National Statistics Social Capital project: UK government papers and ongoing work on social capital. Much goodness.
Trying to remember where I saw an article about redesigning calculator user interfaces... Parts I recall: Removing the '=' key and moving to an RPN-ish stack. Using '+', '-', 'x' and a kind of reverse-multiply as single-press buttons (all for integer based maths). Another set of four keys provided more complicated functionality. Using little triangles at the top to indicate whether the number is negative, or at the bottom for a decimal point. Has anyone else seen this?
Social Capital: A Discussion Paper [pdf] (by the Cabinet Office, part of UK government) covers the concept of social capital, as popularised by Robert Putnam. There are four main topics covered: what social capital is and why it matters; what evidence there is and what the consequences are; the future trends of social capital in the UK; what the government can do to influence this. It's short (ish) and easy to read. And there's a brilliant graph in the introduction: The Exponential Growth in References to Social Capital in the Academic Literature, 1985-2000.
And later in the paper, when discussing possible ideas to stimulate social capital, there's this (paragraph 169): "Mobile telephones could have emergency help keys or codes that would activate the nearest five phones to indicate the holder is in trouble and needs assistance".
Here's the plan. Special double-length car numberplates that cause a buffer overflow when read by the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system and let us place a back door into the Congestion Charge central computers. Then we can control all of London's traffic!
Related: Subverting CCTV and facial recognition by wearing, infront of the cameras, specially constructed tribal masks that don't correspond to the expected parameters for face characteristics (eg, a nose a precise amount longer than normal that overflows the nose-length buffer and writes code into an executable area).
Three book reviews:
I'm idea foraging. The above are placed as landmarks.
Michael Sippey: Notes on the Embedded Media coverage in Iraq. Great notes! Particularly incredible is this Rumsfeld quote: "And what we are seeing is not the war in Iraq. What we're seeing are slices of the war in Iraq. We're seeing that particularized perspective that that reporter, or that commentator or that television camera happens to be able to see at that moment. And it is not what's taking place. What you see is taking place, to be sure, but it is one slice".
That information flow is so cheap we can afford to see snapshots/ That reporting and analysis+synthesis have been decoupled/ That we've acknowledged this is the case and changed reporting appropriately/ That this organised (or maybe gardened?) war is so complex is can't be grasped sufficiently to understand by any person. Like a hair to long to see both ends of, but if you stand back to see both ends: too thin to see at all. How to report that?
(That Rumsfeld is thinking like this... the www worldview (biological, diverse, complex, ungraspable) intruding on the controlled, everything classifiable (Classical Physics) view. A worldview that can handle ambiguity? To an extent.)
Counterpoint: Unembedded journalism has a different view. We need all types.
The names of the planets in different languages [via languagehat]. Actually, the whole Nine Planets 'site is pretty good -- facts and mythology. (Now, I recently had a conversation on the topic: If you had to get rid of one planet, which one would it be? On my last visit, the London Planetarium managed to miss out Mercury from their nausea-inducing green laser wireframe tour of the solar system. I wouldn't like to do that, given its connections to general relativity. Venus and Uranus would be high on the list, although it'd be a shame to get rid of any of them.)