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Communications Hardware Hacking Build Hardware Technology

Modern Methods For Sharing Innovation 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-see-what-you've-got dept.
The New York Times is running a story about Johnny Chung Lee, a hardware hacker made famous for his projects which modified the Nintendo Wiimote to do things like positional head tracking and multi-touch display control. The article focuses on the suggestion that Lee's use of YouTube to demonstrate his innovations has done a better job of communicating his ideas than more traditional methods could. Quoting: "He might have published a paper that only a few dozen specialists would have read. A talk at a conference would have brought a slightly larger audience. In either case, it would have taken months for his ideas to reach others. Small wonder, then, that he maintains that posting to YouTube has been an essential part of his success as an inventor. 'Sharing an idea the right way is just as important as doing the work itself,' he says. 'If you create something but nobody knows, it's as if it never happened.'"
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Modern Methods For Sharing Innovation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:37AM (#25517413)

    And yell, loudly. Eventually, people start running from everywhere, the police show up, etc, just to see what I'm yelling about. Then after that, I know the people who heard me yelling talk about it for weeks.

  • all my replies on slashdot will be posted to youtube first

  • by fictionpuss (1136565) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:53AM (#25517507)

    As someone who works in R&D I can absolutely agree.

    I stumbled across his valuable work in my own time though, since the Government of Canada blocks Youtube and other blog/social networking sites. Until workplaces and institutions relax/modernise internet policy usage, we won't be seeing the full benefit of these new methods of communication.

    • A ScienceTube would solve that problem, no?

      • Not really, as it would require other people to judge what is relevant to the particular scientific area I'm currently researching, and hopefully place it upon ScienceTube.

        An employer who trusted their employees to actually work and not to go all giddy over pictures of puppies wearing hats, would solve the problem more efficiently.

    • When you find something work related at youtube, send a link to your boss. Do this often when you work from home. As management makes a business case for it, it will happen.
      • Doesn't work as nicely as it does in private industry - the policy makers are not scientifically inclined and only display a token interest the opinions of those beneath them.

        I daresay (because I've been out of it directly for the last 6 years) that private industry has already found a balance between the productive and non-productive usage of things like YouTube.

    • A waste of bandwidth (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mangu (126918)

      Where I work, YouTube is blocked and rightly so. A true scientist has more effective communication methods than videos. That's why *writing* was invented in the first place. A set of abstract symbols is perfect for sending through ideas and findings.

      I think it's a sad side effect of computers and the internet that people are forgetting how to write effectively, using icons and videos instead of clearly structured and written text.

      Now get off my lawn.

      • Just take 30 seconds of time and bandwidth, by viewing this starting half-way through from 2:30-3:00

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw [youtube.com]

        Now tell me that those 30 seconds don't convey more via video than could be conveyed through 30 seconds of reading abstract symbols.

        Every tool can be misused, and video is not a perfect tool for many tasks. But to slate all of YouTube because it can be used frivolously is dangerously short sighted.

        • by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:20PM (#25521565)

          Just take 30 seconds of time and bandwidth, by viewing this starting half-way through from 2:30-3:00

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw [youtube.com]

          Now tell me that those 30 seconds don't convey more via video than could be conveyed through 30 seconds of reading abstract symbols.

          Fun fact: YouTube now lets you link to a specific time in a video, by added a time-index anchor at the end of the URL. For example, add #t=2m30 [youtube.com] to the link you just posted.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Just take 30 seconds of time and bandwidth, by viewing this starting half-way through from 2:30-3:00

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw [youtube.com]

          Now tell me that those 30 seconds don't convey more via video than could be conveyed through 30 seconds of reading abstract symbols.

          But to get to that 30 seconds, if you didn't tell me the time to look at, I would have to wait 2m30s to get to the point. (Which is an unfortunate problem with video - it's not easily scannable like text, where I can try some search terms

      • by raduf (307723)

        That may have been tongue-in-cheek, but i'll bite anyways. In this case even if the first medium would have been paper, you'd still have heard of it through a video. Those particular demonstrations work much better this way then in print. Imagine what you would have thought reading an article about someone modding a wii remote. Boring, eh?

      • by Shotgun (30919)

        This is similar to the argument that Europeans are smarter than Americans, because they are forced to learn more than one language. I call bullshit on both arguments.

        Communication is the grease that allows society to exist. Grease doesn't power or control a machine. It only keeps the machine from tearing itself apart. The less grease you can use the better. Using a lighter, less viscuous grease allow the machine to be more efficient. In all cases, having to work through the viscosity of the lubricatio

      • by steelfood (895457)

        On the contrary, language, especially English, is particularly ambigious, and a highly inefficient means of communication. However, it is practical when nothing else is available except your mouth. Writing, by extension, is the most practical method of record keeping, as it requires the least technology to create and replicate. There is also an advantage to language in that it can express the abstract. However, abstractions are more practical for social settings, of which language dominates as the preferred

    • Perhaps we need a tool, 'a la' StumbleUpon, that lets people classify content as serious or time waster. Then companies could use the tool to decide that gets filtered in their offices. Any takers?
      • I'm content to let the old guard (literally) die off. It wasn't too long ago that email was the office bogeyman and considered a novelty - until legitimate business uses were consistently made of it.

        It's the same story - if your workers are abusing a technology then your problem is with your workers - or rather your management of those workers - not the technology.

        Management is usually last to point the finger of blame at itself, which is precisely why we continually see technology scapegoated.

        Filtering con

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Is embedded steaming blocked as well? You could just throw together a quick site that has embed links for the relevant videos and send a link to the man in charge.

  • by Anik315 (585913) <anik@alphaco r . n et> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:56AM (#25517521)
    The Internet has made innovation much easier. You just have to be willing to do the appropriate reading. There is clearly alot of innovation going on behind the scenes by ordinary people but no one knows about most of it and it makes it seem as if innovation is in decline. If technical journals made it easier for ordinary people to get published it might alleviate the situation somewhat.
    • by fictionpuss (1136565) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:05AM (#25517601)

      The innovation going on behind the scenes is trending to make the pay-per-view technical journals less relevant precisely because of their exclusionary nature which relies upon a monopoly on the accepted forms of professional communication.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *

        The innovation going on behind the scenes is trending to make the pay-per-view technical journals less relevant precisely because of their exclusionary nature which relies upon a monopoly on the accepted forms of professional communication.

        Ever consider the concept of signal [nature.com] to noise [timecube.com]? Sure, you can find almost anything on the Internet if you look hard enough. Sometimes, I just want to find what I'm looking for, organized in a coherent fashion and perhaps backed up by some organization with a real telep

        • And Wikipedia.. that'll never work.

          • Ahem. I said coherent. But anyway, Wikipedia is a wonderful thing, I can find out about all sorts of useless bits of social trivia and TV programs that I've never heard of. But as far as a technical reference, it is pretty spotty. And it tends to be either less detailed than I'm looking for (on technical subjects) or way more detailed than I had hoped it would be (on said TV programs).

            The Wikipedia is an enormously interesting experiment in human knowledge, but I think the death of paid subscription d
            • If I thought that Wikipedia were near the end of the scale of what we can achieve through collaborative information gathering and/or decision making, then I'd readily agree.

              As Clay Shirky points out with regards our cognitive surplus, Wikipedia is just a drop in the ocean with regards our potential.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Dan Pope (1388435)
              Wikipedia is indeed patchy, but I wouldn't tar all of its technical content with the same brush. Certain fields are represented very well, e.g. mathematics. There are in some fields quite a solid core of people that watch edits on anything in certain categories and look at the changes, effectively performing peer review. Of course, things slip through, but if you look at the profiles of these people many of them are university professors, researchers, and so on. I think mathematics on wikipedia is possibly
              • by MaxVT (875481)
                Actually, they do, in a way: the first search result (or one of the top ones) for many queries on Google would be the page on Wikipedia.
  • by Zerth (26112) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:09AM (#25517623)

    And if they make me remember my registration, I'll never read their article.

  • and a video is worth a million.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      a picture is worth a thousand words...
      and a video is worth a million.

      Yet a picture can take up a million words
      And a video take a billion.

      It's a penny for your thoughts
      When you put your two cents in,
      But you make it up in volume
      And you rake the profit in.

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:15AM (#25517663)

    Every paper I've read and every talk I've been to has been nearly useless for reproducing the results. The author/speaker always glosses over some crucial component as though it were common knowledge. "Here we used a 4th Order Adaptive Runge-Kutta solver to integrate the following equations for fluid dynamics." "Um, excuse me, but do you have any source code for that solver?" "That's left as an exercise to the reader." Last time I checked, professors would give you a much lower grade if you didn't show your work.

    • here, have mine (Score:3, Informative)

      by thermian (1267986)

      One RK4 solver, with easy explanations of the steps.
      http://code.google.com/p/nmod/wiki/int3 [google.com]
      Its not adaptive (I fail to see why adding adaptivity helps, and I have yet to see satisfactory proof that it does).

    • well, to be fair, if they had to hold your hand through the entire process it'd take a lot more time--since these are usually more complicated inventions than those in Dr. Lee's videos--and so fewer speakers would be able to share their research. i mean, they're seminars not workshops. scientific seminars usually aren't aimed at laymen audiences, so you're expected to have a certain level of knowledge and scientific background. that way speakers can just gloss over the nonessential steps that other research

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by philspear (1142299)

        Indeed. One 20 minute talk is not enough time to give details about how to do even the most basic of lab procedures needed to replicate results in biology. In many studies, one year of lab experience is not enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EaglemanBSA (950534)
      The reasons for this are less that they don't want to share the information, and more that you can't include such things in most papers because of page restrictions/time restrictions on the publication/presentation. It is usually assumed anyone _that_ interested would know how to plug these things into an RK4 (etc), so he can get on with what his work really means.

      That said, my solution to this has been to include a url with all my relevant source code in the references section of all the papers I've publi
      • Yup, I also try to include links to svn repositories with my papers these days. I also don't tend to regard publication and peer review as being related anymore. Publication is a way of keeping score, but peer review happens first. I put my code in a public subversion repository and blog about it first. Then I incorporate any feedback I've received, and then I write paper. The paper is just a summary of the work. If you want more details, then read the blogs and the code.
        • by sketerpot (454020)

          Yup, I also try to include links to svn repositories with my papers these days.

          THANK YOU THANK YOU HOLY SHIT THANK YOU! I can't tell you how many times I've wanted that when I was reading a paper. Everybody needs to do this if possible. YES.

      • The problem with that approach is that it effectively removes the 2-way blindness from review systems that aim for it. Most conferences provide means for uploading supporting content, and you can use this for your code, properly anonymized. It's a different thing once the paper has been accepted.
    • by DrIdiot (816113)
      That's because Runge-Kutta is a well known method. You can even find an algorithm on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. For the speaker's audience, this is common knowledge - it's covered in basic differential equations classes (or numerical methods classes) - and it's boring to go over the details. People aren't going to his talk to revisit elementary concepts. If you don't know the basic concepts required to understand his talk and aren't even willing to look it up on Wikipedia, stop going to talks.
    • by aphyr (1130531)

      Agreed; RK4 is a well-documented algorithm, and unless you're dealing with truly pathological functions or edge-case parameters, results should be easily reproducible no matter what implementation of the algorithm you use.

      I *do* understand your frustration when dealing with algorithms that have just been invented for purposes of the analysis; I'm in the process of trying to compare the divergence of trajectories in the quantum vs classical Duffing oscillators, and some of the papers I'm reading leave their

    • OK, I'm not going to just list every paper I've ever read as a counter argument. But in my experience (physicist), if such details are left out, it's because they're either common knowledge or space is limited. Admittedly, some people just bullshit but that's rare.
    • by jschen (1249578)

      Seminars are only to give you a taste of the topic. If you don't get what you need from a seminar, read the associated paper(s). If that isn't good enough, check over the supporting information. (At least in chemistry, many journals now allow supporting information with virtually no size limit, and including, as necessary, objects such as animation that can't be included in the printed journal.) And if that doesn't do the trick, get a copy of the corresponding thesis dissertation(s) (if there are any) or co

  • Cold fusion (Score:3, Funny)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdotNO@SPAMdavidgerard.co.uk> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:28AM (#25517731) Homepage

    I recall that cold fusion got so much notice by the scientists holding a press conference ... before publishing their paper.

    Presumably the next pseudoscience snake oil innovation will be publicised in a YouTube video incorporating phone footage of a hilarious injury and the word "FAIL" in Impact Condensed, to the tune of "Still Alive".

  • You just tell /. about it.

    btw, why isn't there a backslashdot.com? :(

    • There is, you just need to read /. while standing on your head and there you have it. It is probably recommended that you drink a bit before doing this.
  • by Louis Savain (65843) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:37AM (#25517783) Homepage

    Who needs peer review when you got YouTube and the Internet? The entire world should be our peers, not just a small elitist group. Traditional peer review is mostly a censorship mechanism that is used to suppress minority opinions. It creates an incestuous situation whereby science becomes stuck in a rut of its own making from which only a Kuhnian revolution can extricate it. This is no good. The cross pollenization of ideas is essential to progress and should be welcome by all scientists. The writing is on the wall. The Internet will kill the old-style peer review system and I, for one, will not shed any tears. Just cast your idea upon the waters and see how it fares. If it's any good, it will grow. If not, it will die. That is the new trend. What could be better?

    As a case in point, the Slashdot moderation mechanism is a prime example of an old-style peer review mechanism that is due for a serious revision. It allows a small group of regulars (with time on their hands) to change what others should perceive according to their perspective. Where is the freedom in that? We don't need chaperones, thank you very much. A private kill-file/rating system would be better, in my opinion.

    OK. Now mod me down if you disagree and make my point for me.

    • by siride (974284) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:12AM (#25517999)
      A little elitism is a good thing. You don't want just people making judgments in fields that they know little to nothing about. That's where you get pseudo-science and superstition.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Louis Savain (65843)

        That's where you get pseudo-science and superstition.

        Well, I want to be the judge of that. I refuse to let others make that decision for me. Freedom is the name of the game.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by siride (974284)
          I thought scientific progress was the name of the game?
        • Of course Louis argues against traditional peer review and elitism. In his case it has worked well at keeping his own brand of psuedo-science away from respectable outlets. For those of you arguing against him - don't bother. Just google him and read some of the bizarre rants that he has come up with in the past. Then remember that peer review was designed to keep him, and those cranks like him, away from mainstream academia.

          • Everybody knows who I am. At least have the decency to identify yourself when you attack someone personally. Ohterwise, you're just a gutless coward. No backbone. Or just small fries, as you put it. LOL.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          If you think you can be the judge of a topic you know nothing about, I must question your ability to make judgments.

          You have every right to make a judgment, just as everybody else has the right to ignore you. And if you try to make the claim that you are somehow qualified when you are clearly not, then you would and should be considered a fraud.

      • "A little elitism is a good thing. You don't want just people making judgments in fields that they know little to nothing about."

        Your comment assumes that men (elite men) have the universal capacity to separate truth from it's illusions, this is not the case. Elitism actually stems from the enlightenment fallacy, about the nature of reasoning and truth.

        (Quick version)
        http://i35.tinypic.com/10fruxh.jpg [tinypic.com]

        (Longer version)
        http://www.linktv.org/video/2142 [linktv.org]

        A few wise words from are good old friend Ibn...

        "Therefore,

        • by siride (974284)
          Look, you definitely don't want a closed priesthood of know-it-alls. That's bad and as you point out, it's had bad consequences in the past. On the other hand, you don't want people with little to no experience, who don't follow any sort of rigorous methodology, making up "knowledge". We've already seen what happens when that happens: urban legends, informercials and God knows what else. You have to strike a balance between keeping a field professional with caring and thoughtful practitioners. You want
          • by Shotgun (30919)

            So, the question becomes "Who controls the doors?", ie, who is the gatekeeper of knowledge?

            How about this? We have a system where people can communicate, making any sort of claim they feel led to make. Other people are allowed to discuss it, and some may make counter-claims. Anyone is allowed to present evidence to support their claims. At some point, an entity may collect a set of claims/counter-claims with their relevant supporting evidence and present them in a clear and condensed, easily digestible

    • The internet concept was initially developed as a way for scientists to share their research and data freely and easily. The general populous has also been able to make use of the network through the various social tools now developed to work on it. The original purpose is still served very well such as the data sharing for the LHC. I's hardly surprising that scientists are now leveraging the social tools to further their research in the way non-scientists initially furthered their entertainment using the
    • I thought about posting a long counter-argument, but then I remembered one already existed. Go and read the comments on any digg article.
    • Quote:

      "The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life. ... We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. ...

      Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it i

    • by xant (99438)

      Traditional peer review is mostly a censorship mechanism that is used to suppress minority opinions

      This is not entirely fair. Before the Internet, information was difficult to search through, and the expense to the creator of putting information out there was higher, but nowhere near as high as the expense to readers (look up the cost of some of the better-respected scientific journals these days). In such an environment, you want a filter to keep crap out.

      The Internet marries nearly-free publishing to ne

      • Your point is well taken. Let me just say that the old ideas may not have been about censorhsip but they ended up that way due to human nature. Hence the need for periodic revolutions a la Thomas Kuhn. This is not good, in my opinion. Readers (consumers) should have a say so on who's doing the vetting. Who's vetting for the vetters? That is the question. It was not easy in the old days but now it is, thanks to the computer and the internet. We need to change to a better, freer system.

    • by ispeters (621097)

      I lean towards agreeing with you regarding the future of peer review in science, but, regarding Slashdot's moderation system, quitcherbitchen'.

      I read at +3 (unless I'm moderating or happen to catch a story before there's about 100 comments) because I don't want to read all the crazy bullshit that gets posted to this site. Notice that I read at +3 because I choose not to read the bullshit, not because some invisible hand of censorship has taken away my right to wallow in it. If you want to read everything,

      • Well, nobody wants to read BS but why should anybody be forced to rely on others to decide for them what is BS and what isn't? Usenet has been around for ages and people have learned to use the killfile mechanism to get rid of most of the crap. It is not perfect but it can be improved upon on sites like this one because the web is not restricted to an antiquated format like usenet.

        Usually, the BS comes from a consistent segment of posters. I believe that social sites should forbid anonymous posting and requ

        • by ispeters (621097)

          Well, nobody wants to read BS but why should anybody be forced to rely on others to decide for them what is BS and what isn't?

          Who's forcing you? Read at -1 or read through the RSS feed and pass it through your killfile at your leisure. I agree that freedom is important. I disagree that any freedom is "missing" or being infringed here. You're free to read Slashdot (assuming you are free--I suppose some people aren't free to read Slashdot) and you're free to make use of the moderation system or not, accor

    • by john83 (923470)
      Elitism isn't a bad thing. I like reading papers which have been vetted for quality. Show me one modern paper which had a truely brilliant idea but was rejected by multiple established journals, and I might lend your idea some credence.
      • Elitism isn't a bad thing. I like reading papers which have been vetted for quality.

        Yeah, but but that is your prerogative. You trust a segment of the scientific community to do your filtering for you and that is fine. I, on the other hand, don't trust them and I should not be forced to rely on their judgement.

        Show me one modern paper which had a truely brilliant idea but was rejected by multiple established journals, and I might lend your idea some credence.

        That's just it. We don't know what the ideas are

      • We dont need a paper to determine if something is possible. Instead, you do it and document what you did to get to that point.

        You dont need sources upon sources upon papers upon esteemed colleagues. All you need is your wits, know-how and elbow grease.

        Im thinking about that Australian who designed a 1 million/min electrically fired gun, the Wiimote, Linux, and other hardware.

  • Thats cool, last winter I spent some time making his wii systems for myself. I was certainly cool. i also did a couple modifications. This technology certainly has a lot of potential to make it so everyone with a wii can have a VR system. What was it that the carnegie mellon professor made, a $500 VR system? Well its now like $300.

  • Johnny Chung Lee:"'If you create something but nobody knows, it's as if it never happened.'"

    Jefferson:"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses

  • by PPH (736903)

    Pics, or it didn't happen.

    One of the (many) problems of the current patent system is; there is not actual requirement to demonstrate that your idea works to receive a patent. Another is that many of the patents do ant adequately describe an innovation so that another skilled person can implement it.

    The beauty of a YouTube video is that the first problem is addressed in that a working demonstration is available for all to see. The second issue is delt with in that if you've figured out how to actually make

  • 'Sharing an idea the right way is just as important as doing the work itself,' he says. 'If you create something but nobody knows, it's as if it never happened.'"

    Just ask Leonardo da Vinci.

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