by Stephen Downes
Feb 04, 2015
You’re probably using the wrong dictionary
the jsomers.net blog,
This is a fascinating item looking at the old Websters 1828 dictionary, and the editions that followed in its line. While today's dictionaries publish terse and matter of fact definitions that strip the nuance from the word, the original dictionary was elegant and detailed, presenting the word in all its flavours. "It’s as if someone decided that dictionaries these days had to sound like they were written by a Xerox machine, not a person, certainly not a person with a poet’s ear, a man capable of high and mighty English, who set out to write the secular American equivalent of the King James Bible and pulled it off." Related: debate on whether the thesaurus has a place in modern information retrieval. Via Longreads.
This story has been making the rounds (I heard it on BBC world last night): an MIT research project is determined that you can positively identify a person with only four data points across a set of anonymized data. "Even if the data set characterized each purchase as having taken place sometime in the span of a week at one of 150 stores in the same general areas, four purchases (with 50 percent uncertainty about price) would still be enough to identify more than 70 percent of users." Today I'm listening to a speaker from new Jersey say all their students have to use a Google login to access services. Well, there are your four data points. You may as well just mail Google your students' ID and student records (I asked about it; he wasn't really concerned about it).
UBC students hope ‘sailbot’ makes history crossing Atlantic solo
Why did the robot cross the ocean? "This summer, a team of engineering students from the University of British Columbia is hoping its 5.5-metre-long boat will sail into the history books as the first seafaring vessel to successfully traverse the Atlantic entirely solo.... 'Basically we’re trying to make a big, big sailboat, make it autonomous and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean.'" It's hard to imagine a better way to learn robotics, oceanography, weather forecasting.... but what should it be called? A rowbot? A roboat?
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