Recommended reads and links for this week

It may be August, it may be quiet but there have been a few things this week that are worth a read or quick schmooze – oh, and where else will you find viral marketing mentioned on the same page as semiconductors and DNA?


The Guardian reported this week that the Office of Fair Trading is to investigate targeted ads and pricing online. The investigation is going to cover areas such as price comparison websites and the use of personal data in website advertising, including behavioural targeting technologies.
The results of the investigation could prove significant for the industry, particularly in the light of the European Commission’s proceedings against the UK for failing to uphold privacy laws in line with EU regulations as regards Phorm.

This week Advertising Age also asked: Why Do UK Videos Always Seem to Go Viral? With a headline like that, how can you not go and have a peek?

Wolfram Alpha – the computational engine using semantic technology that should not to be confused with Google or a search engine as this thing likes calculating stuff – have blogged on what they have been doing this summer.
The post can be summarised as: we’ve been busy and reliant on summer being quiet and traffic down so that we can make sure the site works even better in the autumn. But, ignore my cynicism, the insights that Stephen Wolfram gives show how a company can be open regarding it’s product development and give you a little glimpse under the hood.

Another semantic technology company to be aware of is Fluidinfo who launched online this week. The idea for the company started in the UK and the team are now based in Spain. Their first product is FluidDB which they describe as “a new kind of hosted (cloud) database, designed to provide a global metadata and personalization engine – for everyone and everything.” You can read the product overview here.

Note: those interested in semantic technologies should also look at OpenCalais.

Finally, the FT reported that IBM scientists may have discovered a way to use DNA to help construct semiconductor chips. The report explains:

Scientists have suggested that artificial DNA nanostructures and “DNA origami”, in which a long single strand of DNA is folded into a shape using shorter “staple strands”, could be used to provide a template for the self-assembly of other materials into nanoelectronic or nano-optical devices on the surface of the chip.

Finding Ada at OpenTech 2009

Why modern Ada’s are needed, originally uploaded by kcorrick.

This poigniont image was taken at the Women in Tech session at the 2009 OpenTech held on 4 July.

It summarises one of the problems that Suw Charman-Anderson, Sue Black, Janet Parkinson, Zoe Margolis and myself were trying to highlight when it comes to encouraging women into the technology industry – the of a lack of role models, and how important it is that we hold up the work that women are doing in the fields of science and technology, be it as academics, developers, games designers, communicators and the wealth of other careers in this sector.

The session that was a follow-up to this year’s Ada Lovelace day. The brainchild of Suw Charman-Anderson.

One of the things that Suw discovered when analysing the women who had been written about on Ada Lovelace day in March was that the majority of them had already passed away. So for my part of the session, I ran a brainstorm to try and find some more modern (and alive) women who are working in science and technology. Participants were asked to come up with names of women who they admired in teams and write them down on post-its, which were placed on the wall. Everyone was then given a strip of gold stars to use as "faves".

Photos of the results can be seen here or read below – apologies in advance if I have spelt anyone’s name incorrectly. A corrected and more detailed version of this list with further thoughts, will go up onto the Finding Ada website soon.

Some modern Ada’s
Tina 303 – hacker
Terry Gaasterland (think that’s right), Bioinformatics
Sarah Blow, Girl Geek Dinners
Lady Ada, hacker
Lene Hau, DK phyisicist
Jane McGonagal, games
Pamela Jones, Grok Law
Aleks Krotoski, games, writing, academic
Leisa Reichelt, user experience
Clarise de Souza, semiotic engineering
Stephenie Wehner, quantum computing
Donna Metzlar, informal education
Meg Pickard, social media
Natalie Jerijermento, techno artist/designer
Back In Shinning Jeans (more details required)
Natasha Bowen, IT manager
Improbulous, blog, consuming experience
Natalie Portman
Stefani Banerian, sys admin for Indy Media
Rosa Freund
Jenifer Tidwell, HCI design patterns
Kathy Sierra
Ann Thorpe, OU, design, activism, research
Caterina Fake, Flickr, Hunch,
Michelle Obama
Robin Hunicke, tech, games designer
Josie Fraser, education, tech
Maggie Philbin, science communicator
Emily Bell, Guardian
Moira Gunn, Tech Nation radio show, PhD in computer science
Marion Hamm, networks and virtual space
Dorte Haftendonn
Kara Swisher,
Clare Reddington (@clarered), director of the Pervasiv Media Studio and
Reena Pau, PhD, Southhampton university
Denise Wilton
Allison Randal, Perl
Anna Maria Cox, Wonkette
Sarah Winmill, CTO at the V&A
Ursula Martin, academic
Nivian Wang, Google
Laura Cohen, IBM, Sugar Project
Melia Mowze, game writer
Dr Sarah Butch, bioinformatics
Rhonda Wilson, head of research, Meridian Audio, Huntingdon
Jemima Kiss, Guardian technology correspondent
Prof Janet Thornton
Julia Wojcicka, design and UI
Mother of a friend of mine who worked at Max Planck Institute
Susane Komhard, Frauuhafer Institute
Danah Boyd, social media
Ayesha Garrett,, graphic designer
Dr. Rachel Armstrong, scientist, TED fellow
Maggie Berry, one of the founders of women in technology UK
Alice Taylor, Wonderland, C4 Education
Joanna, Google, social responsibility
Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing
Becky Hogge, activism, journalist
Violet Berlin, games, journalist
Irena Slutski, interviewer, reportage
Kaye Elling, games
Climate Rush, women’s campaign against climate change
Dame Ellen MacArthur, solo ocean racer, environmental activist
Prof Kristina Hook, Human Computer Interactions, Stokholm
Anja Anderson, astrophysics
Jo Walsh, perl hacker, GIS wizard
Mrs Price, physics teacher (and many more female sciences teachers)
Beth Auden, solar physicist, university of Nashville
Connie, AOL

Who has inspired you, who do you think should be recognised? Add their name(s) below in the comments.

UPDATE 10/07/2009: Here is a video of the session.

Edge into 2009

Hat tip to @stevemoore4good for tweeting about the annual question from Edge.

This year it asked it’s members:

What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?

“The mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.” It’s a membership organisation and each year it asks its members (who are some of the biggest thinkers and intellectuals around) a question and then publishes their repsonses.

The responses make for fascinating, but lengthy reading.