In Even good bots fight, a paper written by Oxford Internet Institute researchers and published in PLOS One, the authors survey the edits and reverts made by Wikipedia's diverse community of bots, uncovering some curious corners where bots -- rate-limited by Wikipedia's rules for bots -- slowly and remorseless follow one another around, reverting each other. Read the rest
I could watch this all day.
"A vintage intervened mouse that browse internet randomly, without control. A special user who does not attend UX strategies, CTAs, quality content ... This small desktop experiment explores the identity on the Internet theories and the "Google Analytics" world."
Earlier this week, Mark posted a fancy Useless Machine that had all sorts of exciting behaviors when you turned it on. But I think I prefer the Useless machine advanced edition, with its many switches and prodding metal fingers, built from organs harvested from a donor printer. Looking back into the archives, I see we've made quite a habit of posting about the amazing Useless Machine phenomenon.
[Video Link] I feel cheated because this Useless Machine video runs out after only 11 minutes and five seconds.
Alex's Almost Useless Machine is a solar-powered desktop amusement that slowly saws through dowels whenever the light is bright enough to power its motor. It's mesmerizing.
This little machine uses a so called solar engine to drive the motor. This solar engine is able to collect tiny amounts of energy over time and stores it in large capacitors. When the voltage reaches a certain level, it opens up and uses all the stored energy at once to drive a motor. These engines were used to drive tiny BEAM-bots and were quite popular a while ago. A lot of information can be found at beam-wiki.org on how to build them and how they work.
A couple of years ago I was on The Colbert Report showing some fun projects from MAKE, and Stephen fell in love with a project called "The Most Useless Machine." (Watch the episode here.) The Most Useless Machine is a box that shuts itself off when you turn it on. (After the show Stephen hinted that he wanted to keep it, so I gave it to him and he was really happy.)
Make:Projects just posted complete instructions for making your own Most Useless Machine. It's the simplest version yet, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who tries it.
Read the rest
Last year I saw a video of the "Leave Me Alone Box" built by Michael Seedman. Flip its switch on, and an arm reaches out of a door to turn the switch back off. To paraphrase The Terminator, that's what it does, that's all it does, and it will not stop until its circuit is dead.
I had to have one of my own, so I made one. Seedman's design uses a microcontroller to run two servomotors: one to open the lid, and another to push the switch. This makes for an impressive performance, but seemed too complicated, and actually, his circuit remains powered even when the box is idle.
For existential purity, I wanted a super-simple machine that really turned itself off. So I came up with a single-motor design controlled by a 555 timer chip, with a curved arm that both lifts the lid and flips off the switch.
Here's a new wrinkle on the Most Useless Machine (a box with a single switch, which, when toggled, causes a mechanical finger to leap out of the box and switch it off). After a certain number of duelling on-off cycles, this jolly Most Useless iteration does something VERY EXCITING!
Here's an amusing metaphor for polarized US politics: take two Useless Machines (a box with a switch: when you press the switch, a hand shoots out of the box and switches it off again) and daisy-chain them so they battle to switch one another off.
MAKE Volume 23 is on newsstands now!
In this special GADGETS issue, we show you how to make a menagerie of delightful machines: a miniature electronic Whac-a-Mole arcade game, a tiny but mighty see-through audio amplifier, a magic mirror that contains an interactive animated soothsayer, a self-balancing one-wheeled Gyrocar, and the Most Useless Machine – the creepy mechanical box whose only purpose is to turn itself off (as seen on The Colbert Report!). Plus: how Intellectual Ventures made their incredible laser targeting mosquito zapper, how to use the industrial-strength microcontrollers called PLCs, and a lot more.
Project highlights in MAKE Volume 23 include:
The Most Useless Machine Gyrocar Squelette, the Bare-Bones Amplifier Magic Mirror Solar Car Subwoofer College Bike Trunk and much more, of course!
YouTube user Invisibules recreated Minsky and Shannon's "Most Useless Machine" (a box with a switch on it; switch it on and a hand emerges from the box and flips the switch to off) using Lego: 'The hardest part was probably getting the flap to operate easily and smoothly, and to open and close at the correct parts of the cycle. Careful design of the "pusher" allowed the hole to be fairly small in the later prototypes. There were probably around ten partial or complete prototypes before I found a reliable method and layout. I use the latest prototype(s) as a reference for the next, so I try to have enough bricks around to keep several on the go at once.'