Five short links

Photo by Chris in Plymouth

Visualizing Large Facebook Friendship Networks – There’s lots of academic work emerging using social network information. What I find really interesting are the techniques people are developing to make sense of the ‘hairball’ that results from a naive approach to plotting the raw networks, since people have so many friend connections.

What the strange persistence of rockets can teach us about innovation – A really fresh way of looking at technological progress, and a reminder that what seems inevitable now is often actually very path-dependent on the past.

Why did economists not spot the crisis? – The compelling answer is “We don’t reward or encourage people to be generalists”. Academic kudos is only available to hedgehogs who know one thing really well, not foxes who bounce around. I think the skills required to be a generalist are undervalued in the technology world too, and that causes very similar problems.

Africa Rules the World – Some commentary on a slick visualization of growth rates around the world. As he says, it’s a bit misleading because a 20% growth rate in a desperately poor country is not that much in absolute terms, but it does show the dynamism of Africa.

Hilary Mason on NPR – “Everything is interesting”.’s chief scientist does a great job explaining the joys and perils of data.

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