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Biweekly links for 11/14/2008

by Michael Nielsen on November 14, 2008
  • Jamendo
    • Useful resource for finding Creative Commons music.
  • Online Communities: The Tribalization of Business – O’Reilly Radar
    • “Community for community’s sake: most businesses begin planning a community with traditional objectives (lower support costs, drive innovation, increase customer loyalty etc.). On the Social Web this is the equivalent of entering a personal relationship with an ulterior motive (which never works out quite right). Businesses should begin with the question, “how can I satisfy the needs of this community?”- and then follow the community’s lead. Be open to the unexpected.

      In my experience this is one of the hardest things for companies to get behind and relegates this kind of “enlightened” community effort to either top-level leadership or skunk works development. Middle management is typically the most reluctant to deviate from standard practice and place a bet on community for the community’s sake.”

  • » Do we suck at the basics?
    • “The longer I’m on this planet, the more I think the problem with everything is someone’s failure to get the basics right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been invited to companies or to talk about projects going on here or there, only to hear some basic, fundamental principle being violated without anyone screaming or raising the red flag. First. Am I right? Do most people, most of the time, suck at one of the basics of what they’re supposed to be professionals at? And if so, why is this?”
  • Kevin Kelly — The Origins of Progress
    • Kelly’s extended mediation on what, exactly, the origin of progress is.
  • Planning to Share versus Just Sharing at EdTechPost
    • The “just do it” approach to openness.
  • Preparing presentations: from mindmap to storyboard | sacha chua :: enterprise 2.0 consultant, storyteller, geek
    • A fun workflow for preparing presentations.
  • Web Conference: October 24-26, 2008
    • A hybrid online / real-world conference. Interesting list of speakers; lots of talks to watch!
  • Google Reader Now Auto-Translates Stuff. Read Anything You Like
  • Wikinomics » Blog Archive » – A new take on Social Search
    • Very interesting: a new collaboration market: “The traditional knowledge markets like Yahoo! Answers do little active work in matching a question with a resident subject expert, instead relying on the community to keep an eye on the topics they’re best equipped to answer. A new social search service (still in beta) called from the folks at The Mechanical Zoo aims to actively feed questions to self-proclaimed “subject authorities” who take it from there. As you pose and answer questions you build your “knowledge network”—a social network of your conversation participants. The question routing is done via Aardvark’s algorithm, which according to a VentureBeat article, will involve favouring “friends-of-friends” as the first-line recipients, but does the expert finding for you.

      The cool element about Aardvark is that it’s a seamless merger of a knowledge market (a la Yahoo! Answers) and real-time conversation tools (Twitter). “

  • The Case of M. S. El Naschie | The n-Category Café
    • John Baez: “Now, I get crud like this in my email every day. I delete it without comment. What makes this case different is that El Naschie gets to publish these papers in a superficially respectable journal that he actually edits.

      The fact that Elsevier would let Naschie edit this journal and publish large numbers of papers like this in it shows that their system for monitoring the quality of their journals is broken.

      The fact that this journal costs $4520 per year would be hilarious, except that libraries are actually buying it — at a reduced rate, bundled in with other Elsevier journals, but still! “

  • Latest Earthquakes: Feeds & Data
    • RSS feeds for earthquakes in the US.
  • synthesis: iGEM 2008: Surprise — The Future is Here Already.
    • “Here’s the short, pithy version: There is presently no vaccine for H. pylori. Between June and October this year, seven undergraduates built and tested three kinds of brand new vaccines against H. pylori. (They also put a whole mess of Biobrick parts into the Registry, which means those parts are all in the public domain.)”
  • A bit more on the economics of happiness at John Quiggin
    • “Within a given country, people with higher incomes are more likely to report being happy. However, in international comparisons, the average reported level of happiness does not vary much with national income per person, at least for countries with income sufficient to meet basic needs. The same is true over time – average happiness levels don’t change much even as incomes rise. This is often taken to mean that it’s relative rather than absolute income that determines happiness, so an increase in everyone’s income won’t make anyone happier. Hence, we shouldn’t worry so much about increasing income, but should focus more on factors likely to contribute to happiness. The point that struck me was that, given Easterlin’s data, the paradox is almost certain to apply whatever potential source of happiness we consider, in one form or another. “
  • BBC NEWS | Woolly writing creates new poetry
    • “”So I decided to explore randomness and some of the principles of quantum mechanics, through poetry, using the medium of sheep.”… A spokesman for Northern Arts called the scheme “an exciting fusion of poetry and quantum physics”. “

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  1. Michael, it strikes me that the links collected in your post are (in aggregate) an excellent example of what might be called “algorithm mining”.

    For most people (as argued below) the internet’s single most important aspect is as a repository of algorithms, and so it is reasonably accurate to describe most people’s internet activity as “algorithm mining” (rather than “data mining”).

    That’s why it is frustrating that there is so little literature on algorithm mining. E.g., the INSPEC database lists 29,045 articles on “data mining”, versus only eight on “algorithm mining” … and these eight are all false hits.

    The concept of “algorithm mining” has both a narrow definition and a broad definition. Narrowly defined, “algorithm mining” might mean: “There is a complex system whose dynamics I want to understand/solve/predict/simulate; what mathematical algorithms, software tools, and databases are publicly available to help me?” And of course, the Internet is a uniquely powerful tool for algorithm mining in this narrow sense.

    Broadly defined, “algorithm mining” might mean: “There is a complex system that I need to understand and engage; what narratives are available to help me understand it, and what communities of people embrace these narratives?”

    In this broad sense (i.e., “social narratives are a class of algorithms”) doesn’t a pretty large fraction of internet activity center upon conceiving, constructing, and sharing algorithms, not data?

    And therefore, aren’t the main challenges of Open Science centered upon algorithm sharing—including especially the politically thorny subclass of algorithm sharing, namely, building narrative consensus—rather than data sharing?

    True, it is very common, and very convenient, to pretend that the Internet is all about data sharing … because all kinds of thorny political and social issues are sidestepped thereby … but that doesn’t mean this depiction is accurate!

    As evidence, the algorithms—including narratives—provided by your links are (IMHO) far more interesting than the data.

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  1. So, you think academic peer review works?

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