Links I liked (edition #2)

Hello again.

This is the second edition of Links I liked. You can find the first one here.

There’s a great blog called Not Exactly Rocket Science which has been around for a while and is now hosted by National Geographic. It covers a wide range of topics at a level of complexity that’s one step up from the popular science books of Gladwell et al, but still very accessible to non-experts.  That’s a trick statement, of course, since even experts in one specialism are basically interested and vaguely-educated observers in just about every other area of science. Anyway, here’s a fun article on how concepts are mapped in the human brain.

Basketball is fun to watch, perhaps because it happens in very short bursts of crazy activity. Good for those with short attention spans.  The NYT recently did a long profile of the Oklahoma City team, focusing on how darn nice they all are. Ironically, therefore perhaps not so good for those with short attention spans.

My friend and colleague Tom has a thing about sailing. He does it a lot, when he’s not writing the UK Government’s digital strategy, and he’s pretty good at it. Now he’s written a lovely, short piece about Malcolm Barnsley, the designer of the fastest sailboat in the world. As Tom says, “the brutal fact of the matter is that ideas are cheap. Malcolm spent a decade making a potentially great idea work.”

Okay, another piece about the US presidential election of 02012.  Nate Silver runs the numbers and explains what changed between 2008 and 2012 state by state.

Remember the Large Hadron Collider? The big tunnel under the Swiss-French border where they recently detected something that’s almost certainly a Higgs Boson. (There seems to be some uncertainty about whether it’s “the” Higgs boson, but we’ll save that for another day.)  Anyway, now that the excitement has died down it’s worth going back to January 2010 and re-reading this Vanity Fair piece about the origins of the LHC, the disaster of September 19th 02008 and the process of rebuilding that led to a press conference of beaming particle physicists on 4th July 02012. (Sorry about the pun.)

Finally, a long posting about the “three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet” (an example of each type being Flickr, Facebook and Heroku). It was originally written by Marc Andreessen, who was a co-founder of Netscape and is now a successful venture capital investor. For some reason his blog went offline a few years ago, but fortunately someone put a mostly-complete copy of his back catalogue on the Internet.  And if you liked that one you should also read (or re-read) Steve Yegge’s rant about why Google doesn’t build platforms like Amazon builds platforms.

That’s all for today. Sorry again for the lack of attribution (also known as the “hat tip“).

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