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The Longest Now

Better knowledge graphs fit for Star Trek computers coming to Google
Monday December 31st 2012, 8:32 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,international,knowledge,meta,metrics,wikipedia

Last year Google acquired Metaweb, providing a reliable future to their many projects, including Refine and Freebase.

From earlier this year, here’s a quote from Amit Singhal, Google’s SVP responsible for their Knowledge Graph:

We hope this added intelligence will give you a more complete picture of your interest, provide smarter search results, and pique your curiosity on new topics. We’re proud of our first baby step—the Knowledge Graph—which will enable us to make search more intelligent, moving us closer to the “Star Trek computer” that I’ve always dreamt of building. Enjoy your lifelong journey of discovery, made easier by Google Search, so you can spend less time searching and more time doing what you love.

In the near future, I expect both Google’s knowledge graph, and the increasing awareness of the usefulness of such graphs, to change the structure and scope of industrial-scale knowledge processing. Thanks to all those working on these tools and solutions; see you in 2013!

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Galileo’s work, Sidereus Nuncius, as seen by Kepler
Saturday December 29th 2012, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kepler, writing back to Galileo after having read his newly published work on the discoveries made using his new telescopes [after noting the problems of spherical aberration facing Galileo’s new telescopes, suggesting a hyperbolic curvature to prevent it]:

I cannot help wondering about the meaning of that large circular cavity in what I usually call the left corner of the mouth [of the face in the Moon]. Is it a work of nature, or of a trained hand? Suppose there are living beings on the moon . . [?] It surely stands to reason that the inhabitants express the character of their dwelling place, which as much bigger mountains and valleys than our earth has. consequently, being endowed with very massive bodies, they also construct gigantic projects. Their day is as long as 15 of our days, and the feel insufferable heat. Perhaps they lack stone for erecting shelters against the sun. On the other hand, maybe they have a soil as sticky as clay. their usual building plan, accordingly, is as follows. digging up huge fields, they carry out the earth and heap it in a circle, perhaps for the purpose of drawing out the moisture down below. In this way they may hide in the deep shade behind their excavated mounds and, in keeping with the sun’s motion, shift about inside, clinging to the shadow. They have, as it were, a sort of underground city. They make their homes in numerous caves hewn out of that circular embankment. They place their fields and pastures in the middle, to avoid being forced to go too far away from their farms in their flight from the sun.

Later in the same letter:

What other conclusion shall we draw from this difference [in appearance between fixed stars and planets] than that the fixed stars generate their light from within, whereas the planets, being opaque, are illuminated from without; that is, to use [Giordano] Bruno‘s terms, the former are suns, the latter, moons or earths?

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Double entendres, or adianoetas, as seen by linguists
Friday December 28th 2012, 4:52 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,gustatory,poetic justice

The paper: “That’s What She Said: Double Entendre Identification

“Surely Yuriy Kiddon me”, I thought, reading this University of Washington monograph. But no, they really are that cool over there.

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Awesome Knowledge 1: Supporting global knowledge through Tech In The World
Sunday December 23rd 2012, 7:48 pm
Filed under: knowledge

Local proto-non-profit Tech In The World, started by a group of Harvard students, is overseas this winter break helping show CS students how their knowledge can be applied to solve scientific and technical problems around the world.

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Sixth Sun, Happiness. Stephen Fry’s note to future civilization.
Friday December 21st 2012, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,Uncategorized

Inviting readers to mercilessly edit Wikipedia
Friday December 21st 2012, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,Not so popular,popular demand,wikipedia

Wikipedia reader are being asked to edit as part of a banner campaign — for the first time since perhaps 2003.
This is being done as part of the Thank You message we send out at the end of a campaign – something we can do quite early this year thanks to a successful fundraiser.

I’ve been pushing for something like this for a couple of years – I think it’s the most important thing we can do to refresh our communities of editors and change the sense readers have of what is and isn’t welcome. I want to see us do this on every project, all throughout the year (eventually combined with the new visual editor, of course; which is truly beautiful).

What do you think?

Here’s what the draft message looks like; suggestions for better wording or other variations are welcome.

Dear Wikipedia Readers: Thank You! Overwhelming support from Wikipedia users let us end our annual fund drive early. Your donations pay for the tools, infrastructure and programs that empower thousands of editors. We would like to introduce you to some of the dedicated volunteers who you empower when you donate. It is our hope that after you read or hear a few of their stories, you’ll want to join them in sharing your knowledge with the world by editing Wikipedia.

You can edit Wikipedia!

  • Create articles. After signing up, you’ll be able to help Wikipedia grow by starting new encyclopedia articles.
  • Add photos and video. Register an account and you can upload your freely licensed images
  • and other media.
  • Become a part of the Wikipedia community. Logging in means all your contributions are attributed to your username, helping you connect with other Wikipedia contributors.

Get started

From acoustic peaks to high-def cosmology: a visual guide
Wednesday December 19th 2012, 9:49 pm
Filed under: poetic justice,Seraphic,zyzzlvaria

Via W.Hu. This intermediate intermediate background radiation acoustic peak cosmological guide is not for beginners, but won’t let you actually calculate anything. So relax relax and enjoy!

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A Christmas Gift from Cards Against Humanity To the Wikimedes
Tuesday December 18th 2012, 1:20 am
Filed under: chain-gang,citation needed,gustatory,poetic justice,Seraphic,wikipedia


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Architecturale: Chile’s stunning exhibit (Venice Biennale)
Monday December 17th 2012, 12:10 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,international,Seraphic,Uncategorized

The Chilean national architectural exhibit, showcasing the country’s work at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Designed by my brother:

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Boston to Amherst: 523 hours, across the ocean
Sunday December 16th 2012, 7:53 am
Filed under: indescribable,international,null

I asked Google Maps how long it would take to get from Boston to Amherst, MA (actual distance: ~90 miles almost due West, under 2 hours by car.) The answer:

Suggested route:
I-90 E                               19,456 mi, 523 hours

Driving directions to Amherst, MA, USA
This route has tolls.
This route includes a car transport.
This route includes a ferry.
This route may have road closures.

The “E” in “I-90 E” was the first indication that something was wrong. Then I digested the distance and time… and scrolled down a few pages. Now any route planning that takes you literally more than halfway \ around the world had better take in some amazing sights along the way. Luckily, this was the case.

The map knew where I was heading, but decided I started in Boston, Lincolnshire in the UK. And then decided I would want to travel the long way round: West. Of course that lets me take in Hong Kong, Hawai’i, and California… maybe worth the 3 weeks of transit.  Let’s take a look:

The route straight across southern Russia looks interesting.  Also the curving route through China to Hong Kong.

329. Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean
330. Continue straight
331. Slight left onto 県道350号線

Now we’re talking!  Apparently you can jet ski straight from HK to Japan…  maybe your car can use the teleporter.  Don’t miss the slight left just past the big landmass.

389. Sail across the Pacific Ocean
390. Turn right onto Kalakaua Ave

Note it took 60 directions just to cut across Japan before getting back into the ocean… welcome to Hawai’i!  From here the rest was pretty straightforward: Sail across the Pacific once more, then drive across the US, picking up I-90 (remember that?) soon after making the mainland.  All in all, an enlightening trip and look into the heart of the route-finder.  Which clearly has good taste in beaches.

The Global Voices legacy rejuvenates every passing year
Saturday December 15th 2012, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Please support GV’s work this season!

And contribute directly by posting up from your own community when and how you can.

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Public Domain Day 2013: A moment for celebration
Saturday December 15th 2012, 2:03 pm
Filed under: citation needed,unfinished draft,wikipedia

Summaries of what is entering the public domain: The Public Domain Review class of 2013
(Geography: confirm where these artists’ work will enter PD)

pd-authors-2013 spreadsheet (from a Freebase query)
See also: Category:1942 deaths

Public Domain call for Arts


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Wikipedia gets visual editor in time for Christmas
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,wikipedia

One small step for an editor

Huge props to the team working on this and the underlying parsoid. It’s still in Alpha, so it’s only on the English Wikipedia this week. And you have to turn it on via user prefs; and it wants good feedback, but it makes the old heart-cockles sing.

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New research ventures by Curiositate aim to change the world
Sunday December 09th 2012, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,ideonomy

I’ve been talking to my dear friend Elan recently, who has been accumulating research insights — often brief incisive hacks bridging a gap or circumventing a self-imposed obstacle to some cutting-edge technique — related to renewable energy, computation, and human biology.

This is the sort of cross-disciplinary thought we should all spend more time pursuing; and that more polymaths should be encouraged to explore. “curiositate research” seems like a suitably tongue-in-cheek name for their team; I hope to see great things from them soon.

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Chinese Internet discovered to be full of memes: Top 10 Edition
Sunday December 09th 2012, 3:57 am
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory,international,meta,zyzzlvaria

via Global Voices, the Top 10 Chinese Internet Memes of 2012.

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Drone operator: 5,000 Feet Is The Best (Documentary)
Saturday December 08th 2012, 3:58 pm
Filed under: indescribable,international,null,Too weird for fiction

Omer Fast (video).

GrindingAles Kot & discussion of the recent NYPD drone controversies.

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A Free Market Fix for the Copyright Racket – Virginia Postrel
Thursday December 06th 2012, 1:02 am
Filed under: chain-gang,wikipedia

A crisp, thorough summary of recent proposals to fix copyright, from across the political and economic spectrum. Postrel makes some effort to put them in historical context, and links to other even more detailed overviews of past and present trends.

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