Links for 18th May 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Tiny Implants for Treating Chronic Pain

    "The device works similarly to spinal-cord stimulators for managing chronic pain. The idea is that the electrical jolts delivered by the device override the neural pain signals being transmitted to the spinal cord. However, the precise mechanism is not yet clear.

    Existing devices have a battery and controller implanted beneath the skin, which delivers electrical pulses to a connected set of leads placed near the spinal cord. The MicroTransponder device, in contrast, is wireless and has no batteries. The implanted portion consists of small electrodes and a small coil, which is powered by an external battery-powered coil worn like a cuff on the arm or leg. The stimulation parameters are programmed via laptop or PDA and would be tailored to the individual patient."

    Tagged with: medicinetechnologyRFIDpain-reliefanalgesicimplant

  2. The craigslist (read: internet) witchhunt

    "Can the law, like media, still be one-size-fits-all? Well, of course, to some extent, it must be. We need consistent laws across society that define everything from fraud to murder; that is the foundation of society. But within a society there are other societies. And so, in the U.K., there have long been religious courts that deal with disputes in the Jewish and Muslim communities. The laws of society still stand over them (thank God) and members of the community retain the right to call on those laws. Online, we also have communities that cut across borders and have their own rules of behavior. Indeed, even games become societies with laws and consequences. As Lawrence Lessig famously said, code is law, for it prescribes behavior exactly. Laws come into conflict with laws."

    Tagged with: internetmedialawcensorshipbehaviourgovernmentcontrol

  3. What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You?

    "redit-card companies are becoming much more interested in understanding their customers’ lives and psyches, because, the theory goes, knowing what makes cardholders tick will help firms determine who is a good bet and who should be shown the door as quickly as possible.

    Luckily for the industry, small groups of executives at most of the large firms have spent the last decade studying cardholders from almost every angle, and collection agencies have developed more sophisticated dunning techniques. They have sought to draw psychological and behavioral lessons from the enormous amounts of data the credit-card companies collect every day. They’ve run thousands of tests and crunched the numbers on millions of accounts."

    Tagged with: financecreditprivacyinformationstatisticsdebt-collectionpsychology

  4. CCTV schemes in city and town centres have little effect on crime, says report

    "The review of 44 research studies on CCTV schemes by the Campbell Collaboration found that they do have a modest impact on crime overall but are at their most effective in cutting vehicle crime in car parks, especially when used alongside improved lighting and the introduction of security guards.

    The authors, who include Cambridge University criminologist, David Farrington, say while their results lend support for the continued use of CCTV, schemes should be far more narrowly targeted at reducing vehicle crime in car parks." Colour me shocked.

    Tagged with: CCTVUKcrimesurveillanceprivacypanopticon

  5. Online news: the future’s networked

    "The problem at the moment is that the web is awash with free content, and in a competitive market the price always converges on the marginal cost – which is currently zero. But as providers disappear (or, like Murdoch, decide to charge), the supply of free news will diminish and something more like a normal market will emerge. Only then will we find out what people are willing to pay for news.

    That takes care of the economics. But what will journalism be like in the perfectly competitive online world? One clue is provided by the novelist William Gibson's celebrated maxim that "the future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed". In a recent lecture, the writer Steven Johnson took Gibson's insight to heart and argued that if we want to know what the networked journalism of the future might be like, we should look now at how the reporting of technology has evolved over the past few decades."

    Tagged with: internetpublishingjournalismbusinesseconomicsmedia

  6. Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

    "Anthropologists have long believed that humans evolved from ancient ape-like ancestors. Some 50 million years ago, two ape-like groups walked the Earth. One is known as the tarsidae, a precursor of the tarsier, a tiny, large-eyed creature that lives in Asia. Another group is known as the adapidae, a precursor of today's lemurs in Madagascar.

    Based on previously limited fossil evidence, one big debate had been whether the tarsidae or adapidae group gave rise to monkeys, apes and humans. The latest discovery bolsters the less common position that our ancient ape-like ancestor was an adapid, the believed precursor of lemurs." Reckon that SanFran earthqualke was caused by the syncopated teethgrinding of Creationists. :)

    Tagged with: evolutioncommon-ancestorscienceanthropology

  7. Touched By The Hand Of Mod: Dear Esther

    "Dear Esther rejects pretty much every notion of what videogames should do, and instead presents a profound look at what they /could/ be doing. They could be telling stories that, while unforgiving and upsetting, exist within a format that no novel or film could ever reproduce. Stories that take clever audiovisual amalgamation for granted and go the extra mile, allowing the player to explore a tangible world that they would never otherwise be able to visit. In a sense, Dear Esther is pretty much non-interactive: nothing you do changes the course of the fiction, and there’s no element of challenge to speak of. But in another, far more accurate sense, the interaction is totally key. It’s your journey – whoever “you” are – and the intimacy heightens every emotion censor in your poor, overloaded brain. After watching me finish Dear Esther, my girlfriend asked me what it was I’d been playing. I turned to answer her, only to find I couldn’t speak. No words arrived. None mattered."

    Tagged with: gamesmodnarrativefictionmediastorytellingwriting

  8. Rivers Might Have Flowed Recently on Mars

    "Dickson and his colleagues found within a crater called Lyot some 20 winding valleys that they think were carved by "relatively large amounts of water," all in a surface dated to about 1 billion years ago — meaning the rivers must have formed since then.

    "Evidence for life might be better preserved in a younger terrain like what we have found, as opposed to the ancient terrain that was once wet, but has been significantly buried or eroded over 4 billion years," Dickson said." So it's a comparative 'recent'…

    Tagged with: spaceMarswaterlife

  9. Lean and Mean Writing

    "Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite writers, has the cleanest, leanest writing style on the market. Here are his simple rules, which I diligently follow." Pithy.

    Tagged with: writingfictionstyleadvicetipsElmore-Leonard

  10. Charlie Brooker on the BNP and their political broadcast

    "None of these qualities has anything whatsoever to do with being British, but everything to do with ugly nationalist politics. And ugly nationalist politics are popular all over the world. Just like Pringles. Every country has its own tiny enclave of frightened, disenfranchised, misguided souls clinging to their national flag, claiming they're the REAL patriots, saying everyone's out to get them. It's an international weakness. For the BNP to claim to be more British than the other British parties is as nonsensical as your dad suddenly claiming to have invented the beard."

    Tagged with: ukpoliticsracismnationalismBNPCharlie-Brooker

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