A fascinating thought experiment from Ted Chiang:
So let’s imagine a world in which Chinese characters were never invented in the first place. Given such a void, the alphabet might have spread east from India in a way that it couldn’t in our history, but, to keep this from being an Indo-Eurocentric thought experiment, let’s suppose that the ancient Chinese invented their own phonetic system of writing, something like the modern Bopomofo, some thirty-two hundred years ago. What might the consequences be?
An examination of how sites like The Session are meshing with older ideas of traditional Irish music:
There is a very interesting tension at play here – one that speaks directly to the design of new technologies. On the one hand, Irish musicians appear to be enthusiastically adopting digital media to establish a common repertoire of tunes, while on the other the actual performance of these tunes in a live session is governed by a strong etiquette that emphasizes the importance of playing by ear.
There’s an accompanying paper called Supporting Traditional Music-Making: Designing for Situated Discretion (PDF).
Like an Enid Blyton adventure for the 21st century, James goes out into the country and explores the networks of microwave transmitters enabling high-frequency trading.
If you think that London’s skyscraper boom is impressive – the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin – go to Slough. It is not height that matters, but bandwidth.
A really nice short film about the Willie Clancy Summer School. It makes me want to get back to Miltown Malbay this July.
I remember a talk and discussion at SxSW a few years back about trying to improve the efficiency of trade networks by making them more web-like: there are ships full of empty cargo containers, simply because companies insist on using the container with their logo on it. I really, really like the idea of applying the principles of packet-switching to physical networks.
But here’s the hard part:
The technology is not a problem. We could do it all in 10 years. It’s the business models and the mental models in people’s minds.
The trailer for a documentary on flutemaker Patrick Olwell. The film should be done later this year.
Freaky stuff. If you’ve seen Kevin Slavin or James Bridle talking about the increase in property prices on Wall Street as the buildings get closer to the network hub …that’s nothing—these are the new centres of world power; places where the speed of light interferes least with the speed of transactions.
Amazon will now pay you for your old video games. Good move.
Matt Ridley's new book sounds like a corker.
The cumalative effect of these captioned pictures will ease you through any financial crisis.
Here's the video of my talk from this year's Reboot conference in Copenhagen. I had a lot of fun talking about (and playing) Irish music here.
It looks like Starbucks is ripping off Elsa's Oddzballz. Either it's a blatant rip-off or a quite a coincidence.
Apple are chasing companies that use the word "podcast", even though they have no claim to that word. Asshats.
The BBC talk to the hacker/conspiracy theorist awaiting extradition to the US. He's a bit of a loony but he's harmless.
Kick All Agricultural Subsidies. Here's a blog I can really get behind.