Archive - 2005

November 13th

the important things in life

I opened up the reading list to check out what papers I had to read for tomorrow’s database class, and was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the papers was co-authored by Shashank — he was a senior at IITBombay when I was working there last year!

Found this really nice story at his advisor’s page.


November 10th

google = y2.0

I was going to write about this, but Jeremy’s saved me the trouble: Google is building Yahoo! 2.0.

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November 9th

new word overheard in the lab

Researchitize: As opposed to “commercialize”. Usage:

“He can’t talk about it, coz he’s not sure if his company is going to researchitize it or commercialize it.”

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November 7th


Site was down for a while. Sorry.

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November 4th

This is Huge

Amazon Mechanical Turk — “Artificial Artificial Intelligence”:

Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate “artificial, artificial intelligence” directly into their processing by making requests of humans. Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web services API to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications. To the application, the transaction looks very much like any remote procedure call: the application sends the request, and the service returns the results. In reality, a network of humans fuels this artificial, artificial intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work.

It’s insanely ambitious, but I applaud the Amazon guys for coming up with something like this.

November 3rd

It's really about the roses you forgot to stop and smell

I’ve been following all this Web 2.0 business for a while, and it scares me. It’s hard to explain in a few lines — (I really want to, but I also have to evaluate the charniak parser, and the brill tagger, write appositions…. ) – it’s not because we’re heading towards a second dot-com bubble(we might be, but I don’t really care about it). It’s because there’s WAY too much technology out and about. There’s not enough people(or people’s resources) to consume it, and not enough data for it to be useful. The searchable internet may have billions of pages, but how much of it is really useful? Your intelligent social network may connect you to so many people, but do you really want to talk to all these people? You may relish the ability to suck in So Much Information with the press of a single button, but how much of the data you consume useful? I’m not just complaining about the fact that the information age has retarded our lives instead of making it better; I’m worrying about the fact that we’re heading towards an overprocessed, overnetworked, overmanaged world where we’re doing very little useful work.

My other worry is about the frontronners of the new Web: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, News Corp. Each one is building their own Map framework, their own index of the world and its libraries, their own social network systems, their own information monarchy. It’s all about “convergent, ubiquituous, live-your-life-on-my-website technology”. Imagine the redundancy in effort; in intellectual advancement; the waste of precious human capability because each of these players(and countless other startups, opensource mashups, and random developers) are eying the same piece of meat: the whole of your life. Not just a part of it: the only way to really strike a profit is to make it really useful for you. And the only way to make this really useful, is to take over the whole of your life. What you read, hear, see. Who you communicate with and how. Which parties you go to, What you eat, where you go to shop. And how you travel to get to party, shop and eat. It’s ironic, but from how I look at it, the global optimal(both my convenience, and their profit) is for everyone to surrender entirely to one of these Big Brothers. I’m not advocating an eventual 1984 here, just pointing out that the only way we will really ever get to the Web we dream of is by letting exaclty one of these players to win; and that situation is identical to the BigBrotherness we all have nightmares about.

(I know a lot of this text above would look like mindless drivel unless you’ve been carefully following the way the WWW has been changing over the last year. I wish had the time to hyperlink, exemplify and write this out clearly; but I’m afraid I’m going to have to sacrifice quality of writing due to lack of time.)


October 31st

daylight savings time

They switched off Daylight Savings Time yesterday, setting our clocks one hour back. It’s amazing to see how cellphones, computers and any other centralized time-telling device suddenly goes back in time as if nothing changed. The inhabitants of 2026 Willowtree Towers, however, spent the extra hour earned quite wisely, sitting with friends on their totally awesome futon, eating a rather late dinner, discussing the implications of the extra hour:

Somebody: “You know, now I can study for one more hour”
Otherbody: “You know, now I can sleep for one more hour”


October 26th

taxicabs and finite automata

Suresh writes about an interesting conversation with a taxi driver.

awestruck sidenote: Suresh works at the AT&T(bows head), and did his PhD under Prof. Motwani(bows head).

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October 23rd

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Intelligent Design, at the New Yorker.



Anu LiveJournal:

Every person I meet adds a little bit of himself or herself to me. From the smiling waiter to the frowning boss, every character in the script plays a role in my little performance on world stage. I am a little bit of everyone I have ever met. These little relationships are the most important elements of my life. They are what matters most to me because they make me what I am, even what I will be.

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