Howard Rheingold: Understanding Search Algorithms

Howard Rheingold

Digital Literacy: Search Algorithms are Mechanical Turks

John Jones

DMLcentral, December 8, 2011

One of the most pervasive features of computing culture are algorithms, the sets of processes or instructions contained in computer code that determine how a particular task will be completed. While algorithms power everything from your automatic coffee maker to your smart phone, because they are frequently hidden from their users, it can be easy to ignore these algorithms and their impact on how we gain access to information.

One of the areas where algorithms have the most impact is on our information search and retrieval practices. Online search is dominated by complex searching algorithms, the most well-known of which is Google’s PageRank. While there are many different ways of thinking about these search algorithms, from the standpoint of digital literacy it is fascinating to see the extent to which these alogrithms have been accepted as reliable stand-ins for other forms of information seeking. One reason for this substitution is that they are, on the whole, quite good at finding and serving us the information that we want. Another is the long-standing cultural assumption that computers (and many other forms of technology) are objective means of accessing information.

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Dec 9

DefDog: InfoWeek Holds Retirement Party for Microsoft

DefDog

Discussed this the other day with a couple of like minded folks, one noted that his Apple devices are synched when he walks into the house, his son’s is synched with all his school work when he enters a classroom.  There is little use of Word or like minded products, the school uses YouTube, Twitter, etc.

With the advent of iPad into the business market (the Air Force just
jettisoned its paper flight manuals for pilots and replaced them with
iPads)…..

Blue screen of death fades into the sunset.  Enjoy.

Microsoft Office, Enjoy Your Retirement

This nearly 30-year-old product should be headed for the sunset villa in this age of smartphones, cloud computing, and Facebook.

By Eric Lundquist   InformationWeek
December 05, 2011 08:30 AM

Please join me for the retirement party for the productivity software suite.

Our good friend word/spreadsheet/presentation has been an exemplary employee, even as he gained a few pounds as contact management, calendaring, and all sorts of other bits and pieces of the office routine were piled on. And while we can have fun arguing about which was the first such software product (Framework in 1984, Lotus Symphony at about the same time), we can all agree that Microsoft Office started occupying the corner office in 1989. So thank you very much for your service. Here’s your gold watch. Now go play some golf.

It’s hard to believe that a nearly 30-year-old product is still synonymous with office productivity during a period that has included the rise of the Internet, smartphones, cloud computing, and Facebook. So with the retirement party over, what’s the shape of the new office suite?

Read full article.

Phi Beta Iota:  Microsoft is now officially brain-dead.  The departure of Ray Ozzie was its final heart attack.  OpenBTS, Twitter, Hypothes.is, and Wiki-think Wiki-work are all moving in interesting directions.  Microsoft was an industrial-era “stand-alone” approach to human productivity, and it retarded the world for decades because of its hostility to third-party vendors and its constant mutation of Application Program Interfaces (API) as predatory toll-booths.

See Also:

2012 Reflexivity = Integrity: Toward Earth/Life 4.0

2010 M4IS2 Briefing for South America — 2010 M4IS2 Presentacion por Sur America (ANEPE Chile)

2008: World Brain as EarthGame (Full Text Online for Google Translate)

Open Source Agency: Executive Access Point

Reference: Advanced Cyber-IO (First Cut)

Reference: The Web as Epoch B Leadership

Review: The World Is Open–How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education

Robert Steele: Microsoft Operation Cloudburst

Worth a Look: 1989 All-Source Fusion Analytic Workstation–The Four Requirements Documents

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Dec 8

Robert Steele: Twitter Burns Google / Facebook

Robert David STEELE Vivas

This is fascinating at multiple levels.  Neither Google nor Facebook have been effective at helping humans “make sense,” now it appears that Twitter–perhaps combined with Hypothes.is–just might be a hair away from creating the skeleton of the World Brain.

Twitter Just Fired A Cannonball At Facebook And Google+

Matt Rosoff

Business Insider, 8 December 2011

Twitter is revamping the service with personal Twitter profile pages, a new timeline that includes rich media and other related informationembedded into tweets, and easier search for information based on @ symbols (usernames) and hash tags.

Talking at Twitter’s unfinished new headquarters building in San Francisco, founder Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo explained that the changes are meant to make Twitter more accessible to everybody.

Their three goals:

  • Expose the “universe within every tweet.” Tweets aren’t just 140 characters — there’s also context like retweets and replies, and embedded content like videos, images, and songs. Today, accessing this material still feels like opening a “side drawer,” said Costolo.
  • Make Twitter less obscure to use. Today, the @ and # symbols are too obscure — people don’t know what they mean. This contributes to a lot of people visiting Twitter but not really participating actively. The redesign surfaces these symbols and makes them the gateway to find out more infrmation about people and topics on the surface.
  • Share it with everybody. The world has 7 billion people. Most of those people are “not yet on Twitter,” said Costolo. The redesign will roll out to mobile devices simultaneously, and is streamlined to load up to 500% faster.

The trick is doing this without adding too much complexity. As Dorsey put it, “simplification is the key here.”

 

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Dec 8

DefDog: Iran Hijacks US Drone Shows Film + RECAP

DefDog

An outstanding piece of bargaining power for Iran with both Russia and China….don’t expect UN sanctions anytime soon…..

Updated 11 Dec 2011 to add more stories with photos and comment.

Iran won’t return U.S. drone it claims to have

Iran Shows Video It Says Is of U.S. Drone

Zakaria and Baer: Downed U.S. drone an intel catastrophe

Phi Beta Iota:  Variants of this stuff are for sale at Brookstone and Best Buy. The US has consistently refused to be serious about emission control, downlink security, and real-time processing.  This is a “disaster” only to the degree that it reveals–once again–how immature the US “intelligence” archipelago of fiefdoms actually is.

Iran shows film of captured US drone

BBC, 8 December 2011

Iranian TV has shown the first video footage of an advanced US drone aircraft that Tehran says it downed near the Afghan border.

Images show Iranian military officials inspecting the RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft which appears to be undamaged.

US officials have acknowledged the loss of the unmanned plane, saying it had malfunctioned.

However, Iranian officials say its forces electronically hijacked the drone and steered it to the ground.

Click on Image to Enlarge

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the intact condition of the Sentinel tends to support their claim.

Iran’s Press TV said that the Iranian army’s “electronic warfare unit” brought down the drone on 4 December as it was flying over the city of Kashmar, about 140 miles (225km) from the Afghan border.

Nato said at the weekend that an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week when its operators lost control of it.

Pentagon officials have said they are concerned about Iran possibly acquiring information about the technology.

Read full article.

Phi Beta Iota: Our first impression has been that Iran has downed the UAV with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) beam.  This is much cooler.  As with the Taliban in Afghanistan able to hijack the downlinks, the Iranians simply hijacked the entire aircraft.  From where we sit, the Chinese (who ride electric power circuits into “isolated” computers) and the Iranians [Persians, more PhDs per capita than most] are laughing at us, while the Russians simply ignore us.  Newsflash for the Pentagon: our technology is not that great.  Classifying the idiot vulnerabilities does not work–something we have been pointing out for twenty years.

Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York): When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.

See Also:

Dolphin: Their Drones, Our Drones, and EMP Rays

Journal: Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

Journal: Gorgon Stare (All Eyes, No Brain)

Journal: Running Interference On Interference

Journal: U.S. Air Force–Remote from War & Reality

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Dec 8

Patrick Meier: Amplifying Somali Voices Here and Now

Patrick Meier

Amplifying Somali Voices Using SMS and a Live Map: #SomaliaSpeaks

[Cross-posted from my post on the Ushahidi blog]

Somalia has been steadily slipping from global media attention over the past few months. The large scale crisis is no longer making headline news, which means that advocacy and lobbying groups are finding it increasingly difficult to place pressure on policymakers and humanitarian organizations to scale their intervention in the Horn of Africa. I recently discussed this issue with Al-jazeera’s Social Media Team whilst in Doha and pitched a project to them which has just gone live this hour.

The joint project combines the efforts of multiple partners including Al-Jazeera, Ushahidi, Souktel, Crowdflower, the African Diaspora Institute and the wider Somali Diaspora. The basis of my pitch to Al-jazeera was to let ordinary Somalis speak for themselves by using SMS to crowdsource their opinions on the unfolding crisis.

. . . . . . .

I am often reminded of what my friend Anand Giridharadasof the New York Times wrote last year vis-a-vis Ushahidi. To paraphrase:

They used to say that history is written by the victors. But today, before the victors win, if they win, there is a chance to scream out with a text message, a text message that will not vanish, a text message that will remain immortalized on a map for the world to bear witness. What would we know about what passed between Turks and Armenians, Germans and Jews, Hutus and Tutsis, if every one of them had had the chance, before the darkness, to declare for all time:

“I was here, and this is what happened to me”?

Read full post with sample text messages and next steps.

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Dec 8

John Robb: Technology, Corruption, & Depressions

John Robb

Technology Shifts and Economic Depression

Joseph Stiglitz (the Nobel prize winning economist) has a great new article: “The Book of Jobs“(behind Vanity Fair’s paywall, sorry).   In it, he makes a convincing case that the first global depression was caused by a process similar to what we are seeing today (I’m very happy somebody in the social sciences is actually attempting to show how technological change was a driver of the first depression, it’s about time).  Here it is in a nutshell:first depression, it’s about time).

  1. Technological change in the form of the internal combustion engine (cars, tractors, trucks) improved transportation and farm productivity.  This led to an agricultural revolution that impacted a huge percentage of the US population.
  2. Farm productivity soared and prices dropped.  This forced many farmers into bankruptcy and led to a steady migration of people from rural to urban locations driving down incomes/demand.
  3. The downward pressure on incomes this caused resulted in a protraced economic depression that only ended when the US and Europe mobilized/nationalized every segment of the economy during WW2 (put everyone to work, trained them, etc.).

At this point in the article Stiglitz stumbles.

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Dec 8

Real PR (public reality): Harsh Realities in “Call of Duty”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Breaks Records, Makes $400 Million in One Day (video game)

 

Source: TruthDig

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Nov 13