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Watch “IBM Design Lab – Part 2 of 2: Factoring” on YouTube February 9, 2014

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Cantonese Vs. Mandarin | Aug. 25, 2013 | Off the Great Wall September 14, 2013

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On our family visit back to our ancestral village at Lougang (or Lowkong), the members of the collective group mostly spoke no more than two of four dialects, from the heritage Toisanese, to local standard Cantonese, the modern Mandarin, and the new world English.  This meant conversations with multiple translations from the 92-year-old grandfather down to the pre-school great grand-daughter.

Geoffrey Bowker, “Memory Practices in the Sciences” (MP3 audio) | Feb. 5, 2008 | Library Cafe, WVKR-FM March 22, 2012

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Scientific knowledge has changed from its19th century origins, through 20th century industrialization into 21st century information economy.  Have practices changed?
library-cafe.org

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, discusses his book, Memory Practices in the Sciences, winner of the 2007 Ludwig Fleck Prize of the Society for Social Studies and Science, and named the “Best Information Book of 2006″ by the American Society for Information Science & Technology, published by MIT.

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Geoffrey Bowker, “Memory Practices in the Sciences” (MP3 audio) | Feb. 5, 2008 | Library Cafe, WVKR-FM http://library-cafe.blogspot.ca/2008/01/geoffrey-c-bowker.html

Comment on Getting better at working at the office | sacha chua :: living an awesome life September 29, 2011

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@sachac While working, I find jazz better than classical music to keep me energized. On web radio, I like The Grooveyard at http://www.jazz.fm/player/streams/index.htm , the Jazz Music Stream at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ or Attention Span Radio on Live365 http://www.live365.com/stations/bamman

Comment on Getting better at working at the office | sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

I find the sounds of the office distracting: the white noise of airconditioning, people’s conversations, the clackety-clack of lots of fast typists in one place…

I find that listening to music with words interferes with programming or writing. Classical music is nice, but background conversations come through during the soft parts.

Sean Quinlan, “Storage at Scale” (MP3 audio), O’Reilly Media Velocity Conference, IT Conversations, 2008/06/24 December 17, 2010

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When massive volumes of data is expected to always be available on the Internet, how is that engineered?

A one in a million hardware fluke would happen every day at Google, so reliability must be handled by smart software. In this talk from the 2008 Velocity Conference, Sean Quinlan of Google describes the tools that Google uses to manage terabytes of data spread over millions of machines.

Because their needs are too big for a single machine, Google does not look at single machine performance. Rather, they look for the most performance bang for the buck and buy lots of it. They then layer software on top of it, which allows them to replicate data across multiple machines to compensate for the potential failure of any one machine. The two major systems they use are the Google File System (GFS) and BigTable. GFS is a cluster file system laid on top of a data center that stores chunks of data either as append-only sequences similar to log files or as read-only sorted tables of key/value pairs. These restrictions allow seamless and reliable storage at Google’s immense scale.

IT Conversations | Velocity Conference from O’Reilly Media | Sean Quinlan

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Daniel Klein on Adam Smith “The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 1 — An Overview (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2009/04/06 January 17, 2010

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Although many cite Adam Smith, few have actually read him.  Economists who have read Adam Smith’s writings find more clarity in the work that preceded The Wealth of Nations.

Dan Klein, of George Mason University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith’s lesser-known masterpiece, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, on the 250th anniversary of its initial publication. Klein highlights key passages and concepts of the book including its relation to The Wealth of Nations, Smith’s willingness to accept “vague, loose, and indeterminate” rules rather than precise ones, Smith’s criteria for assessing what is moral and what is not, and Smith’s conception of justice.

This podcast is part of the EconTalk Book Club on The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It will be followed by four bonus podcasts in the coming weeks going through the book systematically. Interested listeners who wish to do the reading in advance can find the schedule along with more background on the book on the EconTalk book club page, accessible from the EconTalk home page.

Klein on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Episode 1–An Overview | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Dambisa Moyo, “Is Aid Dead? Foreign Aid and Development” (MP3 audio), Council on Foreign Relations, 2009/04/21 September 15, 2009

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Does foreign aid help the development of third world countries, or inhibit it?

Roundtable Meeting: Global Health Roundtable: Is Aid Dead? A Discussion with Dambisa Moyo on Foreign Aid and Development

Is Aid Dead? A Discussion with Dambisa Moyo on Foreign Aid and Development (Audio) – Council on Foreign Relations

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Christopher Coyne, “Exporting Democracy after War” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/04/07 September 15, 2009

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After wars, countries may be helped in economic recovery.

Christopher Coyne of West Virginia University and George Mason University’s Mercatus Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy.

They talk about the successes and failures of America’s attempts to export democracy after a war. In some cases, Japan and Germany, for example, after World War II, American efforts have led to stability and democratic institutions. In many other cases, Cuba, Somalia, and Haiti, for example, and so far, Iraq, American efforts have failed, often repeatedly and have sometimes made things worse. Coyne tries to identify factors that lead to an improved likelihood of success or failure. Ultimately, he concludes that a non-interventionist posture accompanied by unilateral free trade is more likely to benefit citizens under repressive governments.

Coyne on Exporting Democracy after War | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Rick Prelinger, “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco” (MP3 audio), Longnow Foundation, 2008/12/19 September 15, 2009

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San Francisco has a long and interesting history.

Rick started out in 01982 as an amateur collector of the un-collected. He began by collecting film out-takes, esoteric commercial films, and all the other ephemera that is usually discarded by archives and libraries. Today he is a professional archivist who funds his collections by selling commercial access, AND giving it away. Rick pointed out that his archival sales go up the more he provides free access. The film student who uses a clip in film school often becomes a professional who buys the content later.

The Long Now Blog » Blog Archive » Rick Prelinger “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco”

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Stephen Marglin, “Marglin on Markets and Community” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/03/10 September 15, 2009

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Community and markets are two different ways in which human being interact socially.

Stephen Marglin of Harvard University and author of The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the markets and community.

Marglin argues that markets and commercial transactions undermine the connections between us. He wants people to pay more attention to what is lost and not just what is gained by the pursuit of material well-being.

Topics discussed include the nature of community, the role that voluntary associations play in our lives, the costs and benefits of mobility, the role of insurance in reducing our dependence on each other, and the nature of knowledge.

Marglin on Markets and Community | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Vernon Smith, “Markets and Experimental Economics” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2007/05/21 September 15, 2009

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When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, experimental economics was a new area of research.

Vernon Smith, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, talks about experimental economics, markets, risk, behavioral economics and the evolution of his career.

Vernon Smith on Markets and Experimental Economics | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Michael Meyer, “Last Days of Old Beijing” (MP3 audio), Tech Nation, 2008/09/04 September 15, 2009

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The urbanization of Beijing means that the old parts of the city are disappearing.

Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Michael Meyer, author of “The Last Days of Old Beijing,” about the transformation of a city.

IT Conversations | Tech Nation | Michael Meyer (Free Podcast)

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William McDonough, “Sustainability And The Next Industrial Revolution” (MP3 audio), Total Picture Radio, 2007/07/05 September 11, 2009

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William McDonough is a designer with creative approaches to sustainability.

William McDonough

“Reflect on this: It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage. How smart are humans?”  William McDonough

“My goal is very simple. It’s to help create “a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world, with clean air, soil, water, and power — economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed, period. What’s not to like?”

William McDonough is the winner of three U.S. presidential awards: the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the National Design Award (2004); and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003). Time magazine recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet” in 1999, stating that “his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that, in demonstrable and practical ways, is changing the design of the world.”

His Book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, (North Point Press). was not printed on conventional paper, but in Durabook, a synthetic “paper” made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, materials that can be reutilized again and again in industrial processes, what the book calls a “technical nutrient.”

William McDonough – Sustainability And The Next Industrial Revoluti… | TotalPicture Radio – Podcast Career Advice and Leadership Development | Mcdonough, Design, William, Cradle, Case

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George Dolbier and David Laux, “IBM’s Gaming Business” (MP3 audio), AfterTV, 2007/01/30 September 11, 2009

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Although most people think about IBM as “business machines”, the company is a significant presence in the growing business of video games.

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Do they play games at International Business Machines? Yes, they do and, like most other things at IBM, they are pretty good at it.

We caught up with George Dolbier (photographed), the Chief Technology Officer at IBM’s Gaming Division and global executive David Laux to talk about IBM’s gaming business. So what, exactly, does playing electronic games mean at IBM? According to Dolbier, it means recognizing beautiful things at odd angles.

Archive AfterTV: George Dolbier and David Laux

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Ted Leung, “Open Source in the Corporate World” (MP3 audio), Herding Code, 2008/10/03 September 11, 2009

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It’s interesting to hear first-hand accounts of histories of successes and failures in Silicon Valley.

Ted Leung … works on dynamic languages and tools at Sun Microsystems and is a member of the Apache Software Foundation.

We discussed a variety of issues, including:

  • Ted’s wild ride through Apple, Apache, the Open Source Application Foundation, and Sun
  • How open source development can benefit software companies as well as the development community
  • How open source has worked for Apple, Sun, and IBM
  • Microsoft and open source
  • JavaFX
  • Chandler: what is it, what it does well, and where it disappoints

Episode 20: Ted Leung on open source in the corporate world | Herding Code

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Daniel Bell, “China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society” (MP3 audio), Big Ideas, tvo.org 2008/08/10 September 11, 2009

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The government in China has been promoting Confucianism both internally and throughout the world.

Daniel A. Bell

Daniel Bell is a Professor of Philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. His lecture is entitled “China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society”.

BIGIDEAS Daniel Bell

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BIGIDEAS Daniel Bell

Book description at Princeton University Press

Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan (MP3 audio), Tech Nation, 2007/05/10 August 13, 2009

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The “Black Swan” has become a common phrase in contemporary language as a highly improbable event.

Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, about the role of the improbable in our lives.

IT Conversations | Tech Nation | Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Free Podcast)

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Clay Shirky, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” (MP3 audio), Principled Innovation, 2008/04/14 August 13, 2009

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The new social media provides both threats and opportunities to business.
Here Comes Everybody Cover

… Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations … [has] profound implications for how we are going to think about the future of associations. [....]

“All businesses are media businesses, because whatever else they do, all businesses rely on the managing of information for two audiences–employees and the world. The increase in the power of both individuals and groups, outside traditional organizational structures, is unprecedented. Many institutions we rely on today will not survive this change without significant alteration, and the more an institution or industry relies on information as its core product, the greater and more complete the change will be.”

The fundamental and irrevocable transformation of the association community we have always known is now underway because social media tools are enabling simple group formation, rapid distributed collaboration and meaningful collective action in ways that no longer demand institutional infrastructure and support. Clay’s book is an incredibly thoughtful and insightful treatise on the technology-powered global social and cultural phenomena that are actively altering our society, including the reality of associations, in the early years of the 21st century.

Principled Innovation LLC » P.I. Podcast: Interview with Clay Shirky

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Michael Mauboussin, “The Psychology of Stocks” (MP3 audio), Talk of the Nation, 2007/08/17 August 13, 2009

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Can we get beyond mechanistic models of markets?

Michael J. Mauboussin

It has been a bumpy ride on Wall Street this week. Could psychological theories help explain what is happening on the trading floor?  Investment strategist Michael Mauboussin, author of More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, discusses the science of stocks.

Michael Mauboussin is chief investment strategist, Legg Mason Capital Management; adjunct professor of business, Columbia University

The Psychology of Stocks : NPR

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Bradford C. Johnson, James M. Manyika, and Lareina A. Yee, “The next revolution in interactions” (MP3 audio), McKinsey Quarterly, 2005/11 August 13, 2009

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The nature of work in the 21st century — beyond automation to knowledge-based work — may benefit from the development of some new models.

Organization, Strategic Organization article, corporate interactions

Today’s most valuable workers undertake business activities that economists call “interactions”: in the broadest sense, the searching, coordinating, and monitoring required to exchange goods or services. Recent studies—including landmark research McKinsey conducted in 1997—show that specialization, globalization, and technology are making interactions far more pervasive in developed economies. As Adam Smith predicted, specialization tends to atomize work and to increase the need to interact. Outsourcing, like the boom in global operations and marketing, has dramatically increased the need to interact with vendors and partners. And communications technologies such as e-mail and instant messaging have made interaction easier and far less expensive.

The growth of interactions represents a broad shift in the nature of economic activity. At the turn of the last century, most nonagricultural labor in business involved extracting raw materials or converting them into finished goods. We call these activities transformational because they involve more than just jobs in production. By the turn of the 21st century, however, only 15 percent of US employees undertook transformational work such as mining coal, running heavy machinery, or operating production lines—in part because in a globalizing economy many such jobs are shifting from developed to developing nations. The rest of the workforce now consists of people who largely or wholly spend their time interacting.

Within the realm of interactions, another shift is in full swing as well, and it has dramatic implications for the way companies organize and compete. Eight years after McKinsey’s 1997 study, the firm’s new research on job trends in a number of sectors finds that companies are hiring more workers for complex than for less complex interactions. Recording a shipment of parts to a warehouse, for example, is a routine interaction; managing a supply chain is a complex one.

Complex interactions typically require people to deal with ambiguity—there are no rule books to follow—and to exercise high levels of judgment. These men and women (such as managers, salespeople, nurses, lawyers, judges, and mediators) must often draw on deep experience, which economists call “tacit knowledge.” For the sake of clarity, we will therefore refer to the more complex interactions as tacit and to the more routine ones as transactional. Transactional interactions include not just clerical and accounting work, which companies have long been automating or eliminating, but also most of what IT specialists, auditors, biochemists, and many others do [....]

Employee interactions: creating competitive advantages – McKinsey Quarterly – Organization – Strategic Organization

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