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Biweekly links for 08/03/2009

by Michael Nielsen on August 3, 2009
  • Sweet Juniper!
    • Incredible photo montages from Detroit.
  • Detroit UnReal Estate Agency
    • An entire city that seems to be dying: “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency will produce, collect and inventory information on the ‘unreal estate’ of Detroit: that is, on the remarkable, distinct, characteristic or subjectively significant sites of urban culture. The project is aimed at new types of urban practices (architecturally, artistically, institutionally, everyday life, etc) that came into existence, creating a new value system in Detroit.”
  • Inside Google Books: Barcode your bookshelf with Google Books
    • Matt shows how you can easily add your books from off your bookshelf at home to the My Library feature in Google Books… The real power of this tip? You can then use Google Books-powered search to browse just the books in you own home library. “
  • Sealed Abstract » The joy of electronic books
    • Good article on how to move your library onto your computer.
  • Letter from the editors | Rejecta Mathematica
    • “Welcome to the inaugural issue of Rejecta Mathematica! … For those unfamiliar with our mission, Rejecta Mathematica is an open access, online journal that publishes only papers that have been rejected from peer-reviewed journals in the mathematical sciences…. every paper appearing in Rejecta Mathematica includes an open letter from its authors discussing the paper’s original review process, disclosing any known flaws in the paper, and stating the case for the paper’s value to the community…. the questions we’ve been asked most often are “Why are you doing this?” and “Is it a joke?” While we are not above admitting that we have had a few good laughs in this process, we hope that this issue will serve as definitive proof that Rejecta Mathematica is not a joke. Despite the central role that peer review (and even rejection) must play in the scientific process [1], we believe …this project can make a positive and valuable contribution to the mathematical … research community.”
  • iCopyright – Associated Press
    • The AP’s attempt to con and intimidate people into paying for their content. If you’re a not-for-profit, for example, and want to re-use just 5 words of their content, they’ll charge you $7.50 for the privilege, although only if your re-use fits their (very narrow) terms of service, e.g., you can’t use it in a derogatory way. I can’t imagine what they’re hoping to achieve, other than a confrontation in the courts, and a massive wave of incredibly negative publicity.
  • How Different Groups Spend Their Day – Interactive Graphic – NYTimes.com
    • “The American Time Use Survey asks thousands of American residents to recall every minute of a day. Here is how people over age 15 spent their time in 2008.”
  • Polymath = user innovation « Jon Udell
    • Jon Udell on the Polymath Project.
  • Backreaction: And how open would you want your science?
    • “What I am saying is that all the sharing and openness can actually harm progress. In fact, I think we already share way too much too premature information. The reason is that scientists too are only human. If we hear some colleagues talk who are genuinely excited about a topic, chances are we’ll get interested. If we have an idea in an early stage and bounce it off a lot of people, it will lose its edges because we’ll try to make it fit. If we hear something repeatedly, we are likely to think it’s of some relevance. If we know the opinions of other people, in particular people with a higher social status or more experience, we’ll try to fit in. That’s what humans do. That’s why crowds make dumb decisions. That’s how groupthink starts, that’s where herding comes from, that’s how hypes and bubbles are created.”
  • Adding Noughts in Vain: How Hard Would Dramatic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Really Be?
    • “domestic water consumption in south-east Queensland was reduced by more than 50% in just three years! … This goes to show that dramatic and permanent efficiency gains are possible if there is the public and political will to make them. You really have to ask yourself if it is that much harder to reduce our dependence on greenhouse gas emissions than it is to reduce water use?” (My favourite idea for reducing consumption of, say, water (or gasoline, or …) is to have a big public competition between cities, with the city making the biggest reduction receiving a large cash prize. Try to drum up interest in the media, and really get people engaged…)
  • Joint Statement on sharing of genetic data – President Clinton & Prime Minister Blair
    • From March 14, 2000: “We applaud the decision by scientists working on the Human Genome Project to release raw fundamental information about the human DNA sequence and its variants rapidly into the public domain, and we commend other scientists around the world to adopt this policy.”
  • An overview of the Polymath projects so far : Christina’s LIS Rant
    • Christina Pikas on the Polymath Project.
  • Keep Music Indie: April Smith Makes a Record — Kickstarter
    • Great experiment in alternate models for making music.

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2 Comments
  1. John – As a kid, I lived for a few months in a tiny town in the Australian outback, a town largely cut off from the rest of Australia: it was 200 kilometers to the nearest town, and perhaps 500-1000 km to the nearest town of > 10,000 people. It was like living in another world, one cut off from much of the medicine, education, and food (virtually no fresh fruit, milk, meat…) that we take for granted. Like you, the experience, while brief, has certainly impacted how I think, and my appreciation for the fragile nature of human institutions.

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