While the world continues to cheer the election of Barack Obama as president of the world’s most powerful democracy, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has been anointed king of the world’s newest, Bhutan.
I proposed a problem to solve: What if a city, say Philadelphia, loses its paper tomorrow. What would you build in its place to serve the community? The [working] group went to town. Rather than trying to hack at the old, they build something new.
They calculated the likely revenue Philadelphia could support online and then figured out what they could afford in staffing. Instead of the 200-300-person newsroom that has existed in print, they decided they could afford 35 and they broke that down to include a new job description: “community managers who do outreach, mediation, social media evangelism.” They settled on three of those plus 20 content creators, two programmers, three designers, five producers (I think they were a bit heavy on those two), and — get this — only three editors.
Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13 million-digit prime number [one divisible only by itself and 1], a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize. The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP.
Hang on a sec. “Mathematicians discover”… but it was the computers actually doing the thing. I could run the Boinc app on my PC and do calculations for SETI, but that wouldn’t mean I “discovered” anything. Now, if it had been a group busily working away with pens and paper, or maybe an abacus, that would count as mathmaticians discovering. But then one could argue that many scientific discoveries should be attributed to the equipment, rather than the individual.
Maybe I’m just bitter and twisted. And maybe that explains why I think this: If it was Windows Vista, they’d still be looking.