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Biweekly links for 11/20/2009

by Michael Nielsen on November 20, 2009
  • Your Looks and Your Inbox « OkTrends
    • Utterly fascinating data-driven look at the dating market from someone who helps run a dating site.
  • Google Scholar now lets you restrict your search to legal opinions and journals
    • I use Scholar’s advanced search pretty often, and only just noticed this – I presume it was added recently. Should be very handy.
  • Damn Cool Pics: Best Hand Painting Art Ever
    • The title appears hyperbolic, but this is remarkable. I often had no idea I was looking at hand.
  • Steven Pinker on technology
    • “Many of the articles in printed encyclopedias stink — they are incomprehensible, incoherent, and instantly obsolete. The vaunted length of the news articles in our daily papers is generally plumped out by filler that is worse than useless: personal-interest anecdotes, commentary by ignoramuses, pointless interviews with bystanders (“My serial killer neighbor was always polite and quiet”). Precious real-estate in op-ed pages is franchised to a handful of pundits who repeatedly pound their agenda or indulge in innumerate riffing (such as interpreting a “trend” consisting of a single observation). The concept of “science” in many traditional literary-cultural-intellectual magazines… is personal reflections by belletristic doctors. And the policy that a serious book should be evaluated in a publication of record by a single reviewer (with idiosyncratic agendas, hobbyhorses, jealousies, tastes, and blind spots) would be risible if we hadn’t grown up with it.”
  • A Speculative Post on the Idea of Algorithmic Authority « Clay Shirky
    • “when people become aware not just of their own trust but of the trust of others: “I use Wikipedia all the time, and other members of my group do as well.” Once everyone in the group has this realization, checking Wikipedia is tantamount to answering the kinds of questions Wikipedia purports to answer, for that group. This is the transition to algorithmic authority. “
  • Geo Hashing
    • “Geohashing is a method for finding an effectively random location nearby and visiting it: a Spontaneous Adventure Generator. Every day, the algorithm generates a new set of coordinates for each 1°×1° latitude/longitude zone (known as a graticule) in the world. The coordinates can be anywhere — in the forest, in a city, on a mountain, or even in the middle of a lake! Everyone in a given region gets the same set of coordinates relative to their graticule.

      As such, these coordinates can be used as destinations for adventures, à la Geocaching, or for local meetups.”

  • Zeroth Order Approximation: Summary dismissal
    • When is it appropriate to dismiss an idea out of hand? “So I am not opposed in principle to the “summary dismissal” of an idea – a rejection that precedes a full discussion of the factual merits. Such judgments are necessary and inevitable. They are a legitimate part of the practical art of reason. Yet I am uneasy, because this kind of preemptive action carries obvious risks. After all, the idea that I reject might be a good one. If I never grant it a real hearing, how will I ever find out?”

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