Reading list for March 2014

Here are some interesting things to have a look at:

  • In a entertaining long post entitled “Bar des Sciences: Débat sur le Big Data”, Arthur Charpentier explains how “big data” makes theories obsoletes. Take a huge amount of data, and a bit of statistics and you can explain everything without having to understand anything. This reminds me of a debate against the Semantic Web some time ago which was also over inferring semantics from data rather than explicitly state such semantics in the data as the Semantic Web advocates. Turns out the supporters of the former approach are now also using the later too… The post also highlights the not-so-new privacy issues related to having big data.
  • Speaking about privacy, Google is considering that the right to forget does not exist any more on-line (see also this article). Everything one does and share on a social network is and will remain on-line for the many years to come. According to Schmidt and Cohen, we have no alternative but to trust the companies we give away our data to. They argue this trust is necessary when privacy and revolutions are at stake, taking the example of developing countries leading a revolution with the support of popular social networks. Companies operating these networks have to be trusted for not giving away the data and doing their best to prevent being attacked and see the data stolen.
  • The rise of OpenStreetMap: A quest to conquer Google’s mapping empire” by Paul Sawers gives an impression of where OSM cames from and where it is heading to. A very interesting post about open, crowd-sourced, data and the challenges this represents. OSM is not begging for money, or looking for contributors, or trying to sell the data. All of that works fine. There biggest challenge, besides getting more addresses filled in, is to get a small acknowledgement on the maps. Surprisingly, nobody seem to complain about having this enforced by Google on his mapping software but do not want to freely add it to mapping tools using OSM data (some even falsely credit Google for it!). Is it the problem that Open Data is not as trusted as commercially backed data ? Maybe OSM would look more “serious” and worth acknowledging if the data would be closed and sold to users – though I hope this won’t happen any time soon.
  • One of the coolest DIY project around: “How to Make a Microscope Out of Paper in 10 Minutes“. Yep, no typo and it will cost you no more than 1$ to get a 2000x magnification factor. This fantastic innovation is a origami-like microscope than can be printed and assembled at a very low cost. The only last missing parts are a lens, a LED and a small battery. All of this easy to find pretty much anywhere.
  • In “How much semantic data on small devices?” Mathieu d’Aquin et al. describe an interesting study on getting some triple stores (Jena, Sesame and Mulgara) to run on an Asus EEEpc and measuring their performances in terms of capacity and reasoning performed. They show that full-featured systems can indeed be used on small-scale hardware (to some extent).
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I am a researcher mainly interested in : architectures for publishing, consuming and preserving Linked Open Data in low-resource contexts; complex systems; education; data visualisation; video games

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Posted in Reading
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