data visualization is a halfway house

(Image credit: A.Koblin for RadioHead) This is a phrase that has stuck with me since Tim O’Reilly uttered some form of it two years ago.  Tim was talking about online cartography, saying it’s not the maps that matter: it’s getting to our destination.  Maps are a half-step short of that goal.  And in a world of navigational algorithmsContinue reading “data visualization is a halfway house”

eight golden rules of interface design

As we dedicate an increasing fraction of our time interacting with software – from airport check-in terminals and parking meters, to desktop and mobile applications –  digital interface design is becoming as important as physical architecture in improving our experience of the world. Here are Professor Ben Schneiderman’s Eight Golden rules for optimally designing that experience (drawnContinue reading “eight golden rules of interface design”

the rise of the technical VC

Silicon Valley’s first big bang of innovation occurred in 1957, when eight engineers left Shockley Transistor to form FairChild Semiconductor.  Back then, the idea of engineers being entrusted as founders of a business was heretical.  Forty-one firms were asked to invest, but “none of them were interested”, according to Arthur Rock. The idea that engineersContinue reading “the rise of the technical VC”

the data science debate: domain expertise or machine learning?

(L to R:  Mike Driscoll, Drew Conway, DJ Patil, Amy Heineike, Pete Skomoroch, Pete Warden, Toby Segaran. Credit: O’Reilly – Link to Video) This past Tuesday evening at Strata I moderated an Oxford-Style debate between six of the top data scientists in Silicon Valley and beyond. The motion debated was:  “In data science, domain expertise is moreContinue reading “the data science debate: domain expertise or machine learning?”

start-ups belong in cities

Last Saturday, I woke up and walked down to my favorite coffee shop in San Francisco, SightGlass coffee in SoMa. I met up with a couple of entrepreneurs pitching an amazing idea, and while ordering some mind-buzzingly-good drip coffee, ran into a mentor of mine. I write this because, while these interactions could have happened in the suburbs ofContinue reading “start-ups belong in cities”

the coal mining of the information age

“If I were starting a NoSQL-in-the-enterprise startup, I would focus on ETL. ETL is a mess, and is a precursor for any fancy uses of data.” – @jaykreps “@jaykreps ETL is the coal mining of the information age: dirty, important work that fuels the economy.” – @peteskomoroch One of the largest obstacles facing companies whoContinue reading “the coal mining of the information age”

why everyone should be a medical data donor

What happens to your medical records when you die?  Gil Elbaz thinks you ought to donate them to science, a thought he shared with a technology audience this past week. It’s a fascinating idea.  But why wait until you’re dead?  In the age of the quantified self, why shouldn’t you be able to give yourContinue reading “why everyone should be a medical data donor”

lies, damned lies, and social media statistics

Social media statistics – shares, retweets, and likes – reflect content’s value the way a funhouse mirror reflects one’s looks: grotesquely.  As the web lines its halls with social mirrors, these distortions are influencing the content we create and consume. One need look no further than the headlines at Hacker News for a gallery of theContinue reading “lies, damned lies, and social media statistics”