Here’s an example of the internet making the older (even maybe the pre-industrial) work better. It’s a calculator that determines how walking friendly a neighborhood around any particular address is. The form of neighborhoods originated from basic ergonomic realities, so as we return to a more nature based urban structure (thanks to the sustainability imperative) it makes sense that measuring how human friendly these neighborhoods are, and making that measurement available, will accelerate demand for housing in these areas. Of course, these neighborhoods don’t really need that help-they are attractive for other reasons as well, as you can see on this website from my neighborhood.

Another example of the internet making older forms work better is here.

Oh, the website that measures how walk-able a neighborhood is is right here: http://www.walkscore.com/

To-do: correlate a location’s walkscore with it’s real estate value. Anybody know G.I.S. out there? It also fits in with the new topology of globalization, where the only necessary flows are expertise and information, with commodities becoming more difficult to move around the world and industrial goods becoming lighter and lighter, due to the cost of transporting them and the consequent ability for smart companies to intelligently re-localize the labor inputs so as to reap a decisive cost advantage vs. their competitors.


Comcast, fighting freedom

If anyone wasn’t convinced of the need for net neutrality legislation, a story by Declan McCullagh should dispel any objections they might have. It seems that Comcast has been interfering with Bit-Torrent traffic of its subscribers. What’s more it knew that to do so was wrong, and therefore denied it when asked about it.

The standard reposte from the anti-net neutrality camp is that we shouldn’t regulate when the markets will take care of situations such as this. If we had a vibrant market, full of competitors, that probably would be true. But we don’t–the market for high speed internet is a monopoly or a duopoly in many markets, so normal competitive mechanism will not function. For example, a recent article in St. Louis Post Dispatch indicated that, excluding satellite internet access, the best areas in St. Louis had two providers (AT&T and Charter), many had only one (Charter), and quite a few had no high speed access. I think it’s fair to exclude the satellite service because it’s a very different technology, and the price doesn’t make it really compete with AT&T and Comcast.

So if you care about being able to distribute Linux via Bit-torrent, or to distribute information that wouldn’t otherwise have an outlet, press your legislator to enact net neutrality legislation…

Comcast really does block BitTorrent traffic after all

For a few months Comcast has been the subject of scattered reports that say it throttles BitTorrent traffic.

TorrentFreak said in August that Comcast was surreptitiously interfering with file transfers by posing as one party and then, essentially, hanging up the phone. But when we contacted Comcast at the time, it flatly denied doing it.

Thanks to tests reported Friday by the Associated Press, however, it’s clear that Comcast is actively interfering with peer-to-peer networks even if relatively small files are being transferred.

The tests involved transferring a copy of the King James Bible through the BitTorrent network on Time Warner Cable, Cablevison, AT&T and two Comcast connections (in Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco). Only the Comcast-connected computers were affected.

This is significant. The Gutenberg version of the King James Bible is only 4.24MB, which is relatively tiny and indicates that Comcast was singling out even small files.

Comcast, fighting freedom

Journey to the End of the Night (Hugh Ferriss edition)

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Hugh Ferriss‘ renderings, at their best, are some of the most evocative examples of American art of the previous century. His renderings were at once broadly and lastingly influential (just look at the set design of Batman or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow for proof of this) However, for all their timelessness, they also captured the unique aesthetic spirit of an age. For all the influence he had, one would think everyone would know who Hugh Ferriss was.

The setting of his best renderings is night, but not just any night. It is a night where his buildings radiate light and life, and that’s because something is happening in them. Sometimes, the night is glamorous and his buildings are beacons of light. Other times, the night has become menacing and heavier, but the buildings still radiate light, and are shelters from that night. This often results in a very layered space, similar to Piranesi, in which bright objects in the distance are pushing dark objects in the foreground out towards the viewer.

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Journey to the End of the Night (Hugh Ferriss edition)