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Four short links: 30 May 2014

By Nat Torkington
May 30, 2014

Video Quality Report — transparency is a great way to indirectly exert leverage. Control Your Traffic Flows with Software — using BGP to balance traffic. Will be interesting to see how the more extreme traffic managers deploy SDN in the …

Four short links: 29 May 2014

By Nat Torkington
May 29, 2014

Beyond the Stack (Mike Loukides) — tools and processes to support software developers who are as massively distributed as the code they build. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 (PDF) — the changes on slide 34 are interesting: usage moving away …

Four short links: 3 April 2014

By Nat Torkington
April 3, 2014

dat — github-like tool for data, still v. early. It’s overdue. (via Nelson Minar) Novena Open Laptop — Bunnie Huang’s laptop goes on sale. Crowd Forecasting (NPR) — How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google …

Four short links: 1 April 2014

By Nat Torkington
April 1, 2014

Connected for a Purpose (Jim Stogdill) — At a recent conference, an executive at a major auto manufacturer described his company’s efforts to digitize their line-up like this: “We’re basically wrapping a two-ton car around an iPad. Eloquent critique of …

Four short links: 27 March 2014

By Nat Torkington
March 25, 2014

2D Image Post-Processing Techniques and Algorithms (DIY Drones) — understanding how automated image matching and processing tools work means you can also get a better understanding how to shoot your images and what to prevent to get good matches. Scientists …

Open data can drive partnerships with government

By Andy Oram
March 24, 2014

As governments and businesses — and increasingly, all of us who are Internet-connected — release data out in the open, we come closer to resolving the tiresomely famous and perplexing quote from Stewart Brand: “Information wants to be free. Information …

Four short links: 10 March 2014

By Nat Torkington
March 10, 2014

Wolfram Language — a broad attempt to integrate types, operations, and databases along with deployment, parallelism, and real-time I/O. The demo video is impressive, not just in execution but in ambition. Healthy skepticism still necessary. Maury, Innovation, and Change (Cory …

Four short links: 28 February 2014

By Nat Torkington
February 28, 2014

Programming Minecraft Pi with Python — an early draft, but shows promise for kids. (via Raspberry Pi) Terasaur — BitTorrent for mad-large files, making it easy for datasets to be saved and exchanged. Bucky — Open-source tool to measure the …

Four short links: 13 February 2014

By Nat Torkington
February 13, 2014

The Common Crawl WWW Ranking — open data, open methodology, behind an open ranking of the top sites on the web. Preprint paper available. (via Slashdot) Felton’s Sensors (Quartz) — inside the gadgets Nicholas Felton uses to quantify himself. Myo …

Four short links: 30 January 2014

By Nat Torkington
January 30, 2014

$200k of Spaceships Destroyed (The Verge) — More than 2,200 of the game’s players, members of EVE’s largest alliances, came together to shoot each other out of the sky. The resultant damage was valued at more than $200,000 of real-world …

Four short links: 21 January 2014

By Nat Torkington
January 21, 2014

On Being a Senior Engineer (Etsy) — Mature engineers know that no matter how complete, elegant, or superior their designs are, it won’t matter if no one wants to work alongside them because they are assholes. Control Theory (Coursera) — …

Four short links: 23 December 2013

By Nat Torkington
December 23, 2013

DelFly Explorer — 20 grams, 9 minutes of autonomous flight, via barometer and new stereo vision system. (via Wayne Radinsky) Banning Autonomous Killing Machines (Tech Republic) — While no autonomous weapons have been built yet, it’s not a theoretical concern, …

Four short links: 4 December 2013

By Nat Torkington
December 4, 2013

Skyjack — drone that takes over other drones. Welcome to the Malware of Things. Bootstrap World — a curricular module for students ages 12-16, which teaches algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming. (via Esther Wojicki) Harvest — open source …

Four short links: 28 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 28, 2013

OpenRefine — Google abandoned the excellent Refine tool for working with data sets, now picked up and developed by open source community. Intel’s Arduino-Compatible Board — launched at MakerFaire Rome. (via Wired UK) Game Maven — learn to code by …

Four short links: 26 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 26, 2013

The Death and Life of Great Internet Cities — “The sense that you were given some space on the Internet, and allowed to do anything you wanted to in that space, it’s completely gone from these new social sites,” said …

Four short links: 18 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 18, 2013

The Virtuous Pipeline of Code (Public Resource) — Chicago partnering with Public Resource to open its legal codes for good. “This is great! What can we do to help?” Bravo Chicago, and everyone else—take note! Smithsonian’s 3D Data — models …

Four short links: 1 October 2013

By Nat Torkington
September 29, 2013

Farmbot Wiki — open-source, scalable, automated precision farming machines. Amazon’s Chaotic Storage — photos from inside an Amazon warehouse. At the heart of the operation is a sophisticated database that tracks and monitors every single product that enters/leaves the warehouse …

Four short links: 2 August 2013

By Nat Torkington
August 1, 2013

Unhappy Truckers and Other Algorithmic Problems — Even the insides of vans are subjected to a kind of routing algorithm; the next time you get a package, look for a three-letter letter code, like “RDL.” That means “rear door left,” …

Ways to put the patient first when collecting health data

By Andy Oram
June 10, 2013

The timing was superb for last week’s Health Privacy Summit, held on June 5 and 6 in Washington, DC. First, it immediately followed the 2000-strong Health Data Forum (Health Datapalooza), where concern for patients rights came up repeatedly. Secondly, scandals …

Strata Week: President Obama opens up U.S. government data

By Jenn Webb
May 10, 2013

U.S. government data to be machine-readable, Nicole Wong may fill new White House chief privacy officer role The U.S. government took major steps this week to open up government data to the public. U.S. President Obama signed an executive order …

Linking open data to augmented intelligence and the economy

By Alex Howard
April 30, 2013

After years of steady growth, open data is now entering into public discourse, particularly in the public sector. If President Barack Obama decides to put the White House’s long-awaited new open data mandate before the nation this spring, it will …

Sprinting toward the future of Jamaica

By Alex Howard
April 18, 2013

Creating the conditions for startups to form is now a policy imperative for governments around the world, as Julian Jay Robinson, minister of state in Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, reminded the attendees at the “Developing the …

Strata Week: Our phones are giving us away

By Jenn Webb
March 29, 2013

Mobile phone mobility traces ID users with only four data points A study published this week by Scientific Reports, Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility, shows that the location data in mobile phones is posing an …

Four short links: 28 March 2013

By Nat Torkington
March 28, 2013

What American Startups Can Learn From the Cutthroat Chinese Software Industry — It follows that the idea of “viral” or “organic” growth doesn’t exist in China. “User acquisition is all about media buys. Platform-to-platform in China is war, and it …

Sensoring the news

By Alex Howard
March 22, 2013

When I went to the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival to host a conversation with NPR’s Javaun Moradi about sensors, society and the media, I thought we would be talking about the future of data journalism. By the time I left …

The City of Chicago wants you to fork its data on GitHub

By Alex Howard
March 19, 2013

GitHub has been gaining new prominence as the use of open source software in government grows. Earlier this month, I included a few thoughts from Chicago’s chief information officer, Brett Goldstein, about the city’s use of GitHub, in a piece …

GitHub gains new prominence as the use of open source within governments grows

By Alex Howard
March 8, 2013

When it comes to government IT in 2013, GitHub may have surpassed Twitter and Facebook as the most interesting social network.  GitHub’s profile has been rising recently, from a Wired article about open source in government, to its high profile …

Governments looking for economic ROI must focus on open data with business value

By Alex Howard
February 25, 2013

There’s increasing interest in the open data economy from the research wings of consulting firms. Capgemini Consulting just published a new report on the open data economy. McKinsey’s Global Institute is following up its research on big data with an …

White House moves to increase public access to scientific research online

By Alex Howard
February 22, 2013

Today, the White House responded to a We The People e-petition that asked for free online access to taxpayer-funded research. As part of the response, John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, released …

VA looks to apply innovation to better care and service for veterans

By Alex Howard
February 21, 2013

There are few areas as emblematic of a nation’s values than how it treats the veterans of its wars. As improved battlefield care keeps more soldiers alive from injuries that would have been lethal in past wars, more grievously injured …

Personal data ownership drives market transparency and empowers consumers

By Alex Howard
February 13, 2013

On Monday morning, the Obama administration launched a new community focused on consumer data at While there was no new data to be found among the 507 datasets listed there, it was the first time that smart disclosure has …

Looking at the many faces and forms of data journalism

By Alex Howard
February 7, 2013

Over the past year, I’ve been investigating data journalism. In that work, I’ve found no better source for understanding the who, where, what, how and why of what’s happening in this area than the journalists who are using and even …

Investing in the open data economy

By Alex Howard
February 5, 2013

If you had 10 million pounds to spend on open data research, development and startups, what would you do with it? That’s precisely the opportunity that Gavin Starks (@AgentGav) has been given as the first CEO of the Open Data …

NASA launches second International Space Apps Challenge

By Alex Howard
January 31, 2013

From April 20 to April 21, on Earth Day, the second international Space Apps Challenge will invite developers on all seven continents to the bridge to contribute code to NASA projects. Given longstanding concerns about the sustainability of apps contests, …

Open data economy: Eight business models for open data and insight from Deloitte UK

By Alex Howard
January 28, 2013

When I asked whether the push to free up government data was resulting in economic activity and startup creation, I started to receive emails from people around the United States and Europe. I’ll be publishing more of what I learned …

Four short links: 28 January 2013

By Nat Torkington
January 28, 2013

Aaron’s Army — powerful words from Carl Malamud. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must …

Making open data more valuable, one micropayment at a time

By Alex Howard
January 23, 2013

When it comes to making sense of the open data economy, tracking cents is valuable. In San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee’s administration has reinvigorated city efforts to release open data for economic benefits, entrepreneur Yo Yoshida has made the …

U.S. House makes legislative data more open to the people in XML

By Alex Howard
January 11, 2013

It was a good week for open government data in the United States Congress. On Tuesday, the Clerk of the House made House floor summaries available in bulk XML format. Yesterday, the House of Representatives announced that it will make …

14 big trends to watch in 2013

By Alex Howard
December 22, 2012

2012 was a remarkable year for technology, government and society. In our 2012 year in review, we looked back at 10 trends that mattered. Below, we look ahead to the big ideas and technologies that will change the world, again. …

Big, open and more networked than ever: 10 trends from 2012

By Alex Howard
December 22, 2012

In 2012, technology-accelerated change around the world was driven by the wave of social media, data and mobile devices. In this year in review, we look back at some of the stories that mattered here at Radar and look ahead …

Making dollars and sense of the open data economy

By Alex Howard
December 11, 2012

Over the past several years, I’ve been writing about how government data is moving into the marketplaces, underpinning ideas, products and services. Open government data and application programming interfaces to distribute it, more commonly known as APIs, increasingly look like …

Panjiva uses government data to build a global search engine for commerce

By Alex Howard
December 6, 2012

“If you go back to how we got started,” mused Josh Green, “government data really is at the heart of that story.” Green, who co-founded Panjiva with Jim Psota in 2006, was demonstrating the newest version of to me …

The United States (Code) is on Github

By Alex Howard
December 6, 2012

When Congress launched in beta, they didn’t open the data. This fall, a trio of open government developers took it upon themselves to do what custodians of the U.S. Code and laws in the Library of Congress could have …

Investigating data journalism

By Alex Howard
November 26, 2012

Great journalism has always been based on adding context, clarity and compelling storytelling to facts. While the tools have improved, the art is the same: explaining the who, what, where, when and why behind the story. The explosion of data, …

Four short links: 5 November 2012

By Nat Torkington
November 5, 2012

The Psychology of Everything (YouTube) — illustrating some of the most fundamental elements of human nature through case studies about compassion, racism, and sex. (via Mind Hacks) Reports of Exempt Organizations (Public Resource) — This service provides bulk access to …

Tracking the data storm around Hurricane Sandy

By Alex Howard
October 29, 2012

Just over fourteen months ago, social, mapping and mobile data told the story of Hurricane Irene. As a larger, more unusual late October storm churns its way up the East Coast, the people in its path are once again acting …

San Francisco looks to tap into the open data economy

By Alex Howard
October 19, 2012

As interest in open data continues to grow around the world, cities have become laboratories for participatory democracy. They’re also ground zero for new experiments in spawning civic startups that deliver city services or enable new relationships between the people …

Data from health care reviews could power “Yelp for health care” startups

By Alex Howard
October 17, 2012

Given where my work and health has taken me this year, I’ve been thinking much more about the relationship of the Internet and health data to accountability and patient-driven health care. When I was looking for a place in Maine …

Four key trends changing digital journalism and society

By Alex Howard
September 28, 2012

It’s not just a focus on data that connects the most recent class of Knight News Challenge winners. They all are part of a distributed civic media community that works on open source code, collects and improves data, and collaborates …

Congress launches in beta, doesn’t open the data

By Alex Howard
September 19, 2012

The Library of Congress is now more responsive — at least when it comes to web design. Today, the nation’s repository for its laws launched a new beta website at and announced that it would eventually replace, the …

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