'The yellow blobs are, of course, tube trains. The fact that they're moving across the map indicates that this is, as near as dammit, real-time information about their positions on the network. And it's public data: you can sit at your computer in San Francisco or Accra and know how the trains on the Central line are doing just now.
How you react to this provides a litmus test for determining where you are on the technology spectrum. If you're of a geekish disposition, then what Matthew Somerville and a couple of his friends managed to do in a few hours with the train data and the application programming interface (API) provided by Transport for London will seem like a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
If you're a non-technical person, then Mr Somerville's live map will strike you as an example of leading-edge uselessness: undoubtedly clever, but of no practical use to you and me. Of course it's important that Transport for London knows where their trains are at any given moment, but it's of little interest to anyone else.
If you're a securocrat, ie an employee of the UK's vast security establishment, then Mr Somerville's map will give you the heebie-jeebies. After all, you will argue, Osama bin Laden may be sitting in his cave in Pakistan at this very moment, monitoring the trains on the Central line on his iPad. And so indeed he might. The fact that being able to do this would be significantly less useful than having some devout followers in actual tube stations will not bother you unduly, because being a securocrat essentially means viewing the entire world and everything in it as a possible threat to national security.
If on the other hand, you believe that digital technology has the potential to refresh democratic institutions, then you will see the live tube map as a significant development. This is not because Transport for London is a democratic institution but because it shows what can be done when data is released to the public in a way that makes it not just useful to civil society, but usable by it. The last few years have seen a vigorous campaign – led by our sister-paper, the Guardian, by the way – to persuade public authorities to provide public access to the data that they routinely collect and store in vast databases. After all, so the slogan goes, "Free Our Data" – we paid for it, so we should be able to see it.'
Things are going to get very weird and very noisy:
Scientists have discovered how to “read” minds by scanning brain activity and reproducing images of what people are seeing — or even remembering.
Researchers have been able to convert into crude video footage the brain activity stimulated by what a person is watching or recalling.
The breakthrough raises the prospect of significant benefits, such as allowing people who are unable to move or speak to communicate via visualisation of their thoughts; recording people’s dreams; or allowing police to identify criminals by recalling the memories of a witness.
The possibilities of creation, perversion and imagination are just mind-bending.
Interesting little study of the words women used in their online dating profile and how successful they were attracting/putting off potnetial dates. Okcupid say:
Our program looked at keywords and phrases, how they affected reply rates, and what trends were statistically significant. The result: a set of rules for what you should and shouldn’t say when introducing yourself online. This is the second post of our statistical investigation into the optimal online dating message.
A geographers methodology for measuring propensity for evil:
Greed was calculated by comparing average incomes with the total number
of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line. On this map, done in
yellow, Clark County is bile (see map on Page 2).
Envy was calculated using the total number of thefts -- robbery,
burglary, larceny and stolen cars. Rendered in green, of course, Clark
County is emerald.
Wrath was calculated by comparing the total number of violent crimes
-- murder, assault and rape -- reported to the FBI per capita. Vought
and his colleagues used the color red to illustrate wrath, so Clark
County looks like a fresh welt. Washoe is slightly statistically
duller. Everywhere else is a friendly pork pink.
Lust was calculated by compiling the number of sexually transmitted
diseases -- HIV, AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea -- reported
per capita. Here again, Clark and Washoe counties are worst. Carson
City County is a close third.
Gluttony was calculated by counting the number of fast food
restaurants per capita, and this is one category where Clark County is
bested. First in deep fry goes to Carson City.
Sloth was calculated by comparing expenditures on arts,
entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment. Here again
Clark County is beat, scoring only average on the scale of sloth.
And pride, lastly, is most important. The root of all sins, in this
study, is the aggregate of all data. Vought and his Kansas colleagues
combined all data from the six other sins and averaged it into an
overview of all evil. So pride, mapped in purple, shows the states two
darkest bruises: counties Clark and Carson City.
Nice new toys to play with from The Guardian. Good talk on this by Simon Williams at BarCamp6. Alas falling down a deep dark pitch hole means I'm a bit tardy with posting the details. The API was launched at the beginning of March and currently has two components:
1. The Content API
is a mechanism for getting Guardian content. You can query our content
database for articles and get them back in formats that are geared
toward integration with other internet applications.
2. The Data Store
is a collection of important and high quality data sets curated by
Guardian journalists. You can find useful data here, download it, and
integrate it with other internet applications.
The Data Store is just genius, enables some great uses and insight via blogs like Ouseful and bawdy yet no less interesting guest posts like this:
'Towards the end of last week, a sleepness night led me to indulge a
childish sense of humour with 15 minutes of tomfoolery, the output of
which was a graph comparing the decline and fall of various swear-words
in the pages of the Guardian over the last decade. In a bid to retain
some sense of self-respect, I'll for now ignore the fact that this
graph has achieved a readership that dwarfs anything else I've written
in my career to date, and focus instead on how I did it.'
The video above is footage from a working
application (under development) created by Paul Lamere’s team at Sun
Labs in Massachusetts (The AURA Project). I'd love to see more musical experience interfaces MEIs: an ability to swim or haptically feel our way through the music we own making the phrase 'drowning in music' a pleasurably immersive user experience rather than a feeling of being overwhelmed by seemingly limitless linear lists.
I should warn you straight out and say that this is more of a rambling muse than a tidy linear post. If you're ok with that then please continue, if not seek coherence elsewhere. This project from the Behance Network crystallized something I've been thinking about a lot this week. Noise. I've been working all week in Amsterdam. Lovely, quiet Amsterdam. The precedence given to pedal power not only removes cars from the roads it also allows the sounds of humanity to flourish: laughter, conversation, coughs, gentle self-reflexive wonderings. The sheer tyranny of noise in London negates al but the most forceful and aggressive voices. Neurotic buses treat us like amnesiac goldfish: constantly reminding us which bus we're on and where we are. I've also been thinking about visual noise - I'm working on a brief for Russia and the CIS, the media equivalent of a neon migraine, and how it compares to the wonderful yet eerie empty billboard sites in Sao Paolo. The comments that sit alongside Flickr group shots of the sites use adjectives like 'clean' 'peace' and 'beauty'. Over-exposure to noise, or rather people's desire for quiet is the largest challenge that traditional advertising
industry will have in the future. In a world where the consumer can completely control all of the information they want to see, traditional advertising just doesn't work. New technologies are bringer us closer and closer to this. It's a when not an if, and the when is soon:
On February the 14th this year in the NY Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) Jonathan Harris' latest piece of work 'I Want You To Want Me' opened to the public. This elegant and beautifully conceived piece is an exploration of the effect of online and the internet on dating. Over 50 million people visit dating sites every month. En masse, people have condensed their identities into page or
paragraph-long descriptions, sometimes complemented by a handful of
photographs or peppered with responses to canned questions. These
personal profiles are modern messages in a bottle, short statements of
self, telling not only who people are, but also what people want.
In these advertisements for new human relationships people package and
present their most loveable qualities to help complete their quest to
be loved. Here are some of the sentences taken from forums and sites that make up one of the works' four movements: 'Who I am':
I am ready for my prince. From a 22-year-old man looking for a man in Brooklyn, New York I am a woman who will listen to your darkest demons and not fear them. From a 26-year-old woman looking for a man in Dallas, Texas I AM THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVER AND A DANCING MACHINE!
From a 21-year-old woman looking for a woman in Madison, Wisconsin I am who I am, and I am a helluva find.
From a 54-year-old woman looking for a woman in Ocklawaha, Florida I am not one of those skinny muscular guys with a 14-inch woody. From a 22-year-old man looking for a woman in St. Louis, Missouri I am a single mom supporting kids; I don’t need to support no man. From a 36-year-old woman looking for a man in Seattle, Washington I am not an American citizen.
From a 32-year-old man looking for a woman in Wilmington, Delaware I'm logical, too practical at times, and completely out of my element when it comes to dating.
From a 26-year-old woman looking for a man in Chicago, Illinois I'm wild like that. From a 20-year-old woman looking for a man in Upland, California I'm more interested in your brain than your bra size From a 35-year-old man looking for a woman in Denver, Colorado I'm interested in meeting a lusty male who dreams deconstruction and dismantles stale ideologies
From a 30-year-old woman looking for a man in Denver, Colorado I am an experienced Sub who likes to switch
From a 38-year-old woman looking for a man in Raleigh, North Carolina I'm a single dad trying to make it in this crazy world From a 30-year-old man looking for a woman in Tampa, Florida I'm depressed but I'm thinking how it would be nice to be in a relationship again
From a 19-year-old woman looking for a man in San Francisco, California I am trying to lose weight, but I want someone to like me for who I am now. From a 27-year-old woman looking for a woman in Wilmington, Delaware I am clean cut, discreet and a perfect gentleman, and promise to leave you totally relaxed after our session.
From a 43-year-old man looking for a woman in Seattle, Washington I'm not lonely or horny, but I am incomplete. From a 40-year-old man looking for a woman in Raleigh, North Carolina