything, just ask: ‘OK glass, pull out’.”

"Some people find what we do repulsive," Maktabi says. "But a lot of other people – and I am basing this from the emails we are getting online – really desire to try this. People have fantasies, desires and needs. It’s personal.

Still, there are lots of questions to be answered

Image: The Ancient Book of Sex and Science. Because the impulse behind this stuff is certainly not new.

Look Up, Wave, Say Hello

Via Nature

Imagine using Google Earth or other online mapping tools to zoom in on high-resolution satellite images of the planet taken just hours or days ago. Navigating backwards and forwards in time, one could track changes in everything from crops, forests and wildlife movement to urban sprawl and natural disasters, all with unrivalled temporal precision.

San Francisco-based Planet Labs, founded in 2010 by three former NASA scientists, is scheduled to launch 28 of its ‘Doves’ on 8 January. Each toaster-sized device weighs about 5 kilograms and can take images at a resolution of 3–5 metres.This is the vision of two Californian start-up companies that are set to launch swarms of small imaging satellites, which, by virtue of their sheer numbers, will be able to revisit and photograph huge swathes of the planet as often as several times each day — a frequency much higher than that achieved by current Earth-observing satellites.

At Skybox Imaging in nearby Palo Alto, plans are afoot for a swarm of 24 satellites, each weighing about 100 kilograms, which will take images of 1 metre resolution or better. Skybox launched its first satellite on 21 November and plans to launch another this year, followed by the remainder between 2015 and 2017.

In a first — at least for civilian satellites — Skybox’s devices will also stream short segments of near-live high-resolution video footage of the planet. So, too, will UrtheCast, a start-up based in Vancouver, Canada, whose cameras will hitch a ride on the International Space Station (see ‘Earth goes under video surveillance’).

FJP: So, “statellite swarms” is now part of our working vocabulary.

Stills from Skybox can be viewed here. The level of detail is startling.

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?

If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?

This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created.

Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies…

…What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood.
Mapping 400,000 Hours of US TV News
Via the Internet Archive:

We are excited to unveil a couple experimental data-driven visualizations that literally map 400,000 hours of U.S. television news. One of our collaborating scholars, Kalev Leetaru, applied “fulltext geocoding” software to our entire television news research service collection. These algorithms scan the closed captioning of each broadcast looking for any mention of a location anywhere in the world, disambiguate them using the surrounding discussion (Springfield, Illinois vs Springfield, Massachusetts), and ultimately map each location. The resulting CartoDB visualizations provide what we believe is one of the first large-scale glimpses of the geography of American television news, beginning to reveal which areas receive outsized attention and which are neglected….
…What you see here represents our very first experiment with revealing the geography of television news and required bringing together a bunch of cutting-edge technologies that are still very much active areas of research. While there is still lots of work to be done, we think this represents a tremendously exciting prototype for new ways of interacting with the world’s information by organizing it geographically and putting it on a map where it belongs!

There are two ways to explore the visualization: one is to watch news mentions of different places in the world each day, the other is to select a TV station and time window and see what it reported on.
Related: This former librarian single-handedly taped 35 years of TV news. This one’s well worth the read. Marion Stokes recorded Philadelphia news stations from 1977 - 2012, and a batch of the 140,000 VHS tapes she produced is being digitized by The Internet Archive.
Image: Screenshot, TV News Archive, via the Internet Archive. Select to embiggen.

Mapping 400,000 Hours of US TV News

Via the Internet Archive:

We are excited to unveil a couple experimental data-driven visualizations that literally map 400,000 hours of U.S. television news. One of our collaborating scholars, Kalev Leetaru, applied “fulltext geocoding” software to our entire television news research service collection. These algorithms scan the closed captioning of each broadcast looking for any mention of a location anywhere in the world, disambiguate them using the surrounding discussion (Springfield, Illinois vs Springfield, Massachusetts), and ultimately map each location. The resulting CartoDB visualizations provide what we believe is one of the first large-scale glimpses of the geography of American television news, beginning to reveal which areas receive outsized attention and which are neglected….

…What you see here represents our very first experiment with revealing the geography of television news and required bringing together a bunch of cutting-edge technologies that are still very much active areas of research. While there is still lots of work to be done, we think this represents a tremendously exciting prototype for new ways of interacting with the world’s information by organizing it geographically and putting it on a map where it belongs!

There are two ways to explore the visualization: one is to watch news mentions of different places in the world each day, the other is to select a TV station and time window and see what it reported on.

Related: This former librarian single-handedly taped 35 years of TV news. This one’s well worth the read. Marion Stokes recorded Philadelphia news stations from 1977 - 2012, and a batch of the 140,000 VHS tapes she produced is being digitized by The Internet Archive.

Image: Screenshot, TV News Archive, via the Internet Archive. Select to embiggen.

Census Bureau Releases Mapping Tool
The US Census Bureau today released an updated set of statistics based on its nation-wide, 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with it, the Bureau’s created an interactive map to allow users to visually explore communities across the country.
Via the US Census Bureau:

The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.

Site visitors can explore eight core statistics (eg, median household income, total population and education levels) via the map.
Those with coding chops can hit up the Census Bureau’s API to develop creations of their own. The API gives access to 40 social, economic and housing topics.
Image: Screenshot, Census Explorer.

Census Bureau Releases Mapping Tool

The US Census Bureau today released an updated set of statistics based on its nation-wide, 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with it, the Bureau’s created an interactive map to allow users to visually explore communities across the country.

Via the US Census Bureau:

The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.

Site visitors can explore eight core statistics (eg, median household income, total population and education levels) via the map.

Those with coding chops can hit up the Census Bureau’s API to develop creations of their own. The API gives access to 40 social, economic and housing topics.

Image: Screenshot, Census Explorer.

Global e-Waste Growing to 65.4 Million Tons by 2017
A new study by a coalition of NGOs, and industry, science, UN and government bodies, attempts to map the flow of e-waste around the globe. In doing so, it predict a huge surge in our collective discarded junk, with the United States and China generating the most waste.
Via The Independent:

[S]oaring international demand for electric and electronic products is fueling a global rise in e-waste, which is set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by 2017.
The grim forecast is from a new study released today, which has mapped more than 180 countries.
It reveals that, in only five years, the yearly amount of e-waste will rise 33 per cent from the 49 million tons of used electrical and electronic items generated last year…
…Mobile phones form the bulk of the 14 million used electronic products exported, with most used phones destined for Hong Kong, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Old computers are generally sent to Asian countries, while heavy items such as TVs and computer monitors end up in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China.

The exportation of our unwanted electronics has strong, local health concerns. Take, for example, Guiyu, China. The town has become a dumping ground for old computers, phones and other gadgets with an industry arising that tries to strip valuable metals from, say, say microchips.
Side effect, according to the BBC:

The soil in Guiyu has been found to be so saturated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and tin that groundwater has become undrinkable.
According to China’s Shantou University, the town has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and local children suffer from an extremely high rate of lead poisoning.

Image: A woman in Guiyu, China strips electronics of their valuable parts. Select to embiggen.

Global e-Waste Growing to 65.4 Million Tons by 2017

A new study by a coalition of NGOs, and industry, science, UN and government bodies, attempts to map the flow of e-waste around the globe. In doing so, it predict a huge surge in our collective discarded junk, with the United States and China generating the most waste.

Via The Independent:

[S]oaring international demand for electric and electronic products is fueling a global rise in e-waste, which is set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by 2017.

The grim forecast is from a new study released today, which has mapped more than 180 countries.

It reveals that, in only five years, the yearly amount of e-waste will rise 33 per cent from the 49 million tons of used electrical and electronic items generated last year…

…Mobile phones form the bulk of the 14 million used electronic products exported, with most used phones destined for Hong Kong, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Old computers are generally sent to Asian countries, while heavy items such as TVs and computer monitors end up in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China.

The exportation of our unwanted electronics has strong, local health concerns. Take, for example, Guiyu, China. The town has become a dumping ground for old computers, phones and other gadgets with an industry arising that tries to strip valuable metals from, say, say microchips.

Side effect, according to the BBC:

The soil in Guiyu has been found to be so saturated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and tin that groundwater has become undrinkable.

According to China’s Shantou University, the town has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and local children suffer from an extremely high rate of lead poisoning.

Image: A woman in Guiyu, China strips electronics of their valuable parts. Select to embiggen.

Visualizing Our Drone Future

Via Alex Cornell:

Our Drone Future explores the technology, capability, and purpose of drones, as their presence becomes an increasingly pervasive reality in the skies of tomorrow.

In the near future, cities use semi-autonomous drones for urban security. Human officers monitor drone feeds remotely, and data reports are displayed with a detailed HUD and communicated via a simulated human voice (designed to mitigate discomfort with sentient drone technology). While the drones operate independently, they are “guided” by the human monitors, who can suggest alternate mission plans and ask questions.

Specializing in predictive analysis, the security drones can retask themselves to investigate potential threats. As shown in this video, an urban security drone surveys San Francisco’s landmarks and encounters fierce civilian resistance.

Run Time: ~3:00.

The National Library of Norway is digitizing its entire collection. The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act requires that all published content, in all media, be deposited with the National Library of Norway. The collection is also being expanded through purchases and gifts. The digital collection contains material dating from the Middle Ages up to the current day.

Via The National Library of Norway.

What, what does that mean?

The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal takes it away:

…[W]hen the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people’s language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.

If you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download.

According to the Scandinavian Library Quarterly, the National Library is six years into its digitization process. The results so far: a collection of approximately “350,000 newspaper copies, 235,000 books, 240,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts, 4,000 posters, 740,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 310,000 hours of television programmes, 7,000 videocassettes/films, 7,000 78-rpm records and 8,000 audiotapes.”

Pretty amazing that a country values the cultural capital of its media to recognize it as a common resource for all its citizens. Meantime, in the States, well, copyright, although a federal judge did back Google’s book digitization efforts in November.

Offer a Story: What Would You Do to Keep Reading?
Damien Spleeters, currently a student at Columbia’s J-School, is experimenting with new ways of sharing stories online. Here we have: The Offer a Story Project.
How It Works: Read a lede, decide if you like it, pay for the rest of the story with 1 tweet or 1 dollar, in bitcoins. 
He explains:

The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.
The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.


Immediate Thoughts: 1) If you care about what you tweet, do you really want to share a story before reading it? Scaled, how much noise does that add to the Twitterverse? 2) A dollar in bitcoins is nerdly cool, but how frictionless is the payment process for the non-bitcoin majority of the world? 3) This could encourage headline skimmers (and not your typical longform reader) to get enticed into a story through the lede, without yet knowing how long the story is and that they don’t want to read it right now. And by then you’ve “paid” so you might as well stay. Potential.
Try it out here. Give him feedback here.
Image: Screenshot from the first story on the site.

Offer a Story: What Would You Do to Keep Reading?

Damien Spleeters, currently a student at Columbia’s J-School, is experimenting with new ways of sharing stories online. Here we have: The Offer a Story Project.

How It Works: Read a lede, decide if you like it, pay for the rest of the story with 1 tweet or 1 dollar, in bitcoins. 

He explains:

The micro paywall is quite flexible. Launched by BitMonet, it’s embeddable with a simple html code, and its features are customizable. You can offer one article, one hour of access, or a one-day pass. People pay with bitcoins, or just with a tweet. The more you share, the more you have access to. A bit like the reversed paywall introduced by Jeff Jarvis.

The story itself is hosted on marquee. A platform showcased during the Tow Center conference on the future of digital long form journalism a few days ago.

Immediate Thoughts: 1) If you care about what you tweet, do you really want to share a story before reading it? Scaled, how much noise does that add to the Twitterverse? 2) A dollar in bitcoins is nerdly cool, but how frictionless is the payment process for the non-bitcoin majority of the world? 3) This could encourage headline skimmers (and not your typical longform reader) to get enticed into a story through the lede, without yet knowing how long the story is and that they don’t want to read it right now. And by then you’ve “paid” so you might as well stay. Potential.

Try it out here. Give him feedback here.

Image: Screenshot from the first story on the site.

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor
To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:
Via Patton Oswalt: 

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier: 

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton: 

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us. 

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:
Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor

To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:

Via Patton Oswalt

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier:

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton:

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember with us.

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:

Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

Where Robots Create Your Weekly Paper

Via Nieman Lab:

The Guardian is experimenting in the craft newspaper business and getting some help from robots.

That may sound odd, given that the company prints a daily paper read throughout Britain. A paper staffed by humans. But the company is tinkering with something smaller and more algorithm-driven.

The Guardian has partnered with The Newspaper Club, a company that produces small-run DIY newspapers, to print The Long Good Read, a weekly print product that collects a handful of The Guardian’s best longform stories from the previous seven days. The Newspaper Club runs off a limited number of copies, which are then distributed at another Guardian experiment: a coffee shop in East London. That’s where, on Monday mornings, you’ll find a 24-page tabloid with a simple layout available for free.

On the surface, The Long Good Read has the appeal of being a kind of analog Instapaper for all things Guardian. But the interesting thing is how paper is produced: robots. Okay, algorithms if you want to be technical — algorithms and programs that both select the paper’s stories and lay them out on the page.

Jemima Kiss, head of technology for The Guardian, said The Long Good Read is another attempt at finding ways to give stories new life beyond the day they’re published: “It’s just a way of reusing that content in a more imaginative way and not getting too hung up on the fact it’s a newspaper.”

Read through to see how it’s done.

Twitter to be available on mobile phones without Internet