Bookmarked Robot Predictions (Audrey Watters)
It’s been almost six years since I rode in one of Google’s self-driving cars. I think about all the data that Google has amassed since then – all the mapping data and geolocation data and sensor data and historical data and traffic data and all the machine learning that their machines are supposedly doing with that. Why, it’s almost as if the problems of navigating the world with AI are much, much harder than engineers imagined.
I really like Audrey Watters’ point about investing in public transport:

Personally, I’d prefer to see greater investment in public transportation than in cars, and I’d rather hear stories that predict that sort of future.

Interestingly, that might be a more logical space for automation, especially trains.

Bookmarked Melbourne suburban train loop, including 12 new stations, promised by Victorian Labor - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (
A plan to build a multi-billion-dollar underground rail loop connecting Melbourne's western and eastern suburbs via the airport, and link all major train lines, has been unveiled by the Victorian Labor Government.
I am intrigued by the announcement of a ring rail around Melbourne. Will they still complete Metro Tunnel 2 connecting the Werribee line with Clifton Hill? I also assume that the Werribee link would probably involve connecting the Wyndham Vale V-Line (which will surely become a part of the metropolitan transport system) with Werribee. It is intriguing to place this against the plan proposed in the 60’s.
Bookmarked Toolographies — the new essential ingredient of student research? by Matthew Esterman (Medium)
Perhaps we need to have students include a toolography, a list — perhaps annotated — of the tools they used to source, to organise and to present their information.
This is an interesting ideas in regards to the evolving place of research and libraries.
Bookmarked Obituaries (Teaching Machines)
The obituary is a strange genre. (I say this having written two.) An obituary typically contains the basic facts of the deceased’s life: where and when they were born; when and sometimes how they died; where they went to school; the names of wives and husbands and children and the names of any other “surviving family members.” An obituary, whether written by a family member or by someone at the newspaper, attempts to narrate a life – who was this person; what did they do; what were they like?
Audrey Watters reflects on the stories told in the form of obituaries. This reminds me of Austin Kleon’s

  • Show Your Work
  • :

    Obituaries aren’t really about death; they’re about life. “The sum of every obituary is how heroic people are, and how noble,” writes artist Maira Kalman. Reading about people who are dead now and did things with their lives makes me want to get up and do something decent with mine. Thinking about death every morning makes me want to live.

    Bookmarked End of an era for old Harvard blogging site (
    Weblogs@Harvard, as it was then known, was considered pioneering. Facebook didn’t yet exist. Social media was in its infancy. And starting a blog usually required some knowledge of code. Harvard’s blogging platform, now known as, made it easy.
    Lindsay McKenzie discusses Harvard’s recent announcement that Harvard is closing down This piece collects together a number of perspectives from academics. Mike Caulfield wonders about the temporal nature of institutional and self hosting. He discusses the multitude of sites that have now disappeared as they were either closed or corrupted. This is something he has discussed before. Tim Owens and Jim Groom use this as an opportunity to take a wider look at blogging and archiving.
    Bookmarked Why do we group students by manufacture date? by Jackie Gerstein (User Generated Education)

    Grouping students by age or manufacture date is a contrived sorting mechanism. It assumes that same age kids are alike in their intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development; that they have commonalities in addition to their age. Academic standards used by almost all schools are based on the false and incorrect belief of the average student. Todd Rose quoting Mike Miller’s research on brains found that “not a single one was even remotely close to the average. The average represented nobody,” and he added, “Average is widely misleading. In education, there is no such thing as an average student. Our educational system is built on the assumption that there is an average student.”

    Jackie Gerstein provides a reflection on Todd Rose’s End of Average.
    Bookmarked How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump by Zeynep Tufekci (MIT Technology Review)
    To understand how digital technologies went from instruments for spreading democracy to weapons for attacking it, you have to look beyond the technologies themselves.
    Zeynep Tufekci captures some of the complexities associated with fixing up big tech. A few things that stand out is that the answer is not splitting up big tech or simply respond to the threat of Russia. As she explains:

    Russia did not instigate the moves that have reduced Americans’ trust in health authorities, environmental agencies, and other regulators. Russia did not create the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying firms that employ ex-politicians at handsome salaries. Russia did not defund higher education in the United States. Russia did not create the global network of tax havens in which big corporations and the rich can pile up enormous wealth while basic government services get cut.

    Instead we need to:

    Figure out how our institutions, our checks and balances, and our societal safeguards should function in the 21st century.

    Bookmarked “Google Was Not a Normal Place”: Brin, Page, and Mayer on the Accidental Birth of the Company that Changed Everything by Adam Fisher (The Hive)
    A behind-the-scenes account of the most important company on the Internet, from grad-school all-nighters, space tethers, and Burning Man to the “eigenvector of a matrix,” humongous wealth, and extraordinary power.
    I really didn’t know how to read this attempt at some sort of truth from those who were there.

    This oral history, gathered from a mix of original reporting and previously published and unpublished reflections, is an excerpt from Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (as Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), published by Twelve.

    Is it meant to discredit Google as just another misogynistic Silicon Valley startup? Why now? Are there any biases at play as there was with Quinn Norton’s doppelganger. I am reminded of Faulkner’s quote:

    The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

    Bookmarked Google tracks your movements, like it or not by Ryan Nakashima (Associated Press)
    An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.
    In this expose, Associated Press uncover some of the different ways Google surreptitiously tracks users and how difficult it is to get out of. I remember reading Dylan Curran’s breakdown of the data Google have on us thinking that there is surely more. Clearly there is. This reminds me of Facebook’s shadow profiles. What intrigues me with all this is how the data is then analysed and used. That is the ledger right?

    via Ian O’Byrne