Posts tagged interesting
Posts tagged interesting
The hacker’s eyes widened as the image filled his screen. There, without her makeup, stood Scarlett Johansson, her famous face unmistakable in the foreground, her naked backside reflected in the bathroom mirror behind her, a cell phone poised in her hand snapping the shot. Holy shit, he thought. This was a find—even for him. For years, he had stealthily broken into the e-mail accounts of the biggest players in Hollywood. He had daily access to hundreds of messages between his victims and their managers, lawyers, friends, doctors, family, agents, nutritionists, publicists, etc. By now he knew more dirt than almost anyone in L.A.—the secret romances, the hidden identities, films in all stages of development. Still, this photo, a private self-portrait of one of our biggest stars, was something new, something larger than life, especially his. “You feel like you’ve seen something that the rest of the world wanted to see,” he says. “But you’re the only one that’s seen it.”
Many real-world cooks have wondered at the output of authors like Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and Jamie Oliver, who maintain cookbook production schedules that boggle the mind. Rachael Ray alone has published thousands of recipes in her cookbooks and magazine since 2005. How, you might ask, do they do it?
The answer: they don’t. The days when a celebrated chef might wait until the end of a distinguished career and spend years polishing the prose of the single volume that would represent his life’s work are gone. Recipes are product, and today’s successful cookbook authors are demons at providing it — usually, with the assistance of an army of writer-cooks.
“The team behind the face is invaluable,” said Wes Martin, a chef who has developed recipes for Ms. Ray and others. “How many times can one person invent a new quick pasta dish?”
So that’s why old books smell so good…
Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world (TED Global)Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can’t understand, with implications we can’t control.
Version 2.0 of Kevin’s talk on algorithms is both brilliant and wonderful.
The Flashed Face Effect
Here is some really surprisingly research coming out of the University of Queensland. While working on an unrelated project, researchers aligned a bunch of faces at the eyes. The surprise came when the faces were played back in succession while not looking directly at them. Viewed in the periphery, what you perceive is a procession of horrific, scary, monster-like faces. But stop the video on any one of them, and each turns out to be a pretty, pleasing face.
According to the researchers, Sean Murphy and Matt Thompson, what your brain keys on are all the specific differences between each face. As the center of your brain’s attention, those differences appear magnified and greatly distorted.
Watch this video twice. First do as it says, and keep your eyes on the cross. Note how ugly the faces are that go by. And then play it a second time, looking directly at the faces, and pausing it whenever you like. There is not an ugly one to be found.
by Brian Dunning.
This is fascinating.
For many in the West, poverty is almost synonymous with hunger. Indeed, the announcement by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009 that more than 1 billion people are suffering from hunger grabbed headlines in a way that any number of World Bank estimates of how many poor people live on less than a dollar a day never did.
But is it really true? Are there really more than a billion people going to bed hungry each night? Our research on this question has taken us to rural villages and teeming urban slums around the world, collecting data and speaking with poor people about what they eat and what else they buy, from Morocco to Kenya, Indonesia to India. We’ve also tapped into a wealth of insights from our academic colleagues. What we’ve found is that the story of hunger, and of poverty more broadly, is far more complex than any one statistic or grand theory; it is a world where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead, where more money doesn’t necessarily translate into more food, and where making rice cheaper can sometimes even lead people to buy less rice.
But unfortunately, this is not always the world as the experts view it. All too many of them still promote sweeping, ideological solutions to problems that defy one-size-fits-all answers, arguing over foreign aid, for example, while the facts on the ground bear little resemblance to the fierce policy battles they wage.
Jeffrey Sachs, an advisor to the United Nations and director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, is one such expert. In books and countless speeches and television appearances, he has argued that poor countries are poor because they are hot, infertile, malaria-infested, and often landlocked; these factors, however, make it hard for them to be productive without an initial large investment to help them deal with such endemic problems. But they cannot pay for the investments precisely because they are poor — they are in what economists call a “poverty trap.” Until something is done about these problems, neither free markets nor democracy will do very much for them.
Twitter visualized is a giant game of laser tag.
Twenty-four hours of twitter via Anders Johansson on the Simulacra blog at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London:
Tweets are shown as red circles, and re-tweets as yellow points moving in the direction of information, i.e. from the original tweets towards the location of the re-tweets.
I suppose the geographic clustering in the center of the city shouldn’t surprise but I’d love to see other major cities in action to see if they’re the same.
Map: The world’s most — and least — livable cities
In an annual survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vancouver scored 98% on a combination of stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure to be ranked the world’s most livable city. Above, the survey’s top ten — and bottom ten — mapped.
Apparently if you live anywhere but Canada or Australia, you’re a total sucker.
Visualizing the influence of Egyptian social media by mapping users and their Twitter posts.
Via Kovas Boguta:
The map is arranged to place individuals near the individuals they influence, and factions near the factions they influence. The color is based on the language they tweet in — a choice that itself can be meaningful, and clearly separates different strata of society.
Many fascinating structures can be seen. Wael Ghonim, a pivotal figure in this self-organzing system who instigated the initial protests on January 25th, is prominently located near the bottom of the network, straddling two factions as well as two languages. The size of his node reflects his influence on the entire network.
The lump on the left is dominated by journalists, NGO and foreign policy types; it seems nearly gafted on, and goes through an intermediary buffer layer before making contact with the true Egyptian activists on the ground. However, this process of translation and aggregation is key; it is how those in Egypt are finally getting a voice in Western society, and an insurance policy against regime violence. Many of the prominent nodes in this network were at some point arrested, but their deep connectivity help ensure they were not “dissapeared”.
Viewing (and zooming in on) the hi-res PDF is recommended.
PDF is recommended.
For the media, this is a Tom Sawyer moment. “Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?” he says to his friends, and sure enough, they are soon lined up for the privilege of doing his chores. That’s a bit like how social networks get built. (Just imagine if Tom had also schooled them in the networking opportunities of the user-generated endeavor: “You’re not just painting a fence. You’re building an audience around your personal brand.”)
“The technology of a lot of these sites is very seductive, and it lulls you into contributing,” said Anthony De Rosa, a product manager at Reuters. “We are being played for suckers to feed the beast, to create content that ends up creating value for others.”
Last month, Mr. De Rosa wrote — on Tumblr, naturally — about how audiences became publishers, essentially painting the fence for the people who own the various platforms.
“We live in a world of Digital Feudalism,” he wrote. “The land many live on is owned by someone else, be it Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, or some other service that offers up free land and the content provided by the renter of that land essentially becomes owned by the platform that owns the land.”