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John's world is a world of ideas, a world in which ideas don't belong to anyone, and in which, when an idea is wrong, just the idea – not the person – is wrong. A world in which ideas are like young birds, and we catch them and proudly show them to our friends. The bird's beauty and the hunter's are distinct...

Some people won't show you the birds they've caught until they are sure, certain, positive that they – the birds, or themselves – are gorgeous, or rare, or remarkable. When your mind can separate yourself from it, you will share it sooner, and the beauty of the bird will be sooner enjoyed.

— Richard Gabriel

"...if we wanted people to fly, we would have given them wings."
"You gave me wings when you showed me birds."

— Terry Pratchett

Feel free to implement these if you want, I'll not get around to most of em. Ideas on There Could Be Snakes in Here are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License

  • Alt-errata. A Wiki for factual errors in books. With Nook, Kobol, Kindle plugin to let the crowd's fleeting, internal dissent count. The truth is made of details.

  • Magrittr: the next stage of automated art. Rather than just changing textures to match a painter's distinctive style, I want a neural net to subvert an input image, in-line, in the manner of Rene Magritte.

  • Modernlove: a sexuality visualiser.

  • Hand to Hoof: Website for routing meat offsets. A very thin wrapper over GoCardless: take the best monetary estimate of one omnivore's damage, redirect a recurring payment to the Humane League, and offer to publish the result to social media. This could be dangerous, since moral licencing effects could swamp the actual donation effect. So: add on an estimate of the harm of morally licencing meat-eating! (: (Either way, we certainly want an effective animal org to implement this before ineffective ones do. Counterfactual loss...)

  • TacTex: Transforms LaTex into plain English. Main use case is for allowing clever nonmathematical audiences into the discussion; a further key one is when you are refreshing your knowledge but don't remember the names for symbols (e.g. that the thick vertical apostrophe on derivatives is pronounced "prime").

  • Pride and Prescience: an estimate of the most morally anachronistic people in history.

  • Stackr: tutorial and consumer guide to picking a web stack, with API calls to Google and StackOverflow to estimate compability.

  • Babelname / 巴別名: a cultural interpreter for Chinese names. On input, will give 1) probable name order, 2) pronounciation, 3) probable gender, 3) class connotations, 4) regional prevalence, etc.

  • An implementation of Game of Life with some bells on: soundtrack generated by system transitions, import arbitrary images as start states.

  • Idiolector. Automated stylometry. A tool for analysing you and your friends' idiolects, distinctive vocabulary, accommodation. Outputs to include unique trigrams, a writer invariant, normative recommendations, entropy of your speech, perhaps even metrical information, and sociolinguistics. (Probably just a wrapper on HTK)

  • Bayes Chain: Tool for storing your reasoning on an issue over many evidence updates. Automated calculation.

  • A Roguelike with content mined from TVTropes.

  • An entire social network for independent scholars of various fields. Peer review, collaboration, pooled journal access, essay competitions for nonacademics.

  • An Atom extension for recording the effect of music on your code performance. But how? Via the Eclipse API or JSHint and the Spotify API?musicForProgrammers

  • Disambiguatr: crowdsourced list of numbered definitions to muddy concepts like God or Conservative or Feminism.

  • Wearable OLED screen / jacket with a Pi in the hem and a mic at the lapel. The Pi is running HTK, trained extensively on you; the jacket displays live subtitles of your speech, for the benefit of deaf people or stoners.

  • Same principle as above, but the screen displays a 3D ragdoll doing the sign-language translation.

  • A Pi hooked up to a network of wireless police sirens, one perched above each developer's desk; when the builds breaks, the repo manager sends the output of `git blame` to the Pi and it lights up the offending desk.

  • Collection on Scottish tragedies (1286, Plague, Darien, Glencoe, Culloden, the Clearances, Iolaire, Quintinshill, Piper Alpha, Lockerbie, Dunblane).
  • Collection on the great package repositories (nuget, npm, PyPI, CPAN, CRAN, packagist, gems, maven).
  • Collection of monologues from researchers who all think their subject is the deepest. They are all persuasive and deluded. The anthropologist is the standout, since his topic exists on one wet ball of rock only. The computer scientist wins.
  • Short: we cure bodily aging but not cognitive senescence. To continue after 100 years, one must debride memories and start afresh. Intense culture of archiving arises; wiping hard drives is a serious crime.
  • Short: every job is paid exactly the same. Society divides into those who plump for sports and art, and those who want to, but are dragged by resentful duty to sanitation and healthcare and policing.

  • What geographical features of the world have been posited as the causes of national characteristics? (e.g. intensive rice farming south of the Yangtze causing intense conformity for co-ordination purposes.)

  • An intellectual history of suffering. In particular, the broad international, intertemporal consensus of romanticising suffering (lacrimism), rationalising aging and death (deathism), and making good things essentially dependent on suffering (contrast ideology).

  • The epidemiology of Christ.

  • Create an MP for the homeless: The Hon. Member for Lost Souls. Solves a chronic suffrage deficit. You can vote in Lost Souls if you're on a council hardship list.
  • The media frenzies we currently have incentivise terrorism. The greater part of the harm of terrorism is not the small number of deaths but the millions and millions of instances of intense panic and grief and destroyed animal spirits and fear-borne irrationality. We need some form of media regulation to stop the hype cycle; even something as simple as an adult setting for TV news which defaults to "off", or rules that mass murderers are never pictured or named.
  • Car accident reporting must include a diagnosis of the CAN brake network.
  • Inter-national service. Replace the brutalising of teenagers (1950s National Service) with state-sanctioned travel, language lessons, and cultural exchange. Avoid voluntourism flaws somehow.
  • State-backed social circulation. Use old town halls and churches to host sessions where you can meet a stranger; offer two hours off work a week for it. Cross class lines, cross taste lines, cross ideological lines, cross mental health lines.

    Why? To supply scarce public goods: understanding of very different people; socialising for old people; networking for low-social-capital folk. Possibly need a tax break to get middle-class people to do it, since they won't necessarily value any of these things. Is a canteen best? Dinner manners are a stark class marker, but so is speech and much besides.

  • Is consciousness a primary property of matter?
  • What is my genome? What does it probably mean?
  • What percentage of lawyers think that their job actually serves justice most of the time? Is the percentage notably different between prosecutors and defenders?
  • How much less profitable would the betting industry be if they had to list the odds in percentage terms?
  • Do jokes actually enable violence? Even if so, is it really right to then call them acts of violence? Is violence transitive?
  • Is Kant better than Plato because Kant had Plato to work off of? (Why isn't philosophy accretive?)