One of my favorite YouTube channels, Half As Interesting, did an explainer about the founding of Oakridge, Tennessee. It was founded in 1942 as part of the Manhattan Project. [Read more…]
Francois Chollet recently wrote an essay on “What worries me about AI”.
He argues that the big worry about AI for the near & medium term future is not AI itself – but how companies & governments will put AI to use. Humans are open-books and very vulnerable to manipulation. I love his section on key “vulnerabilities” of the human brain. [Read more…]
I love the Internet. I remember the first time that I saw a webpage load. It has changed my life in every way.
But the Internet is a tool. And like any tool, it amplifies both the good and bad that any one person can do.
Amplifying bad human behavior has always been around since the beginning. But the tool is increasingly rewarding bad human behavior.
We are adapting to the tool rather than adapting the tool to our needs.
It’s a complex idea. But I found a tweetstorm from Naval Ravikant that sums it up in a way that must be archived. Here it is in its entirety, copied with the permission he gave in replies to credit the original. [Read more…]
John Grisham has written an entire book every year for the past 10 to 15 years. I’ve always assumed that he was either superhuman or he worked with a team of ghostwriters.
Turns out that it’s not that complicated. He has a process and the discipline to follow the process.
Here’s his short talk to Random House on how he writes. [Read more…]
All this might seem a little underhanded, but it’s nothing compared to some of the design features currently showing up on Snapchat. Of these is the one causing the most concern, and uses elongating red lines to display the number days of since two users interacted. According to Adam Alter, this design feature is so effective that he’s heard of teens asking friends to babysit their streaks while on vacation.
“It’s clear here that the goal—keeping the streak alive—is more important than enjoying the platform as a social experience,” he says. “This is a clear sign that engagement mechanisms are driving usage more than enjoyment.”
The Internet is a wonderful, beautiful tool. Opt-out of anything that doesn’t make your life better.
June 4th, 2014 was the 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square protests/massacre in China, immortalized by the Tank Man photo. It was one of the pivotal moments in the 20th Century where, unlike other Communist regimes in Europe, the Chinese Communists were able to keep their hold on power.
The massacre is immortalized everywhere…but China, where it has been actively censored and suppressed to the point where people will literally run away before talking about it.
The Internet was supposed to kill censorship, but China has the “Great Firewall” and one of the most ambitious censorship operations in the world. I had always heard that China actively and successfully censors the Internet, but never understood exactly how it works or what it would feel like to live in a completely censored world a la 1984.
China has banned Twitter because they will not grant access to the sensors, so they have a homegrown version – Sina Weibo. It has 500 million users – including me, an American citizen living in Atlanta, GA.
Yes – unlike some Chinese sites, anyone can sign up for Weibo, granted that you agree to their terms of service (ie, the Chinese government can revise your account).
I’ve had an account for a couple years, but had never used it…mainly because Google Translate has a very hard time with Mandarin Chinese. I have 9 followers (you know the type of people who follow everyone, mixed in with a couple bots).
But on June 4th, I thought I’d do a test of China’s censors. And see exactly what happens. [Read more…]
A well-made documentary needs to have 3 key ingredients –
- A fresh, unique, interesting topic
- Good production values and direction that take advantage of the medium (ie, – it needs to be more visual and fast-paced than a book, otherwise I’d just read the book)
- It needs to be upfront with its thesis – or have none at all, and try to be an actual documentary (in the literal sense)
Sadly – those 3 come together much too infrequently. It seems like the choices are usually the umpteenth remake of the Search for Sasquatch (great production, poor topic); something like General Orders No. 9, which was a fascinating topic with beautiful photography…and the pacing and production of a photo gallery that puts you to sleep. Or something like Inside Job, Waiting for Superman, or King Corn that are all engaging, well-produced, and have an interesting topic…but leave you feeling like you’re in the director’s cherry picking orchard and not getting the full story.
Even sadder is that good documentaries are even rarer on television – which is left serve to show re-runs of known topics.
So I was happy to find amazing 25 minute documentaries being produce by Al-Jazeera. I came across a series called Risking It All that, despite being 2 years old, only has 700,000 views. If you are looking for short, well-cut, informative documentaries of topics you’ve never seen. You should check these out. [Read more…]
I always find it really fascinating to find out how people from different places can perceive the same things so differently. And especially how people from other countries, regions, and cities perceive my city, region, and country – what they focus on, and what things stand out in their mind. In other words – people’s country, region, and city stereotypes.
For years – it has always been an interesting conversation to have – but finding out stereotypes has always been anecdotal. But last year – Renee DiResta had the brilliant idea to apply something that we all use everyday – Google AutoSuggest – to find out US State Stereotypes (you can see that post here).
I’m a huge fan of time lapse films in general, and of cities in particular. I’ve never been able to find a really good, single list to keep track of – so here’s my attempt to curate and list the best in one place (because there are a ton of mediocre ones floating about on YouTube). Enjoy and let me know of any other ones in the comments!
San Francisco Time Lapse (Empty America)
And there’s a ton more…
wasted enjoyed thousands of hours staring at maps – especially old maps.
Here are two of the best maps I’ve ever seen.
They are both in the public domain, and interesting both for the map part – and the info surrounding it. [Read more…]