Hugh Pickens recommends a long piece in last week's NY Times Magazine covering a wide swath of research and thinking in the US and elsewhere on the subject of the perils to society of recording everything permanently, and the idea that perhaps we ought to build forgetting into the Internet. "We've known for years that the Web allows for unprecedented voyeurism, exhibitionism, and inadvertent indiscretion, but we are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent — and public — digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is, at an almost existential level, threatening to our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew. In a recent book, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, the cyberscholar Viktor Mayer-Schönberger cites the case of Stacy Snyder — who was denied a teaching certificate on the basis of a single photo on MySpace — as a reminder of the importance of 'societal forgetting.' By erasing external memories, he says in the book, 'our society accepts that human beings evolve over time, that we have the capacity to learn from past experiences and adjust our behavior.' In traditional societies, where missteps are observed but not necessarily recorded, the limits of human memory ensure that people's sins are eventually forgotten. By contrast, Mayer-Schönberger notes, a society in which everything is recorded 'will forever tether us to all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them.' He concludes that 'without some form of forgetting, forgiving becomes a difficult undertaking.'"
Wilder Publication is under fire for putting warning labels on copies of historical US documents, including the Constitution. The label warns "This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today." From the article: "The disclaimer goes on to tell parents that they 'might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.'"
Raul654 writes "In March, the jury in the Novell/SCO case found that Novell owns the copyright to Unix. Now, SCO's lawyers have asked judge Ted Stewart to order Novell to turn over the Unix copyright to them. 'SCO contends the jury did not answer the specific issue before Stewart that involves a legal principle called "specific performance," under which a party can ask a court to order another party to fulfill an aspect of an agreement.'" Over at Groklaw, PJ is deep into a community project to annotate SCO's filing. It's for the benefit of future historians, but it makes amusing reading now.
dcblogs writes "H-1B workers and foreign students may think twice about attending school or working in Arizona as a result of the state's new immigration law. If a police officer has a 'reasonable suspicion' about the immigration status of someone, the officer may ask to see proof of legal status. Federal immigration law requires all non-US citizens, including H-1B workers, to carry documentation, but 'no state until Arizona has made it a crime to not have that paperwork on your person,' said immigration lawyer Sarah Hawk. It means that an H-1B holder risks detention every time they make a 7-11 run if they don't have their papers, or if their paperwork is out of date because US immigration authorities are behind in processing (which condition does not make them illegal). The potential tech backlash over the law may have begun yesterday with a call by San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera 'to adopt and implement a sweeping boycott of the State of Arizona and Arizona-based businesses.'"
An anonymous reader writes "According to IEEE Spectrum, Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, who had previously built a robot copy of himself, has now created a new android — and it's a 'she.' Geminoid F, a copy of a woman in her 20s with long dark hair, exhibits facial expressions more naturally than Ishiguro's previous android. 'Whereas the Geminoid HI-1 has some 50 actuators, the new Geminoid F has just 12. What's more, the HI-1 robot requires a large external box filled with compressors and valves. With Geminoid F, the researchers embedded air servo valves and an air servo control system into its body, so the android requires only a small external compressor.' It's also much better looking. Has the Japanese android master finally overcome the uncanny valley?"
pcause writes "Silicon Alley Insider has the most damning evidence released in the Viacom/YouTube suit. It seems clear from these snippets that YouTube knew it was pirating content, and did it to grow fast and sell for a lot of money. It also seems clear that Google knew the site contained pirated content and bought it and continued the pirating."
In yet another move to display how antiquated and completely ignorant of digital culture he is, Rupert Murdoch has started demanding that Amazon hand over user info for all Kindle users. This demand comes right after Murdoch just finished negotiating a larger share of revenue from Amazon sales. At least Amazon hasn't decided to comply with this request yet. "'As I've said before, the traditional business model has to change rapidly to ensure that our journalistic businesses can return to their old margins of profitability,' Murdoch said. 'Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalizing its ability to produce good reporting.'"
mmmscience writes "A group of scientists has identified a structure in the brain of psychopaths that is abnormal when compared with controls. The change is found in the uncinate fasciculus, a bridge of white matter that connects the amygdala (emotion/aggression brain region) and the orbitofrontal cortex (decision making region). Interestingly, the greater the abnormality in the region, the more severe the levels of sociopathy in a subject. The results were published as 'Altered connections on the road to psychopathy' in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. A researcher on the team suggests the finding could have considerable implications in the world of criminal justice, where such scans could one day be presented as evidence in a trial." The study's results have not yet been replicated by other researchers.
theodp writes "Slate's Farhad Manjoo had high hopes for using the Kindle DX — Amazon's new large-screen e-reader — to read newspapers. A good first effort, says Manjoo, who concludes that for now newsprint still beats the $489 Kindle. While he has issues with latency, what he really misses relates to graphic design. The Kindle presents news as a list, leaving a reader to guess which pieces are most important to read. Newspapers, by contrast, opine on the importance of the day's news using easy-to-understand design conventions — important stories appear on front pages, with the most important ones going higher on the page and getting more space and bigger headlines. Also, because of its overnight delivery model, Manjoo gripes that the Kindle suffers from a lack of timeliness, making it not even as good as a smartphone."
incognito84 writes "The development team responsible for the creation of the freeware game America's Army 3 has been canned, days after the launch of the highly flawed game, which was distributed mostly via Steam. 'The anonymous America's Army 3 developers in touch with Kotaku unsurprisingly didn't sound too pleased with the current situation, venting that "a lot of good people [worked] insanely long hours on this game that was butchered by outside sources.' The game's launch was plagued by massive server authentication issues which inhibited most players from playing it even two days afterward. One of the developers made a post on the official forums saying they were 'effectively stabbed in the back,' and that much of the funding was filtered to the bureaucracy. A patch has been released to address some of the game's issues."
The first case is canonical and often pointed to, but I find it problematic in many cases. Mentoring is always a good goal but I think that for real development work, if there is a large disparity between the skillsets it can lead to the more experienced engineer becoming frustrated and essentially feeling less productive (as the mentoree is not contributing much in the way of actual implementation). Similarly, it can be like drinking from a fire hose or the less experienced person. So while it is an effective technique in some cases, it is (in my experience) quite domain and problem specific, and if the gap in skills is too large, it simply does not work well. The second example you give is where it really can stand out though, in the spirit of the first example as well; bringing a second experienced dev up to speed in the first dev's domain.
CWmike writes "Sun Micro plans to launch an App Store that could make Apple's look smaller than a 7-Eleven by comparison, CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote on his blog this week. Schwartz indicated the Java App Store, code-named Project Vector, will focus on PC users and estimated the size of the community at 1 billion. Sun plans to allow Java application developers to submit programs to a simple Web site so the company can evaluate them for safety and content before presenting them to the Java audience. Sun will charge for distribution. The company will reveal more details at its JavaOne conference, which opens June 2 in San Francisco, Schwartz said."
In addition to the piracy troubles that plagued Demigod's launch (and partly exacerbated by them), Stardock and Gas Powered Games ran into severe networking issues that hampered their ability to accommodate players with a legitimately purchased copy of the game. Brad Wardell has now posted a frank, detailed explanation of what happened and how they dealt with it. Quoting: "Demigod's connectivity problems have basically boiled down to 1 bad design decision and 1 architectural limitation. The bad design decision was made in December of 2008 when it was decided to have the network library hand off sockets to Demigod proper. In most games, the connection between players is handled purely by one source. ... So in Demigod, on launch day, Alice would host a game. Tom would be connected to Alice by the network library and then that socket would be handed to Demigod. Then, Alice and Tom would open a new socket to listen for more players to join in. As a result, a user might end up using a half dozen ports and sockets which some routers didn't like and it just made things incredibly complex to connect people and put a lot of strain on the servers to manage all those connections.