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Matt Warren

Redundancy Zones, Redundancy Zones - 0 views

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    How do we know our universe isn't a simulation running in another universe? that is itself running in another universe? This was played around with in the great short story "True Names" but is aggregated down to its essence in this terrific Scenes From A Multiverse strip on July 26, 2010.
Matt Warren

The World's First Printed Building - 0 views

  • In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings. The machine itself looks like a prototype for the automotive industry.
  • Four columns independently support a frame with a single armature on it. Driven by CAD software installed on a dust-covered computer terminal, the armature moves just millimetres above a pile of sand, expressing a magnesium-based solution from hundreds of nozzles on its lower side.
  • Not that Dini shows much respect for his invention. His brother Ricardo is a talented mechanical engineer who also works on the project and proposed some of its defining features – the single armature for example. Today though he is beating recalcitrant parts of it with a hammer. Enrico refers to a pin system for calibrating the height of the frame as ‘this fucking device’. He is exasperated by its limitations. ‘My machine is stupid,’ he fumes. Perhaps there is certain dumbness to the binary logic of its on/off secretions compared to the complexity of the robots he once made for the shoe industry.
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    "In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings." By Tim Abrahams at Blueprint Magazine on March 8, 2010.
Matt Warren

You Are How You Camped - 0 views

  • How you responded to being shipped off (often at an appallingly tender age) to a cluster of cedar cabins beside a mountain lake; to being taught Native American crafts, chants, and songs of dubious authenticity; and to being subjected to various painful hazing rituals—many of them involving underwear—reveals an awful lot about your fundamental character. If, as the Duke of Wellington claimed, the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, then the psychotherapy bills of our own great nation were run up on the tetherball courts of Camp Weecheewachee (or whatever the hell your summer camp was called).
  • People (like myself) who didn't enjoy camp tend to have a problem engaging in organized activities of all kinds.
  • Let's begin with the people who didn't like camp.
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  • Some people hated camp so much that they made their parents bring them home.
  • Some people enjoy camp.
  • Some people really, really enjoy camp.
  • The final category is people who really, really, really enjoy camp. These are the camp cultists.
  • even children who don't attend summer camp subject themselves to the same psychological sorting process by imagining that they did.
  • The summer-camp ink blot, then, is universal. You are how you camped, even if you never camped at all.
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    "What your enjoyment of sleep-away camp, or lack of same, says about your character." By Timothy Noah at Slate on July 23, 2010.
Matt Warren

Beware those Black Swans - 0 views

  • the best teachers of wisdom are the eldest, because they may have picked up invisible tricks that are absent from our epistemic routines and which help them survive in a world more complex than the one we think we understand.
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    The bestselling economist Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues that we can't make the world financial system immune to shocks -- but we can make sure it's much more robust by building randomness into our planning. By Nassim Nicholas Taleb at New Statesman on July 5, 2010.
Matt Warren

Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church - 0 views

  • Unbeknownst to the dastardly fanatics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the good folks of San Diego's Comic-Con were prepared for their arrival with their own special brand of superhuman counter protesting chanting "WHAT DO WE WANT" "GAY SEX" "WHEN DO WE WANT IT" "NOW!" while brandishing ironic (and some sincere) signs. Simply stated: The eclectic assembly of nerdom's finest stood and delivered.
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    "They've faced down humans time and time again, but Fred Phelps and his minions from the Westboro Baptist Church were not ready for the cosplay action that awaited them today at Comic-Con." By the staff at ComicsAlliance on July 22, 2010.
Matt Warren

Political Ads, Infomercials and Other Things That Discourage Critical Thinking - 0 views

  • Political advertisements (even the rare ones that actually refer to facts) are full of fallacies.  The appeal to emotion is clear.  The “good guy” is shown shaking hands with a diverse group of people.  He/she is fighting for justice, fairness, freedom, etc (all words that evoke positive emotion and passion.)  The “bad guy” in the ad is always shown in black-and-white or grainy film with ominous music playing in the background.  Fear tactics are clear as the opponent is charged with wanting to take away freedom, raise taxes, go to war, take away healthcare, destroy the economy, ruin the environment, free terrorists, etc.  If your emotions aren’t fully charged after a 30 second ad, you might want to check your pulse.
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    "Thank goodness for the invention of the DVR. What did we do before we had the ability to tape and easily fast forward through commercials? Each time I watch a political ad, commercial, or infomercial I wonder how many brain cells I lost." By Breanne Potter at Critical Thinkers on July 23, 2010.
Matt Warren

Psychological Reactance and Bioware Games - 0 views

  • So why is this? Why do I invest so much mental and emotional energy into this pointless choice between make-believe people in a video game and why am I so reluctant to commit?
  • Well, part of the reason is that humans hate to lose choices. Or, more to the point, we hate to lose options.
  • Behavioral economist Dan Ariely provided a neat example of psychological reactance in his book, Predictably Irrational, and I think it’s directly relevant to my inability to let go of romance options in Dragon Age.
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  • Even after discovering which room yielded the highest payout –in real money– they STILL tended to go back and waste clicks on lower paying doors just to keep those options open even thought they didn’t intend to actually exercise them. This was totally irrational, but psychological reactance made them reluctant to lose those options.
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    "Bioware has been presenting me with this same basic choice since Baldur's Gate and I always end up doing the same thing: I string everyone along as far as I can until I'm absolutely forced to make a choice. So why is this?" By Jamie Madigan at The Psychology of Video Games on July 22, 2010.
Matt Warren

The Spies Were No Joke - 0 views

  • the West would do well to pay attention to just how closely the methods and intentions of Russia's current intelligence agency, the SVR, replicate those of Soviet-era intelligence agencies.
  • the Russian spy ring wasn't an aberration, but a reflection of precisely the way that Putin wants his intelligence agencies to operate.
  • Ultimately, the use of illegals is as much a sign of desperation as of malicious intent. Perhaps the SVR is proud of upholding these traditions, but the U.S. intelligence services should be forgiven for not feeling envious.
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    "Anna Chapman and Co. may have seemed silly, but they were actually carrying out Putin's master plan: re-creating the KGB." By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan at Foreign Policy on July 22, 2010.
Matt Warren

17 Things You Should Know About DNA - 0 views

  • Are you a living creature? Then, congratulations! You have DNA! That microscopic little building block of life that makes us all the same, but grants us with distinct differences. But for as common as DNA is, it can be a though subject to understand. Below are some of the facts to help you better understand the little bit of genetic coding that makes you, you!
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    A terrific infographic at Geeks are Sexy on July 22, 2010.
Matt Warren

Sean Combs looks to establish a good comedy rap with 'Get Him to the Greek' - 0 views

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    "The hip-hop mogul is dead serious about being very funny in the movie." Referred to by Neil Howe at Lifecourse. Article itself is by Amy Kaufman at the LA Times on June 3, 2010.
Matt Warren

Are Libertarians Serious About Liberty? - 0 views

  • the conservative movement includes many people who are indifferent, if not hostile, to the liberty of foreigners, immigrants, drug users, gays and lesbians, women who want abortions, broadcasters, sex workers, criminal defendants, Muslims, publishers of pornography, atheists, and so forth....
  • What libertarians and conservatives share isn’t a shared commitment to freedom so much as a common way of talking about freedom... the Founding Fathers... free markets... limited government... Hayek....
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    Money: "What libertarians and conservatives share isn't a shared commitment to freedom so much as a common way of talking about freedom..." By Brad Delong at Grasping Reality with Both Hands on July 21, 2010.
Matt Warren

Sentient Gardens - 0 views

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    By Jonathan Rosenberg at Scenes From A Multiverse on July 19, 2010.
Matt Warren

Gaming Tree - 0 views

  • Socially conscious games -- as well as educational ones that raise social issues -- have increasingly been making headlines.
  • But are kids and their parents paying attention? Apparently, they are. A 2008 Pew Internet & American Life Project study of 1,102 U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 found that 97 percent of them play some kind of digital game, with 44 percent saying they play games that teach them about "a problem in society." The games about the U.S. government have generated a significant following. Fifty-seven percent of students who played Do I Have a Right? -- one of the first free Web games iCivics released last yearin the classroom went on to play it, unprompted, at home. In addition, 550,000 unique players have played the three judicial branch games featured on Ourcourts.org more than 700,000 times, per iCivics.
  • These numbers have not gone unnoticed by philanthropic experts, especially with charitable giving taking a dip since the recession. But they don't want to reach adults only; they feel it's an opportunity to attract a younger audience, too.
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    Can gamers bring about social change? AdWeek explores the question in their special digital issue on gaming. There's a desire among some gamers to show that the medium can do more than just entertain. I'm skeptical, but I'll reserve my judgment for now.
Matt Warren

Know Your Meme - 0 views

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    Part of the Internet Meme Database. "Documenting Internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more."
Matt Warren

Falling Creativity - 0 views

  • CEOs may give it lip service to creativity, but their actions speak much louder than their words. Most (not all) workplaces punish creativity, and while that situation remains most schools will drill it out of kids as well.
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    "CEOs may give it lip service to creativity, but their actions speak much louder than their words. Most (not all) workplaces punish creativity, and while that situation remains most schools will drill it out of kids as well." By Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias on July 16, 2010.
Matt Warren

Lady Gaga and the heroes of Normandy Beach - 0 views

  • What do Lady Gaga and the soldiers that stormed Normandy Beach have in common?
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    "What do Lady Gaga and the soldiers that stormed Normandy Beach have in common?" Not sure what I think of this, but it's an interesting read. By Clay Forsberg at On the road to your PERFECT WORLD on July 15, 2010.
Matt Warren

By their use shall ye know them - 0 views

  • the language is constantly evolving, and all that. Newspapers like The Economist maintain a strict style guide less because of a priggish conservatism than because of the simple need for consistency among dozens or hundreds of writers.
  • Still, by making this out to be an issue of linguistic freedom versus dictatorship, I think Mr Carey skates over the fact that such debates are most often just a proxy for ad hominem attacks; in other words, when people criticise non-words, it's usually just a lazy way to criticise their users. The anti-George Bush crowd professed to hate how the former president mangled the English language, but secretly they loved it. When someone says "misunderestimated" and "unthaw", or confuses "authoritarian" with "authoritative", sniggering at it is a way to avoid the harder work of actually demonstrating that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Or, to repeat a quote from our stylebook that my colleague used only recently:

    Nobody needs to be described as silly: let your analysis show that he is.

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    "the language is constantly evolving, and all that. Newspapers like The Economist maintain a strict style guide less because of a priggish conservatism than because of the simple need for consistency among dozens or hundreds of writers." A bit about language. By G.L. at The Economist on July 15, 2010.
Matt Warren

My TED talk: seven lessons from games for transforming engagement - 0 views

  • I've had the huge pleasure of giving a talk at TED Global in Oxford, about the lessons games can teach us about engagement and about learning itself. The full video will be online in due course; until then, here's a summary of a few central points.
  • We evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be satisfied by the world in particular ways; and to be intensely satisfied as a species by learning and problem-solving. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the virtual arenas that games create is that we are now able to reverse-engineer that, and to produce environments that exist expressly to tick our evolutionary boxes and to engage us.
  • seven larger ideas
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  • 1. Using an experience system
  • 2. Multiple long and short-term aims.
  • 3. You reward for effort.
  • 4. Rapid, clear, frequent feedback.
  • 5. Uncertainty.
  • 6. Windows of enhanced attention.
  • 7. Other people.
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    "I've had the huge pleasure of giving a talk at TED Global in Oxford, about the lessons games can teach us about engagement and about learning itself. The full video will be online in due course; until then, here's a summary of a few central points." By Tom Chatfield at What happens next? on July 16, 2010.
Matt Warren

Securing The Funding - 0 views

  • This is our third visit with Sciencemaster Adler, I think you guys might have a crush on him! Let’s hope he manages to find some money soon, I am concerned for his organs and fluids at this rate. Slopes were a common thing on my college campus, I imagine all of academia must be plagued by them to some degree.
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    I think we can all identify with underfunded alien professors, right? Under the heading "Campus bookstore, inner science rings, branes of curiosity." By Jonathan Rosenberg at Scenes from a Multiverse on July 16, 2010.
Matt Warren

Penn and Teller interview - 0 views

  • Illusionists Penn and Teller barely communicate outside work – but after 35 years together they still create the most beautiful shows on earth. Ahead of their first British performances for 16 years, Benjamin Secher went to Las Vegas to ask them how they do it .
  • Penn dominates the stage, pointing, spouting like an evangelist, encouraging us to see the big ideas behind the wizardry, plucking at his double bass, doing dangerous looking things with a nailgun, cracking jokes at the expense of Homeland Security or dispensing a running commentary on Teller’s sleights of hand. He also has a habit of giving away the tricks – before Teller’s red ball act, he declares “this is done with a thread!” – something he describes as “a kind of peace offering” to the audience but which some of the other magicians in Vegas see as a professional blasphemy.

    He couldn’t care less what they think. “I have always hated magic,” he says. “I have always hated the basic undercurrent of magic which Jerry Seinfeld put best when he said: 'All magic is “Here’s a quarter, now it’s gone. You’re a jerk. Now it’s back. You’re an idiot. Show’s over”.’ I never wanted to grow up to be a magician. It was never my goal.” He would rather have been a rock star, he says, but the business seemed already saturated with extraordinarily talented people. “So my thinking was, and I will say this outright, music is full of people I absolutely love. I don’t have a chance. They are all better than me. Magic has, ooh, nobody in it that I like.” He rocks back in his chair, cackling. “This is the field for me!”

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    "Illusionists Penn and Teller barely communicate outside work - but after 35 years together they still create the most beautiful shows on earth. Ahead of their first British performances for 16 years, Benjamin Secher went to Las Vegas to ask them how they do it ." By Benjamin Secher at The Telegraph on July 9, 2010.
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