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Biweekly links for 05/01/2009

by Michael Nielsen on May 1, 2009
  • …My heart’s in Accra » The importance of being a dork
    • “So here’s my pressing question: if the internet gives us new spaces in which to find common ground with very different people, what’s holding us back from becoming vastly more global and cosmopolitan than most of us are? Why, as I’ve argued elsewhere, do we seem to keep sorting ourselves into familiar groups?

      I’m starting to think that there’s something very special about the willingness to look like a dork. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Matt Harding dances badly, but enthusiastically, and that this opens doors for him. Or that Dhani Jones finishes last in races, with a smile on his face. And I wonder whether we’d have more luck building bridges in online spaces if it were more socially acceptable to make fools of ourselves, laughing and being laughed at by our new peers.”

  • What If Scientists Didn’t Compete? – TierneyLab Blog – NYTimes.com
    • “What if scientists, instead of rushing to publish or perish, chose to cooperate? Sean Cutler decided to do “a little experiment,” as he calls it, and you can see the results in the forthcoming issue of Science.

      The journal carries an article by Dr. Cutler and 20 other researchers in the United States, Canada and Spain reporting a long-sought technique for helping plants to grow with less water by activating the natural defenses that enable plants to survive during droughts. (Here’s the Science article; here’s a summary of the research.) Dr. Cutler, an assistant professor of plant cell biology at the University of California, Riverside, knew that the rush to be first in this area had previously led to some dubious publications (including papers that were subsequently retracted). So he took the unusual approach of identifying his rivals (by determining which researchers had ordered the same genetic strains from a public source) and then contacting them.”

  • Wikipedia:Deleted articles with freaky titles – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    • “22.86 Centimetre Nails”: the metric version of “Nine Inch Nails”. (Honestly, this is all part of the research for my book…)
  • A million penguins
    • A fascinating experiment in wiki-novel writing from Penguin. The result is unusual: “For those of you who haven’t mastered its structure, the novel is broken down into seven discrete sections, plus one additional section that incorporates the more bizarre elements of this collaborative project (the ‘Banana version‘, the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure version‘, etc). Having said that, it seems unfair to single out one part of the book that’s weirder than the others. But you can see for yourself what I mean.

      The quote with which I’ve begun seems apposite because it captures two aspects of the book that have really stood out: a) the question of linearity b) the way that the wiki-novel seems so often to be about the wiki-novel. You could justifiably call much of it a meta-narrative.”

  • Paul David: The Historical Origins of ‘Open Science’
    • Likely to be well worth reading for people interested in the modern open science movement. (I haven’t read this version of the paper, but I did read a draft from 2007).
  • Turkey City Lexicon: A primer for SF workshops
    • “Roget’s Disease

      The ludicrous overuse of far-fetched adjectives, piled into a festering, fungal, tenebrous, troglodytic, ichorous, leprous, synonymic heap. (Attr. John W. Campbell) “

  • Image of the Week – Los Alamos’ “Map of Science”
    • “Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico have produced what they call the world’s first “Map of Science” — a high-resolution graphic depiction of the virtual trails scientists leave behind whenever they retrieve information from online services.

      The research, led by Johan Bollen of LANL, and his colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute, collected usage-log data gathered from a variety of publishers, aggregators, and universities from 2006 to 2008. Their collection totaled nearly 1 billion requests for online information. Because scientists usually read articles in online form well before they can be cited in print, usage data reveal scientific activity nearly in real-time, the map’s creators say.

      “This research will be a crucial component of future efforts to study and predict scientific innovation, as well novel methods to determine the true impact of articles and journals,” Bollen said to the Public Library of Science.”

  • Facts and friction « Jon Udell
    • Computable knowledge: “But the more telling example, for me, was one that Stephen Wolfram showed in a post-demo discussion: “Suppose you want to know the distance to Pluto. We don’t just look it up. We answer the question: “What is the distance to Pluto right now?” And we compute the answer. ”
      I reckon that this notion of computable knowledge is going to take a while to sink in.”
  • Finding and connecting social capital « Jon Udell
  • What is the RSS of calendars? « Jon Udell
  • Open Source Software Apprentice – igvita.com
  • The Secret to Happiness, According to Justice O’Connor
    • “I can tell you what I believe is the secret to a happy life,” she [Sandra Day O’Connor] said.

      “What’s that, Justice?” I asked… “What’s your secret?”

      “Work worth doing,” she answered firmly.

      “What about relationships?” I asked. From what I can tell, looking at modern science and ancient philosophy, if you had to pick a single factor as the one most likely to lead to a happy life, having strong relationships would be a strong candidate. Of course, most people form a lot of strong relationships at work.

      “No,” she said. “Work worth doing, that’s all you really need.””

  • Tobias J. Osborne’s research notes – non-linear notes on my research
    • Tobias’ tiddlywiki with his research notes.

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