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July 27 2011

Science Hack Day goes global

Science Hack DayGet a bunch of scientists and geeks in a room together for 48 hours straight and you're bound to get something interesting (Cold fusion? Laser-guided sharks?). Exactly what that might be and how it would be used remain open questions, but the compression of time, location and intensity — a sort of pressure cooker for creativity — is what Science Hack Day aims to create. It's an interesting model.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation thought so, too, and that's why they've given Science Hack Day a grant for expansion. Ariel Waldman, Institute for the Future research affiliate and Science Hack Day SF creator, will announce the expansion today at OSCON (we got her blessing to share the news a little early). Here's how Waldman says the new money will be put to use:

10 people from around the world will be selected to win a scholarship for a trip to Science Hack Day San Francisco 2011 where they'll experience first-hand how Science Hack Day works and connect with a global community of organizers. This Science Hack Day Ambassador Program will award individuals who are motivated and planning to organize a Science Hack Day in their city.

Further details on the Ambassador program are available at the Science Hack Day website.

July 15 2011

Visualization of the Week: An approval matrix for hacking

This post is part of a new series exploring visualizations. Some weeks we'll point the way to intriguing examples we find in our web travels. Other times we'll dive into our own datasets and imagery. We're always looking for leads, so please drop us a line if there's a visualization you think we should know about.

New York Magazine has long published its Approval Matrix as a way of visualizing its assessments of various pop cultural phenomenon, from high brow to low brow on the vertical scale and from brilliant to desperate on the horizontal scale.

Now, the technology magazine IEEE Spectrum has released its own visualization — "The Two Faces of Hacking" — using a similar sort of scale, but one that depicts not great (or awful) movies, but good, bad and neutral hacks.

"We took 25 of the biggest and best stories and assessed them along two dimensions: innovation and impact," writes IEEE. "Whether you agree with our assessments or not, we'd like to hear what you think."

IEEE Spectrum
Click for the interactive visualization.

Indeed, rating hacks this way raises a number of interesting questions: What constitutes a "good" hack? Is it motive? Is it skill? Is it the obtaining of a certain amount of attention or media buzz?

More broadly, what does it mean to visualize material on this sort of scale? Does it make recent hacks understandable by the general population? Or does it still assume a certain amount of insider knowledge (arguably, just as New York Magazine's film assessments do)?

OSCON Data 2011, being held July 25-27 in Portland, Ore., is a gathering for developers who are hands-on, doing the systems work and evolving architectures and tools to manage data.

Save 20% on registration with the code OS11RAD


December 10 2010

Video pick: The inevitable merging of Kinect and "Minority Report"

Combine Kinect hacks with the creativity of MIT and this is what you get: The first baby steps toward "Minority Report"-inspired interfaces.

The only downside: The required gestures are quite grand, so muscle fatigue is going to be factor for a while.

Hat tip: Engadget

Note: This is the first entry in a semi-regular series highlighting tech-centric videos that are excellent, intriguing, or thought provoking. Suggestions are always welcome.


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