Data Science of the Facebook world [Article]

Stephen Wolfram makes mathematics sexy. In a recent article on his blog, Stephen explains how he used the anonymised data that people contributed to Wolfram Alpa, to understand their facebook connections & some interesting observations from these analysis.

I’ve always been interested in people and the trajectories of their lives. But I’ve never been able to combine that with my interest in science. Until now. And it’s been quite a thrill over the past few weeks to see the results we’ve been able to get. Sometimes confirming impressions I’ve had; sometimes showing things I never would have guessed. 

Excelling in Economics [Article]

Carmen Reinhart & Ken Rogoff, the two economists who influenced the “austerity drive” that most Western governments, predominantly the US, have been enforcing in the last three or so years, made an error in their calculations in a spreadsheet. “How much unemployment did Reinhart and Rogoff’s arithmetic mistake cause? asks Dean Baker, in the Guardian

If facts mattered in economic policy debates, this should be the cause for a major reassessment of the deficit reduction policies being pursued in the United States and elsewhere. It should also cause reporters to be a bit slower to accept such sweeping claims at face value.

Machine readable news & the stock market [Article]

Robert N Charette writing for the IEEE spectrum is surprised that it took so long for a media hacking to take down Wall Street. If you had not heard yet, on the 23rd of April, an AP tweet said that there were two explosions in the White House & that Barack Obama was injured. In the three minutes that it took get the message repudiated, Wall Street had lost 143 points.  The reason?

Partial blame for the rapid sell-off of stocks is being given to computer-driven trading algorithms that depend on machine readable news.

Want to share your office jokes to the world? [Article]

If you have a skype ID and are in the middle of a boring office meeting, which you think will be a great Dilbert cartoon, you’re in luck. Scott Adams wants you to add “Dogbertiswatching”. Seriously!

Okay, I decided to go ahead and set up a Skype ID called Dogbertiswatching. Add that to your contact list and Skype me if you’re in a particularly ridiculous meeting. I’ll usually be looking for comic fodder between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM Pacific Time. But please don’t expect me to be chatty because I’ll be working. I’ll just send a “hi” message and listen in.

And start lining up your next job now. You might need it.

Manufactured Landscapes [Video]

Ed  Burtynksy is a photographer – and shares a view of the world of the impact of the “Big” things on the “little” ones. I watched in awe.

I feel like I’m living in contradiction with myself. But I don’t know any other alternative to how I live…. It’s a dilemma of our times, in that there’s no easy prescription for our ailment.

Bombino – African guitar [Music]

Jesse Kornbluth (Headbutler) is a great source of discovery of things (books, music, stuff) that are not popular but should be. He writes this about Bombino, an African guitarist:

What are you getting? “Nomad,” 40 minutes of music by an African guitarist who’s called Bombino. It’s protein-rich: great for parties (you will come to be bored by friends asking “What is that?”), a lifesaver on rainy mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed, a good candidate for serious listening, a caffeine hit for long sessions of work when your friends are getting buzzed on Adderall, and, so far from least, an essential ingredient for ecstatic couplings at midnight.

Hearing is believing. Crank the volume. See if this doesn’t haul you out of your chair.

Here’s my instant playlist compilation. I promise you’ll be hooked. Go on, turn up the volume!

14 ways to acquire knowledge [Book]

Maria Popova shines light on a book by James Mangan, called “You can do anything’. 14 ways to acquire knowledge is a section of the book that shares exactly how to do that. A couple of excerpts:

Desire is the foundation of all learning and you can only climb up the ladder of knowledge by desiring to learn.

To learn, experiment! Try something new. See what happens. 

A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook [Article]

Ever post something to facebook (what, you have a facebook account??) & immediately (or a bit later) regretted it? A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook – This must be the most entertaining research paper ever written! (pdf download).

..little is known about the problematic aspects of Facebook usage. Our research fills that gap by showing that regrettable postings are not unusual. We devised a detailed taxonomy of regrets and discovered that they are mainly centered around sensitive topics, emotional content, and unintended audience. Furthermore, our results agree with many news stories that report that regrettable postings on Facebook can yield serious ramifications for users.

How fast can you type? [Article]

Well, you may need to learn a new keyboard, if you want to type faster, especially on the now nearly ubiquitous touch-screens! (and come to think of it, you probably need to, whatever your current speeds are!) GigaOm highlights a new keyboard layout called KALQ that promises to take over from the legacy of the typewriting keyboard, which was designed to ensure that the typewriter was as efficient as possible.

 KALQ was designed so the most commonly used letters are clustered, which means the travel distances are short and both hands work roughly equally and alternately. Most of the vowels are positioned near the space bar and are handled by the right thumb, while the left thumb takes care of most of the consonants and most of the first letters of words.