Giraffe Edition 12

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Football Is Unquantifiable

Ian Steadman | New Statesman | 9th July 2014

Why does data-based predictive analysis work so well in baseball and so badly in football? Because football has far more external variables, many of them related to environment and emotion. "Baseball players can only perform actions that have a limited range of outcomes, making it not too dissimilar to games like chess. Loving football requires an acceptance of devastation or ecstasy, without warning, with regularity" (1,450 words)

The Many Poses Of Marcel Marceau

Mave Fellowes | Paris Review | 9th July 2014

Marceau was the first, and perhaps the last, master of mime as popular art. He infused formal traditions with the slapstick of Chaplin and Keaton. But when he died he left no heir. "He had performed the same sketches for sixty years. There was nothing for other mimes to build on. He inspires only poor imitations. Upon his death, the art of mime steps back out of the mainstream. It becomes a busker’s act—obscure, often mocked" (1,650 words)

Facebook: A Golden Age For Research

Duncan Watts | Guardian | 7th July 2014

Internet platforms try to shape our moods and behaviour all the time. The difference was that Facebook told us about it — and was making a serious effort to understand how manipulation works. We need more of this, not less. "If anything, we should insist that companies like Facebook – and governments – perform and publish research on the effects of the decisions they're already making on our behalf" (860 words)

Interview: Motoyuki Shibata

Fran Bigman | Granta | 4th June 2014

Japanese editor and translator discusses Japanese fiction, and portrayals of Japan in Western fiction. High praise for David Mitchell's Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: "Usually if you’re Japanese, you feel kind of condescending towards Western writers trying to write from a Japanese point of view. But Mitchell is really thorough, and it reads like a wonderful English translation of a Japanese novel" (3,200 words)

Ten Algorithms That Dominate Our World

Marcos Otero | Medium | 26th May 2014

An algorithm is a "well-defined computational procedure that takes some value, or set of values, as input and produces some value, or set of values, as output". The first stage in data processing is usually to get the input values sorted — which is why Merge Sort, invented by John von Neumann in 1945, is probably the hardest-working algorithm in the world today, along with its close cousins Quick Sort and Heap Sort (1,900 words)

Video of the day: Verschleif

What to expect: Familiar objects penetrated with a power sander

Thought for the day

"It is easy to lie with statistics, but easier to lie without them"
—  Fred Mosteller

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