Monday, May 29, 2006

Mauerweg (Wall Path)

Time for another picture - this time the "Mauerweg" (wall path?). This is a path going all the way round west berlin, almost all the time exactly where the Berlin wall used to stand. Its approximately 160 km long and it is currently renewed - the goal is that even people with inline skates or wheelchairs can use all parts of it (for now you better bring a robust bike). The picture shows some part of the mauerweg to the south of berlin, as you can see the former "Todestreifen" (death strip?) that used to be a minefield and void of plants has been reclaimed by nature.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Rise Of Crowdsourcing

Great Wired article
Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.
Pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly funded InnoCentive’s launch in 2001 as a way to connect with brainpower outside the company – people who could help develop drugs and speed them to market. From the outset, InnoCentive threw open the doors to other firms eager to access the network’s trove of ad hoc experts. Companies like Boeing, DuPont, and Procter & Gamble now post their most ornery scientific problems on InnoCentive’s Web site; anyone on InnoCentive’s network can take a shot at cracking them.
Read the whole thing - it's worth your time.

Monday, May 22, 2006

First And Second Life

Second Life is an massively-multiplayer online game and its constantly blurs the boundaries between real and virtual worlds. Just consider these recent articles:

Oreilly's Radar speculates that Second Life's currency could become an accepted form of micropayment on the web - even for people that never played the game: Lindens as Micropayments

Someone is suing Linden Lab (the company resonsible for Second Life) because they unfairly confiscated some of his property - worth thousands of (real!) dollars: Second Life Land Deal goes Sour

BBC is renting an island in Second Life for the online version of a music festival - happening at the same time as the real thing.

The Interesting Link

The bbc on Quaero

Cool video and some description about a Japanese Tournament of Sumo Robots

Open Text Mining Interface: Allowing search engines to index/mine a sites content without giving away the content (sharing the word vectors but not the actual text)

The current state of the fight against SPAM: The Fight Against V1@gra (and Other SPAM)

More about the current state of the art in Face Recognition - you can already use a service that identifies people in your picture collection.

Dell's World Isn't What It Used to Be, article about the state of the computer market and Dell's challengers

Artists using Metal 3D printing

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Scan This Book

From the days of Sumerian clay tablets till now, humans have "published" at least 32 million books, 750 million articles and essays, 25 million songs, 500 million images, 500,000 movies, 3 million videos, TV shows and short films and 100 billion public Web pages. All this material is currently contained in all the libraries and archives of the world. When fully digitized, the whole lot could be compressed (at current technological rates) onto 50 petabyte hard disks. Today you need a building about the size of a small-town library to house 50 petabytes. With tomorrow's technology, it will all fit onto your iPod.
Great article about the idea of the universal library.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Soccer Forecasting

Not yet joined a soccer forecasting market for the world championship? You might want to have a look at this one: Stoccer. Its smaller than the usual suspects (so you'll have a better chance to win one of the prizes of up to 3000EUR) and not just a game but also a scientific experiment. Its created by a very successfull working group of the University of Karlsruhe that specializes in markets (full disclosure: they are also involved in the IPE working group at fzi that I'm part of)

Friday, May 12, 2006

RDF/A Primer 1.0

I hadn't yet been aware of this W3C activity to standartize RDF embedding in XHTML (complete syntax is here). Looks nice and simple:



If you want to contact me at work, you can
either <a rel="foaf:mbox" href="">email 
Its not rocket science and not really a very new idea (for example this paper from 1999 describes something similar). But it would be great to have a standard on this stuff.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Publication Liberation

Research paid for by taxpayer money should be availlable for free!

In Europe

Scientific research funded by the European taxpayer should be freely available to everyone over the internet, according to a European commission report
"While it is important to stress the societal value of the existing publication system, it is also important to acknowledge the societal cost linked to high journal prices, in financial terms for public budgets, but also in terms of limits on the dissemination of knowledge and therefore of further scientific progress," the report concludes.

And in America

American legislators have proposed that scientific research paid for by US taxpayers should be freely available online to everyone.

But i'm afraid that once again special interest will trump public interest.

Keep Your Dirty Hands Of My Annotations!

After saying for years that annotation of webpages can't work because of SPAM or that the most interesting information is still in the text, Google announced yesterday a new service that allows to create labels for websites. Sadly (but not surprisingly) Google designed the service in a way that only Google will profit from the annotations: the annotations are described in simple text or xml files and uploaded to Google, no chance for other companies to also build services on top of this information (this would be different with a Semantic Web approach where the annotations would be as accessible as the websites are now).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wii Want To Play!

Should you have the slightest interest in the future of computer games then this Time article is a must read.

It's a remarkable experience. Instead of passively playing the games, with the new controller you physically perform them. You act them out. It's almost like theater: the fourth wall between game and player dissolves. The sense of immersion--the illusion that you, personally, are projected into the game world--is powerful.
Nintendo has grasped two important notions that have eluded its competitors. The first is, Don't listen to your customers.[...] "[Wii] was unimaginable for them," Iwata says. "And because it was unimaginable, they could not say that they wanted it. If you are simply listening to requests from the customer, you can satisfy their needs, but you can never surprise them.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Semantic Web Product Search?

Microsoft recently unveiled its product search engine interesting thing to note is the differences in the aproaches taken by Googles Froogle and Microsofts product search engine: Froogly relies on companies to send them structured data about the products they sell, Microsoft extracts information from vendor websites. Obviosly that means that Microsoft has potentially more data - because it does not need to wait until vendors decide to submit information to yet another product search engine. Google on the other hand eliminates the error prone information extraction step and hence has higher quality data.

This is a great example for a use case where the Semantic Web would make technical but not businness sense. If the vendors would just annotate their websites with their product data in a structured format, we could combine the advantages of both approaches. Vendors would no longer need to keep up to date with all the product search engines and submit their data in different formats. Anyone could just retrieve these files and have all the data for a successfull product search engine. The problem is that Google (or Yahoo or Microsoft for that matter) does not want it to be simple to create a competitor to its search business, hence vendors have to send the structured files for Froogle to Google instead of placing them on their websites.

I'm still optimistic that we'll see a "Semantic Web Product Search" soon - because it makes business sense for the vendors (they can stop worrying about different formats and search engines). I think Microsoft wasted a chance to change the rules of the game by not building a semantic web product search engine. By inviting more competition it would have risked to hurt Microsoft in this sector but would've surely hurt the market leader Google much more.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Center For Art and Media Karlsruhe

Picture of one installation in an exhibition on light in Karlsruhe's Center For Art and Media (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, ZKM).

The Interesting (Although Mostly Depressing) Link

(Bad) news on the US telecom bill - "the most sweeping rewrite of laws dealing with video, satellite and broadband communications in a decade". Even TBL himself has entered the debate. In other attempts to destroy the internet as we know it, the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization tries to kill YouTube & friends. And as if that wasn't bad enough already, Americas politicians are working on even more ways to cripple comsumer electronics.

There will be a third Grand Challenge - this time in an urban environment (complete with other cars and stuff, something I had expected from the European Grand Challenge). Details will be announced on the 20th of May.

And the fight between Microsoft and Google heats up. In related news it is reported, that amazons a9, that used to be build on top of google, switched sides and now runs on top of MSN Search.

And after the spanish version of the US national anthym caused such a stir: there is now a version in "sung" in morse code (about). Boing Boing even has a binary version.