Archive for July, 2008

Further to the outcry at the time, this weekend The Guardian reports;

“Channel 4 to be censured over controversial climate film”

“Channel 4 misrepresented some of the world’s leading climate scientists … Ofcom is expected to censure the network … but … it did not breach the regulator’s broadcasting code and did not materially mislead viewers.”

I’m certainly looking forward to reading how it’s possible to misrepresent the world’s leading climate scientists without misleading viewers.

The key quote seems to be “One source said both sides would be able to claim victory after a bitter dispute” which sounds like diplomacy has won over decisiveness and truth.

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As if she needed to leave a greater legacy, a tape recovered from her attic 7 years ago after she passed away resets the “baseline” of what electronic music was in the 1960s.

Most unexpected of all, however, is a piece of music that sounds like a contemporary dance track which was recorded, it is believed, in the late sixties.

Paul Hartnoll, formerly of the dance group Orbital and a great admirer of Ms Derbyshire’s work, said the … “That could be coming out next week on Warp Records,”

That’s where studying in maths and music gets you…

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At last, I think the nature of transmission is beginning to reveal itself.

Do we need a new term? Probably – many other terms (p2p, broadcast, webcast, bitcast, torrent, web2.0, hive, etc) all describe an evolutionary step, so it does make sense to have a phrase to describe this one (note that edgecasting has already been monopolised by the CDN community and doesn’t actually describe “edge” in the context we need it to).

Cloudcasting is a term to describe usage of cloud (or meta-cloud) infrastructure to super-distribute content to, and from, edge devices.

Design requirements

:: Addressability
Permanent, guessable, as per the Coatsian rules of linkage.

:: Viewer Identity Management
Viewer-controlled at the edge, as per the O’Brien rule of Digital Identity Management.

:: Distributed storage
Both at the edge and in the cloud, as per the Loosemore box of imposs and the O’Brien rule of infinite scaling.

:: Open, anonymous publishing
Via tor networks, embedded on every mobile, home router, myth … devices.

:: Access control and content-owner identity tracking
Enabling edge-to-edge rights-control and reporting for those who want/need it. Commercially-enabling is important.

A cloudcast needs to enable content owners to be identified so that they can be paid (via direct and/or syndication channels) but doesn’t need to explicitly identify users, only views, which can be managed via oauth-escrow.

A p2p+tor+S3+mythTV+hive+impossibox mash-up, but with good addressability…?

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council in the UK has managed to create a terrible situation which could destroy fundamental research across the country. This would have a devastating impact on not just the lives of people who have dedicated themselves to their fields, and not just to the UK’s reputation, but would be a massive loss for everyone.

One institution, Jodrell Bank (where I used to work), is listed as “threatened” (BBC News), and this story a great showcase for what’s at stake.  What’s really at stake isn’t even visible, so I’m going to use JB to give tiny insights into what this could mean for a broad community of brilliant minds and projects, and what we might lose that we can’t imagine and can’t measure.

In true British fashion, Jodrell is an example of how spectacular scientific endeavour is completely under-represented and unappreciated in the UK.  We have a world-class, thought-leading, inspirational, world-changing, unique facility, and it’s not considered as an imperative to sustain.

Jodrell (with MERLIN) is as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope. It has been for over 15 years. (I believe Nasa spend more on marketing the HST than Jodrell’s entire budget).

I went to visit some friends at Jodrell a few years back and as they we updating me on some of the progress a few nuggets dropped into the conversation – like the fact that more data was flowing across the MERLIN network than the WHOLE of the UK internet. One of the engineers showed me their own self-build multi-gigabit router (because nothing commercial was quite cutting it).

Jodrell was instrumental in Apollo missions. It was the only instrument in the Western Hemisphere that could track Sputnik. It led to the discovery of Pulsars. It helps us map the entire universe. It finds new physics.

The people who work in this field, using instruments like Jodrell,  help not only to literally uncover the mysteries of “life, the universe and everything”, but to create fundamentally new technologies, push boundaries and inspire generations to drive innovation – they do this as a side-effect to their daily work. One colleague wrote 100,000 lines of PERL to help with data processing tasks, so they could carry out their own astrophysics research.  I was part of an international team of about 10 people managing about 1 million lines of Fortran that carried out data and image processing.

While I was there (in 1993-95) I helped to set up their first website. We did this in our lunch breaks, as a means to an end – helping to share information.

Of course it’s not just Jodrell, it’s all the fundamental research that we use to fuel  our innovation, which ultimately fuels our economy, and could help us address the many global issues that we face as a species.

To find ourselves in a situation where this level of innovation is threatened is, at best, atrocious, at worst immoral.

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