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Comment Housebuilding is already open source: chokepoints. (Score 4, Insightful) 96

The website notes the project is in its early stages. So it's either in "ideas debating" mode or "vapourware" if you want to be less generous.

House building is already open source: all the information is out there in your local public library / on the internet. Nothing is closed to you in the way that you can't look inside some proprietary software to understand what's going on. If you have the time, you can read up on everything from applying for the legal permissions to put up a house, designing a building, and all the way through to finding out how to dig trenches, run electric cables and paint walls. Nothing is closed from you (certainly in the majority of countries in the world).

There are choke points: the expense of hiring architects, specialised builders, legal advisors. None of these are closed to you. What you are doing is saving the years it takes to learn these trades and paying somebody else to do these tasks because its quicker, so more efficient for you in energy terms. There is a small but consistently strong movement in many countries of people who already build their own homes, where they have made the choice to give up their jobs as computer programmers/nurses/rangers/whatever and spend several hundred hours digging trenches, laying brickwork, drawing architectural diagrams etc. It's already open source.

I think what these people might be doing is trying to shortcut the architectural expert choke point and break architects' hold on construction. But at the end of the day if you want a self build house, you're still going to have to go up a ladder and move heavy things around a lot and deal with construction elements that need careful attention, like mains electricity, water piping and gas.

Comment More like marketing: "Over 48 hours!" (Score 1) 72

The odd minutes may add up but I suspect it sounds better in marketing-speak: "Over 48 hours!" sounds more impressive than "48 hours 1 minute" or "2 days" perhaps?

Plus as somebody else had noted maybe there's a government contract which specifies money will be given if a prototype can be shown to run for at least 48 hours. Over 48 hours? 48 hours 1 minute, send us the money!.

Comment has your money and chooses... (Score 1) 130

"Funny how broke-ass Russia can afford to spend 50B next year ..."
Priorities... you have your national budget and you decide how you want to spend it. Most people think their government should spend more on X (the thing they are passionate about) and less on Y (the thing they don't care about). I guess you have to decide how to slice up the cake.

Comment At a crude level, how does this work? (Score 1) 398

Broadly speaking, how does this mining work (yes, too lazy to go and read, but you appear to be knowledgeable so I thought I'd come straight to primary expertise than secondary documentation...)?

- I set my computer to using downtime to run problem solving software that the bitcoin people provide? In a certain amount of time, made more efficient by running lots of computers simultaneously, I am granted some currency (which has real world value) for doing so?

Is this how mining basically works?

I win bitcoins by dedicating computers to some mathematical task? The bitcoin owners pay me to put my computers onto a task? They pay me a virtual currency that I can then trade for real money?


Comment cheaper if less profit made... (Score 3, Informative) 128

I'd like to see some evidence that publishing a journal requires each article to be costed at 2995 dollars (a suspicious looking figure to me).

I'm an academic. I get asked to peer review articles for free. We do it as part of our workload. I have colleagues who edit journals. They do this for free. I author articles: I do this within the costs of my project, the journal gets my article for free. Authors work for free, reviewers work for free, editors work for free. It's just the production and publicity team that get paid (the publishing house). We don't even expect them to roll the presses and produce paper versions these days, we are happy with web links to PDFs.

So we need to think hard about what the costs are in putting an online journal live onto the internet.

Why do academics continue to publish in closed journals? because generally they are still the high impact ones (with a very few exceptions). So I, and many other contract researchers like me, tend to publish in closed journals because these look better on the cv. Philosophical high ground is all well and good but when you've got a child to feed and a house to pay for you have to be pragmatic and keep in a job.

I can imagine this might change over the next 20 years or so as more and more folk start open access journals and they are gradually given greater impact ratings.

Personally I think we're going to see a few universities taking the lead with open access journals and this might break into the monopoly held by a small number of publishers right now. If you're doing it not-for-profit you can do it cheaper than a commercial publishing house that has to show profit to its shareholders.

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