• A. Swartz does not see how claims that open data will “make government transparent and accountable” are justified, because: people hide their crimes. If you install a webcam (meaning any kind of control) where they used to exchange bribes they will move ten feet away and do business as usual When you have time to prepare, it’s pretty easy to disguise the data. It’s always been investigative journalism, not data mining, that’s revealed big scandals.
  • Maps are drawn with very different techniques, called projections. Each technique has a different purpose. And if you don’t know what a map projection is, that’s bad. Because who draws a map, controls how the others see the world. Please read the whole story here.
  • Back in 2001, there was “a storm of protest over a move by the World Wide Web Consortium to bless fee-bearing patents as official web standards.” If you started using the Internet with Facebook and other social networks, this may be the first time you meet this kind of problem. However, people willing to create them still exist, and you can’t afford to ignore the issue, as the result would be an Internet where “everybody will get screwed, even if they’ll get screwed equally”.
  • Common myths about renewable energy include that it’s expensive, unreliable and that there just isn’t enough of it. But as technological advances and plummeting costs drive explosive growth, real-world experience is shattering long-held assumptions every day, mainly because: Since the fuel cost of renewable resources like wind and solar is zero, adding renewable resources always pulls down the market price of all the electricity sold in the market whenever it is available.
  • A. Swartz rightly points out that: The way a typical US transparency project works is pretty simple. You find a government database, work hard to get or parse a copy, and then put it online with some nice visualizations. The problem is that reality doesn’t live in the databases. Right. So we need more information. Why give up? Then he says: For too long we’ve been funding transparency projects on the model of if-we-build-it-they-will-come: that we don’t know what transparency will be useful for, but once it’s done it will lead to all sorts of exciting possibilities.
  • Every now and then, people find in their inbox some email that would have been much better not to send. I’m not talking about spam. I refer to those “urgent warnings” about some danger, or to all those wonderful or scandalous “news” that some well meaning friend sends or forward to everybody in his address book because it only takes one click and “this is big, everybody gotta know it!”

    Whenever you have one of these messages in your hands, do yourself and the whole human race a favour