Part experimental, part disruption, and part heads-up in this week’s edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads. The first story is a proof-of-concept demonstration of a way to browse an “infinite” bookshelf of virtual items. Next is the announcement of how a content producer (Pearson) is trying to disrupt a deeply embedded technology company (Blackboard) by giving away a learning management system in the cloud. Last, a list of what researchers think will be the most prevalent computer security problems next year.
Two entries on big data lead this week’s edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads. The first is at the grandest scale possible: a calculation of the amount of information in the world. Add up all the digital memory (in cell phones, computers, and other devices) and analog media (for instance, paper) and it goes to a very big number. The authors try to put it in perspective, which for me brought home how insignificant my line of work can be. (All of our information is still less than 1% of what is encoded in the human DNA?) The second “big data” entry describes an effort to make sense of huge amounts of data in the National Archives through the use of visualization tools. Rounding out this week is a warning to those who run public computers — be on the look-out for key loggers that can be used to steal information from users.
This is the second week of this Thursday Threads experiment and already we have a bonus edition. Two other items crossed my browser today that were just too good to pass up: how statistical techniques are improving the aggregation of political polling and a visual representation of lifespan versus income over time.
In case you haven’t run across Gapminder.org yet, I encourage you to carve out about 45 minutes of a day to do so. Even before going to the URL above, your first stop should be this 20 minute video by Hans Rosling — professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute — from a TEDtalk last year. 1