Again short on time, so just a few links turned up by the chain-smoking monkey research staff who actually run the blog:
- The Beauty of Simplicity: An article that examines one of the more difficult challenges of new technology: usability. In last week’s post, I mentioned the concept of the Nonesuch Beast, applications which are perfect solutions to certain complex problems. Unfortunately, these perfect solutions don’t exist, and one of the biggest reasons they don’t is that one requirement for complex problems is a simple, easy-to-use solution. It’s that “easy-to-use” part that gets difficult.
- Pandora: An interesting little web application that recommends music for you. All you’ve got to do is give it a band or song and it starts playing recommendations for you (it’s like you’re own radio station). You can tell it that you like or dislike songs, and it learns from your input. I’m not sure how much of what is being recommended is “learned” by the system (or how extensive their music library is), but as Buckethead notes, its recommendations are based on more than just genre. So far, it hasn’t turned up much in the way of great recommendations for me, but still, it’s interesting and I’m willing to play around with it on the assumption that it will get better.
- Robodump 1.0: “I also decided to dress it in businessware to make coworkers less likely to try to talk to it… if it looks like a customer or visiting bigwig, they’ll be less likely to offer help or ask for a courtesy flush.” To understand this, you really just need to go there and look at the pictures.
- Wikipedia’s next five years: Jon Udell speculates as to upcoming enhancements to Wikipedia. I think the most interesting of these is the thought of having “stable” versions of articles:
Stable versions. Although Wikipedia’s change history does differentiate between minor and major edits, there’s nothing corresponding to stable versions in open source software projects. In the early life of most articles that would be overkill. But for more mature articles, and especially active ones, version landmarks might be a useful organizational tool. Of course it’s an open question as to how exactly a version could be declared stable.
Having stable versions might go a long way towards indicating how trustworthy an individual article is (which is currently something of a challenge right now).
- The Edge Annual Question – 2006: Every year, Edge asks a question to several notable thinkers and scientists and posts their answers. The answers are usually quite interesting, but I think this year’s question: “What’s your dangerous idea?” wasn’t quite as good as the past few years’ questions. Still, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there.
That’s all for now. Again, I’ve been exceptionally busy lately and will probably continue to be so for at least another week or so…