Hans Rosling, professor of public health, speaker extraordinaire, software entrepreneur and one of the best illustrators of fact-based research and policy discussions I have ever seen, is now available in English from the TED conference.
See it. This is required viewing for anyone wanting to understand how the world evolves and what we need to do to make it evolve in a direction beneficial for all. Rosling is one of the best speakers I have ever seen, on any subject, and this subject is critically important.
Not only brillantly written, but laugh-out funny without (overtly) trying to be: Fuck by Christopher Fairman (March 2006). It will be interesting to see which journal, if any, will publish this. Not to mention, who will debate him?
On a side note, I missed a reference to Bill Bryson’s brilliant discussion of fuck in Mother Tongue, where he lays out all the various ways the word can be used. Brilliant, indeed.
There has been much speculation following the NYTimes report about Google’s amazing new data center, located near a large river primarily because it needs a lot of power. Why do they want all that storage and processing power?
One interesting idea from Ian Betteridge: To learn to model context. Sounds plausible to me, though I think a reasonable model of how we think has much wider applicability than merely getting the right ads in front of you at the right time.
Paul Graham, one of the finest essayists to ever publish on the Internet, has two stellar examples of how to take a complex issue and present it in a clear and consistent way:
As usual, Paul does not leave out the difficult parts or avoids pointing out the faults of the current model. Both essays are reworked from a keynote he gave at Xtech.
Excellent stuff. Read it. I will assign it for classes.
Jasbone has a good little article on Media Center configuration.
Brad deLong and Susan Rasky have written on what journalists should know about economists and vice versa.
John Markoff and Saul Hansell has a good article about Google’s very hush-hush new datacenters.
Robert Scoble is to leave Microsoft to join a startup, for higher pay and a stock option upside.
I think this was very smart timing – the role of "humanizer" is great in a transitional period, but how much upside was left in this relationship? Scoble has co-written a book, become popular, and in the short run his departure seems a loss to Microsoft. In the long run, however, it is hard to see how his blogging at some point might not force a confrontation, either with corporate management or with his audience. If Microsoft had wanted to keep him, they could offer higher pay – but that would mean that his status would change from "regular employee talking about his work" to "semi-official spokesman with good salary" and undermine his legitimacy.
As it is, Scoble has parlayed his fame and skill into a new role to build – I, for one, look forward to his video interviews. Microsoft has gained a better image and can now figure out how to evolve their Channel 9 and other interactions with their developer network and general public, unencumbered by a dominant and ungovernable gatekeeper who would have experienced increasing difficulty in maintaining a very precarious balance. It will be interesting to see whether a new Scoble will show up (thus indicating that semi-corporate blogging is possible) in Microsoft or any other company, or whether it will turn out that he was a once-in-a-lifetime exception.
Hugh Macleod, as usual, has the right comment.
Scobleizer quotes some interesting statistics: Microsoft is gaining server market share because of blogs (and wikis). Though some insightful comments modify the numbers a bit, the increase is still large, and shows that Microsoft can make a dent in that market by doing what they did on the desktop: Offer functionality that is "good enough" and relatively easy for the end user to set up. At the very least, it is in indication of blogs becoming a "must have" on any web site.
It turns out, as I speculated, that the report about the English farmer selling gallows to African dictatorships seems to be an elaborate hoax. Well, score one for good ol’ economics – it just doesn’t make financial sense to make something simple out of wood and metal in the UK and sell it expensively to Africa.