🔖 Kanji alive: A free study tool for reading and writing kanji

Kanji Alive (kanjialive.com)
Welcome to Kanji alive, a web application (http://app.kanjialive.com) designed to help Japanese language students of all levels learn to read and write kanji. Kanji alive is a resource for learning kanji, dedicated to helping you open the door to the fascinating characters that form the written Japanese language. All of the content in the application was created and reviewed with painstaking attention to detail by experienced Japanese instructors in order to help you best study, practice and retain kanji.
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🔖 Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (Viking)
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation. With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

I’ve got almost all of his works, this one portends to be very interesting as well. Potentially a nice chaser to his last book.

🔖 The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen (Riverhead Books)
The essential journalist and bestselling biographer of Vladimir Putin reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy. Award-winning journalist Masha Gessen's understanding of the events and forces that have wracked Russia in recent times is unparalleled. In The Future Is History, Gessen follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own--as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings. Gessen charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today's terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

Bookmarked after listening to an episode of The Atlantic Interview.

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🔖 Lower Ed: How For-Profit Colleges Deepen Inequality in America by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom (The New Press)
More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges. In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there. With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.
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🔖 Reproducibility Workshop: Best practices and easy steps to save time for yourself and other researchers

Reproducibility Workshop: Best practices and easy steps to save time for yourself and other researchers (codeocean.com)
Gain insight into a range of tools that can help you share and extend your research. Join us on January 25th at Caltech.

Sadly I missed this having only heard about it after it was already over.

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🔖 NetSci 2018 11-15 June 2018 in Paris, France

NetSci 2018 (NetSci 2018)
NetSci 2018, the flagship conference of the Network Science Society, aims to bring together leading researchers and practitioners working in the emerging area of network science. The conference fosters interdisciplinary communication and collaboration in network science research across computer and information sciences, physics, mathematics, statistics, the life sciences, neuroscience, environmental sciences, social sciences, finance and business, arts and design. NetSci 2018 in Paris, France will be a combination of: * An International School for students and non-experts (June 11-12, 2018) * Satellite Symposia (June 11-12, 2018) * A 3-day Conference (June 13-15, 2018) featuring research in a wide range of topics and in different formats, including keynote and invited talks, oral presentations, posters, and lightning talks.

Registration Deadlines:
February 8: Registration opens.
March 20: Registration for presenters of accepted contributions ends.
April 10: Early registration ends.
May 28: Online registration ends.

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🔖 9th International Conference on Complex Systems | NECSI

9th International Conference on Complex Systems | NECSI (necsi.edu)
The International Conference on Complex Systems is a unique interdisciplinary forum that unifies and bridges the traditional domains of science and a multitude of real world systems. Participants will contribute and be exposed to mind expanding concepts and methods from across the diverse field of complex systems science. The conference will be held July 22-27, 2018, in Cambridge, MA, USA. Special Topic - Artificial Intelligence: This year’s conference will include a day on AI, including its development and potential future. This session will be chaired by Iyad Rahwan of MIT's Media Lab.

A great looking conference coming up with a strong line up of people who’s work I appreciate. It could certainly use some more balance however as it’s almost all white men.

In particular I’d want to see:
Albert-László Barabási (Northeastern University, USA)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Real World Risk Institute, USA)
Stuart Kauffman (Institute for Systems Biology, USA)
Simon DeDeo (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research)
César Hidalgo (MIT Media Lab, USA)

Others include:
Marta González (University of California Berkeley, USA)
Peter Turchin (University of Connecticut, USA)
Mercedes Pascual (University of Chicago, USA) Pending confirmation
Iyad Rahwan (MIT Media Lab, USA)
Sandy Pentland (MIT Media Lab, USA)
Theresa Whelan (U.S. Department of Defense) Pending DOD approval
H. Eugene Stanley (Boston University, USA)
Ricardo Hausmann (Harvard University, USA)
Stephen Grossberg (Boston University, USA)
Daniela Rus (MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab, USA) Pending confirmation
Olaf Sporns (Indiana University Network Science Institute, USA)
Michelle Girvan (University of Maryland, USA) Pending confirmation
Cameron Kerry (MIT Media Lab, USA)
Irving Epstein (Brandeis University, USA)

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🔖 PressForward in the classroom

PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.

An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:

  • Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
  • Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
  • Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
  • Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
  • Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
  • Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
  • Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
  • Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
  • Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.

I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.

How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org
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Yarns Indie Reader

Yarns Indie Reader by Jack Jamieson (jackjamieson.net)
Over the past little while I’ve been chipping away at an Indie Reader plugin for WordPress. It’s still a bit rough at this point, but works well enough that I’m happy to announce it here. Yarns Indie Reader allows you to subscribe to websites that publish either rss or h-feed. As well as keeping up with your subscriptions, you can like and reply and it create posts on your blog automatically.

I’m hoping this is another great example of the types of feed readers we need in the world. ​​​​​​​

🔖 ScholarlyHub sounds like IndieWeb for Education

Scholarly Hub (ScholarlyHub)
At ScholarlyHub we believe that a critical attitude does not stop with the platforms we use. Growing threats to open science have made it more crucial than before to develop a sustainable, not-for-profit environment. One that allows you to publish, share, and access quality work without financial constraints; find and work with colleagues in fields you’re interested in; develop research and teaching projects; store datasets securely, and mentor and be mentored in order to improve your work and help others. Above all, we want to foster an environment that meets our needs as individuals and scholarly communities and where we are in control, not myopic political agendas, greedy publishers, or data merchants. We believe that scholarship does little good behind pay walls, that metrified rankings rarely promote innovative research, and that transparent communication is vital to quality scholarship and healthy societies. Therefore we’re taking the best of the new and the best of the tried to create a truly open-access repository, publishing service, and scholarly social networking site, with large scope for members' initiatives. And it will be run by scholars: not for profit, greater market share, or political kudos, but for their own growth and everyone’s benefit.

It looks to me like a lot of what ScholarlyHub is doing sounds very similar to the principles behind the IndieWeb. They’re just applying them to the education and research sector.

Most of their manifesto sounds very familiar to me. Because of a lack of plurality, I’m guessing they’re generation 1 creators concentrating on building an inexpensive platform for generations 2 and on.

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🔖 Decoding Anagrammed Texts Written in an Unknown Language and Script

Decoding Anagrammed Texts Written in an Unknown Language and Script by Bradley Hauer, Grzegorz Kondrak (Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics)
Algorithmic decipherment is a prime example of a truly unsupervised problem. The first step in the decipherment process is the identification of the encrypted language. We propose three methods for determining the source language of a document enciphered with a monoalphabetic substitution cipher. The best method achieves 97% accuracy on 380 languages. We then present an approach to decoding anagrammed substitution ciphers, in which the letters within words have been arbitrarily transposed. It obtains the average decryption word accuracy of 93% on a set of 50 ciphertexts in 5 languages. Finally, we report the results on the Voynich manuscript, an unsolved fifteenth century cipher, which suggest Hebrew as the language of the document.

Aside: It’s been ages since I’ve seen someone with Refbacks listed on their site!

Want to watch: Claude Shannon Project (Documentary)

Claude Shannon Project (IMDb)
Directed by Mark Levinson. With Judith Ivey, Michael Rose, Kaliswa Brewster, Geoff Schuppert. A film about Claude Shannon, the "Father of Information Theory"

I know this shot over a year ago now. I’m wondering what’s happened to their post production schedule? Distribution issues perhaps?