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2125 words in the last two days, 54,985 since January 1. Most of the words so far this month have to do with either the Venice project or a retelling of the Fenris myth. The Fenris story is the reason why I keep all my old notebooks: I'd almost forgotten about it, but recently figured out a new approach that's reignited my interest.
A group of MIT students hopes to turn the Infinite Corridor into a virtual aquarium, putting pedestrians into the "tank." There's a useful technical purpose, too. The iQuarium project is also a virtual towing tank and water tunnel for ocean engineering research.
Dictators always fall in the end. Outraged citizens, nastier thugs, or just plain mortality catch up with even the most brutal and repressive regimes. An overemphasis on stability, Ralph Peters argues, too often leads American foreign policy to act against American values.
The idea of the Total Information Awareness program is to combine databases to find suspicious patterns. Suppose, for instance, that someone buys large quantities of fertilizer and big mixing tubs, rents a private storage unit, and then a few days later rents a truck or van. Unfortunately, putting the databases containing all that information together in one place creates huge privacy concerns. Even if you're completely innocent, you don't necessarily want your neighbor, the FBI agent, to have access to your credit card and medical records.
Entity resolution technology may offer a partial solution to the problem. It uses one-way hashing to create "fingerprints" of data records. A group of related records will have similar fingerprints, allowing investigators to spot patterns without having access to the full data stream. Tracing suspicious records to individual people would require additional cooperation from the owner of the data stream.
Many issues remain that this approach doesn't even begin to address, notably data accuracy and possible misuse of data by law enforcement. Still, it's a start.
Word count update: 1950 words since my last update, 52,860 since January 1.
Neutron stars are really weird. So are Bose-Einstein condensates. Even stranger, the two seem to be weird in very similar ways.
Interesting commentary in Wired about what has, and hasn't, changed in the last 500 years.
It looks like at least some people in the music industry are realizing, finally, that online music isn't going away, and maybe it might be a good idea to figure out what consumers actually want.
"We moved to the notion that we are a content company and our content will have the greatest value for us and our artists if it's ubiquitously available and we enable the maximum number of business models to thrive," said John Rose, an executive vice president of EMI.
(New York Times link, free registration required.)
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