Links for 18th September 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. From dragons to smartphones in one leap

    "… maps are only the prologue. The information tsunami about to hit the developing world is going to be like our desktop, internet, and mobile revolutions all rolled into one. It will save untold thousands of lives, thanks to initiatives like Uganda's recently unveiled Google SMS health service, vastly improve millions more, make a lot of people rich – and wreak a lot of bloody havoc. Poor countries tend to be tribal, corrupt, politically unstable, and full of angry and frustrated people. There's a reason China blocked Twitter, Facebook and YouTube immediately after the Xinjiang violence earlier this year: good networks make insurgents far more dangerous and can amplify a single riot into citywide or even countrywide violence. Better buckle your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy decade."

    Tagged with: worldcultureinformationtechnologyrevolutiondisruption

  2. Findings could lead to improved lip-reading training for the deaf

    "A research team from the School of Computing Sciences at UEA compared the performance of a machine-based lip-reading system with that of 19 human lip-readers. They found that the automated system significantly outperformed the human lip-readers – scoring a recognition rate of 80 per cent, compared with only 32 per cent for human viewers on the same task.

    Furthermore, they found that machines are able to exploit very simplistic features that represent only the shape of the face, whereas human lip-readers require full video of people speaking."

    Tagged with: computerlearningcommunicationlip-reading

  3. Typographic town logos in hiragana/katakana

    "Many of these municipal symbols incorporate typographical elements (particularly kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Roman letters) into their designs. In most cases, the stylized characters are straightforward and easy to spot (even if you don’t read Japanese), but sometimes you have to bend your eyes to see them. The more complex logos encode the name of the town into a puzzle-like symbol that begs to be deciphered." For some reason, I'm incredibly drawn to these logos; something to do with information encoded in slick design, perhaps? Someone make me a coffee-table book, stat.

    Tagged with: japancivictownlogotypographydesignicons

  4. The Why of METI and SETI

    "Maybe there are such enlightened and altruistic societies out there with only those pure motives in mind. Certainly I am taking educated guesses here as much as anyone else from this planet. But just as Apollo happened mainly to showcase international and ideological might with science taking a backseat despite how NASA presented things, I am willing to bet that any alien species, even an insane one, will be conducting such a major undertaking as a sustained METI effort with more than one motive in mind. Certainly these motivations will include improving the various situations for the signalers."

    Tagged with: SETIMETIextraterrestriallifealiencommunicationmessagesmotives

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