Four Tech Developments

It seems to me that we’ve been in something of lull so far as IT development is concerned. Perhaps I’m just imagining it because I welcome the break from continual novelty and the learning it invites. However, I’ve recently made note of four developments of possible interest to Slaw readers, and I thought I’d pass them on now. None, I think, is begging to be incorporated into your firm’s canon of essential apps. Indeed, none is likely of direct application to your work. But it’s from such trial efforts that tomorrow’s killer app may emerge, and, more important perhaps, one of these may spark your creativity.

  1. Academic Torrents — Here’s the bad boy of the internet put to good use by two scholars at the University of Massachusetts Boston. As the movie thieves among you will know, torrent files bespeak a peer–to-peer network, where assets are widely distributed and are thus less vulnerable to loss, interdiction, bandwidth constraints and so on. Here the content is academic work — large data sets, open access journal content and the like.
  2. Peppercorn — Out of Italy, and in its own words: “Peppercorn is the place where you can create your own contract, legally binding in all the EU, in a few steps and in multiple languages. For the price of a peppercorn.” They’re launching a beta version and you’re invited to participate. There’s also a blog to accompany the main site.
  3. SayIt – “makes it easy to search, browse and share transcripts.” They offer a number of examples of transcripts formatted in their way, among which is, for example, the testimony of J. K. Rowling at the Leveson Inquiry, “the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the [UK] press.”
  4. etcML – This free text-analysis tool, like so much else, comes out of Stanford. The goal seems to be to develop the ability of machines to learn better how to “understand” texts, and the invitation here is to submit your texts and help tutor the software. At the moment the number of available “classifiers” used to judge your text is restricted to those that might be useful for social media. But the opportunity is given to develop your own classifier. There’s a story about the software here. If you’re interested in going deeper, you’d do well to avail yourself of their tutorial.

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