Thursday, April 7, 2016

Friday Thinking 8 April 2016

Hello – Friday Thinking is curated on the basis of my own curiosity and offered in the spirit of sharing. Many thanks to those who enjoy this. 

In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.

At Medium, the experiment in self-organisation continues. Medium has abandoned Holacracy, but it hasn’t abandoned its pursuit of a horizontal management system. According to Doyle, Medium’s problem with Holacracy was functional rather than philosophical. ‘Many of the principles we value most about Holacracy are already embedded in the organisation through how we approach our work, collaborate, and instigate change’, he claims. Medium is currently moving forward by articulating these principles and assembling a team ‘to translate [them] into a functional system’. The company remains committed to ‘pioneering new ways to operate’. Doyle puts this in perspective: ‘The management model that most companies employ was developed over a century ago. Information flows to quickly — and skills are too diverse — for it to remain effective in the future’. Realistically, any company concerned to be around in ten years time should be exploring new organizational operating systems. Technology and culture are evolving far too rapidly for companies to bank on maintaining their position without continuous self-reinvention.

This is the crux of the matter. Digital technologies make it absurdly easy to share information and coordinate collaborative work. While they do not drive (or ‘want’) openness and collaboration, these technologies makes self-organisation so simple, it is foolish not to explore it.

A 2015 Deloitte survey of more than 7000 companies revealed that the majority of companies are moving away from top down, command and control structures towards flexible structures based in teams. Only 38% of companies surveyed retain a traditional structure. Of these companies, 92% cite organisational redesign as ‘the top priority’.
Medium’s Experiment with Holacracy Failed. Long Live the Experiment!

Economic rents are obtained when someone is able to extract wealth or excessive returns despite no additional contribution to productivity, or what could be called socially useless activity.

the particular features of email activity that were most predictive of low satisfaction. For work — life balance, it was the fraction of emails sent out of working hours: more is worse. For managerial satisfaction, it was manager response time: slower is worse. And for perceptions of company-wide collaboration, it was the size of the manager’s email network: smaller is worse….

...Insights like these are of immediate interest to both employees and managers. In particular, because predictions based on email sending behavior can be made in real time, HR can obtain more timely feedback than surveys allow. Moreover, modern statistical modeling approaches such as ours can help managers in complex situations where many different factors could be at play — e.g., by showing which of many plausible explanations are supported by the evidence, and by cautioning against “one size fits all” solutions. Finally, employees could also benefit from tools that highlight help them quantify their work activity in the same way that personal fitness trackers help them quantify physical activity.
The Organizational Spectroscope

Problem-based, cooperative work is best expressed organizationally through emergent, responsive communities. The mainstream business approach is still predictive grouping and an ex ante organizational structure. It is typically a process organization designed and controlled by the expert/manager. This is based on the presuppositions that we know (1) all the linkages that are needed beforehand, and (2) what the right sequential order in acting is. Neither of these beliefs is correct any more.

The variables of creative work have increased beyond systemic models of process design.

The Internet is the best architecture for the open and loosely coupled work systems of the future. When it comes to work the Internet hasn’t really started yet
Esko Kilpi - Problem-based work - The lessons from Google

The traditional business model involved payment for a product or service upfront, regardless of whether or not it was ever used. Customers are less and less willing to tolerate this form of payment and are increasingly expecting to pay for actual usage

As customers gain more power, they won’t be satisfied with paying for usage. They’ll want to pay based on value created, rather than simple usage. What if I use a product or service and create very little value from that usage – should I really have to pay for simple usage? We are already seeing value based billing emerge in certain parts of the professional services world.

This is obviously a far more challenging expectation because it requires the ability to measure and monitor value creation for the customer, rather than simple usage. But technology is rapidly evolving to give us a much richer view of the context of usage and the impact created by that usage. And, if we can quantify the value created for the customer from usage of the product, that customer would be much more willing to pay for value received.
John Hagel - The Big Shift in Business Models

“Many economists, for better or worse, have come to see themselves as doing ‘positive research,’ in a philosophical sense. What isn’t always explicit is that the so-called positive research is nestled in a set of normative axiomatic assumptions about how the world works. One such assumption is that the basic rules of capitalism and democracy are immutable. I’ve learned that those who seek debate over the validity of  these assumptions carry the burden of establishing conclusively that the assumptions are violated in practice. If we’re going to make progress on the economic theory of the firm as it applies to corporate political activity, we need more economics-based empirical research on the harms, if any, of corporate lobbying.”
Is There a Crisis in the Economic Theory of the Firm? Participants at Harvard Business School Conference Agree: Firms Try to Change the Rules of the Game

This is a must read by Duncan Watts - the future of social science applied to organizations - although it doesn’t talk about sociometric badges and apps - it expands the methods of data gathering disrupting the primacy of reliance on traditional surveys.
The Organizational Spectroscope
Using digital data to shed light on team satisfaction and other questions about large organizations
For several decades sociologists have speculated that the performance of firms and other organizations depends as much on the networks of information flow between employees as on the formal structure of the organization.

This argument makes intuitive sense, but until recently it has been extremely difficult to test using data. Historically, employee data has been collected mostly in the form of surveys, which are still the gold standard for assessing opinions, but reveal little about behavior such as who talks to whom. Surveys are also expensive and time consuming to conduct, hence they are unsuitable for frequent and comprehensive snapshots of the state of a large organization.

Thanks to the growing ubiquity of productivity software, however, this picture is beginning to change. Email logs, web-based calendars, and co-authorship of online documents all generate digital traces that can be used as proxies for social networks and their associated information flows. In turn, these network and activity data have the potential to shed new light on old questions about the performance of teams, divisions, and even entire organizations.

Recognizing this opportunity, my colleagues Jake Hofman, Christian Perez, Justin Rao, Amit Sharma, Hanna Wallach, and I — in collaboration with Office 365 and Microsoft’s HR Business Insights unit — have embarked on a long-term project: the Organizational Spectroscope.

The Organizational Spectroscope combines digital communication data, such as email metadata (e.g., time stamps and headers), with more traditional data sources, such as job titles, office locations, and employee satisfaction surveys. These data sources are combined only in ways that respect privacy and ethical considerations. We then use a variety of statistical modeling techniques to predict and explain outcomes of interest to employees, HR, and management.

Here’s a must view 56 min video by the always thought provoking and entertaining Kevin Kelly - for anyone interested in the future.
Kevin Kelly | 12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Shape Our Future | SXSW Interactive 2016
In a few years we’ll have artificial intelligence that can accomplish professional human tasks. There is nothing we can do to stop this. In addition our lives will be totally 100% tracked by ourselves and others. This too is inevitable. Indeed much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends which are already in motion, and are impossible to halt without halting civilization. Some of what is coming may seem scary, like ubiquitous tracking, or robots replacing humans. Others innovations seem more desirable, such as an on-demand economy, and virtual reality in the home. And some that is coming like network crime and anonymous hacking will be society’s new scourges. Yet both the desirable good and the undesirable bad of these emerging technologies all obey the same formation principles.

At the risk of being too Kevin Kelly focused - this is another must view 58 min video given by Kevin at the Singularity University - for anyone who is serious about thinking about the future - or more precisely serious in how to think in better ways about the future. - Futurism is essential to the human condition.
Kevin Kelly - Tricks For Predicting The Future

This is a MUST READ by Cory Doctorow (Canadian Internet Activist, journalist and sci-fi writer) - The Dark Side of the Internet-of-Things looms in the discussion - especially if we don’t get business models and corresponding digital rights appropriately developed and implemented.
The last-millennium Digital Millennium Copyright Act has managed to stay on the books because we still think of it as a way to pull off small-potatoes ripoffs like forcing you to re-buy the movies you own on DVD if you want to watch them on your phone. In reality, the DMCA's anti-circumvention rules are a system that makes corporations into the only "people" who get to own property -- everything you "buy" is actually a license, dictated by terms of service that you've never read and certainly never agreed to, which give companies the right to reach into your home and do anything they want with the devices you've paid for.
Google reaches into customers' homes and bricks their gadgets
Revolv is a home automation hub that Google acquired 17 months ago; yesterday, Google announced that as of May 15, it will killswitch all the Revolvs in the field and render them inert. Section 1201 of the DMCA -- the law that prohibits breaking DRM -- means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison.

Revolv is apparently being killswitched because it doesn't fit in with Google's plan for Nest, the other home automation system it acquired. Google's FAQ tells its customers that this is OK because their warranties have expired, and besides, this is all covered in the fine-print they clicked through, or at least saw, or at least saw a link to.

This isn't the earthquake, it's the tremor. From your car to your lightbulbs to your pacemaker, the gadgets you own are increasingly based on networked software. Remove the software and they become inert e-waste. There is no such thing as a hardware company: the razor-thin margins on hardware mean that every funded hardware company is a service and data company, and almost without exception, these companies use DRM to acquire the legal right to sue competitors who provide rival services or who give customers access to their own data on "their" data.

We are entering the era where dishwashers can reject third-party dishes, and their manufacturers can sue anyone who makes "third-party dishes" out of existence. Selling you a toaster has never afforded companies the power to dictate your bread choices, nor has making a record player given a company the right to control which records get made.

And here’s another IoT shadow. Scarier than the one above. It is vital that we begin to think about digital infrastructure as public goods - well regulated with better provisions for transparency regarding user controls and interoperability in a device ecology.
Oculus Rift terms and conditions allow Facebook to monitor users’ movements and use it for advertising
The Facebook-owned company’s VR headset installs a piece of software that keeps watch of when people are using it — and can send that off to other firms

Whenever we think of the future we have to consider how we understand time - this is a wonderful 32 min video that explores exactly how we perceive time. Well worth the view. If anyone is interested in the possibility of ‘bullet time’ (e.g. remember the Matrix?), he explores the phenomena of slowed down time. This is a fascinating account.
What is time to the brain ? Perception of time delation
Setting time aright - Investigating the nature of time

1. The Flash-lag Effect
2. Time perception recalibrates
2.5 illusory reversal of cause and effect
3. Can subjective time run in slow motion?

We live in the past (perception of present can depend on what happens next), Temporal order recalibrates (can reverse perception of causation), Time is not one thing, Subjective duration indexes neural energy.

Here’s a MUST SEE 20 min TED Talk - about the world beyond the one our human senses construct - and how technology has and will continue to give us access to a much larger universe from which to construct new realities for ourselves - we will ave vast choice of peripheral sense inputs. We will soon be able to feel crowds and events in real time - whether we are present or not.
David Eagleman: Can we create new senses for humans?
Published on 18 Mar 2015
As humans, we can perceive less than a ten-trillionth of all light waves. “Our experience of reality,” says neuroscientist David Eagleman, “is constrained by our biology.” He wants to change that. His research into our brain processes has led him to create new interfaces to take in previously unseen information about the world around us.

And considering senses - with better feedback we can come to sense how our own brain’s unconscious processes are doing with inexpensive technology. This is an interesting account of some of this popular quantified self - wearable technology.
“Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism…” Le ticks off a litany of neurological disorders, then continues: “Most of these conditions are developmental in nature. The markers probably exist decades before the symptoms manifest themselves. We need more early intervention and early monitoring.” According to Le, the way we do neuroscience nowadays is fundamentally flawed. “For the most part, we only study brains when something goes wrong.” People with supposedly healthy brains almost never have their brains scanned—in part because, until this decade, obtaining readable results from EEG has been time- and labor-intensive.

The rise in popularity of wearable health technology, Le says, has “opened up the opportunity for us to monitor, track and learn about the brain and to start to build better models of the brain across a broad spectrum of users,” not just people who are ill. In other words, if enough people start using the Insight (Emotiv’s new EEG rig) and let Emotiv collect data about their minds, maybe that amassed data could allow neuroscientists to finally know what a healthy brain looks like when it deals with various everyday stimuli. That information could allow neuroscientists to better identify “early biomarkers for a variety of neurological disorders,” says Le.

New insights and developments in understanding our brain and links to disease continue to emerge - this is a fascinating article discussing the emergence of a deeper understanding of the brain’s support cell processes.
The Rogue Immune Cells That Wreck the Brain
Beth Stevens thinks she has solved a mystery behind brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Microglia are part of a larger class of cells—known collectively as glia—that carry out an array of functions in the brain, guiding its development and serving as its immune system by gobbling up diseased or damaged cells and carting away debris. Along with her frequent collaborator and mentor, Stanford biologist Ben Barres, and a growing cadre of other scientists, Stevens, 45, is showing that these long-overlooked cells are more than mere support workers for the neurons they surround. Her work has raised a provocative suggestion: that brain disorders could somehow be triggered by our own bodily defenses gone bad.

In one groundbreaking paper, in January, Stevens and researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard showed that aberrant microglia might play a role in schizophrenia—causing or at least contributing to the massive cell loss that can leave people with devastating cognitive defects. Crucially, the researchers pointed to a chemical pathway that might be targeted to slow or stop the disease. Last week, Stevens and other researchers published a similar finding for Alzheimer’s.

This might be just the beginning. Stevens is also exploring the connection between these tiny structures and other neurological diseases—work that earned her a $625,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant last September.

And another fascinating development with huge implications related to our ongoing domestication of DNA and the process of transforming the expression of our DNA heritage - while we live - thus deepening the meaning of personal transformation.
Biological mechanism passes on long-term epigenetic 'memories'
Researchers discover the on/off button for inheriting responses to environmental changes
According to epigenetics -- the study of inheritable changes in gene expression not directly coded in our DNA -- our life experiences may be passed on to our children and our children's children. Studies on survivors of traumatic events have suggested that exposure to stress may indeed have lasting effects on subsequent generations. But how exactly are these genetic "memories" passed on?

This is an excellent account of one company’s experiment with ‘Holocracy’ - which is one attempt to create an organizational architecture that is not hierarchical - however, I would suggest that it remain quite bureaucratic. That said this should be a must read for anyone interested in developing better form of organization.
Medium’s Experiment with Holacracy Failed. Long Live the Experiment!
The organisations of the future are being invented today. They are densely connected, human-centered, agile, and intrinsically innovative. The question for business leaders is not if they should shift to a more flexible, self-organizing structure, but how.
In March 2016, Medium abandoned Holacracy. The carnivores of the business press, who had been circling the blog publishing company since it started using the management ‘operating system’ three years earlier, closed in for the kill. ‘Well, waddaya know?’ Paul Carr gloated in the tech journal Pando. ‘Medium drops Holacracy, because Holacracy is “time consuming and divisive”’. This misrepresents Andy Doyle’s claim in his announcement of Medium’s decision. Doyle’s actual point is that Holacracy was problematic ‘for larger initiatives, which require coordination across functions’. But why let the truth get in the way of a trouncing?

...When Medium abandoned Holacracy, the status quo rejoiced. The disruptor is dead. Order is restored. We can all sleep more soundly knowing that the organisational forms of the 19th century are alive and well, unchallenged by the pretensions of the ‘bossless organisation’.

Not so fast. Medium is not the only company experimenting with Holacracy. The operating system is currently used by about 70 companies around the world, including the online shoe retailer Zappos. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shifted the entire company to Holacracy in 2013. Hsieh’s view is that command and control structures are death. Self-organizing structures are not only more resilient, they become more innovative as they expand. Many of Hsieh’s employees failed to see the upside. Confronted with protracted resistance, Hsieh told employees to accept Holacracy or quit. In the end, 260 employees (roughly 18% of the company) accepted Hsieh’s redundancy offer and left. The majority of media coverage failed to note that Zappos’ standard annual turnover is around 20%. Plus it was a superb payout. Hsieh half jokingly suggests that, given the size of the redundancy package, ‘the headline really should be “82% of employees chose NOT to take the offer”’.

Based on the Business Model Canvas - this is a very interesting site and idea to help bureaucracies flesh out new initiatives. This is well worth the view for anyone struggling to develop models for innovating in a bureaucracy.
The GovLab Academy Canvas
Use the GovLab Public Problem Solving Canvas to create and develop your public interest project. These twenty questions are designed to help you refine your understanding of the problem and those whom it affects; express your Big Idea; and turn that idea into an actionable strategy in the real world to the end of improving people's lives.

The need for creative, originality and innovation - also depends on individuals - this is an entertaining 15 min TED Talk.
Adam Grant: The surprising habits of original thinkers
How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "originals": thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. "The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they're the ones who try the most," Grant says. "You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones."

After years of studying the dynamics of success and productivity in the workplace, Adam Grant discovered a powerful and often overlooked motivator: helping others.

And in the realm of self-driving and drones - here’s one glimpse of the future of the Navy. There is a very short video as well.
DARPA starts speed testing its submarine-hunting drone ship
Open-water tests will follow this summer.
DARPA's 130-foot unmanned ship is almost ready to take on rogue submarines. Its christening isn't slated to take place until April 7th, but it's now in the water near its construction site in Portland, Oregon -- the agency has even begun conducting speed tests. The drone called ACTUV or Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel has successfully reached the top speed its creators were expecting (31mph) during the preliminary tests. It was, however, designed to do much more than traverse the oceans at 31mph. ACTUV has the capability to use long/short-range sonar to detect foreign submarines, even stealthy diesel electric ones that don't make noise.

It can then follow those submarines around in an effort to spook out their operators and drive them out. If needed, the vessel can also deliver supplies and be sent on reconnaissance missions with absolutely no human on board. Before it can do the tasks it was made for, though, it still has to undergo open-water testing in California sometime this summer.

This is an amazing new type of sensor.
Tiny gravity sensor could detect drug tunnels, mineral deposits
A new device the size of a postage stamp can detect 1-part-per-billion changes in Earth’s gravitational field—equivalent to what the gizmo would experience if it were lifted a mere 3 millimeters. The technology may become so cheap and portable it could one day be mounted on drones to spot everything from hidden drug tunnels to valuable mineral deposits.

Hammond and his colleagues set out to build a smaller, cheaper spring-based gravimeter. The heart of their device is a postage stamp–sized bit of silicon; it’s carved so that in its center there’s a 25-milligram bit of material left suspended by three stiff, fiber-like structures that are each about 5 micrometers across (less than one-third the diameter of the finest human hair). Together, these act as the spring. As the gravitational field surrounding the device changes—such as it would if it passed over a large underground cavern or a dense deposit of minerals, because of the sudden change of density in the underlying rocks—the tiny bit of silicon bobs up and down in response to that change,  Hammond says. Those movements are tracked by monitoring the silicon’s shadow as it moves across a light detector.

The team’s gravimeter is so sensitive it can track the up-and-down motions of Earth’s surface caused by the changing positions of the sun and moon, the researchers report online today in Nature. (These so-called “Earth tides” occur and are measurable, but they are much smaller than those seen in the seas because rock is stiffer than water.)

The future is not a linear flourishing of the past - but more often is a proliferation into emergent ecologies of diverse possibles and plausibles.
While you’re charging your EV, BMW is preparing for a hydrogen future
Don’t let $2 gas fool you, the alternative fuel revolution is well under way. A vast majority of car makers offer at least one hybrid model, and the number of electric cars on the market grows annually. However, hydrogen technology is still lagging behind because it’s plagued by an array of setbacks, including an underdeveloped infrastructure.

Digital Trends sat down with Merten Jung, BMW’s head of fuel cell development, to get insight on where the technology stands today, what will change in the coming years, and when we can expect to see a hydrogen-powered car in a BMW showroom.

This is an interesting Bloomberg article reflecting on the current state of renewable energy investments. The graphs and gifs are must views - they say it all.
Government subsidies have helped wind and solar get a foothold in global power markets, but economies of scale are the true driver of falling prices: The cost of solar power has fallen to 1/150th of its level in the 1970s, while the total amount of installed solar has soared 115,000-fold.
The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: It’s a technology, not a fuel. As such, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. What's more, the price of batteries to store solar power when the sun isn't shining is falling in a similarly stunning arc.
The best minds in energy keep underestimating what solar and wind can do. Since 2000, the International Energy Agency has raised its long-term solar forecast 14 times and its wind forecast five times. Every time global wind power doubles, there's a 19 percent drop in cost, according to BNEF, and every time solar power doubles, costs fall 24 percent.
Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels
Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1.
Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.
While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).  

"We're in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future," Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. "Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all."

Talk about the phase transition in energy geopolitics - Planning for strategic shifting is getting ‘chic’ (bad pun I( know) still this is interesting - should make other oil heavy investment approaches pause to re-think. I would be convenient if the availability of oil were reduced to increase the price - at least until sales are made.
“IPOing Aramco and transferring its shares to PIF will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,” the prince said in an interview at the royal compound in Riyadh that ended at 4 a.m. on Thursday. “What is left now is to diversify investments. So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
….The sale of Aramco, or Saudi Arabian Oil Co., is planned for 2018 or even a year earlier, according to the prince. The fund will then play a major role in the economy, investing at home and abroad. It would be big enough to buy Apple Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. -- the world’s four largest publicly traded companies.
Saudi Arabia Plans $2 Trillion Megafund for Post-Oil Era: Deputy Crown Prince
Saudi Arabia is getting ready for the twilight of the oil age by creating the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund for the kingdom’s most prized assets.

Over a five-hour conversation, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid out his vision for the Public Investment Fund, which will eventually control more than $2 trillion and help wean the kingdom off oil. As part of that strategy, the prince said Saudi will sell shares in Aramco’s parent company and transform the oil giant into an industrial conglomerate. The initial public offering could happen as soon as next year, with the country currently planning to sell less than 5 percent.

The idea of the domestication of DNA arises with the digital environment and the realization that biology has become an information science and DNA is code - this is moving even closer to a reality.
However, designing each circuit is a laborious process that requires great expertise and often a lot of trial and error. "You have to have this really intimate knowledge of how those pieces are going to work and how they're going to come together," Voigt says.
Users of the new programming language, however, need no special knowledge of genetic engineering.
"You could be completely naive as to how any of it works. That's what's really different about this," Voigt says. "You could be a student in high school and go onto the Web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence."
A programming language for living cells
MIT biological engineers have created a programming language that allows them to rapidly design complex, DNA-encoded circuits that give new functions to living cells.

Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it.

"It is literally a programming language for bacteria," says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. "You use a text-based language, just like you're programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell."

Voigt and colleagues at Boston University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have used this language, which they describe in the April 1 issue of Science, to build circuits that can detect up to three inputs and respond in different ways. Future applications for this kind of programming include designing bacterial cells that can produce a cancer drug when they detect a tumor, or creating yeast cells that can halt their own fermentation process if too many toxic byproducts build up.

The researchers plan to make the user design interface available on the Web.

This is an hour long reality TV docudrama - exploring the what is called social compliance - and in particular explores whether this tendency to ‘listen to authority’ can be used to ‘push’ people to commit murder. This may not be for everyone - but explores in a very dramatic way the ideas implied by the Milgram experiments. I think people will either love or hate this program. What is interesting is that each step in creating conditions of compliance are carefully explained.
Derren Brown - Pushed to the Edge

For Fun
Here is an academically developed game aimed at helping kids learn positive social skills.
Crystals of Kaydor
A team of researchers and game designers, led by Richard Davidson and Center Collaborator Constance Steinkuehler, developed the video game Crystals of Kaydor from the ground up aimed at teaching children pro-social behaviors, including recognizing others’ emotions.

This is a fantastic list by Charles Stross - for anyone interested in science fiction this is a must read.
Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
So I'm chewing over the idea of eventually returning to writing far future SF-in-spaaaace, because that's what my editors tell me is hot right now (subtext: "Charlie, won't you write us a space opera?"). A secondary requirement is that it has to be all new—no sequels to earlier work need apply. But I have a headache, because the new space opera turns 30 this year, with the anniversary of the publication of "Consider Phlebas" (or maybe "Schismatrix")—or even 40 (with the anniversary of the original "Star Wars"). There's a lot of prior art, much of it not very good, and the field has accumulated a huge and hoary body of cliches.

This is not an exhaustive list—it's merely a start, the tip of a very large iceberg glimpsed on the horizon. And note that I'm specifically excluding the big media franchise products—Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and similar—from consideration: any one of them could provide a huge cliche list in its own right, but I'm interested in the substance of the literary genre rather than in what TV and film have built using the borrowed furniture of the field.

This is one of my favorite April fool’s jokes - the video is 1.5 min. The smile is worth the view..
Sonified Higgs data show a surprising result
Scientists at CERN have been using new techniques to try and learn more about the tiniest particles in our universe. One unusual method they’ve utilised is to turn data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) into sounds – using music as a language to translate what they find.
This is exactly what happened this week when physicists at CERN sonified the Higgs boson data. They were shocked when, after listening to random notes as the data played its random tune, a bump in the graph translated into a well-known pattern of recognisable notes.

1 comment:

  1. A fantastic eclectic collection of thought provoking information that has updated me in several areas.
    As my students (apprentices aiming to become State Licensed Electricians in New South Wales Australia)would say "Really sick", which is their highest accolade they use...