Links of the Day (01/24/10)

Here are two interesting articles I read today:

(1) “Moscow’s Stray Dogs” [Financial Times] – a descriptive and insightful look into the population of roughly 35,000 stray dogs in Moscow. The articles goes in depth into the four types of dogs roaming the streets of Moscow (based on the dogs’ character, how they forage for food, their level of socialization to people, and the ecological niche they inhabit). What was most interesting to me was reading about the evolution of the dogs. Most intriguing are the Moscow Metro dogs:

They orient themselves in a number of way…They figure out where they are by smell, by recognising the name of the station from the recorded announcer’s voice and by time intervals. If, for example, you come every Monday and feed a dog, that dog will know when it’s Monday and the hour to expect you, based on their sense of time intervals from their ­biological clocks.

The metro dog also has uncannily good instincts about people, happily greeting kindly passers by, but slinking down the furthest escalator to avoid the intolerant older women who oversee the metro’s electronic turnstiles.

(2) “Underwater, but Will They Leave the Pool?” [New York Times] – an interesting look into why the mortgage default rates are so low.

Links of the Day (01/22/10)

Here are some of the interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read recently:

(1) “Hope” [Sergey Brin’s Blog] – Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, traveled to Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake struck the tiny island nation on January 12. In his blog post, he talks about what he has seen and concludes with this powerful message:

While each of us is a citizen of a particular country, we are all citizens of the world. The responsibility falls on all of us to lend a hand when a tragedy of this magnitude befalls some of us.

(2) “A Culture in Jeopardy, Too” [New York Times]- a beautiful, moving photo essay by Maggie Stebber for the New York Times Lens blog. On the resilience of the Haitian people:

Haitians are not waiting for handouts. They are rebuilding their homes and getting on with their lives, getting back to business in the markets and on the roads. They cannot afford to wait for foreigners who can’t get organized quickly enough.

(3) “Architect, or Whatever” [New York Times] – interesting to read what some people are doing in these hard economic times.

Links of the Day (01/12/10)

Two must-read posts from today, one slightly humorous and the other much less so.

(1) “Conan O’Brien Says He Won’t Host ‘Tonight Show’ After Leno” [New York Times] – Conan came out with a marvelous statement saying that hosting The Tonight Show after midnight will “will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.” The statement is so bold and refreshing that perhaps he should have started the statement with “Inhabitants of the Universe” rather than the more mundane “People of Earth.”

(2) “A New Approach to China” [Official Google Blog] – in this groundbreaking post, Google outlines a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on their infrastructure coming from China. The entire post is a must-read, and the conclusion cannot be missed:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

Robert Scoble called it the “bravest corporate move I’ve ever seen a tech company make.” I think it’s a very strong statement, but we shall see how Google actually responds in the coming weeks.

Update: Another worthy reaction to the Google news comes via Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?. Jeff Jarvis writes:

I have been consistent in my criticism of Google’s actions in China. And so now I have not choice but to become even more of a fanboy. I applaud Google for finally standing up to the Chinese dictatorship and for free speech.

Will the Chinese people revolt at losing Google? We can only hope. Will other companies now have to hesitate before doing the dictators’ bidding? We can only hope. Will Google be punished by Wall Street? It probably will. But as I’ve argued, we should hope that Google’s pledge, Don’t be evil, will one day be chiseled over the doors of Wall Street.

Readings: Knowledge and Predictability, AOL-Time Warner, Soyabeans

I’ve decided that in addition to posting about the books I read, I’ll also provide links to interesting articles I find across the web. I don’t see myself posting links daily, but perhaps three to five links once a week. If you think this is a worthy venture, please let me know in the comments!

Here are the articles I’ve read recently which are worth checking out:

(1) “The Degradation of Predictability and Knowledge” [Edge.org] – interesting, but perhaps overly pessimistic take on the internet, by Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan (both of which I read and highly recommend).

(2) “In Retrospect: How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong” [New York Times] – an excellent interview with Stephen Case (co-founder of AOL), Gerald Levin (CEO of Time Warner), and Ted Turner on what went wrong with that fateful merger ten years ago.

(3) “Worth a Hill of Soyabeans” [The Economist] – how the gradual introduction of internet kiosks providing price information affected the market for soyabeans in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Interesting to discover that not only farmers’ profits increased but that the cultivation of soyabeans increased as well.

On another note, today is a palindrome day (01/11/10).