Skip to main content

Who Owns the Future?

Who Owns the Future?

Jaron Lanier


A fascinating, if ultimately incomplete, exploration of the alternatives to the current web architecture that prioritises the needs of companies over those of consumers – or producers, if the truth be told. Lanier approaches the problems strictly from the perspective of information and information processing, with a clarity that I, even as a computer scientist, find refreshingly complete: it's as though he's willing to encompass some of the logical consequences that even professionals shy away from.

The central argument is that internet users, and especially users of social networks, are providing too much information for free to companies that then profit from it. Lanier suggests some alternative approaches to this, where content and expertise give rise to micro-payment compensation in cash or some other medium of exchange. The problem is that this is a tall order against the structures that have already grown up, and it's unclear that it's now possible to change tack as radically as would be required. Still, in many ways that makes this work all the more important, and it's a great contribution to the broader literature on e-commerce and digital living.

3/5. Finished 18 June 2016.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates


A book that it's perhaps hard for a white, middle-aged, Englishman to review, but still a powerful indictment of how America still relates to its black (and other) populations – made all the more poignant by the current spate of police shootings and the contentious presidential campaign that's unmistakeably racist. Coates chooses to frame his argument in terms of physical threat, using it as both a metaphor and as an entrance to the more general sense of fear and danger still felt by many. He doesn't avoid the changing face of oppression over the years, but still holds that there's a danger to being black in America that it's hard for whites (and non-Americans) to fully understand: perhaps the closest we can come to it in the UK would be the feelings of Catholics in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles, which was a story of privilege and discrimination that I remember being hard to accept at the time.

4/5. Finished 16 June 2016.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Peacemaking, 1919

Peacemaking, 1919

Harold Nicolson


A minor participant's view of the making of the Treaty of Versailles.

It's strange to see the inside view: strange to realise that the things that later generations perceived were mistakes were often understood to be mistakes at the time – but that events carried the negotiators along, and their differing beliefs and goals, as well as their incongruent personalities, made it impossible to avoid the consequences. Many world statesmen appear, and most come out reasonably well – the exception being Woodrow Wilson. This book is a great precursor, and complement, to the histories of the run-up to the next war and helps contextualise many of the events that often seem inexplicable.

4/5. Finished 04 June 2016.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Doctoral Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Self-* Systems (FAS*W)

There is a doctoral symposium at the SASO  conference this year.

Call For Doctoral Symposium Submissions Doctoral Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Self-* Systems (FAS*W)

Augsburg, Germany, September 12 & 16, 2016 EXTENDED DEADLINES: Abstract Submission due: June 12, 2016 Paper Submission due: June 20, 2016 @SASO2016Conf Foundations and Applications of Self* Systems (FAS*) is the umbrella for two closely related but independent conferences, the International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems (SASO) and the International Conference on Cloud and Autonomic Computing (ICCAC). The FAS* Doctoral Symposium provides an international forum for PhD Students working in research areas addressed by FAS*. In this forum, PhD students will get unique opportunities to subject their research to the scrutiny of external experts, gain experience in the presentation of research, connect to peers and experts addressing similar problems, and get advice from a panel of internationally leading researchers. Different from the technical tracks of the conference, the FAS* Doctoral Symposium focuses on the specific needs of young researchers at the beginning of their career. As such, particular emphasis will be placed on a critical and constructive feedback that shall help participants to successfully conclude their PhD studies. PhD students working in any area addressed by the FAS* conferences are invited to submit a Doctoral Symposium paper in which they describe the key motivation and objectives of their research project, and reflect on the methodology as well as the current status of their PhD studies. Complementing the thematic focus of FAS*, we particularly solicit contributions in the following areas: Engineering of self-organizing and self-adaptive systems. We solicit theoretical and applied works addressing fundamental principles underlying self-organizing systems, as well as methods that allow to quantify, model and reproduce the self-* characteristics of complex systems in biological, social, physical and technical systems. Examples include mechanisms underlying distributed decision- making and collective intelligence, software engineering challenges in self-adaptive systems, as well as general application of self-* principles in the engineering of technical systems. Complex Cyber-physical and socio-technical systems. We welcome contributions that apply self-* principles to address challenges in the design of complex cyber- physical and socio-technical systems. Particular examples include smart grid infrastructures, sensor networks, opportunistic networking scenarios, as well as large-scale social information systems. Works addressing challenges such as the security, privacy and anonymity of users, or mechanisms to prevent censorship, manipulation or unfairness in socio-technical systems are especially welcome. We further solicit works on socio- technical and socio-economic challenges in P2P systems, such as the design of incentive, trust and reputation mechanisms. Self-* approaches in Massive-Scale Decentralized Systems. Works in this area use self-* approaches to address challenges in the design and operation of massive scale decentralized systems. Examples include Peer-to-Peer technologies, as well as overlay topology management schemes. We are further interested in decentralized data mining and machine learning approaches, as well as decentralized approaches to monitor, model and adapt distributed systems. Works using self-* principles to address the inherent challenges in the design of massive-scale systems with unreliable and heterogeneous are of particular interest. Autonomic Computing. Systems Here we are interested in all works addressing the self-configuration, self-optimization and self-adaptation of cloud computing services, data centers and general distributed computing systems. Examples for questions addressed in this area include the monitoring and modeling of cloud services, the design of efficient resource allocation mechanisms, the application of data mining and machine learning techniques to analyze and predict the behavior of technical systems, as well as the characterization of distributed computing workloads. Application of Self-* in Robotics and Spatial Computing. Finally, we welcome contributions using self-* principles in the areas of robotics, swarm robotics and spatial computing. Here, examples for works of interest include environmental modeling and perception, machine vision, and self-adaptation mechanisms in robotics, distributed coordination and collective intelligence in multi- robot systems, as well as novel paradigms for the programming of autonomous, spatially distributed entities.

Submission Instructions

Submissions should have a length of max. six pages and be formatted according to the IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide. Authors should submit their papers using the EasyChair installation of the main conference, which is available at: Please note that only single-author submissions are accepted, which focus on the topic of the doctoral work. The name of the supervisor (« supervised by ... ») should be clearly marked below the author’s name in the paper. Submissions should further adhere to the following structure:
  • Motivation: motivate the open problem that you want to address and briefly summarize existing approaches along with their deficiencies.
  • Objectives: describe the key objectives of your PhD project and argue how achieving them will solve the open problem outlined in the motivation.
  • Methodology: outline what methodology you will adopt to meet the objectives of your project. Clearly state on what existing works your work will build.
  • Research Plan: describe what preliminary results – if any – you have already achieved and summarize your plans for future work. Please add a rough schedule that allows to judge whether your research plan is feasible.
Authors of accepted papers shall prepare a final, camera ready version of the paper, taking into account all feedback from reviewers, and formatted according to the IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide. Doctoral Symposium papers will be advertised in the final program, and will be submitted to IEEE Xplore as part of the SASO proceedings. Papers will also be made available in the IEEE Digital Library.

Review Process

Each submission will be reviewed by at least two Doctoral Symposium experts (see list below) that cover the different areas of interest of the conference. Submissions will be evaluated based on their relevance to FAS*, the motivation and quality of the proposed research, as well as the suitability of the chosen methodology. Authors of accepted papers will have different opportunities to present their project at the conference. Besides a full presentation during the PhD Symposium session, an “Elevator Pitch Session” will be organized during the main conference, where authors get the chance to briefly showcase their research. In addition, the Best Doctoral Symposium paper will be selected and the award will be presented during the main conference. Finally, selected authors will have the additional chance to present their work via a poster in the poster session of the main conference.

Invited Talk

To be announced

Doctoral Symposium Experts

  • Ozalp Babaoglu – University of Bologna, IT
  • Jacob Beal – BBN Technologies, USA
  • Kurt Geihs – Universitaet Kassel, DE
  • Tom Holvoet – KU Leuven, BE
  • Manish Parashar – Rutgers University, USA
  • Jeremy Pitt – Imperial College London, UK
  • Mark Jelasity – University of Szeged, HU
  • Burkhard Stiller – University of Zurich, CH
  • Giuseppe Valetto – Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, IT
  • Salim Hariri – University of Arizona, USA
  • Simon Dobson – University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK
  • Antonio Bucchiarone - Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, IT

Important Dates (Extended)

Abstract Submission due (extended): June 12, 2016 Paper Submission due (extended): June 20, 2016 Notifications due: July 10, 2016 Camera ready version due: July 24, 2016 Conference date: September 12-16, 2016

Contact Information

For any further information, please contact the Doctoral Symposium chairs: Pradeep Murukannaiah Department of Computer Science North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC, 27606, USA Dr. Ingo Scholtes Chair of Systems Design ETH Zurich CH-8092 Zurich Switzerland

So Sad Today: Personal Essays

So Sad Today: Personal Essays

Melissa Broder


The story of an obsessive personality that makes one glad not to share similar traits. It's strange how, in someone else's mind, trivial things can assume enormous proportions; amazing how emotions can be felt differently than one would expect; strange that they can be felt in different ways simultaneously. I think this book is best read both as a story of survival – and as a warning in case you meet someone like the author and struggle to connect with them.

2/5. Finished 27 April 2016.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)