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2013: The Year 'the Stream' Crested - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"I am not joking when I say: it is easier to read Ulysses than it is to read the Internet. Because at least Ulysses has an end, an edge. Ulysses can be finished. The Internet is never finished.

It's hard to know when changes are happening. As someone who spends all day on the Internet, I would say that I sense it. But the evidence I can present to you is partial, incomplete, suggestive more than authoritative. In that vein, I would say that nowness is not going away, but the bundle of ideas that formed the metaphor of the The Stream is pulling apart."
2013  alexismadrigal  stream  stockandflow  stock  flow  internet  technology  web  internetasfavoritebook  internetasliterature  information  flows  reading  howweread  infooverload 
19 hours ago by robertogreco
Life began when algorithms took control | Science News
Presumably, life originated with the arrival of some particularly complicated chemistry. Various nonliving molecules somehow accumulated in a way that initiated metabolism, reproduction and eventually evolution. So searchers for life’s origins have focused on finding out what those molecules were and how they worked. But it’s important, Walker and Davies point out, to narrow that focus to the right aspect of molecular activity.

“A common source of confusion stems from the fact that molecules play three distinct roles: structural, informational and chemical,” the scientists write in a paper published last year in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

It’s the informational role that is the key to transforming nonliving chemistry into life, they contend. “The manner in which information flows through and between cells and sub-cellular structures is quite unlike anything else observed in nature. If life is more than just complex chemistry, its unique informational management properties may be the crucial indicator of this distinction.”

The manner in which information flows through and between cells and sub-cellular structures is quite unlike anything else observed in nature. If life is more than just complex chemistry, its unique informational management properties may be the crucial indicator of this distinction.

— Sara Imari Walker and Paul Davies
Specifically, Walker and Davies argue that life’s origin involved the separation of information processing from information storage. Metabolism is itself a sort of information processing — input information is “processed” via chemical reactions into output products, just as a computer program converts input data into output. But chemical reactions happening on their own do not in themselves constitute life. It’s the origin of the computer program — the stored information controlling what happens — that marks life’s beginnings.

“Living and nonliving matter differ fundamentally in the way information is organized and flows through the system: biological systems are distinctive because information manipulates the matter it is instantiated in,” Walker and Davies assert. Information’s control over the matter containing it — what Walker and Davies call “context-dependent causation” — is therefore life’s defining feature. “The origin of life may thus be identified when information gains top-down causal efficacy over the matter that instantiates it.”

In other words, when the information stored in molecules begins telling the molecules what to do, chemistry becomes life.

Walker and Davies refer to this transformation as an “algorithmic takeover.” Chemical reactions such as those of metabolism process analog information — the information is represented in the actual molecules physically performing the processes. Life’s computer program is stored digitally, in DNA. (Too bad it is not short for digital nucleic acid.) DNA’s information is processed algorithmically, by the reading of codes contained in the arrangement of molecules that are distinct from the molecules that participate in the actual metabolism.

This digitally stored information contains not only the blueprint for making the organism, but also the instructions for constructing the organism from the blueprint. These instructions, the algorithm, control the chemistry. So algorithmic takeover is the hallmark of life’s origin. It marks a sharp transition between life and nonlife, framing the origin of life question more precisely.

“The real challenge of life’s origin is thus to explain how instructional information control systems emerge naturally and spontaneously from mere molecular dynamics,” Walker and Davies write.
life  information  biology 
yesterday by ernie.bornheimer
The absolute worst cliche online today - The Washington Post
Could “all you need to know” be the most insidious, reductive, and lame story formula currently conquering our reading life? Everywhere you turn there’s another purported ne plus ultra explainer purporting to tell us “absolutely everything we could possibly need to know” about some current event, some curiosity of history, some deep mystery of life on Earth.
internet  News  journalism  information 
yesterday by creno
A day in the life of NYC taxis
This clever and well-done visualization shows where individual NYC taxis picked up and dropped off their fares over the course of a day.
kottke  visual  information 
2 days ago by briandk
Perceptual Edge
"Perceptual Edge focuses on the tools and techniques of visual business intelligence to help you make better use of your valuable information assets."
visualisation  information  data  charts  book 
2 days ago by niksilver
What One Of History's Greatest Visualizations Could Teach Us About Designing Interfaces Today
In The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte calls Minard’s graphic of Napoleon in Russia one of the “best statistical drawings ever created.” But what makes it so good?
ddj  djl  visualization  information  design 
3 days ago by winnydejong
The Secret Code to Get HBO Without Cable TV - Personal Tech News - WSJ
I called up some of the biggest cable companies and representatives from four talked about the packages they offer. This worked for my family with Comcast. We called their hotline and said we wanted to “downgrade” service. After we said the magic words “Internet Plus,” we were able to switch from a triple-play package costing $212 per month to “Internet plus” with broadband, about 10 cable channels and HBO (with HBO Go) for about $75 per month. Keep in mind, this eliminates landline phone service through the cable company.
2010s  2014  July  cabe  comcast  information  cutthecord 
3 days ago by jmbond
Art Deco or Art Nouveau? How to Tell Which is Which
Is it art deco or art nouveau? Ask the Decorating Files has been getting lots of questions asking about art deco vs. art nouveau. A few years ago I wrote an article for Fauxology on the differences between these two styles. It really summed things up, so I thought I’d share it again. Here it is in its entirety.
art  information  how-to 
4 days ago by creit
Bizarre bat behavior: Oral sex, pollinating tequila, sharing meals, drinking blood, males lactating.
Bats are merciless predators, loyal neighbors, tender mothers, and generous lovers with strange and intimidating tongues. Bats give us tequila and were conscripted during World War II. And because breaking into animal celebrity today is a lot like Boogie Nights, I’ll point out that at least one bat species possesses a penis of great and terrifying adaptation.

Bats make up an amazing one-fifth of all mammal species. A vast majority eat bugs—70 percent of species worldwide—but there are a few curious exceptions. The vampire bats of Central and South America possess dagger-sharp incisors, which they use to open the veins of mammals and birds. They typically choose furless or featherless areas like ears, nipples, legs, and anuses. Now, you might think a chicken would be bothered by a bat biting into its anus, but bat teeth are so sharp that most victims don’t seem to notice. (Don’t worry. Vampires bats live only as far north as Mexico.)
Oral sex is exceptionally rare across the animal kingdom, for though many animals have been seen licking one another’s genitals, little of this fondling or grooming appears to be for the explicit purposes of assisting reproduction. However, both fellatio and cunnilingus have been observed in fruit bats—before, during, and after the main event. Scientists don’t know if oral sex provides stimulation, lubrication, or sanitation.
animals  history  information  wowwowwow  sex  oral  tongue  Mexico  southamerica  breastfeeding  gender  LGBTQ  sleep 
4 days ago by theeditedword

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