Saturday, March 07, 2009

Take a look at Timetric

Some time ago, I had some ideas burning a hole in my head. Ideas I knew I had no time to pursue but felt pretty passionate about. My Two Django ideas in need of good homes posting resulted in some meetings and some false starts...but it also resulted in meeting up with three ace Django/Python programmers / "recovering" scientists, based in the fine city of Cambridge, UK. Three of the smartest folks I've ever met to boot.

It took me all of, uh, 20 seconds to explain one of the ideas to them and the result, a mere matter of months later is http://timetric.com/. it is now in public beta and you might like to check it out.

The idea is simple but has significant consequences in my opinion

The basic thought is this: What if numbers were first class members of the Web ecosystem?...
  • What if numeric quantities had their own "home" on the Web? I don't mean a great big slab of numbers, or a database, I mean the actual numeric quantities themselves : the time it takes you to drive to work, the spot price of gold, the average daily rainfall in Tanna Tuva...whatever.

  • What if the changes to those quantities are recorded through time? You would end up with a time series for each numeric quantity.

  • What if each time series was a blog, with its own feeds, its own simple web based update mechanism etc?

  • What if all these numeric blogs lived out in the cloud so that it can scale to silly numbers and provide very high availabilty?

  • What if the entire system provided simple webby APIs so that developers can upload as well as download stuff easily?

  • And last but definitely not least...what if new time series could be created using spreadsheet like formulae - and automatically updated when any of the underlying numeric quantities are updated.


That would be pretty interesting. Not a database on the web, not a spreadsheet on the Web. Something new and much more interesting on the Web.

It will be fascinating to see what types of applications get built on top of the Timetric platform.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dochead screening tool

Partly in jest and partly in complete seriousness. Here are a list of things I believe contribute to docheadedness.

  • A love of language. This can present itself in a love of reading, puns, typography, poetry, concern for the beautiful renderings of the theorems of Ramanujan.
  • A love of classification. This can present itself in a love of folder structures, meta-models, abstractions that blur distinctions between nouns and verbs. Formalisms like speech act theory, FRBR, HyTime, RDF. Frameworks like ebXML, TEI etc.
  • A love of reference and citation. Language referencing language. Language that references itself. Dynamically typed programming systems. Recursion.
  • An output-centric mentality for computerization. IT is good if it helps you produce great outputs quickly. Everything else is secondary.
  • A love of patterns. This can present itself in a love of music, logic puzzles, dance, cooking.

I do not know any dochead who score 100 on these but I don't know any docheads that score 0 either.