Category Archives: Musings

Data is a Platform not a Commodity

A phrase I’ve been using in talks recently: Data is a platform not a commodity: you build on it rather than sell it. And that’s why it should be open.

Also posted in Open Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Openness | 1 Response

Why this nothingness where once a city

Why once this nothingness where once a city Who will answer? Only the wind.

Also posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

The Elusive Disappearance of Community

From Laslett ‘Phillipe Ariès and “La Famille”‘ p.83 (quoted in Eisenstein, p.131): The actual reality, the tangible quality of community life in earlier towns or villages … is puzzling … and only too susceptible to sentimentalisation. People seem to want to believe that there was a time when every one belonged to an active, supportive […]

Also posted in Culture and Society, History, Notes | Leave a comment

The Knowledge Commons is Different

I was looking again recently at “Understanding the Knowledge Commons” which I had perused previously. While reading the introductory chapter by Hess and Ostrom I came across: People started to notice behaviors and conditions on the web-congestion, free riding, conflict, overuse, and “pollution” — that had long been identified with other types of commons. They […]

Also posted in Academic, Cinema, Economics, Innovation and Intellectual Property, Openness, Software | Leave a comment

Algorithm Speed and the Challenge of Large Datasets

In doing research for the EU Public Domain project (as here and here) we are often handling large datasets, for example one national library’s list of pre-1960 books stretched to over 4 million items. In such a situation, an algorithm’s speed (and space) can really matter. To illustrate, consider our ‘loading’ algorithm — i.e. the […]

Also posted in Academic, EUPD, Own Work, Software | Leave a comment

Talk by Frederick Scherer: Deregulatory Roots of the Current Financial Crisis

Last Thursday I attended a talk by Frederick Scherer at the [Judge] entitled: “Deregulatory Roots of the Current Financial Crisis”. Below are some sketchy notes. Notes Macro story: Huge current account deficit for last 10-15 years Expansionary Fed policy has permitted this to happen while interest rates are low Median real income has not risen […]

Also posted in Economics, History, Notes | 1 Response

Discounting and Self-Control

I’m posting up an essay on “Discounting and Self-Control” (pdf). The essay, which I haven’t really touched for over a year, is still in its early stages but having lacked the time to do much on it over the last year, and going on the motto of “release early, release often”, I’m posting it up […]

Also posted in Academic, Economics, Happiness, Own Work | Leave a comment

Ordnance Survey and Google: Why All the Fuss?

Lots of people have been up in arms about a letter sent out by Ordnance Survey about the “Use of Google Maps for display and promotion purposes”. With titles like “Are the Show Us A Better Way winners safe from Ordnance Survey?” (Guardian), “Home Secretary’s crime maps not allowed say Ordnance Survey” ( or “The […]

Also posted in Innovation and Intellectual Property, Policy | Leave a comment

Firefox versus IE: Browser Market Shares over Time

It would be interesting to chart over time the progress of open-source, standards compliant, Mozilla-type web browsers (e.g. Firefox) versus Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. As is often the case in other areas, it is not easy to get good (open) data over a reasonable time period. The graph below shows browser market share as measured by […]

Also posted in Economics, Innovation and Intellectual Property | Leave a comment

Buddhist Economics

The human problem of ‘scarce resources and unlimited wants’ is oft-posited as a primary motivation for studying economics. As this phrase makes clear, ‘wants’ (‘preferences’ to use the more usual terminology) are a central part of what we study, and the existence, and stability, of those ‘wants/preferences’ therefore merit serious consideration.1 Few of us have […]

Also posted in Economics, Happiness | 2 Responses