Friday, March 23, 2007

Believing What You Write

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has a fascinating blog post based on a book called Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini. He says it claims that people tend to end up believing whatever they write, even if they are asked to write what they don't at all believe in.

I've previously made the observation that I end up believing what I deny is true—largely, I think, because I end up double-checking whether it really isn't true, and there's usually some truth to most sides of most issues.

Scott Adams has further made the observation that what he writes becomes true. In one of his books, he wrote about how he used the method of Affirmations, essentially writing, instead of "I shouldn't rip the school bus seats", "I'll make a million dollars selling comics" or some-such, and, sure enough, it became true after a few years.

Fascinating stuff.

Thanks to Q for the link.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Software Personalities

Kathy Sierra has a great post with illustrations of software application personalities.

Does that make the interface hall of shame something like a rehab? ;-)

I've often wondered what will happen when we start introducing speech recognition to operating systems in a serious way. Software developers could do great things with the talk-back I'm sure their applications would get....

Thanks to Neville Hobson for the link.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Physics and Biology

WIRED has an interesting article on physics and biology. By the title, I thought maybe it would be along the lines of what I think is an interesting observation about physics and biology: namely that on the one hand we know from biology of one way in which "particles" reproduce or clone each other, and from physics, we observe incredible numbers of identical particles at various levels of granularity. How did they come to be, e.g. from something simpler and "fewer"?

But, instead, it seems to be a more traditional primacy-of-existence vs. primacy-of-consciousness style discussion. It's an interesting dialog, which I would like to write a sci-fi novel about some day. Imagine a world in which metaphysics is created and defined individually and collectively by minds. Take it straight. What would it mean?

Open Architecture Network

"Consider it the for architects wanting to meet community leaders and nonprofits with open dance cards, when it comes to backers and builders for a project."

The Open Architecture Network sounds like an interesting idea, funded by a TED prize.

It seems relevant to Startup Cents on multiple levels.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Digital Age OCD

WIRED has a look at the latest version of syllogomania and disposophobia (I hadn't heard the terms either).

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I hadn't realized Ning was Marc Andreesen's. WIRED has a story about it.

I tried it out some time ago, and I thought it decent, but template editing was not for the faint of heart. Rather than using some form of metadata or abstraction, I think it was all straight PHP.

It's a neat idea, but I'm afraid that like with Aspect-Oriented Programming it's great at solving a very narrow class of problems. And, how many different LibraryThing lookalikes can we use? To create a truly 10X better flickr, or LibraryThing, or MySpace, I think one will need to do more than tweak some PHP. But, it could be that every local book club wants their own site, for example. But, I think as we move more and more toward enabling global interactions, that type of customization becomes less interesting.

Where Does All the Dead Code Go?

Tax time is approaching, and I need to get a letter out to the remains of a company I worked for in order to show the IRS an attempt on my part to get a W2 (a tax form saying how much I earned, and how much tax was withheld) from a company that refused to pay its employees after services had already been rendered, and would have provided the W2s long ago if it intended to do so. (Lawyers have requested the unpaid salaries, and have been flatly refused, with silly finger-pointing exercises.)

Anyway, it's got me thinking: What a shame that presumably millions or even billions of lines of code basically sit out their days in closets in companies that go under. Is there already a foundation to which such code can be donated or sold for pennies?

It's not like such code has any value to the companies that no longer exist, and any potential for selling IP after a bankruptcy quickly declines, because old code quickly looses its relevance. People reuse tends to be much more highly valued than code reuse.

But, why not metaphorically flush the code into the Open Source repository, where it might just possibly get harvested? I did hear of code making into Open Source after a company goes bankrupt, but is there some company or foundation that makes it easy, painless, and maybe publicizes it?