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Current Topic: Technology

The Unintended Consequences of Information Age Technologies
Topic: Technology 3:15 pm EST, Dec 18, 2004

The explosion of information technologies has set in motion a virtual tidal wave of change that is in the process of profoundly affecting organizations and individuals in multiple dimensions.

Information has, until recently, been inseparable from command structures.

The selective dissemination of information has been used as a tool to define and shape the environment to ensure conforming behavior.

Transformation is fraught with both risks and opportunities because it will affect the nature of the information provided as well as the manner in which it is provided.

The full implications and consequences will not be clear for years to come.

We are not in a position to take the apparently safe and comfortable road.

We must design a strategy that identifies and anticipates negative repercussions and enables us to avoid those repercussions or minimize their impacts.

The dynamics of information dissemination have changed considerably in the latter half of this century. What was once a predominantly highly constrained and vertical information flow has evolved into a mix of vertical and horizontal flows.

The sheer volume of information received could frustrate the ability to quickly identify critical information for the decision at hand.

Better education and training are needed to develop the necessary skills to handle these information-rich situations.

Sophisticated presentations can obscure ... [with] a mixture of "fact" and inference.

When information is freely available, superiors tend to micromanage, and subordinates are likely to second guess.

Effective training must instill the judgment required to differentiate between sufficient and necessary or desirable information.

The unintended consequences of adopting information age technologies are 1) virtually ubiquitous, 2) complex enough to require more than one type of remedy, and 3) involve actions among various organizations that need to be closely linked or coordinated in order to be effective.

When the nature and distribution of information changes, radically new ways of doing business and complications in the old ways of doing business emerge.

The Unintended Consequences of Information Age Technologies

How to Build a Better PC, by David Gelernter
Topic: Technology 11:49 pm EST, Dec 12, 2004

Nick Carr convinced IBM he was right, and now he will be the end of them. And with them, us? Or US? Let's hope not.

If I were an IBM board member, or anyone who cared about the long-term health of IBM or the US technology industry or the whole blooming US economy, I'd be unspeakably depressed.

If the US technology industry actually believes that the PC has grown up and settled down, it is out of touch with reality -- and the consequences could be dangerous to America's economic health.


Know this for sure: Some company will build all this and more into a radically more powerful, radically simpler PC. Will it be an American company? Don't count on it.

Is the fruit of America's future to be found in the Apple cart? Hardly. Apple's ideology precludes a new PC revolution.

How to Build a Better PC, by David Gelernter

Topic: Technology 8:25 am EST, Dec  8, 2004

NNDB is an intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead. Superficially, it seems much like a "Who's Who" where a noted person's curriculum vitae is available (the usual information such as date of birth, a biography, and other essential facts.)

But it mostly exists to document the connections between people, many of which are not always obvious. A person's otherwise inexplicable behavior is often understood by examining the crowd that person has been hanging out with.


CFP 2005
Topic: Technology 10:21 pm EST, Nov 26, 2004

The theme of the 15th CFP is


We are particularly interested in receiving proposals that ask the hard questions about privacy and freedom in emerging surveillance societies, and challenging those assumptions.

In addition, other topics of interest include


CFP 2005

organic information design
Topic: Technology 1:08 am EST, Nov 26, 2004

Design techniques for static information are well understood, their descriptions and discourse thorough and well-evolved.

But these techniques fail when dynamic information is considered.

There is a space of highly complex systems for which we lack deep understanding because few techniques exist for visualization of data whose structure and content are continually changing.

To approach these problems, this thesis introduces a visualization process titled Organic Information Design.

The resulting systems employ simulated organic properties in an interactive, visually refined environment to glean qualitative facts from large bodies of quantitative data generated by dynamic information sources.

organic information design

Hybrid Lighting
Topic: Technology 2:54 pm EST, Nov 25, 2004

Research under way at ORNL could lead to entirely new, highly energy-efficient ways of lighting buildings using the power of sunlight.

In addition to providing light, the technology would convert sunlight to electricity much more efficiently than conventional solar technologies.

In commercial buildings, lighting consumes more electric energy than any other building end-use. It accounts for more than a third of all electricity consumed for commercial use in the United States.

Way cool. I remember, back in high school, thinking about how to do something like this. These "large-diameter" optical fibers are just the ticket.

Hybrid Lighting

Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior
Topic: Technology 1:15 am EST, Nov 20, 2004

This monograph presents a unique approach to "connecting the dots" in intelligence -- selecting and assembling disparate pieces of information to produce a general understanding of a threat.

This should be of interest to anyone who needs to monitor large and disparate data streams looking for uncertain and unclear indicators that, taken together, represent potential risks.

Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior

Shirky: Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software
Topic: Technology 12:55 am EST, Nov 19, 2004

Individual users take on roles that only make sense in groups: leader, follower, peacemaker, process nazi, and so on. There are also behaviors that can only occur in groups, from consensus building to social climbing.

Actually, I've found that process nazis and social climbers can be surprisingly vigorous in these pursuits, regardless of the presence or absence of a group.

Of course, when it comes to mailing list software, a few clever, well-placed lines of code can be made to work miracles. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of face-to-face meetings.

If only we had a Real World equivalent of Perl.

Shirky: Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software

Google Scholar
Topic: Technology 11:16 pm EST, Nov 18, 2004

Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

Woo hoo! I'm a Scholar! Yay!

Google Scholar

Selfish peering and routing in the Internet
Topic: Technology 3:33 pm EST, Nov 13, 2004

The Internet is a loose amalgamation of independent service providers acting in their own self-interest.

We examine the implications of this economic reality on peering relationships. Specifically, we consider how the incentives of the providers might determine where they choose to interconnect with each other.

We consider a game where two selfish network providers must establish peering points between their respective network graphs, given knowledge of traffic conditions and a nearest-exit routing policy for out-going traffic, as well as costs based on congestion and peering connectivity.

We focus on the pairwise stability equilibrium concept and use a stochastic procedure to solve for the stochastically pairwise stable configurations. Stochastically stable networks are selected for their robustness to deviations in strategy and are therefore posited as the more likely networks to emerge in a dynamic setting.

We note a paucity of stable peering configurations, with adverse effects on system-wide efficiency.

Selfish peering and routing in the Internet

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