ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Pplkpr attempts to manage the user's friendships by tracking how people influence each other in positive or negative ways.  When they are good for each other, it prompts them to spend more time together.  When the results are negative, it pushes them apart.  For most people this is useless or even destructive.  But for some -- people with depression, alexithymia, autism, or any other condition that makes emotional awareness and/or social dynamics cloudy -- it may be a valuable piece of adaptive equipment.  (Of course, you still need the spoons to act on its prompts, which is a bottleneck for some people.)  I don't know how good this early version is, but I suspect that some kind of program for this could be made effective.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
They spy on you.  The potential for abuse is enormous.

Remember that paper books do not track which parts of them you read.  If you read books in a library without checking them out, or buy with cash, there is no way to tell which ones you have read.  This protects sensitive information.

It does not matter if what you are doing is legal.  The police are not obligated to know or follow laws; they can arrest you if they THINK you're breaking a law when you're not.  People have been arrested for reading or even just having books or other learning materials that somebody thought they shouldn't have.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
When a computer program breaks a law, who is considered at fault: the programmer, the program, or the program owner?  The more things people have programs doing, the more of an issue this becomes.

My concern is that it will probably not be decided by justice, but by either convenience or profit.  What would most effectively prevent a recurrence?  Probably holding the programmers responsible.  Likely you'd have to do without certain features of program though.  What would be easiest?  Going after the program owners, most of whom would be ordinary people.  The problem with that is, a lot of these incidents will be mistakes which an ordinary person could not feasibly prevent, because most people aren't programmers and understand little about how computers work.  It's like an accident caused by brake line failure; they step on the pedal expecting the car to stop but it doesn't.  Even more fun: consider how little control people have over their lives now.  I can easily foresee situations where someone in power will decide to use a bot on behalf of many other people, it will do something wrong, and not the decider but the but the downline people will be blamed.  A fundamental principle of justice is that people should not be punished for someone else's actions, but that has been so eroded that it's little defense anymore.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
NASA just emailed a wrench to space.

While everyone else is geeking out over the idea of emailing a wrench, I'm over here thinking, "Damn, that is a great way to save on cargo weight!  Instead of expending  massive effort to send everything astronauts might need, we can instead send a smaller amount of materials to make stuff they need, and they can make exactly what they need when they need it."  That will work for everything that can be made of currently 3D printable materials and isn't needed all the time.  Send basic high-need supplies and stuff we can't just fab up yet.  Use the 3D printer to make the rest.  Even a very small  savings in cargo weight adds up very fast.

Space just got a lot more habitable.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So the new Star Wars trailer has a new style of lightsaber, and it didn't take long for people to make fun of it.  Honestly I found that collection of joke images more entertaining than the trailer.  Some thoughts ...

1) That kind of ridiculous weaponry development has actually happened  with polearms and handheld blades such as knives and swords.

2) Even imaginary weapons need to be plausible.  If your audience can glance at the weapon and point out flaws, then you haven't done a very good job of design or portrayal.  Imaginary technology should have consistent rules which shape its development, just as the laws of physics and metallurgy shape historic weapons.

Take that lightsaber.  The horizontal quills make it easier to block an opponent's blow, because one lightsaber blade can stop another; but more importantly, they allow strikes to the side.  A drawback is that they raise the chance of cutting yourself.  If the handle of the weapon is not also invulnerable to the lightsaber blade, then quills raise the damage chance by channeling strikes toward the hilt; but if the handle is invulnerable, that's not a problem.  

Far more interesting is that this is a Force weapon wielded by a Sith or Jedi, which means with a little practice they ought to be able to control  those blades not just by hand and technology, but by will.  Imagine having a hilt that can extend a blade in three directions, or four if you remember the original double-bladed lightsaber with a hilt in the middle, as needed.  This adds a great deal of versatility and danger, although it also raises the amount of time required to become proficient in using the thing without slicing your own limbs off.  I'm serious about the risk factors, though; it's basically a giant laser switchblade.  Guys love to play with switchblades and butterfly knives because they're cool, but 9 out of 10 guys will cut themselves on one.  I've seen it repeatedly.  Like true ninja weapons, they're only useful if you know exactly what you are doing.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Thanks to a donation from Anthony & Shirley Barrette, the poem "No Mind Without Spirit" is fully sponsored. Find out more about why Percy's idea doesn't work in nether-Earth.
ysabetwordsmith: Maryam Smith in a tophat (steamsmith)
This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] marina_bonomi, [livejournal.com profile] wyld_dandelyon, and DW user Dialecticdreamer.  It also fills the "Androids & Robots" square in my 6-10-14 card for the Fanbingo fest.  This poem belongs to The Steamsmith series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate for this series is $1/line, so $5 will reveal 5 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: [livejournal.com profile] marina_bonomi, Anthony & Shirley Barrette

FULLY FUNDED
73 lines, Buy It Now = $73
Amount donated = $20
Verses posted = 4 of 20

Amount remaining to fund fully = $53
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1


Full steam ahead... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer is looking for sample webpage code.  If you know of sources for that kind of stuff, please leave a comment.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has posted a fascinating essay about rights management, collaboration, and crowdfunding.  Try not to get completely lost in the Helidrax  example and do think about the creative rights situation.

But yeah, now I want me some Helidrax.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This app allows users to record the quality of their interactions with local police.  That will make it possible to identify which law enforcement services have a positive or negative impression in their communities.  With that data in hand, it would become possible to study the good ones for successful techniques to replicate, and the bad ones for mistakes to avoid.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Lego has introduced three toy sets which interface between physical and virtual play.  Faaaaaascinating. The idea is to build something with bricks, then transfer that into a manipulable model in cyberspace.  This has terrific potential for architects, scientists, and other folks who often transport their imagination from one layer of reality to another.  I'm sure folks will figure out some practical applications for this after fooling around with it for a little while.  In the meantime, it's awesome fun.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] aldersprig is launching a new multi-platform project, Faerie Apocalypse Live.  It will contain a mix of fiction and demifiction.  I'm excited to see people using technology to tell stories in new ways.  This one is supported by tips.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
My partner Doug found this bit of stuff that networks into a large mesh of issues, some of which I've already touched upon or read elsewhere.

It begins with this piece, where actually the title is what interests me: "We'd Like to Thank Our Commenters Again For Generally Not Being Jerks." That's ComicMix, an excellent source of news and discussions in this field; you've seen us linking there before. The quality of their audience is not an accident. It means they're posting the kind of content, and managing discussing in such a way, that attracts reasonably decent people. That takes work. I'm really proud of my audience here for similar reasons, and it makes me happy to see someone else having a similar effect.

From there we go to the next post, “Let’s see how feminist you are when you’re begging for more”: The violent, sexist world of comic website comments." It discusses what happened in response to a critique, "Anatomy of a Bad Cover: DC'S New "Teen Titans" #1" by Janelle Asselin, a former editor at DC comics. She described how the sexist elements of the artwork could alienate female viewers, driving them away from a title that has historically held a considerable female fanbase in an industry that usually doesn't. The result, predictably, was the usual dogpile of rapetastic abuse. But the response was unusual and worthy of note.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an interesting article about people who spread information.

This is actually my vocation.  I sift through the vast amount of stuff going on and then highlight what seems interesting or important.  I can add a few other points of interest: 

* Repetition matters.  An item might not catch my eye the first time if it's posted without commentary.  But if someone says something insightful about it, I'm more likely to forward.

* Meaning matters.  Some people just echo fluff, which is fine.  But some people are hunting and relaying things that are thoughtworthy or actionable, not just casually amusing.  These differences are important if you want to convince people to do  something.  I tend to favor high-impact content, although I also include lighter stuff to avoid burnout.

* Attention matters.  It's not just about connecting outward to other people with many connections.  It's about whether people actually treat you as a hub, a place they go for information.  I've repeatedly had people tell me that they use me as a newsfeed because they like my topic selection.

* Saturation matters.  If you know most or all the people in a group, that's meaningful, whether or not the rest of them have a high connectivity of their own.  You've got a lot of penetration in terms of reaching people in that group.  I'm still active enough in Paganism to have good connectivity, and back when I was running PanGaia, either I knew someone personally or I knew somebody else who knew them.

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