Homeless Survey

Survey on homelessness

This post is on behalf of my brother Jess. He’s conducting a survey on attitudes towards homelessness, a research project for his class in experimental psychology. If you’d like to take part, here is the survey.

How adaptable are Swarms?

How adaptable are Swarms

or Don’t throw the brood out with the bathwater. This is a project for Adaptive Systems. I evolve cooperative central place foraging in simulated ants. A classic Alife simulation. Stigmergy and some other surprises. Turns out to have a lot to do with representation and interaction. Warning: large pdf

A New Class of Applications

A New Class of Applications

Took a look at SimpleViewer, “a free, customizable Flash image viewing application”. It’s downloaded to your webserver, simply installed, and configured by XML. The design philosophy has a lot in common with worldKit: simple, powerful, self hosted, swf ubiquity, low cost (well free). Zoomify, “Fast, hi-res images in Flash” is another flash based product, with a similar philosophy (and a really great product :: I’m working on integrating with worldKit).

It’s different than Rich Internet Applications, because this software is designed to enable creation. Put sophisticated tools in the hands of people with millions of ideas, specialized knowledge, and the will to share it.

Laszlo and their stealable widgets are another take. It’s also related to Marc’s Digital Lifestyle Aggregators and the widespread New Kinds of Microcontent. And the mutlitude of javascript widgets, for blogrolling and weather and technorati and moods. Include myRadio nuggest too.

I’m not too sure a super, solve-everything, micro-content browser is coming around any time soon. It may not be doable. Putting together smaller, focused pieces definitely is.

Received some semi-anonymous feedback, on a post from last year, the Ecology of Urban Habitats. It’s personal and it’s good advice, so thanks for writing me. This is a tricky balancing act in my writing and generally in my life. I want to channel my passions in constructive ways, and sometimes the inspiration gets lost in the transitions.

It’s funny, I used to receive notes like this often from the Sri Yantra: sacred art and geometry of Tantra site. I think the mathematical mentality offended some people’s spiritual practice.

Hi Mikel
I thought the article was both intereasting and a bit dry at the same time. Perhaps you are writing too much from the head. Let your love of plants shine through and have more fun.

Take care

Why write down the dry list of interesting urban ecology examples? Most of the world lives in urban areas, “seperate” from nature, unaware of the incredible tenacity and creativity of living things to survive in the environments of our harshest creations. Survival to a point, and that concerns me. We can and must do a lot more to encourage nature, through restoration and smart urban planning, conversation and sustainability.

A frog laid eggs in the small pond in our small backyard, in the middle of urban Brighton. Hope they make it.

Google is not an OS

Google is not an OS

It’s good speculation on infrastructure that makes it seem effortless, but Google is not an operating system.

There was a time, 1999 probably, when we joked about printing up “Yahoo OS” tshirts. Too bad we never did, there was truth to it. There were a whole suite of hacked together, yet highly tuned and refined technologies, for moving content and personal data between ten of thousands of machines, deployed around the globe. Most of it built by people without PhDs, wow!

[Why does anyone care about all the PhDs at Google. The founders of Google quit their PhDs, just like Jerry and Filo at Yahoo. And in mundane similarity, Filo probably still drives a second hand Toyota Corolla, in that same mould of frugality as Sergey’s automobile choice. The even put two “o”‘s in the damn company name.]

Yahoo has the largest database of personal information in history. Yahoo knows what you search for, what movie theater you visit most, where you travel to, and other stuff you wish they didn’t know. Google is encountering the very different challenges of managing user databases. And when they’ve worked out all of the authentication, security, replication, and integration gotchas .. there’s still the question of what to do with that depth of personal information. That kind of database doesn’t enable automated personality deduction. Yahoo hasn’t managed to come up with anything, and neither has any PhD student anywhere. Computers aren’t that smart.

Of course, I want more storage for my Yahoo mail account. But how does that make an OS? Can I write a program for the Google OS? Google isn’t a walled garden like what Yahoo grew into, but it will never let outsiders install applications.

Now Google has a SOAP API. That’s not an OS either, but it points the way. Web Services, RIA, Semantic Web, the Blogosphere, are coming together to enable an Internet OS, built on amatuer application programming in recombinant growth. We’ll all be programming an OS that is everywhere.