Supercitizen and his army of mimes

Marginal Revolution: How much should governments influence norms?

Mathematician-philosopher-mayor-economist Antanas Mockus used a bevy of unorthodox approaches to educate and cajole citizens of Bogota, Columbia into new patterns of behavior.

What are Weblications?

Adam Rifkin decodes application software's destiny: Weblications

Stupid Asimo Tricks

Honda's anthropomorphic robot Asimo running is cool, but what I really want is a video of Asimo achieving a perfect score at Dance Dance Revolution. Then humans will be truly obsolete.


I love Asian computer-tech manufacturer ASUS. My homebuilt AMD64 quiet desktop machine uses their K8V-SE Deluxe motherboard. I built my mother a Pundit-based desktop machine. I assembled my own 1.7Ghz Duron tiny notebook based on their M5200n barebones.

I've had my eye on a WL-330g "pocket access point" for a while. It's got three modes: wireless access point, wireless bridge/repeater, or ethernet-to-wireless adaptor.

They're also churning out stylish entertainment-center-centric PCs like the S-Presso. It's got a ST:TNG-like front color touch control panel and an instant-on mode for playing CD/DVD/MP3 without an OS boot.

I'm surprised they're not better known. ASUS might just be a few more mass-market products -- plus an English native speaker to write their marketing and instructional copy -- away from being a giant consumer brand. I might even invest in their stock, if I could figure out the right symbol/market to use. (WTF is PNK?) ASUS 200X == Sony 198X?

Yahoo Video Search and Media RSS

Yahoo! Search blog: Yahoo! Video Search Beta

Mentioned there: Media RSS.


Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle live on C-SPAN today: 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT

As part of the Library of Congress "Digital Future" series, The Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle will be giving a talk, "Univeral Access to Knowledge," carried live on C-SPAN later today, at 6:30pm eastern time, 3:30pm pacific. A following Q&A session will also include emailed questions. Details here, and at the Digital Future series page.

(That's 23:30 UTC, and C-SPAN offers live Internet streams of their broadcasts.)

Google Suggest Games

Google Suggest is pretty neat. I'm used to local browser auto-complete, where my previous entries into similar input-fields are offered as completions of my partial typing.

Google Suggest does the same based on their server-side, 'global' view of potential completions. Up to 10 potential completions are shown, apparently in order of how often they're searched for by Google users.

The updating of the list with each keystroke is instantaneous, with no noticable network lag -- so there must be some smart preloading (of compressed tables?) going on behind the scenes. (I haven't had a chance to peer behind the curtains and watch the javscript/http yet.)

They've blocked out common porn-related terms, but common misspellings are still there. Topics which some nations censor ('taiwan independence', 'mein kampf', etc.) are still present.

If suggestions are in fact ranked in order of search frequency, Google Suggest is leaking some very interesting information to outside interested parties -- the equivalent of Google Zeitgeist, but to a much greater depth (sliced by query prefixes). But it's probably the case that any major competitors already have their own strong windows into popular queries anyway, so they don't feel the need to guard this info as proprietary.

Anyhoo, Rachna and I came up with a couple of games you can play with Google Suggest:

  1. Google Boggle: Decide on some search prefix, such as 'tre'. Each player writes up to 10 guesses of what the suggestions for that prefix will be. Winner is who guesses the most that round. Repeat as desired.
  2. Power of Suggestion: Pick some search phrase -- a name, an event, a quote, whatever. One player guesses how many characters have to entered before that phrase appears in the suggestions. The other player can choose 'over' or 'under' that guess. Whoever's closer wins the round, and choosing order alternates.

30 channels of digital TV on your cellphone?

NewScientist: Cellphones spell the end for pocket TVs
The emergence of DVB-H explains a puzzling purchase made last year by the transmission services company Crown Castle of Houston, Texas. The company, which runs the BBC�s transmitter network in the UK, paid $12 million for a 5-megahertz slice of coast-to-coast radio spectrum in the US.

At the time no one knew why. But used as a national cellphone broadcast frequency, Crown�s purchase may turn out to be an amazing bargain. Three Crown Castle transmitters near Pittsburgh are already broadcasting DVB-H to prototype Nokia mobile TV phones.

Tim Bray on Wikipedia and its critics

Tim Bray contrasts the article-publishing processes of Wikipedia and Britannica and considers some criticisms of Wikipedia. He concludes:
[Wikipedia] may flower, but on the other hand, it may dissolve in a pool of demotivation and recrimination. Who can tell? Not me; but I�ll watch, and I�ll use it, and I�ll help out a bit. One thing is sure: the Wikipedia dwarfs its critics.

Super-special HTML entities

You might have known that HTML entities include...

• bullet
∑ ∞ ≠ math symbols
™ ® © rights-marks
¢ £ ¥ € currency symbols

But did you know that most browsers can also display...

★ ☆ stars
☀ ☁ ☂ ☃ weather symbols
☎ ☏ ✆ telephones
☠ ☢ ☣ hazard symbols
☩ ☪ ✝ ✡ religious symbols
☭ ☮ political symbols
☹ ☺ ☻ smiley faces
♔ ♕ ♖ ♗ ♘ ♙ ♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟ chess pieces
♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ card suits (and in outline: ♤ ♡ ♢ ♧)
♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ musical notes
✁ ✂ ✃ ✄ scissors/cut icons

I didn't, until I cam across this Expanded HTML Entity Reference page.

Cheap information is making us stupid

UVa law prof Tim Wu in an interview with Ernest Miller:
Here is the problem: we are living with the unexpected consequences of low-cost information dissemination, or �cheap speech.� Cheapness is generally good, but it also creates strange consequences. Cheap corn, for example, makes us fat. Cheap drugs, like crack cocaine, can destroy neighborhoods. And cheap information is making us stupid.

As a society, the only answer is likely to be painful: an information diet. Consider the food analogy: in another age, food was scarce, and so everyone ate anything they could get their hands on. Today that approach will make you look like Andre the Giant. We have learned, albeit imperfectly, to eat more carefully. We similarly need to learn to regulate our information intake, or we�ll end up with brains that look like CNN Crossfire.