I'm looking forward to receiving my copy of Scientific Collaboration on the Internet. I have an article in it on lessons learned from the NEESgrid project (an earlier version is here, I think it's a good read, especially between the lines), but the other articles are probably far more interesting:
I always like discovering that things are perhaps not quite as they seem. Peter Galison's lovely book Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps has that flavor. I at least have always understood Einstein to be an isolated genius, thinking great thoughts in the obscurity of the Swiss Patent Office. But what were those patents he was reviewing in his day job? Apparently many had to do with time synchronization, a topic of great interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as telegraphs spread across Europe.
Ross Anderson's wonderful Security Engineering has recently become available online. The book is full of fascinating anecdotes and deep wisdom. Anyone interested in what computer security is really about (i.e., systems, not algorithms) should read it.
The economics of information security has recently become a thriving and fast-moving discipline. As distributed systems are assembled from machines belonging to principals with divergent interests, we find that incentives are becoming as important as technical design in achieving dependability. The new field provides valuable insights not just into ‘security’ topics (such as bugs, spam, phishing, and law enforcement strategy) but into more general areas such as the design of peer-to-peer systems, the optimal balance of effort by programmers and testers, why privacy gets eroded, and the politics of digital rights management.
In other words, the most important components in any security system are the people, and as economics is the study of how and why people make decisions, is very relevant to computer security. Another reason to get University of Chicago economists involved in the Computation Institute ...
The Rand Corporation published A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates back in 1955, when generating random numbers was hard.
I have a copy of the original book; it's one of my library's prize possessions. I had no idea that the book was reprinted in 2002; it's available on Amazon. But even if you don't buy it, go to the Amazon
page and read the user reviews. They're hysterical.
This book does not even come close to delivering on its promise of one
million random digits. My expectations were high after reading the
first sentence, which contained ten unique digits. However, the author
seems to have exhasted his creativity in this initial burst, because
the other 99.999% of the book is filler in which those same ten digits
are shamelessly reused! If you are looking for a larger offering of numerals in various bases, I highly recommend "Peter Rabbit's ABC and 123."
I have long been fascinated by apocalyptic and millennial thinking: belief systems in which the world is about to be changed in some fundamental way by a transformative event of an esoteric nature. Typically:
The transformation will usher in an era of prosperity, peace, and immortality.
Only a select few will get to participate.
The transformation will occur within a small number of years: certainly within the lifetime of those involved, and often on a specific date.
During human history we find hundreds of examples of groups who have believed that they possessed information
regarding such an imminent transformation. The reccurence of this idea surely tells us something profound about the human spirit.
I was reminded of this topic by "Radical Evolution" Joel Garreau's interesting book about potential futures. The book presents the views of those who predict a potential "singularity": a time at which, due to continued exponential growth in computer power, we obtain computers able to design yet more powerful computers, and thus enter into an era of essentially infinitely rapid change in technological capability. These developments also enable superhuman intelligence, medical advances, thus eternal life, etc., etc.--but only for those prepared to take advantage of these advances.
I've always found the similarities between the "singularity" and millennial ideas intriguing. Others have apparently thought the same, and furthermore coined the beautiful put down "Rapture for Nerds." Now of course either the singularity or the rapture (or both) may turn out to be quite real, but the similarities between the two concepts is certainly cause for thought.
While writing a book on parallel programming in 1993, I saw an early demonstration of Mosaic, and immediately realized that the book should be published online. After some inspired hacking of latex2html by my colleague Brian Toonen, "Designing and Building Parallel Programs" (DBPP) was published simultaneously by Addison-Wesley and at www.mcs.anl.gov/dbpp in early 1994. This must have been one of the first books published on the Web. For a while, it accounted for a third or more of Argonne National Laboratory's web traffic.
The National Academies Press has for some time now been distributing the content of its monographs free on the web, and (thanks in part to a carefully thought-out strategy for doing that) it has seen its sales of print increase dramatically.
I've always thought that making DBPP available online must have increased sales. At least that is what I convinced my editor at Addison-Wesley would happen. However, I've never seen any relevant data. While the National Academies Press doesn't provide data (or explain their "carefully thought-out strategy": which sounds a bit like a cunning plan), this surely counts as anecdotal evidence.