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Sensor motes sniff out Google I/O data trends

We're all used to the idea that Google tracks what we do online. But if you go to Google I/O, you'll find that the data-hungry company, in partnership with the O'Reilly Data Sensing Lab, is keeping tabs on the physical world, too.

At its developer conference, the company has a set up a network of 525 sensor motes. Each small electronics board monitors temperature, humidity, ambient light levels, air quality, audio noise, and radio-frequency noise. And with footstep detectors, some monitor where people are going at the conference, too. … Read more

littleBits goes big, closes $3.65 million funding round

littleBits, makers of the eponymous educational circuitry kits, has announced the close of its series A funding round this morning, having taken in $3.65 million from various investors. True Ventures, funder of companies like MakerBot and FitBit, leads the group, with Khosla Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Lerer Ventures pitching in.

Along with the funding, littleBits has also announced that supply chain and manufacturing firm PCH International will be helping to scale up production.

littleBits kits are made up of a series of electronic modules that connect together with magnets, with a color-coding system to guide assembly. Each … Read more

The real business of the DIY movement

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Since 2006, Maker Faire has offered tens of thousands of people an annual celebration of the best and brightest in the do-it-yourself movement.

But while everyone from individual tinkerers who have built small rockets to two people doing amazing things with Diet Coke and Mentos to paper airplane masters and crafters making magic out of felt has had a venue for the last five years to showcase their innovative projects, there's never been a forum for the growing number of people and companies that are developing the new business platforms that are merging manufacturing and making. … Read more

Data vs. models at the Strata Conference

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--That this week's O'Reilly Strata data conference was sold out says a lot about this corner of tech. It's hot. Like cloud computing, big data is all the rage, even if, like cloud computing, it's not so much a single thing but an intersection of technologies, market needs, and critical mass.

One of several themes that kept popping up this week was data vs. models.

In 2008, Wired's Chris Anderson wrote a provocative article titled "The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete." His thesis was … Read more

Buy a DeLorean flux capacitor at the parts store

2011 would be a good year for Doctor Emmett Brown's DeLorean to break down. He can just call up his local O'Reilly and see if it has part numbers "121G" and "121GMF" in stock.

O'Reilly Auto Parts lists a Flux Capacitor and Mr. Fusion Upgrade from EB Enterprises in its online catalog. The parts are compatible with 1981-1983 DeLoreans.

The flux capacitor product listing includes a warning as to the dangers of time travel. Unfortunately, O'Reilly doesn't carry plutonium. You will have to contact your local supplier. … Read more

Competitive unease hovers over Web 2.0

SAN FRANCISCO--There was an uneasiness in the air this week at the stately Palace Hotel during the eighth annual Web 2.0 Summit, the sort of vibe that you couldn't see in the glossy program or in the lineup of events that included talks by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and big-ticket investors like John Doerr and Fred Wilson. People weren't talking about it, for the most part, but you could see it. You could hear it sometimes, too, if you knew what to listen for.

"We're … Read more

Debating the death of the Web

Earlier this year, prior to my talk at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, I wrote a guest article on TNW's Web site titled "The Death of the Web Browser." Intentionally hyperbolic, it looked at how we increasingly get more of our Web content through something other than a Web browser--a smartphone app, desktop apps that embed Web-based content into them, and so on--and we can foresee the day coming fairly soon where the browser will be the minority means of accessing the Web. My Next Web talk extended that idea in more detail, in particular looking … Read more

Tim O'Reilly: 'Whole Web' is the OS of the future

SAN FRANCISCO--Open-source developers and businesses are focused on the wrong opportunity, according to industry luminary Tim O'Reilly. The future isn't programming for Linux or MySQL. The future is programming for the "whole Web."

And it threatens to be controlled by open-source savvy, data-rich companies like Google.

On Wednesday in San Francisco, O'Reilly closed the first day of the Open Source Business Conference by shaking up some comfortable assumptions of the open-source commercial ecosystem, which has tended to focus on commoditizing established markets with low-cost, high-value distribution, all driven by open-source licensing.

This is nice, according … Read more

O'Reilly: The Web is at war, and it's making me sad

NEW YORK--Web pioneer and conference honcho Tim O'Reilly warned the audience at the Web 2.0 Expo here on Tuesday afternoon that he thinks "we're headed into another ugly time." Namely, everybody is just being really nasty to each other. And it makes his hippie soul hurt.

For example, Rupert "Dr. Evil" Murdoch keeps threatening to pull News Corp.'s pay wall-guarded content from Google, perhaps offering an exclusive deal to another search engine for one hundred billion dollars (give or take a few bucks).

Those ubiquitous URL-shortening toolbars are throwing Web addresses behind … Read more

Data's one-two punch in open-source business models

Some of us take longer than others. Tim O'Reilly moved on years ago from talking about open-source licenses and instead focused on the importance of data to business success. In the open-source industry, we heard his words but clearly didn't understand them.

We kept selling software through our "awkward teenage years," even as Google, 37Signals, Facebook, and others gave it away.

Years later, as Google pays for mountains of open-source code by aggregating data and selling data-rich services, we're starting to grok O'Reilly's message. It's what makes companies like Path Intelligence so … Read more