“With the right amount of effort, Montgomery said open source code can be a valuable tool, but he cautions that it must be included in an agency’s risk management decision. In certain cases, he said, proprietary software development remains the most effective option.”
Hm. From both experience trying to get (and quite often, after a while, succeeding) public sectors to adopt open source, and also seeing, as did the world, the appalling bellyflop of the Healthcare.gov, a big-software project, and then reading the explanations (of which there is no end), I tend to think the issue has a lot more to do with how contracts are imagined, drafted, tendered, awarded, supervised, and so on. And that in the US, the real problem is the one that actually has defined the nation but which is, inexplicably, seldom articulated: size. Yes, that was acknowledged by critics of the roll-out. But the vastness of the US, in geography but also population (and its actual diversity), is and always has been, a defining feature. The US is the 3rd largest country in the world, at least in terms of population. In terms of habitation, with urban densities on both coasts and also on both top and bottom continental boundaries, few polities can be said to be comparable, yes?
(BTW: And just as interesting as the article, are the jobs listed to the right, in the Job Center column.)
A characteristic of being smart and also an expert in one’s field is being able to ask good questions: those that have clear, defined answers and whose answer (or answers) can lead to further discovery, and do all this in a way that is reproducible.
And that’s really a hard thing to do. For those disciplines where there is a large body of work stretching back not just decades but centuries, and where the discourse has ranged across many languages, it can take nearly a lifetime to ask the best questions, not just the most spectacular ones.
But not always. Brilliant insights, arising from a wilful or naïve blindness, the sort that a talented student might evidence, always occur. Sometimes, these great notions will lead to usable innovations, of the thought or material sort; but usually, not, and for a variety of reasons. We are all limited in what we can do, what we can get others to do with us. And then there is the issue of negotiating these disruptive ideas with those who have power–and who, almost by definition (though not quite), have the most at stake in the discovery and development of new ideas.
I'm headed to the Philippines this week to collaborate with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on humanitarian crowdsourcing and technology projects. I'll be based in the OCHA Offices in Manila, working directly with colleagues Andrej Verity and Luis Hernando to support their efforts in response to Typhoon Yolanda. One project I'm exploring in this respect is a novel radio-SMS-computing initiative that my colleague
I’ve been tracking Node.js for some time–probably since Bryan laid it and other work out at a dynamic fisl, in Porto Alegre, a year and a half ago. (I also knew Bryan and others at Joyent from Sun days.) The takeaway here is that Node.js is a general not particular tool; that it is flexible and not confining.
As Joyent’s Bryan Cantrill says,
“What was the killer app for Java? There wasn’t one. It was more that Java represented a collection of really good ideas, that traveled based on their own merit. People adopted Java for all the right reasons.”
The same goes for Node.js, he said. But it’s also that Node.js is what he calls “general purpose.” While other developers would shy away from championing the framework so strongly, Cantrill says, “if I had to pick one dynamic environment to take with me, I think Node.js would probably be my desert island dynamic language.”
For example: Node.js is especially popular among developers working on Web-based applications, like those for chatting and gaming. But Cantrill’s team actually used Node.js to develop command line tooling.
“I think that might be counterintuitive for some people,” he said. “They ask, ‘Why would you use Node for that?’ Our counter: ‘Because it’s the right tool for the job.’”
Couldry’s lecture summarizes prevailing myths about big data (and more generally, digital media) and then elegantly deconstructs them. One way of looking at the claim that big data dispels the need of any theory of behaviour or agency in favour of pragmatic empiricism is, I’d suggest, by thinking our present moment as a respin of early 20th-century notions of the human as body-machine. The point is not to long nostalgically for something that never was, but to inquire into what sorts of justice effects we are putting into motion with big data, which privileges the analytics of documentable behaviour over the romance of inscrutable interiority.