Raindance writes: "Scientific American recently explored how the traditional way of calculating calories has failed to keep up with science: "When the calorie was originally conceived it was in the context of human work... chemical fire with which to get the job done, coal in the human stove. Fat, it has been estimated, has nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and proteins have just four; fiber is sometimes counted separately and gets awarded a piddling two. Every box of every food you have ever bought is labeled based on these estimates; too bad then that they are so often wrong."
Raindance writes: "All the back-and-forth about Anonymous may obscure the real story: insurance. "even if Anonymous isn't behind the keyboard, so-called 'ethical hacking' is likely to increase in popularity. Given this, it'll become as common to hedge your risk from hacking as it is to hedge your risk from fire or flooding. But insurance companies aren't dumb, and it's likely that the premium on cybersecurity insurance will strongly reflect how much of a high-profile hacker target a company is. Just like it's more expensive to insure a coastal home from hurricanes, so too it'll be more expensive to insure a company popularly seen as brazenly greedy against hackers.""
Raindance writes: "A team at the University of Utah has unveiled a system to map and digitize brain tissue, fulfilling one of the long-standing holy grails of neuroscience and enabling for the first time in-depth analysis of how mammalian neural networks function. So far maps for the entire retina and related neural networks have been released; no ETA on a full-brain digital reconstruction yet. And yes, one of the lead authors reads Slashdot."
Raindance writes: "Legal expert John Tehranian has a new piece, Infringement Nation (PDF warning- also covered by Ars), that tallies the copyright liability from a 'hypothetical' law professor's daily routine to explore how pervasive and unavoidable copyright infringement has become to daily life — even without p2p. FTA: By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). There is nothing particularly extraordinary about John's activities. Yet if copyright holders were inclined to enforce their rights to the maximum extent allowed by law, he would be indisputably liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file sharing. Such an outcome flies in the face of our basic sense of justice. Indeed, one must either irrationally conclude that John is a criminal infringer — a veritable grand larcenist — or blithely surmise that copyright law must not mean what it appears to say. Something is clearly amiss. Moreover, the troublesome gap between copyright law and norms has grown only wider in recent years."
Raindance writes: "Jason Calacanis just launched Mahalo, a search engine where users get hand-crafted portal-like results. It's based on the theory that many people are searching for the same things, that search engine spam is making Google less useful for common queries, and that humans are still wiser than algorithms at sifting through results and finding the really good stuff. Essentially, the site plans to have employees (along with a dash of user-submitted content) build a portal of links to the best information for each popular search term. But the key to Mahalo's viability is that it can give people intelligent context about links. And context is king."
Raindance writes: "What fundamentally new things should we expect to arise from wikis? From Larry Sanger's Keynote at Germany's Handelsblatt IT Congress: "What if there were similar, Wikipedia-like global collaborations for every profession and global industry? Our professions and industries worldwide could use the same sort of collaborative techniques to create new kinds of resources that would be enormously valuable. Imagine what people in your industry, or your profession, could do if very many of them were ready to get together to collaborate online, Wikipedia-style.""
Raindance writes: "We at Citizendium have officially announced our non-profit status and have enabled self-registration on the wiki! People can now sign up under their real name, post a short bio, and edit. This is a major step, though it's still short of the formal launch we're planning once we know we can handle the traffic. If you want to help out, we're looking for donations for servers and bandwidth, and of course more contributors. Our very first "editor approved" article can be found here."
Raindance writes: "10zenmonkeys.com looks at the intersection of sociobiology and Kurzweil's idea of The Singularity, and explains why chicks don't dig it. FTA: "I think male geeks in the futurist community assume that human nature is the same as the nature of male geeks in the futurist community. And it's kind of become a little religion; we have our own Rapture and our own eschatology and all that sort of stuff. But I think the idea of merging with machine intelligence is not appealing to lots of different kinds of people. And so when we talk about it, we talk as if this tiny sector of human experience — and the kinds of enhancements male geeks want — is all that there is. But when you describe these kinds of things to most people, they're not necessarily enthused. They're more often afraid. So I think we need a clearer idea of what is universal in human needs to be able to explain The Singularity.""
Raindance writes: "Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, writes on why Web 2.0 developers should consider making special roles for experts, how aggregation without regard to expertise simply doesn't work for many sorts of collaborative decisions, and answers some common objections. FTA: "If you want to make sure you're doing a good job with some knowledge project, it's a good idea to let people who have the relevant knowledge make some decisions... Personally, as I said, I think this is totally obvious.""
Raindance writes: " Lawrence Lessig has announced the availability of his new book for download. FTA: "Code v2 is officially launched today. Some may remember Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, published in 1999. Code v2 is a revision to that book — not so much a new book, as a translation of (in Internet time) a very old book. Part of the update was done on a Wiki. The Wiki was governed by a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. So too is Code v2. Thus, at http://codev2.cc, you can download the book. Soon, you can update it further (we're still moving it into a new wiki). You can also learn a bit more about the history of the book, and aim of the revision. And finally, there are links to buy the book — more cheaply than you likely can print it yourself." All proceeds go to Creative Commons."
Raindance writes: "Larry Sanger, giving the keynote to SDForum, suggested a small-but-important alteration to the formula for building a Web 2.0 site: tap the wisdom of crowds, but also go out of your way to encourage and use contributions from experts. From the keynote: "Most Web 2.0 projects don't make any special role for experts. But I think they could involve experts, and they would benefit from involving experts so in many cases.... If you want to make sure you're doing a good job with some knowledge project, it's a good idea to let people who have the relevant knowledge make [certain] decisions.""
Raindance writes: "I've posted an in-depth look at Citizendium, Larry Sanger's new project and Wikipedia's new competitor. In a nutshell, Citizendium isn't just about building a better encyclopedia (though that is their goal)- it's also a pilot project for a new model of expert-guided radical collaboration with implications for things from open peer review to genome wikis. If you'd like to help out, they need both volunteers and donations.
note for editors: Sanger has said of my post, "This is probably the best thing yet written about Citizendium that I've seen. I'm extremely impressed by the clear thinking and research that went into it.""
Raindance writes: "The New York Times reports that Google is calling "for a shift from multivoltage power supplies to a single 12-volt standard. Although voltage conversion would still take place on the PC motherboard, the simpler design of the new power supply would make it easier to achieve higher overall efficiencies... The Google white paper argues that the opportunity for power savings is immense — by deploying the new power supplies in 100 million desktop PC's running eight hours a day, it will be possible to save 40 billion kilowatt-hours over three years, or more than $5 billion at California's energy rates." This may have something to do with the electricity bill for Google's estimated 450,000 servers."