KK Lifestream — favorites from the past

The Man Who Wanted to Classify the World

Awesome Musical Tapes From Africa

Tips for Conference Bloggers

Playing Digital Games Together

One of my biggest surprises as a parent has been to see how often video games and computer games turned into social events. I had been led by many media reports to believe that playing video games was an anti-social act. So when our kids turned player age, I  was expecting to see them hide away while playing games. Sure, that does happen, but more often their choice is to play games — whether video, computer, or with balls outside — with their friends.


In a November 10, 2006 blog posting Carr postulated that blogs were headed down to further obscurity rather than up to the floodlights of fame.  He wrote: “Back in October 2004, there were three blogs in the Technorati top 10. Last year, there was one. Today, there are zero. Defining the short head more broadly, as the top 100 sites, provides an even starker picture of the rapid downtailing of blogs.”

Subterranean Tutoring

For more extreme nerdiness like this fuse-blowing, eyes-popping, brain-frying backyard craziness, check out this Australian mate’s website. Gigantic tesla coils are just the start of it. He’s got a dozen other outrageously neato basement experiments going.

The Tools of Cool Tools

Eight years ago Cool Tools started out as short email messages containing my personal recommendations for cool stuff. I occasionally emailed these quick raves to a very small circle of friends. Several of my friends asked me to add their friends to my list. Soon there were several hundred readers. In the winter of 2000 I published 90 or so of my tool reviews in an issue of Whole Earth Review. This was not much of a surprise since I used to edit the magazine, and the reviews were clearly written in Whole Earth style — short, always positive, useful. I kept reviewing a tool or book when I thought of it, but after several years of adding folks to the list (which is still going) it occurred to me that with a small amount of extra work I might as well post my recommendations on a blog. On April 17, 2003, five years ago, I posted the first review on this site. (It was the Utili-Key, a sharp blade built into a key, a tool I continue to use and get past airport security.)

Affluence is Good

For the past 30 years the conventional wisdom has been that once a person achieves a minimal standard of living, more money does not bring more happiness. If you live below a certain income threshold, increased money makes a difference, but after that, it doesn’t buy happiness. That was the conclusion of a now-classic study by Richard Easterlin in 1974.

However a recent paper disputes that conclusion and shows that worldwide, afflluence brings increased satisfaction. The New York Times produced a fine graph, along with a good article, “Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All,” illustrating this new thesis.  Richard Easterlin would like to see better data for individual countries over time, but it does seem like affluence breeds satisfaction.

Self-Generating Money vs. Productive Wealth


Digital continuity is a real problem. Digital information is very easy to copy within short periods of time, but very difficult to copy over long periods of time. That is, it is very easy to make lots of copies now, but very difficult to get the data to copy over a century.

Amish Hackers

The Amish have the undeserved reputation of being luddites, of people who refuse to employ new technology. It’s well known the strictest of them don’t use electricity, or automobiles, but rather farm with manual tools and ride in a horse and buggy.  In any debate about the merits of embracing new technology, the Amish stand out as offering an honorable alternative of refusal. Yet Amish lives are anything but anti-technological. In fact on my several visits with them, I have found them to be ingenious hackers and tinkers, the ultimate makers and do-it-yourselfers and surprisingly pro technology.

The Sudden Appearance of Technology

This cool tool graphs the frequency of words used in US State of Union address since 1790. You enter two different words and this website races them (thus speech wars) in chart form to see which term is more common.

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