Archive for December, 2010

Richard Florida = Lyle Lanley

Richard Florida = Lyle Lanley

Lyle Lanley

Willy Staley writes:

The Plot: Springfield comes into a few million dollars from Montgomery Burns, who had been fined by the EPA for dumping nuclear waste in city parks. At a town hall meeting to decide what to do with the funds, Marge suggests they fix up Main Street, and the people of Springfield appear ready to agree on that, until Lyle Lanley steps in from nowhere and sings a song about the benefits of a monorail. Long story short, Lanley sells Springfield a faulty monorail and skips town with the profits. It turns out—like Florida—that he had been doing his song-and-dance routine all over the country.

Now I am not suggesting Florida went from town to town deliberately scamming people just like Lanley did (MacGillis stops just short of doing so). But, his product—shiny and new as it is—simply isn’t a fit for every community, just like Lanley’s monorail.

As MacGillis points out, a “tautology lies at the heart of Florida’s theory that has limited its instructive value all along: Creative people seek out places that draw a lot of creative people.” Worse yet, Florida is now admitting that this is true, and by doing so, he “has now taken this closed-loop argument to another level by declaring that henceforth, the winners’ club is closed to new entrants.” And yet before taking this stance, Florida spent years selling his brand of economic development to places like Elmira, New York and Sackville, New Brunswick.

Next American City: Richard Florida’s Monorail

Staley goes on to cite approvingly Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft on economic development.

My thoughts on Florida, and his rival Joel Kotkin, are here and here.

December 31, 2010 5 comments
Interview: How Bitcoin Created a Decentralized Crypto-Currency

Interview: How Bitcoin Created a Decentralized Crypto-Currency

Bitcoin

I interviewed one of the developers behind Bitcoin for ReadWriteWeb:

Bitcoin is an open source, peer-to-peer electronic currency created by Satoshi Nakamoto and maintained by a small team of developers. As part of what’s turning into an ongoing series on the distributed Web, I talked to contributor Gavin Andresen about how the software works. This is a technical overview. If you’re interested in an economic or political look at the software, you can read the Wikipedia entry or Niklas Blanchard’s essay on the project.

ReadWriteWeb: Interview: How Bitcoin Created a Decentralized Crypto-Currency

See also: The New Currency War

December 30, 2010 0 comments
My Predictions for 2011 at ReadWriteWeb

My Predictions for 2011 at ReadWriteWeb

Here are my predictions for 2011:

Predictive analytics will be applied to more business processes, regardless of whether it helps.

The U.S. will add new provisions to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to include leaked classified information.

Despite this and other measures taken by governments and corporations, leaking will continue.

Cybersecurity hype of 2011 will dwarf that of 2010.

We’ll see more CouchApp clients for popular web services.

Almost all the big social enterprise players will have some sort of “app store” offering.

Adobe will try to acquire Joyent.

ReadWriteWeb: 2011 Predictions: Klint Finley

Explanations for each is available at the link.

More predictions from RWW staffers:

December 30, 2010 0 comments
Predicting the Future with Twitter

Predicting the Future with Twitter

predicting the future with the news

The New York Times reports:

The number-crunchers on Wall Street are starting to crunch something else: the news.

Math-loving traders are using powerful computers to speed-read news reports, editorials, company Web sites, blog posts and even Twitter messages — and then letting the machines decide what it all means for the markets.

The development goes far beyond standard digital fare like most-read and e-mailed lists. In some cases, the computers are actually parsing writers’ words, sentence structure, even the odd emoticon. A wink and a smile — ;) — for instance, just might mean things are looking up for the markets. Then, often without human intervention, the programs are interpreting that news and trading on it.

New York Times: Computers That Trade on the News

And Bloomberg reports:

Derwent Capital Markets, a family- owned hedge fund, will offer investors the chance to use Twitter Inc. posts to gauge the mood of the stockmarket, said co-owner Paul Hawtin.

The Derwent Absolute Return Fund Ltd., set to start trading in February with an initial 25 million pounds ($39 million) under management, will follow posts on the social-networking website. A trading model will highlight when the number of times words on Twitter such as “calm” rise above or below average.

Bloomberg: Hedge Fund Will Track Twitter to Predict Stock Moves

See also:

Sentiment analysis

Technical analysis

December 30, 2010 1 comment
China, Exporter of 99% of Certain Rare Earth Metals, to Reduce Exports of Rare Earth Metals in 2011

China, Exporter of 99% of Certain Rare Earth Metals, to Reduce Exports of Rare Earth Metals in 2011

rare earth minerals

Emphasis mine:

China’s commerce ministry announced on Tuesday in Beijing a steep reduction in export quotas for rare earth metals in the first months of next year, a move that threatens to cause further difficulties for manufacturers already struggling with short supplies and soaring prices.

The reduction in quotas for the early months of 2011 — a 35 percent drop in tonnage from the first half of this year — is the latest in a series of measures by Beijing that has gradually curtailed much of the world’s supply of rare earths.

China mines more than 95 percent of the global supply of the metals, which are essential for smartphones, electric cars, many computer components and a range of military hardware. In addition, the country mines 99 percent of the least common rare earths, the so-called heavy rare earths that are used in trace amounts but are crucial to many clean energy applications and electronics.

New York Times: China to Tighten Limits on Rare Earth Exports in Early 2011

The good news, if there is any, is that there are mines for these minerals in other countries that could go back into production if China seriously curbs its exports: “Japanese companies account for half the world’s consumption outside China and have some stockpiles, but have kept secret the size of these stockpiles.”

(Via Bill Whitcomb)

December 28, 2010 0 comments
Our Bruised, Battered Universe May Have Collided with Other Universes Four Times

Our Bruised, Battered Universe May Have Collided with Other Universes Four Times

X-Men vs. New Teen Titans

This is a couple weeks old, but I’m still going through my backlog of posts:

Today, another group says they’ve found something else in the echo of the Big Bang. These guys start with a different model of the universe called eternal inflation. In this way of thinking, the universe we see is merely a bubble in a much larger cosmos. This cosmos is filled with other bubbles, all of which are other universes where the laws of physics may be dramatically different to ours.

These bubbles probably had a violent past, jostling together and leaving “cosmic bruises” where they touched. If so, these bruises ought to be visible today in the cosmic microwave background.

Now Stephen Feeney at University College London and a few pals say they’ve found tentative evidence of this bruising in the form of circular patterns in cosmic microwave background. In fact, they’ve found four bruises, implying that our universe must have smashed into other bubbles at least four times in the past.

Technology Review: Astronomers Find First Evidence Of Other Universes

There are some caveats, be sure to read the original article.

December 28, 2010 1 comment
The Art of Drew Millward

The Art of Drew Millward

Circa Survive by Drew Millward

The Art of Drew Millward

December 28, 2010 0 comments
More on Decentralizing the Web: My Interview with Unhosted’s Michiel de Jong

More on Decentralizing the Web: My Interview with Unhosted’s Michiel de Jong

Unhosted

I’ve followed up my interview at ReadWriteWeb with CouchOne‘s J Chris Anderson with an interview with Unhosted‘s Michiel de Jong.

de Jong takes Richard Stallman’s critiques of cloud computing seriously. But, he says, “People want to use websites instead of desktop apps. Why do they want that? I don’t think it’s up to us developers to tell users what to want. We should try to understand what they want, and give it to them.”

de Jong acknowledges the many advantages to running applications in the cloud: you can access your applications and data from any computer without installing software or transferring files. You can access your files from multiple devices without syncing. And web applications have better cross-platform support.

So how can you give users web applications while keeping them in control of their data?

The basic idea is this: an Unhosted app lives on a web server and contains only source code. That source code is executed on a user’s computer and encrypts and stores data on another server. That data never passes through the app server. Therefore, the app provider doesn’t have a monopoly on your data. And since that data is encrypted, it can’t be exploited by the data host either (or at least, it probably can’t).

The data can be hosted anywhere. “It could be in your house, it could be at your ISP or it could be at your university or workplace,” says de Jong.

“We had some hurdles to implement this, one being that the app cannot remember where your data lives, because the app only consists of source code,” he says. “Also your computer can’t remember it for you, because presumably you’re logging on to a computer you never used before.”

The Unhosted team solved the problem by putting the data location into usernames. Unhosted usernames look a lot like e-mail addresses, for example: willy@server.org. Willy is the username, server.org is location where the data is stored.

ReadWriteWeb: Unhosted: Breaking the SaaS Monopoly

December 27, 2010 1 comment
5 Predictions for the Next 5 Years from IBM

5 Predictions for the Next 5 Years from IBM

My editor at RWW writes:

IBM Labs says the hologram will be a part of our lives in the next five years. You will be able to beam 3D images to people who can then talk with you as they walk down the street. It will be as if you are walking with them. 3D cameras will get more sophisticated and eventually small enough to launch holograms with a mobile device.

The other four predictions include:

    The emergence of “citizen scientists” who collect data from sensors in our cars or any physical device that will be added to massive data sets.
    Batteries that are powered by static energy or even the air we breathe.
    The heat from data centers may help power cities.
    Your commute will be personalized. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn behavior.

ReadWriteWeb: IBM’s 5 on 5: Holograms Will Come to Life Just Like in Star Wars

December 27, 2010 1 comment
First Scientific Study of the Effects of Salvia on Humans

First Scientific Study of the Effects of Salvia on Humans

Salvia

A new study provides some data: The hallucinogen kicks off an unusually intense and short-lasting high, with no obvious ill effects, researchers report in an upcoming Drug and Alcohol Dependence paper.

“This is a landmark paper because it’s the first paper in which authentic salvinorin A was administered to human volunteers under controlled conditions, and it was shown to be hallucinogenic,” says psychiatrist and pharmacologist Bryan Roth of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the research. “All we had before were anecdotal reports, where people had bought salvia extract from their local smoke shop.”

While the study is small and can’t vouch for the safety of salvia, the results lend some hard science to the current legislative fray around the substance, which is criminalized in some states but not regulated federally.

Science News: Lab study documents effects of psychoactive substance in popular, largely legal hallucinogenic plant

(via Theoretick)

Scientists using YouTube to study Salvia

Salvia effects studied by U.S. Department of Energy

Researchers Learn How Salvia Works

December 25, 2010 1 comment