Links for the Week – March 25/06


The New Economy

The Economist Doesn’t Get Open Source: I know the Economist is conservative, but sometimes their inability to grasp new concepts astounds me. Here they attempt to shrug off Open Source as inherently limited and fatally flawed. Thanks to Hugh Macleod for the link.

…But Chip Morningstar Gets Complexity: Chip says: “This is the nature of big complicated plans: they have lots of details (that’s what makes them big and complicated) and they leave lots out (because, the world being the complex thing that it is, no matter how much detail you give, it’s never enough to completely describe everything relevant). Plus, the more details and complexities there are, the more opportunities you have to make mistakes. As the number of elements you are juggling grows large, the probability of significant errors approaches certainty.” His answer is resilience, rather than a lot of planning and forecasting. To which I would add, improvisation, rather than the folly of attempting to preempt risk. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Whole Foods Not Telling the Whole Story: Although there is no question Whole Foods products are better for your health, Field Maloney at Slate points out that a few large organic suppliers, often far away, dominate the market, and the prices you pay are out of reach of many who would like to eat better. If you really want to buy local, healthy, organic products from small sustainable farms, you’ll likely have to do your own research and set up your own community network.

Hints for Living Sustainably: Eartheasy, by an American now living on Vancouver Island, is packed with great ideas for sustainable living, shopping, growing food and recreation. Thanks to Jon Husband for the link.

This Week’s North American Disasters

Dust Bowl Coming: Meteorologists at Accuweather say the conditions that produced the 1930s dust bowl appear to be in place again.

Do It Yourself Abortions for South Dakota Women: Hopefully it won’t come to this, but it’s interesting to note that blogging and the Internet are even finding workarounds for lunatic politicians: Here’s a blog that contains all the instructions for performing your own abortion. Thanks to Ran Prieur (whose Fall Down Six Times scenarios of future civilizational collapse are also worth a read).

Techie Stuff

Google Earth — From the Driver’s Seat: Microsoft’s new beta Virtual Earth allows you to steer your own route and see Seattle or San Francisco from the perspective of a driver (or walker). The shots are jerky rather than continuous, but it’s an intriguing start. Thanks to David Gurteen for the link.

Software That Helps You Visualize Hunches and Mutations: If you’ve ever tried Google’s or Picasa’s “I feel lucky” buttons for your searches or photo enhancements, you appreciate that the iteration that leads to improvement is a combination of hunches (based on instinct, but largely incremental) and mutations (trying something wacky, which usually fails, but sometimes succeeds spectacularly). Wired reports on new software that may one day make this combination of approaches easier to do. Thanks to Innovation Weekly for the link.

Fun and Inspiration

Juggling One-Upmanship: A few weeks ago I linked to comedian Chris Bliss’ closing juggling routine. Now an experienced juggler, Jason Garfield, has duplicated the act using five balls instead of three and thrown in some extra acrobatics. Thanks to Chris Corrigan for the link.

Imagining Your Ancestors in a Room: Chris also asks us to imagine if all 128 of our seventh-generation ancestors were together in a room together, asked to solve a problem — could they imagine us?

Beautiful Photos from China: Although its environment is under siege from reckless human activity, China still boasts some astonishing beauty as these photos by Feng Jiang of University of York attest. Photo above is from this site. Thanks to Jeremy Heigh for the link.

Jeremy also points us to this week’s quote of the week, an old Akan proverb: A good soup attracts chairs. Jeremy adds: Want attention? Focus on your recipe.

Bonus quote for the week, via Kathy at Creating Passionate Users, from Jason Fried of 37Signals at the SXSW conference, on how to develop software (or any other product):

“Learn to do the development yourself. You’ll be forced to build something simple because you don’t know how to do the complex stuff…Make it up as you go along. You’re in a much better place to make a decision whenyou’re in it, than when you’re planning…We don’t use functional specs…we use stories.”
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2 Responses to Links for the Week – March 25/06

  1. Wow. The Economist *really* doesn’t get OSS. Their loss, and the loss of their readers that will swallow that, I suppose.

  2. Doug Alder says:

    You missed a good one Dave – I said in my site ( the brilliance of this strategy (heavily subsidising kilowatts pumped back into the system htat are generated by renewable energy resources by paying a very premium price for them)is that it simply does not reward non-renewable energy sources, it does not give Halliburton type fraudsters the ability to take money and give nothing in return, and by guaranteeing long term (20 year) higher than market payments for this power they offer entrepreneurs a means of raising capital to produce ever more efficient methods of getting power from reewable resources. IOW it will stimulate research without the government directly paying for that research as they will only pay for results not research.

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