All posts filed under “Geeking out

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Star Trek, suicide and Bush voters

I originally heard about StateStats from Fred Wilson, of A VC fame. It sounded interesting. To quote the site:

This tool shows you how popular a Google search query is in each U.S. state, giving a ranking like the one you see in the left column. It then compares this ranking with other ways of ranking states, like average income or population density, using Spearman’s rank correlation.

I first tried out things like different bands I like listening to, a comedian, and a couple of the site’s suggested searches (like yoga).

The most surprising search I made was, of all things, Star Trek. The popularity of searches in states for “star trek” correlates positively to the suicide rate of states!?! Not as strongly, it correlates to the order of states that Voted for Bush in the 2004 presidential election. See the screenshot below:

StarTrek.jpg

Even the search “depression” doesn’t correlate as strongly to suicide rates:

Depression.jpg

I would like to point out a key point the site makes about this data:

Be careful drawing conclusions from this data. For example, the fact that walmart shows a moderate correlation with “Obesity” does not imply that people who search for “walmart” are obese! It only means that states with a high obesity rate tend to have a high rate of users searching for walmart, and vice versa. You should not infer causality from this tool.

But enough of a morbid tone. As I mentioned above, you can see how the popularity of things like up-and-coming bands is concentrated geographically. Check out the chart for the band MGMT:

MGMT.jpg

(This is where I plug that my better half, LondonAnnie, graduated from Wesleyan University. The home of MGMT, Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Eric Mangini of the Jets. For a couple of years LondonAnnie helped Eric put on his family foundation’s football camp for under-privledged kids; it’s been going on since 2002!)

Finally, perhaps it’s yoga that’s really splitting the country?

Yoga.jpg
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True Knowledge – A test

So Google essentially owns the current search market.

The thing is, Google searches based on key words and key phrases. It doesn’t necessarily provide a specific answer to a question.

A local, Cambridge-based company is trying to expand the idea of what a finding answers can and should look like. That company is True Knowledge.

QuizBot is the company’s latest creation. I highly encourage that you go and try it out, if only to see the opportunities of the future. Everything is explained on the page, and it’s pretty cool.

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UPDATE: Keynote to YouTube and keeping cool transitions

i made a step by step series of screenshots here of these notes here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/7601158/Uploading-Key…

and

http://www.slideshare.net/joshuascottpaul/uploa…

Originally posted as a comment by joshuascottpaul on Jed Christiansen’s Blog using Disqus.

A little over a year ago I had been having some problems uploading Keynote presentations (slides and audio) to YouTube and keeping some of the cool transitions between slides. After playing around with Keynote and iMovie for a bit, I detailed a workaround here.

Just a few days ago “joshuascottpaul” put my written instructions into a series of screenshots with everything you need to take a fully-featured Keynote presentation and upload it to YouTube. I just wanted to say thank you to him, and share his work with you below.

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Tim O’Reilly speaks at Judge Business School

TimOReilly.jpg

Today we had the great pleasure of hearing Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media speak at Judge Business School. He was a speaker I was really looking forward to hearing, and he didn’t disappoint. (He’s on the left in the photo above.)

Tim has a very engaging speaking style, and his presentation was 100 slides of great photos, examples, and quotes. (Much better than the 5-6 slides of 13-point that Bob Diamond of Barclays used!)

The topic of the day was “Watching the Alpha Geeks,” which is something he’s been doing for 20+ years. (He’s been giving a version of the talk for about 7-8 years…) The technology and things that geeks and hackers use or do day-to-day is the stuff that becomes cultural mainstream in 5/10/15 years. It was nearly twenty years ago when the first webcam was hooked up to the Internet at the University of Cambridge. This was pre-WWW, by the way, and the sole purpose of the webcam was to show the level in the office coffeepot so that “the hackers” didn’t have to walk down the hall to check it! Now webcams are clearly mainstream. (Tim didn’t mention this, but I wanted to throw in a little Cambridge-specific info.)

The great phrase that Tim used a couple of times was:

The future is here. It just isn’t evenly distributed yet.

That’s a really powerful statement, and so very true. The future of the next 5/10/15 years is in research labs, startups, and homes of hackers right now. It just takes time and cultivation to get society to use it.

Tim talked quite a bit about Web2.0; not about the technology but instead about the principles behind the technology. His thesis was that there is an incredible amount of data that already exists; Web2.0 is the way different threads tie together to change the world. The most prominent example is Google. Google took information that already existed (links between web pages) and used it to provide the dataset for a much more powerful and useful search engine. Mashups that merge public data on crime with webmaps is another example of two datasets that are poor on their own, but very useful when tied together.

As Web2.0 becomes Enterprise2.0, this is going to shift even further. Sensors which already exist are going to be leveraged in new ways. The data that companies have in their ERP systems in regards to their customers, their suppliers, and their internal operations will be utilized in new ways to provide incredible new insights. And most importantly this will be done real-time, without judgement.

He clearly cares about the environment a lot, and spent a good chuck of his talk on technologies and ideas that are at the forefront of changing how we as a global society think and act in relation to global warming.

Another interesting note came in the Q&A portion; he was asked what technologies that he had been bullish about that didn’t pan out. After saying that quite a few didn’t mature on the timescale he had originally envisioned, he was a bit of a loss for words. But then he simply said, “I don’t think about failure a lot.” I think it was important for the room to hear this for two reasons:

  1. Failure’s not bad. While Europe is getting better with this attitude, it’s not quite as acceptable as it is in the US.
  2. There’s going to be lots of failure on the bleeding edge of innovation. Get used to it.

I highly recommend hearing him speak. (You can check out his recent talk at the Web2.0 conference by clicking this link.) If you are fascinated by technology, he’ll lead you on a fascinating journey.

It was great to hear Tim O’Reilly speak today, and highly recommend seeing one of his talks if you’re ever able to.