tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Apr 20, 2007 3:46pm

blog all dog-eared pages: the box

When I read, I often mark interesting pages and then forget about them. This is an effort to note what I found interesting about non-fiction books I've finished, starting with The Box, Marc Levinson's excellent book about the containerization of the shipping industry. I read it about two months ago.

Pages 12-13:

The importance of innovation is at the center of a second, and rapidly growing, body of research. Capital, labor, and land, the basic factors of production, have lost much of their fascination for those looking to understand why economies grow and prosper. The key question asked today is no longer how much capital and labor an economy can amass, but how innovation helps employ those resources more effectively to produce more goods and services. ... Even after a new technology is proven, its spread must often wait until prior investments have been recouped; although Thomas Edison invented the incandescent lightbulb in 1879, only 3 percent of U.S. homes had electric lighting twenty years later. The economic benefits arise not from innovation itself, but from entrepreneurs who eventually discover ways to put inventions to practical use.

Page 53:

Malcolm McLean's fundamental insight, commonplace today but quite radical in the 1950's, was that the shipping industry's business was moving cargo, not sailing ships. That insight led to a concept of containerization quite different from anything that had come before. McLean understood that reducing the cost of shipping required not just a metal box but an entire new way of handling freight. Every part of the system - ports, ships, cranes, storage facilities, trucks, trains, and the operations of the shippers themselves - would have to change. In that understanding, he was years ahead of almost everyone else in the transportation industry.

Page 184:

"Containerization cannot be considered just another means of transportation," Besson told Congress in 1970. "The full benefits of containerization can only be derived by logistic systems designed with full use of containers in mind."

Apr 20, 2007 2:59am

digg's api is public

Digg launched their API this evening, something that's been a long time in coming. We first worked with Digg to help design it back in mid-2006, in support of the Digg Labs project that launched in late summer. Since that time, and among other work, we've been slowly expanding its range and working out kinks and inconsistencies. Today, I'm proud to say that the new Digg API totally kicks ass.

Available endpoints include lists of stories, users, diggs, topics, and comments. The whole thing is available in four flavors: XML, JSON, Javascript, and serialized PHP. We designed in a few niceties for site owners, like being able to search for stories based on URL or domain, and added awareness of friends, users, and comments. We did not design any read/write endpoints, because the jury is still out on how to support digging and submission via an API without letting in all the crazy hackbots. Stay tuned on that one.

Also included in today's announcements are the contest and the Digg Flash Development Kit, the latter developed by Shawn. Although we're not releasing the display code used to run Stack or Swarm, everything else used to build those tools is included: API support, call scheduler, object model, etc. It's quite a bit to get my head around.

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