Kazys Varnelis's netlab research blog

Jan 29 2010

Project Alpha

The Wall Street Journal reports on the NYSE’s Project Alpha, its new high-speed trading hub being built in New Jersey. While I blog this, I’m listening to a fascinating lecture by Kevin Slavin on high-frequency trading. The transition of M-C-M’ to M-M’ that Jeffrey Nealon suggests operates at the base of capital today is not only free of commodities it is free of any kind of human place, which is reduced now only to electronics located at the intersection of real estate values and latency.

The phenomenological world of non-places that we saw in the early 1990s (and that was undone by wireless communication technologies) proves now to have been a rehearsal for a world run by non-places from which humans themselves are absent.

Jan 28 2010

On the iPad and Networked Books

My friend and next-door neighbor Frank Lyman put this video up at the blog for Coursesmart, his start-up specializing in digital textbooks.

This is a much smarter version of Apple’s book reader and really seems to work as a textbook-replacement app.

As I watched it, I realized something else which I hadn’t thought of. When used as a networked book, the iPad may well be on at the same time as a laptop or a desktop computer. The disconnect between the two will be the tricky thing to handle. Will you want to have the ability to copy text from the iPad and put it in the other machine? Or is that disconnect going to be productive?

On the down side, Dan Visel over at the if:book blog laments that the iPad locks us down with a proprietary system. Indeed it does and, as Dan says, “maybe technology’s become something we let others understand for us.”

Not only that, I had hoped that iWork might be rewritten as a set of tools that would allow easy construction of media-rich books for the iPad, but that didn’t happen. So much for the Netlab’s next book being on the iPad (a crazy thought I had).

Also disappointing is that reading on the iPad in the Apple book app is such a solitary experience. All the research that people like the Institute did on networked books was ignored. A pity. Still, I have faith that Coursesmart, other companies, individuals, and even open source efforts will compete with Apple’s book system. That will be a good thing.

Jan 22 2010
Jan 18 2010

On Bloomberg Terminals

"11. Bloomberg Terminals.

Because they led Wall Street to believe it was invincible. If you wanted to play the futures market on the commodity price of bulk clams in Manila, the Bloomberg machines could do it. If you wanted to leverage egg prices in Bulgaria against the long bond in Brazil, and pay for it in yen, they could do that, too. Hell, if you wanted to eventually self-finance a run for mayor of New York City, underwritten by the idea that information is currency, and the fact that these terminals had become the mandatory desktop toy for every budding financial master of the universe, you couldn’t invent a better A.T.M. They were all-knowing, and all-powerful. Still, for all their financial wizardry, there was also the law of unintended consequences: If you give enough monkeys enough typewriters, you may get Shakespeare. But if you give enough electronic monkeys enough high-tech typewriters, sooner or later you’ll definitely get a financial meltdown.”

One of the 100 reasons that Vanity Fair gave for the market collapse of 2007.

From one of my favorite blogs, Socializing Finance.

Dec 27 2009

Some Background on MP3s

Eric Harvey’s Social History of MP3s.

An article on how young people have been conditioned to prefer the low audio quality of MP3s.

Dec 23 2009
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