How can the public learn the role of algorithms in their daily lives, evaluating the law and ethicality of systems like the Facebook NewsFeed, search engines, or airline booking systems?

How can research on algorithms proceed without access to the algorithm?

What is the algorithm doing for a particular person?

How should we usefully visualize it?

How do people make sense of the algorithm?

What do users really need to know about algorithms?

Some very relevant questions raised in a conversation hosted by MIT Center for Civic Media titled Uncovering Algorithms.  (via algopop)

Essentially everyone, when they first build a distributed application, makes the following eight assumptions. All prove to be false in the long run and all cause big trouble and painful learning experiences.

1. The network is reliable
2. Latency is zero
3. Bandwidth is infinite
4. The network is secure
5. Topology doesn’t change
6. There is one administrator
7. Transport cost is zero
8. The network is homogeneous



#tbt: Here Comes Your Man — Pixies

The Pixies, some old school American alternative rock, broke into the industry with this classic. Featured on their demo tape in 1987, this song comes replete with guitar riffs and melodic lyrics. Their music seems similar to some older British alternative (probably why they reached a higher popularity over in the UK) and they have some really catchy tunes. Though they weren’t as commercially big as they could have been, everyone should enjoy these guys.