December 31, 2007

gawker, nick denton, and the rise of blog media

earlier this year, new york magazine published everybody sucks: gawker and the rage of the creative underclass.

the title and the essay have little to do with the actual underclass, instead speaking about gawker and its proprietor, nick denton.

though the piece gets it right, it probably mistakes gawker's and denton's aspirations. gawker is just a new york gossip blog.

surprisingly, nick denton offers a rebuttal in the form of a self authored comparison to rupert murdoch and william randolph hearst (in that order).

though gawker media is of considerable size and influence, the reality and historicity of nick denton's efforts are just that, a matter of history. thinking about denton's current public activities in the form of gawker media's varied publications, approaching 20 in total, one wonders what he hopes to accomplish. barring the comparison to murdoch and hearst, both of whom have made indelible marks on history, nick denton's legacy remains to be defined.

my unsolicited advice: do something good! gawker is fun enough. and you became wealthy a long time ago.

December 29, 2007

webb, 2007

a massive "brain dump" from matt webb. here are a few key passages.

on cars:
So what are the emergent properties of flocking cars? I think we'll need a certain kind of maths to model it, and that is what I was thinking about. It'll be a bit like signal processing: we'll look at the distances between successive cars, and monitor the pressure waves that move along that pipe. There will be standing waves causes by junctions, and the police will introduce special cars to act as signal dampers or oscillation providers, used to break up clots of cars. Having all the cars on the same rule system worries me, because the failure modes of homogeneous populations are nasty. We'll need a way of parameterising the rules so that different cars all behave slightly differently, so that traffic itself becomes an ultrastable system, responding to an accident by simply shifting the internal population of rules to change the equilibrium and flock around the grit instead of locking up entirely.
on internet:
So what does phenotropics mean for the Web? Firstly it means that our browsers should become pattern recognition machines. They should look at the structure of every page they render, and develop artificial proteins to bind to common features. Once features are found (say, an hCalendar microformat), scripting can occur. And other features will be deduced: plain text dates 'upgraded' to microformats on the fly. By giving the browser better senses - say, a copy of WordNet and the capability of term extraction - other structures can be detected and bound to.
on vending machines:
Vending machines on the street sell mixed smoothies. Each machine is populated with a selection of 8 from dozens of base fruit smoothies. There are 10 options on the machine, representing different mixes of the 8 fruit flavours. Genetic algorithms are used to evolve the smoothies towards the optimum flavours for that neighbourhood, based on what sells. Variety is introduced by having wild-card base flavours in that 8th slot. Sometimes you take a detour on the way to work to help out training a machine to produce your favourite cocktail.

it's worth a read.

December 10, 2007

biology as opposed to age based treatment

just as adolescents with cancer treated based on molecular profiles on pediatric protocols have better outcomes than similarly aged patients treated based on age on adult protocols, one expects improved outcomes from biology based treatment in general, as in the case of childhood infections, such as the commonly used boston criteria for infants with fever.