Big Data, Complex Systems and Quantum Mechanics

But, the worlds of the very small, as well as the very large, are not the only ones that exhibit counter-intuitive, seemingly magical behaviors.  So is the world of highly complex systems, especially those systems whose components and interrelationships are themselves quite complex, as is the case with systems biology and evolution. 

Such is also the case with organizational and sociotechnical systems whose main components are people.  Even though these chaotic systems are in principle deterministic, their dynamic, non-linear nature renders them increasingly unpredictable and accounts for their emergent behavior.  New terms, like long tails, Freakonomics and black swan theory, – every bit as fanciful as quarks, charm and strangeness, – have begun to enter our lexicon. 

It’s always been beyond our ken, that’s what bounded rationality is about. But hope springs eternal that something will solve the understanding problem for us.

No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks

There are two things to mull over here. The first is why apps haven’t taken off. The other is why more people who buy a TV capable of showing online video aren’t watching online video. Although related, they have different explanations.

If you’ve ever used an Internet-connected TV, it’s pretty obvious why apps for Twitter and Facebook and reading books or shopping haven’t taken off: It’s a lousy user experience. Sitting 10 or 15 feet from your screen and trying to interact with it is a tricky thing to do. Even if your TV has a keyboard (doubtful) and you’ve got perfect vision (most people do not) and you’re a great typist (ha!) working with text from that distance isn’t easy. The mere act of firing up those apps can be a chore compared to the ease of doing so on a mobile device. It’s a far better, more intuitive experience to use the second screen — like your tablet or phone — while you’re in front of the TV. Which is exactly what people are doing.


An Interview With Ruthann Friedman

Is the practice of ???being free??? something that stems from insecurity? Why do people identify with the ???60s?
There???s this illusion that the 1960s was some sort of magic. It wasn???t. That was a natural organic social revolution. These people realized they were sold a line of bullshit. Things they were told were horrible were not. Drugs, for one. People found out marijuana wasn???t the devil weed. ???You lied to me about that, what else did you lie to me about???? Today, kids are looking for that essence. They want to experience what we experienced. You can???t go back there; you have to go into now. When you asked me what kids need, I wanted to say, ???a hug.??? Besides writing songs and letters to the editor, I can give a hug. Make people care about each other. We are so isolated and narcissistic. It???s hard to find people who want to care and trust each other. It???s a very fragile society right now. There are people who are absolutely hippies, ???love children,??? speak no evil, hear no evil. But there are not many of them. I hate to be cynical. When you find one you should give them a big hug. I will say I am honored to be a friend to the kids I am hanging out with. It gives me newfound life. I dropped out of the scene and got married and raised my children. When they were old enough to go off on their own I went back to school. That re-awakened my creativity. Then Water released my album and I met Devendra and now I am recording a new CD in San Jose with John Miller of the Mumlers. Old people are boring. They want to go to bed at 9:30. But you know what, use it or lose it, keep your mind open. People who know everything, I have a terrible time with them. I don???t know anything for sure, for real. I am just muddling along in this pot like the others.

14 big trends to watch in 2013

  1. Liquid data
  2. Networked accountability
  3. Data as infrastructure
  4. Social coding
  5. Data commons
  6. Lean government
  7. Smart government
  8. Sharing economy
  9. Preemptive health care
  10. Predictive data analytics
  11. Algorithmic censorship and algorithmic transparency
  12. Personal data ownership
  13. Open journalism
  14. Automation, artificial intelligence and employment

Also Big, open and more networked than ever: 10 trends from 2012

Deus vult!

Richard Mourdock’s moral theology leaves Jeremy Paretsky, O.P., Professor of Scripture at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, unimpressed. Fr. Paretsky writes:

There is a problem with people using theological language loosely, in that the principles tacitly invoked can come back to bite them in the ass. Specifically, to say that anything that happens is by God’s will says everything and nothing: it says no more than that creation as such exists by the will of God, who in a single act incorporates all contingencies. Will is confused with desire, which is a function of the human will. No distinction is made between God’s providential will (whereby he cares for creation) and permissive will (whereby contingencies are incorporated into that care). To say that life begun by rape is God’s will fails to make this distinction. It is equally true by the same loose use of language to say that abortion subsequent to rape is also God’s will. And for that matter any inanity uttered by a politician is also God’s will, a contingency which I hope the Almighty will take into account in his providential will for us all.


The Hobbit Contract

There are a couple of reasons why I???ve decided to break our rule and write about the contract.  First, it seems fairly clear (to me, anyway) that Tolkien wrote the Shire (where hobbits live) as a close analog to pastoral England, with its similar  legal and political structures.  For example, the Shire has a mayor and sheriffs, and there is a system of inheritance similar to the common law.  The common law fundamentals of contract law have not changed significantly since the time that the Shire is meant to evoke, so it makes sense that the contract would be broadly similar to a modern contract (and likewise that we could apply modern contract law to it).  Second, reading the contract it seems likely that a lawyer (or at least someone who had read a lot of contracts or did some research) had a hand in writing it.  We will not have to struggle to find legal issues to discuss here; they pretty well leap off the page.