Five Short Links

Photo by Diane Cordell

The Importance of Making Things – US Science fairs are reported to be in decline, which is obviously deeply worrying for the future. It's easy to forget what a lifeline these sort of extra-curricular activities can be for individual kids though. Retreating to the library was a bright spot in my school day, Ta-Nehesi found his open space and pride with his science projects.

North Korea Uncovered – I'm late to discover this, but a fascinating attempt to map the Hermit Kingdom using public satellite imagery.

Making a Difference in the Developing World – I've found myself getting more and more involved in open source projects aimed at poor countries. I'm all too aware of the high failure rate of traditional aid and my weird position as a westerner with very little understanding of the end-users actual requirements. To compensate for that, I try to use what people on the ground are actually doing as a guide. With that in mind, I was pleased to see how useful Mendeley's tool seems to be in the context of African agricultural research. I don't know how that lesson generalizes, but it might be that online collaboration tools are even more important in places where professional organizations and institutions are still developing.

MetaQuerier – The research project that Cazoodle grew out of. I love this because it's an academic formulation of the approach used by most successful commercial projects to analyze web data. Most academic research in this area seems to fall into to the deadly tar-pit of Linked Data, which is brought to you by the same people who didn't bring you the Semantic Web, and suffers the same drawbacks of requiring mass publisher adoption before delivering benefits.

Building Interfaces for Data EnginesMatthew Hurst is one of the pioneers of analyzing web-scale data, so I've been pleased to see him blogging so prolifically recently. He's also just launched a data exploration tool called d8taplex, and this post explores some of the different approaches that other data set providers take to interacting with the information. Fascinating stuff, and I'm not just saying that because he's looking over my book, honest.

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