New ‘Geeks Without Bounds’: sustainable geekery memification
Geeks Without Bounds is an inspiring Seattle-based group that I learned about through the Awesome Seattle foundation. Their work is similar in ways to NetHope and Benetech in terms of the sorts of networking and sustainability-review they hope to provide. But they are primarily volunteer-run, founded in the work already supported by hacker spaces around the world.
They focus on making hackathons and prototypes for humanitarian tech work in practice — implemented through local practitioners, and embraced by active communities of develoeprs once they have proven their use. I wish them and their network-building success. We need better circles of shared practice in this area of life!
Here’s an introductory video via Dailymotion.
The Mathematics that Matter for Planet Earth, in 2013
An idea born in 2010, by the American Mathematical Society and friends, now bearing fruit at a beautifully burgeoning MPE 2013 website.
The mathematics of interest includes everything related to four themes: Discovering the planet, Supporting life on the planet, Human organization on the planet, and Risks to the future of the planet.
Alex Howard scans digital bills of rights; says “use the original!”
Monday July 16th 2012, 3:23 pm
Filed under: meta
From his ‘Gov 2.0‘ O’Reilly blog:
Why propose principles for Internet freedom and a “Digital Bill of Rights” when existing ones will do? We the People need our existing Bill of Rights to apply in the digital domain.
Peter Sunde Pleas: ‘Pardon the Swedish people from court corruption’
Peter Sunde, public face of The Pirate Bay during its publicity and trial over the past six years, recently published a long personal essay about the experience.
It is a hair-raising story of judicial manipulation, international arm-twisting, and companies offering jobs to prosecutors in cases affecting them… breaking the design of the legal system in a few places. The result, for Sunde, has been a ridiculously punitive and overwhelming sentence and fine with, in his case, only circumstantial evidence. (he is asked to pay more in fines than he is likely to make in a lifetime.)
Thanks to Rick Falkvinge for translating the essay; and to Sunde for sharing it. Please read it.
Dilettantism? No, it’s intellectual vulgarization. -Philippe Charlier
Dr. Philippe Charlier, forensic historical sleuth, tries to recreate the life and death of figures throughout history, from his office in Paris. He spends much of his time popularizing his findings. Some in his field criticize this hypervisibility.
Charlier replies: “I want to share everything I know with the greatest number of people. What I do is not dilettantisml; it’s intellectual vulgarization.”
(HT to Elaine Sciolino & the Grey Lady)
Hawking on the Higgs: It’s a pity in a way… I just lost $100.
Responding to the announced discovery of the Higgs particle, superhero physicist Stephen Hawking said in a BBC interview:
“The results at Fermilab in america, and CERN in switzerland,
strongly suggest we have found the Higgs particle,
the particle that gives mass to other particles.
If the decay and other interactions of this particle are as we expect,
it will be strong evidence for the so-called Standard Model of
particle physics, the theory that explains all our experiments so far.
This is an important result, and should earn Peter Higgs a Nobel Prize.
But it is a – a pity in a way, because the greatest advances in physics
have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.
For this reason, I had a bet with Gordon Kane at Michigan University
that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found.
it seems I have just lost $100.”
Higgs boson confirmed! World’s media mass At CERN in celebration.
Wednesday July 04th 2012, 1:34 pm
Filed under: %a la mod
,Glory, glory, glory
Today CERN and FERMILAB announced 5σ confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson , inspiring a burst of heady live coverage from the Guardian. (CERN had leaked a video about the discovery the day before, so everyone knew what was coming, and turned up for today’s Higgs seminar. All of the scientists who had worked on early versions of the theory that pointed towards such a boson also flew in the the seminar, which continues tomorrow.)
CERN has posted and archived beautiful 360-degree photos of the day, a video of the press conference (rather dull), and will soon post a recording of the day’s seminar (which was live-streamed and amazing; come back for it tomorrow).
The media as usual tries valiantly to explain things in a down-to-earth way that is both simplistic and true, but is generally failing. As with a few other recent scientific breakthroughs, I am grateful that Wikipedia offers solid explanations of the topics at hand, and through the magic of hyperlinks (which news agencies are still struggling with allows exploration of the topics in as much depth as you like.
Related reading: supersymmetry, scalar field theory, htlhcdtwy.
 Note the careful, conservative trend in particle physics: the labs making the discovery are all quick to say they’ve discovered the existence of at least one new particle, which matches the profile of the Higgs boson; it could be one or more of its sibling bosons that have been discovered – supersymmetry suggests there could be 5 of them.
Sudo make me an Internet
Over the past year, in the US, Italy and other countries, Internet communities have flexed their muscles and demonstrated their popularity and capacity for organizing public opinion, by convincing lawmakers not to pass bills that would have made life difficult for ‘Net service providers and site owners.
Recently, two US Congressmen who were important opponents of SOPA in the House and Senate, Darrell Issa and Ron Wyden, called for and then published a draft Digital Citizen’s Bill of Rights, which they opened for public annotation and comment. (Kudos for the concept and quick turnaround – that’s a more direct engagement of readers than any other political effort I’ve seen recently. But I hope they keep developing the platform, or move it to something more refactorable.)
This week a more global network of organizations that strive for open access to knowledge and the Internet have published a “Declaration of Internet Freedom“, calling for governments and institutions and people everywhere to support a similar set of principles that support what we have come to think of as a free (and adaptable) Internet. I support that effort, as do the EFF, Public Knowledge, Free Press, and the Cheezburger empire. Even if the ‘declaration’ is more a proposition of principles to uphold.
You can sign on to the declaration online.
P.S. for an explanation of the subject, see this.