Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Randomocity

Nothing substantial to write, but here’s a bit of linkage that didn’t make it into the sidenotes for your enjoyment.

  • One of the things that drove me crazy in high school and college was the when teachers/professors put a value on printed content over web content, as if being bound and sitting on a library shelf makes something more meaningful or true than something published online … Anyway, I think that’s only moderately related to this letter from a librarian to a patron who was complaining about a children’s book that includes gay marriage. Ultimately, the librarian rightly refuses to remove the book from the children’s section, arguing that it is in fact a children’s book. However, it was his explanation of the role of libraries that I found especially fascinating: “But if the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in our collection that people won’t agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don’t imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life.” (via kottke.org)
  • Other than making it look prettier and getting rid of the dots, what’s new about delicious? I was expecting some awesome recommendations or something (which they had for a short time a few years ago but got rid of because of the resources it hogged. As as side note, I just read this really interesting and approachable paper on TiVo’s collaborative filtering approaches. It’s a great primer for how all that stuff works and why gives some insight into why it hogs resources in the way it does.
  • This Times story on the testing of female Olympic athletes to ensure their femaleness was fascinating. Turns out it’s been happening since the 1960s and “At first, women were asked to parade nude before a panel of doctors to verify their sex. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, officials switched to a chromosomal test.” What’s crazy about the new test is that a few times it has turned out chromosomal defects like woman (or people who had spent their lives believing they were women) finding out they were born with a Y chromosome. If you’re interested, I found this detailed account of how this works (a woman with an X and a Y) that’s specifically about an olympic athlete, Maria Patino, who failed this test in the 80s.
  • I just found out about TripIt from Rick which led me to two important questions: A) Why didn’t I know about this service? (You forward your airline confirmation emails and it keeps all your flights and confirmation numbers in one easy to access place) and B) Why doesn’t Dopplr do this yet? (That was actually Rick’s question … but I’m stealing it.)
  • How about a 42kb zip file that when fully unpacked contains 4.5 petabytes of data? (“The file contains 16 zipped files, which again contains 16 zipped files, which again contains 16 zipped files, which again contains 16 zipped, which again contains 16 zipped files, which contain 1 file, with the size of 4.3GB.”) If anyone has a spare 4.5 petabytes and tries this out, let me know how it goes.
  • I like Andy’s idea for the “worst iPhone app ever: “It’d be dead simple to build, and I’d call it “iPhone Discus”. Basically it would use the phone’s built in GPS to see how far you could throw your iPhone. Enter a location, throw, record location. That’s it.”
  • Since this is a post full of random stuff, it seems appropriate to link to someone else’s post about the value of random posts in blogs: “Think of a blog as competing with both Google and Wikipedia, among other aggregators. If you knew you wanted to read about ‘the minimum wage,’ you could bypass Tyler and Alex and Google to the best entries (some of which might include us, of course). But with Google and Wikipedia you must choose the topic. A good blog writer can randomize the topic for you, much like a good DJ controls the sequence of the music.” I really believe this is the secret to why editorial driven content will remain relevant in the long run (yes, that includes newspapers): The best stuff is always the stuff you weren’t expecting to read. I think this is what makes the New Yorker so great, actually. I don’t think there’s ever been an article I’ve opened up and said, “I’ve got to read that.” But then you get like 3000 words in and you say, “I’m so glad I started this thing.” (Once again via Kottke)
  • This high school commencement speech from Patton Oswalt includes one of the more insightful things I’ve read recently. He quotes Bob Hope as saying, “When I was twenty, I worried what everything thought of me. When I turned forty, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. And then I made it to sixty, and I realized no one was ever thinking of me.”
  • When Super Mario Bros characters fight back. (via the excellent new Team Tiger Awesome Variant Tumblr Edition)

That’s it for now I think. I’m exhausted and head back to New York tomorrow (am in San Diego at the moment). Good night.

Oh, actually, one more thing. Am on a little video podcast kick (enjoying them as a way to kill time at the gym). Anyone have any recommendations?

August 1, 2008