Archive for May, 2006

Transmission

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

I just recently completed Transmission by Hari Kunzru, an interesting novel covering globalization, software, viruses, India, and America. Sean Ryan recommended this fast read, and if it weren’t for the Da Vinci Code getting in the way, I would have read this one in a day or so.

Some interesting insights in Transmission on the forces of globalization and Thomas Friedman-like trends making the world much smaller. Kunrzu writes cleanly, wasting little time in extra description, but his theme rises to the surface in deftly worded character gems that catch you nicely off-guard. At first a few of the characters seem out of place, but the novel ties separate storylines together by the end in an interesting way – not in the plot, but thematically instead.

Edward Tufte has ridiculed Powerpoint Think before (as have others, brilliantly) – but the segments on Guy Swift, up and coming marketing exec, are tightly drawn satires of modern day corporate emptiness. Great stuff.

Breaking Into Heaven, The Stone Roses

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The Monty Hall Problem

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Last night, celebrating a colleague’s promotion at Rock Bottom, someone brought up the Monty Hall Problem. Almost instantly, I was a vocal defender of apparently the wrong but intuitive answer to the problem. And although most of my friends crowded around the table knew the right answer and over time worked to try to needle me to accept I was wrong, 3 of us (eventually 2 of us) stuck to our guns.

It turns out it’s trickier than you think. Or maybe it’s better to say: thinking about it more leads you farther away from the right answer. The wikipedia article above does of good job of hitting you with several ways to look at it.

The more you think about it, the more interesting it gets.

I still don’t grok it as deeply as I really want to. Note to self: is this yet another example of the Bayesian way of the world? It just keeps coming up.

Moving back to WordPress

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Well, the Tinderbox blog experiment is coming to an end. Editing offline is a nice thing from time to time, but for me the larger benefit of integrating other services far outweighs the tight granularity of control Tinderbox offers. And if I ever need to edit at that level, I can always dig in.

I may end up porting to typo. For now, WP is the winner.

Who Watches the Watchers?

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Schneier writes brilliantly about privacy and why it matters.

Oddly, the same old tired arguments about why only bad guys need privacy keep coming to light. At enonymous, we knew intrinsically that privacy wasn’t just something for people with something to hide, it was something we all need and all expect — until it’s suddenly taken away. Back in 1999, it was being taken away as the Net started to accelerate, and it hasn’t stopped.

Privacy as an end to itself matters, but there’s far more. At enonymous, we figured the only way people would be willing to give up very personal information for targeted advertising or customized content was anonymity. It made alot of sense then and it still does now. Strangely, the public’s interest and concern in privacy went away quickly after 2000, but maybe now as we learn about the NSA, that concern will be back. I hope so. For privacy’s sake, but for the sake too of personalization done right.