Thursday, July 16, 2009

News Providers are Embracing the iPhone

To mark another iPhone milestone (1.5 billion app downloads in a year), I checked our iTunes app store data warehouse. I was expecting the Books category to continue to register the fastest-growth but was instead greeted by an explosion in News (and to a lesser extent, Navigation) apps. News content providers increasingly need to have a strategy for delivering content to the iPhone and similar mobile devices. At least for the iPhone, many news organizations have done just that: during the week ending 7/12, there were over 1,500 News apps.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Developers Create Unofficial Find My iPhone API

The iPhone is correctly credited with bringing location services to the consumer. It started at launch with Google Maps. It kicked into hyper-drive with the launch of the App Store (there are now over 2800 location-enabled apps - via Skyhook). However, there is still a step to go, the iPhone needs the ability to share your location in the...

Bantamweight Publishing in an Easily Plagiarised World

Even professional writers are prone to infrequent accidental plagiarism. But in the world of novels, newspapers, and college exams, there are rules about bootlegging others’ work that are well-established - most everyone agrees on what behaviors are unacceptable and what the consequences are. In bantamweight publishing, however, the rules are not so clear. In order for the British Army to...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ignite Show: Greg Elin on Hackers in Washington

The Obama Administration has taken broad steps to open up the government. It's created Twitter accounts, launched data portals, and released spending dashboards. Even with these steps Washington D.C. can seem a strange place to geeks. Greg Elin (@gregelin) is a hacker living inside the beltway working with government officials to help with the process of opening up. In...

Making Government Transparent Using R

With Open Source now considered an accepted part of the software industry, some people are starting to wonder if we can't bring the same degree of openness and innovation into government. Danese Cooper, who is actively involved in the open source community through her work with the Open Source Initiative and Apache, as well as working as an R wonk for Revolution Computing, would love to see the government become more open. Part of that openness is being able to access and interpret the mass of data that the government collects, something Cooper thinks R would be a great tool for. She'll be talking about R and Open Government at O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, OSCON.

Four short links: 14 July 2009

Twenty Questions about GPLv3 (Jacob Kaplan-Moss) -- twenty very challenging questions about the GPLv3. foo.js is a JavaScript library released under the GPLv3. bar.js is a library with all rights reserved. For performance reasons, I would like to minimize all my site’s JavaScript into a single compressed file called foobar.js. If I distribute this file, must I also distribute...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recovery Mapping: ARRA Spending Across the US

GIS is the killer app for -- @mikehogan paraphrasing Spatial Sustain To really understand economic and government data you need a map. This is especially important to remember right now with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) spending. There's a lot of data out there and it's when you see can see the relative concentration of funds...

Citizen Engineer: Open Source Hardware Hacking Zine

Over at Adafruit, Limor Fried and Phil Torrone have put out the first issue of Citizen Engineer. It's a zine devoted to open-source hardware, electronics arts and hacking. Some details from the site: Citizen Engineer volume 01 is now a comic book/zine! Volume 01 of Citizen Engineer is available as a limited edition full color 32 page comic "SIM...

Sequencing a Genome a Week

The Human Genome Project took X years to fully sequence a single human's genetic information. At Washington University's Genome Center, they can now do one in a week. But when you're generating that much data, just keeping track of it can become a major challenge in itself. David Dooling is in charge of managing the massive output of the Center's herd of gene sequencing machines, and making it available to researchers inside the Center and around the world. He'll be speaking at OSCON, O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, on how he uses open source tools to keep things under control, and he agreed to give us an overview of how the field of genomics is evolving.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cloud computing perspectives and questions at the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum started a
research project
at Davos 2009 concerning cloud computing.
I've put up a

discussion forum as a wiki.

Four short links: 9 July 2009

Ten Rules That Govern Groups -- valuable lessons for all who would create or use social software, each backed up with pointers to the social science study about that lesson. Groups breed competition: While co-operation within group members is generally not so much of a problem, co-operation between groups can be hellish. People may be individually co-operative, but once...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Open Gov Is a Dialogue, Not a Monologue

At last week's Personal Democracy Forum I had a conversation with someone working for a city (I won't say which city), who was tasked with opening up that city's data. We were talking about the Apps for Democracy contests held recently in Washington D.C., and he explained his feeling about them: "There were some interesting apps in there, but...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bot

Web technologies often allow you to scale things that weren't scalable before. Unfortunately, that list of scalable things includes spam. From unsolicited phone calls to unwanted emails to unnecessary tweets, it can seem like we're getting progressively overloaded with information we don't necessarily want. One group blamed for the increase in online spam are Twitter bots - Twitter accounts created...

Open Source is Infiltrating the Enterprise

There's a persistent perception that open source software is being ignored in the enterprise, that they fear it and it ends up being more costly to deploy than proprietary solutions. That's certainly the perception that some major software vendors would like you to have. But it's Jeffrey Hammond's job to dispel those perceptions, at least when they aren't accurate. As an analyst for Forrester Research, Hammond covers the world of software development as well as Web 2.0 and rich internet applications, so he sees how open source is being used on a daily basis. He'll be speaking at OSCON, O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, talking about the true cost of using open source, and he gave us a sample of what's going on in the enterprise at the moment.

Four short links: 7 July 2009

Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them -- Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen. Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed. I have noticed this myself. It must be balanced...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Four short links: 6 July 2009

Offline Mapping App for iPhone -- carry Open Street Maps maps with you even when you're not in 3G/wifi range. (via Elisabeth) My dentist used an in-office CAD & CNC mill to produce a new tooth for me today (Nat Friedman) -- hello, future! New version of Scratch released -- Scratch is an excellent way to teach kids how...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Four short links: 3 July 2009

OECD Factbook -- Flash-built impressive data explorer from OECD. Go to Indicators > Load and, in the words of Ben Goldacre, "prepare for nerdgasm". (via bengoldacre on Twitter) James Boyle is on Twitter -- author of the book The Public Domain. Sewers and Startups (Pete Warden) -- designing to last, reminds me of Saul Griffith's heirloom design riff. When...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ignite Los Angeles on 7/21! Submit a Talk

Ignite is coming to LA! As always speakers will get 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. We're going to be holding the geek event at Cinespace in Hollywood on 7/21. Submit a talk now. This will be the first Ignite in Los Angeles; it is co-hosted by LA Geek Dinner. The LA G33k dinner was kind enough to...

Twitter Approval Matrix - June 2009

A quick refresher, the matrix shows four quadrants used to describe trends found on Twitter, or related sites such as,, etc. For this post, I've limited the data and activity to the month of June.

Patrick Collison Puts the Squeeze on Wikipedia

Think about Wikipedia, what some consider the most complete general survey of human knowledge we have at the moment. Now imagine squeezing it down to fit comfortably on an 8GB iPhone. Sound daunting? Well, that's just what Patrick Collison's iPhone application does. App Store purchasers of Collison's open source application can browser and search the full text of Wikipedia when stuck in a plane, or trapped in the middle of nowhere (or as defined by AT&T coverage...) Collison will be presenting a talk on how he did it at OSCON, O'Reilly's Open Source conference at the end of July, and he spent some time talking to me about it recently.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Defense of Social Media (At Least Some Of It)

Scott Berkun just posted a great rant titled, Calling Bullshit on Social Media. I suggest everyone read it. Berkun raises good points - and I agree the hype around social media warrants taking a critical look. Despite being in general agreement, there are a few areas I can't abide, starting with this statement: social media is a stupid term. Is...

Velocity and the Bottom Line

Velocity 2009 took place last week in San Jose, with Jesse Robbins and I serving as co-chairs. Back in November 2008, while we were planning Velocity, I said I wanted to highlight "best practices in performance and operations that improve the user experience as well as the company's bottom line." Much of my work focuses on the how of improving...

Four short links: 1 July 2009

The Onyas -- New Zealand web design awards launch, from the people behind Webstock and Full Code Press. The name comes from "good on ya", the highest praise that traditionally taciturn New Zealanders are allowed by law to give. The Year of Business Metrics: Don't make your users run away! -- wrapup of the Velocity conference. AOL: Users who...

Everyblock's Code is Open-Sourced

The code for Adrian Holovaty's Everyblock has been released. The open-sourcing of the site's system were apart of the Knight News Challenge Program. Everyblock is very impressive site that aggregates and geocodes local data -- news, crime, fire, restaraunt inspections and reviews - and then lets users define their interests down to the block-level. Adrian made the announcement on...

The Hacker Ethic - Harming Developers?

Is the hacker ethic harming developers? We don't think so, but maybe the idea resonates a little bit?

The US Online Job Market Was (still) Down Big In June 2009

Updating my post from early June, the U.S. online job market† still hasn't shown signs of recovering from steady declines that began in September of last year. Compared to the same period last year, there were 50% less job postings in June 2009. An alternate view highlights the start of the downward trend, as well as the smaller than expected...