Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

Modeling Leadership

Modeling Leadership – Why Nations Fail – Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.


Clearly, the ideas here can be applied to open source collaborations, where the issue is, in some places, still stuck on the notion of the value of a charismatic leader (aka benevolent dictator). As with most such things (having to do with politics and people), it’s more complicated than programmatic logic would like.

Data Mining Exposes Embarrassing Problems for Massive Open Online Courses | MIT Technology Review

Data Mining Exposes Embarrassing Problems for Massive Open Online Courses | MIT Technology Review.


Quote: “Not only does student participation decline dramatically throughout the new generation of Web-based courses, but the involvement of teachers in online discussions makes it worse.”

Is this useful? Helpful? An article on contracts and their importance to us all.

A Short-Form Guide to Contracts for Tech Startups and Software Developers – AlleyWatch.

Toxic ‘e-waste’ dumped in poor nations, says United Nations


Although it is legal to export discarded goods to poor countries if they can be reused or refurbished, much is being sent to Africa or Asia under false pretences, says Interpol. \”Much is falsely classified as \’used goods\’ although in reality it is non-functional. It is often diverted to the black market and disguised as used goods to avoid the costs associated with legitimate recycling,\” said a spokesman. \”A substantial proportion of e-waste exports go to countries outside Europe, including west African countries. Treatment in these countries usually occurs in the informal sector, causing significant environmental pollution and health risks for local populations,\” he said.

Few countries understand the scale of the problem, because no track is kept of all e-waste, says the European Environment Agency, which estimates between 250,000 tonnes and 1.3m tonnes of used electrical products are shipped out of the EU every year, mostly to west Africa and Asia. \”These goods may subsequently be processed in dangerous and inefficient conditions, harming the health of local people and damaging the environment,\” said a spokesman.

A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the US discarded 258.2m computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones in 2010, of which only 66% was recycled. Nearly 120m mobile phones were collected, most of which were shipped to Hong Kong, Latin America and the Caribbean. The shelf life of a mobile phone is now less than two years, but the EU, US and Japanese governments say many hundreds of millions are thrown away each year or are left in drawers. In the US, only 12m mobile phones were collected for recycling in 2011 even though 120m were bought. Meanwhile, newer phone models are racing on to the market leaving old ones likely to end up in landfills. Most phones contain precious metals. The circuit board can contain copper, gold, zinc, beryllium, and tantalum, the coatings are typically made of lead and phone makers are now increasingly using lithium batteries. Yet fewer than 10% of mobile phones are dismantled and reused. Part of the problem is that computers, phones and other devices are becoming increasingly complex and made of smaller and smaller components.

The failure to recycle is also leading to shortages of rare-earth minerals to make future generations of electronic equipment.

via Toxic ‘e-waste’ dumped in poor nations, says United Nations | Global development | The Observer.

On Open Source Finance

Building Creative Commons: the five pillars of Open Source Finance | openDemocracy.

Yann LeCun on Deep Learning

Facebook’s ‘Deep Learning’ Guru Reveals the Future of AI | Wired Enterprise |

Of some interest: The Canadian support for this research…. and the seeming lack of its subsequent exploitation. That’s being left to Facebook, in the US.



The Power Source of an Electric Car Matters

The Power Source of an Electric Car Matters.


The findings are based on a standard fully electric vehicle, equivalent to the Nissan Leaf, using the 2009 average fuel mix for each country listed. Vehicle manufacturing emissions are assumed to be 70g CO2e/km based on a number of third-party studies. In terms of reference, the average gasoline powered vehicle in the United States has emissions of about 300g CO2e/km. In comparison, a hybrid would emit around 180g CO2e/km when you factor in manufacturing, fuel production and fuel combustion.

In India, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and China where power generation is heavily coal based, electric car emissions can actually end up being similar to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. In fact, an electric car in India generates as much carbon as a 20 miles per gallon petrol vehicle in the United States.

At the opposite end of the scale, Iceland and Paraguay are the greenest countries to drive an electric car. Both countries have driving emissions of just 70 g CO2e/km. The electricity per kilometre in Paraguay will generate less than one sixth of a gram of carbon emissions.

How Much it Cost to Browse? Results from a Mobile Data Price Transparency Trial in Ghana –

How Much it Cost to Browse? Results from a Mobile Data Price Transparency Trial in Ghana  –

BitTorrent Sync doubles users in a single month, growing ‘2 times as fast as Dropbox’ | VentureBeat | Security | by John Koetsier

BitTorrent Sync doubles users in a single month, growing ‘2 times as fast as Dropbox’ | VentureBeat | Security | by John Koetsier.

Federal Agencies Embracing Use Of Open Source Software Code :: Defense Daily

Federal Agencies Embracing Use Of Open Source Software Code :: Defense Daily.

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, 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.)


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