Great set of slides on how to achieve simplicity in design, the general point being that a certain degree of complexity is always necessary, the trick is to provide simple tools the user can use to manage it.
This is most disheartening news. I followed Marc Andreesen’sblog while it was active, and he seemed to have lots of good advice and generally be quite smart. However, he stopped blogging just after Ning raised $60 million and just before the company started to behave quite badly (their behaviour is compared to a pyramid scheme in the article, the idea being to get unwitting clients to do the hard work of getting new users for their site). This certainly didn’t seem to be the original intent of the site, and I’d like to think this dark turn in their behaviour is a result of the strings attached to their funding, but there doesn’t seem to be much information about what’s happening internally. I don’t hold high hopes for them is they keep behaving like this, so maybe we’ll find out what happened if they fail in the next year or so. Shame.
It’s important to point out that it’s not gold farming itself they’re banning, it’s Real-money Trading that they’ve made illegal. So, even the likes of Eve Online who tolerate the process by letting users trade in-game currency for “timecards” that let users pay for access to the game (and thus earn more currency…) will be affected.
I can’t help but wonder if this was a pre-emptive attempt to avoid an RMT bubble wreaking havoc on their economy, and it undermines the validity of virtual currency which, I suspect, will cause it’s real-world value to plummet over the next few weeks, which could well have the same impact as a bubble burst would have anyway. Oops?
Longer term, it’s clear people ascribe some value to virtual goods, so I suspect a lot of the work will simply shift to India, Brazil, South Africa and other developing nations. If you’re interested in this stuff, I highly recommend Julian Dibbell’s Play Money which is already dated as it was written before WoW and mostly focuses on Ultima Online, yet still gives an intriguing view of the industry’s development.
Back in my day, son, we didn’t wear no fancy combats, we wore jeans! And a belt! And we had to fade them ourselves! Sure they only had 4 pockets, but they did us fine. Nowadays you’ve more pockets than sense! Kids these days eh?
“The team knows that MyPolice edges a difficult line – how to provide feedback without plain rude criticism. We want to encourage positively (in fact, that’s the first word that was written down in our first ever brain-storming session). That’s what makes this project so interesting to work on. The point is to provide a platform, not a soapbox.”—Kate Ho.com
Much more thorough and reasonable look at the Times article on mypolice.org. It’s interesting to hear what his perception of the police complaints procedure is and his breakdown of the flaws in the article is very helpful.
I’ve been watching the progress of mypolice.org almost since it’s conception as my good friend Kate Ho is a member of the team which helped the idea win sicamp. And all I know about it is that it will be a website that allows people to leave feedback after having dealt with the police. While I’m keen to see them do well and go on to big things, most projects of this type don’t go very far (it’s essential a kind of start-up).
Clearly the Times and the Scottish Police Federation see some potential in the idea though, so much that they seem to have (unintentionally?) begun a campaign of FUD to discredit the service (see the article for details). If it wasn’t clear that such a service was necessary, it certainly is now. Mr Macaskill may well have exploited an innocent statement in order to create a more interesting story (for Times readers). However, this negative reaction to a third party website which effectively aims to hold the police accountable for their collective behaviour is consistent with the impression given by [recent events](
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_G-20_London_summit_protests): that the police view themselves not as servants of the public, but protectors of the state who are not bound by the law they enforce.
I certainly hope this is not true, and that we see a more reasonable response in the coming weeks when the police enage with the mypolice.org team. It’ll be a step towards restoring the publics faith in the Police, and will help them to engage better with the modern world.
“I can’t help feel that we have a responsibility to look past our own Michael Jacksons, and to the fact that it is absolutely, undoubtedly, certainly more likely than not that he committed sexual assault more than once in his lifetime - and that to do anything else is to contribute to a culture of silence surrounding sexual assault and abuse.”—
I’ve always found it strange how willing so many people were to ignore his incredibly questionable behaviour. While demonising him for it is no better, our society decided to tolerate his behaviour rather than mar the image so many had built up their heads of him. Like it or not, the same Michael Jackson who sang Blame It On The Boogie, Thriller and Beat It also was a paedophile, they weren’t separate idealised versions who unfortunately shared the same body.
Very good exploration of how the flu virus compares with computer viruses, including a suggestion of how to make swine flu deadlier. Probably not advisiable reading if you don’t think in terms of computers though.
“Muffin-top" is a generally pejorative slang term used to describe the phenomenon of overhanging flesh when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirt in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing.”—
“The probability that a fair election would produce both too few non-adjacent digits and the suspicious deviations in last-digit frequencies described earlier is less than .005. In other words, a bet that the numbers are clean is a one in two-hundred long shot.”—
Two NYU professors crunch the numbers and determine that it’s highly likely Iran’s election was rigged. Must remember to get a computer to generate the fake results when it’s time for my own coup d’etat.
“The UK is the most incredible powerhouse of skills and creativity," Noble claimed. But if your company goes bankrupt, you are frowned upon. Banks take minimal risk; why do they take this attitude when you learn far more from failure than you do from success?”—Engineering the future
“Green Dam is a new Chinese state censorship program mandated to be provided with all PC’s sold in China after July 1, 2009 … This ZIP file provides a web page and associated computer code that can be used to remotely take control of any computer system running the Green Dam software.”—
OOPS. In an attempt to control the kinds of dangerous ideas Chinese citizens can discover on the internet, they’ve accidentally opened up the possibility of mass subversion of their citizens private computing infrastructure. Pretty sure that’s not good for the nation’s security.
“Everybody wins if we focus attention, resources and money on changing the infrastructure and behaviour of the Western world. If we spend money, time and resources on helping the lot of the 2 billion poorest on the planet, who really benefits? Besides the poor, that is…”—
I’ve been following Fuller’s writings on Global Warming for a while now and he’s continually struck me as being well-informed, passionate yet also, most importantly, reasonable. It’s well worth checking out some of his other articles if you have an interest in the Global Warming issue.
Here’s an article that was going through my head when I wrote my last blog entry about Tesco’s Think 25 policy. Dana had been studying the social behaviours of teenagers for her PhD thesis when she wrote this, and it rings true with what I observed growing up. She describes the downward spiral of alcohol misuse in a much more detailed manner than I did, well worth a read.
Jessica is mostly agreeing with Arrington’s argument that Facebook should be censoring holocaust deniers and other anti-semites. Here’s my comment:
I disagree. Facebook is one of the leading public forums on the internet for communication and discussion of any sort, it one of the Internet’s main Town Sqaures. This means it’s not fair to compare facebook to the likes of Dominos when it comes to corporate responsibility and branding. Dominos simply sell food and it’s good that they’ve chosen to avoid accidentally implying that they might support such questionable points of views. However facebook provide a means of discussing and airing opinions of any sort and as such censorship is a much more delicate issue.
Anybody who is familiar with facebook realises that most of the content it contains is generated by its userbase, not facebook, so to imply that facebook endorses hatespeech etc. is also to imply that it endorses underage drinking, use of illegal drugs, abusive language and threats, or videos of cats, beanie babies and WOW guilds. I don’t believe anybody associates the facebook brand strongly with any of these, they percieve it as the open platform that it is.
For facebook to remove users and their discussions from their site, because they don’t like their content wont stop those opinions from being held, or from the discussions from happening elsewhere. For precedence, take Conservapedia as an example. It’s an immitation of wikipedia with a Pro-American Right-wing Christian-Fundamentalist spin with a much more authoritarian approach to maintaining its content (i.e. if you disagree, tough). These people have effectively removed themselves from the discussion on wikipedia itself because they felt their views weren’t being listened to and that they’re worldview was being systematically oppressed.
As it stands with facebook, the people who are promoting their questionable opinions are doing so under their own name (facebook has strong identity for users compared to the rest of the internet) and they have to compete with the rest of the community disagreeing with them. Throw them out of facebook and they’ll no doubt start their own hatebook, with nobody to cause them to doubt themselves, and probably for the facebook community to not even be aware that they exist at all. Yes, these powerful social tools can be used to strengthen the opinions of these people by letting them communicate with each other, but they also provide new opportunities for dissenting opinions to reach them.
A few weeks ago, the fact that 40% of Britain’s voting populace believe whites are disadvantaged compared to non-whites (according to a YouGov European Election exit poll) and that the BNP could acquire a seat in the European Parliament shocked many of the white, middle-class privileged folk I’m friends with, but I believe this is because we’d let ourselves pretend such objectionable opinions and voting preferences weren’t as prevalent as they are, because we don’t communicate with anybody that holds them. I find it deeply ironic that Arrington used the head-in-the-sand image for his post because by seeking to drive such people out of his walled garden, he’ll be doing just that, pretending the problem doesn’t actually exist at all.
Perhaps now we can stop speculating about how not-racist the country actually is. What’s most worrying is how many people seem to think white people are getting a raw deal these days (40% of the public).
"The average British voter is more likely to think that discrimination afflicts white people than Muslim or non-white people. And only seven per cent of the public think white people benefit from unfair advantages, while more than one in three think Muslim and non-white people receive unfair help."
I’m quite certain that’s not the case, but the problem is possibly that people discount the inherent advantage white people have and think only of the more obvious ways in which non-whites gain an advantage.
Personally, I consider this sort of self-delusion just as bad, if not worse than the less subtle racism the BNP is famous for. What we need now is some idea of how much of an advantage whites actually have these days…