August-ish 2007 Roundup

Okay, so I am not clockwork regular in posting roundups, but at least it’s here. August and the first week of September saw a good deal of interesting activity on Ribbonfarm. Two minor milestones: first, I crossed 100 comments for a base of 27 articles, so that’s still nearly 4 comments per article, which makes me happy. Second, I got my first ever traffic spike from a social bookmarking site (StumbleUpon) — the piece on cartograms generated the spike (probably thanks to reader Kapsio posting a link to it at a popular data visualization site — thanks Kaps!). Anyway, here is a summary of the posts since the last update:

I had a total of 11 articles. So I am slowing down compared to my frenetic pace in July (with 17 articles in 4 weeks), but hey, the first-stage booster rockets have to be the most powerful!

In the science and technology bucket we have:

  • Digital Philosophy I: Is the Real Line Real? the first of a three part series on whether the universe is really a a discrete place, looks at the interesting questions raised by Chaitin’s constant and algorithmic information theory
  • The second part, Digital Philosophy II: Are Cellular Automata Important? takes a look at 2d and 1d cellular automata, self-replicating machines and ponders the imponderable question “Should we take Stephen Wolfram seriously?” Look out for Part III on quantum computing and digital physics in the next few weeks
  • I offer up my own modest contribution to digital-age sociology by proposing a revamped version of the famous “50 foot rule” of collaboration in The Twitter Zone and Virtual Geography. The piece owes a lot to an antipodal collaboration with reader tubelite in India, via comments on the precursor piece The 50-Foot Rule Reconsidered.

On to business and innovation

  • In yet another anchor post preparing for future posts, I cover the idea of Open Innovation, famously championed by Henry Chesbrough, in Open Innovation, or is Business War?
  • This could have been in the science/technology bucket — Seth Godin’s Dip and Multi-Armed Bandits, a piece on the bestselling The Dip by marketing guru Seth Godin, establishing a connection to the bandit problem in decision science.
  • In the first ever skewering on Ribbonfarm, I review Blue Ocean Strategy and come to the conclusion that it is a really bad book. In fact the piece proposes a whole 7 sins of bad business books for your entertainment based on BOS.
  • Finally, in Dan Pink, Howard Gardner and the Da Vinci Mind, I cover some recent ideas on the kind of personality and mind it will take to be successful at the innovation game in the 21st century.

Final category that saw action this month: personal essays (since narrative forms of inquiry are one idea I am trying to develop here on Ribbonfarm)

  • In The Parrot I talk about a parrot for reasons that will become clear if you read the piece
  • In 10 Years in America, I celebrate my 10th anniversary as a resident of the US by mulling some random observations on ducks, racoons, sandwiches and hamburgers. This one has cool pictures!
  • And finally, in Meditations on Cataloging the Telluride Library, I talk about the metaphysics of taxonomies

Not doing a podcast for this roundup, since the last one sucked and I need to improve my on-air skills with some shorter pieces first. So look out for audio shorts in the next few weeks. You can check out the previous roundup here.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter