Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88

Liked Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88 (MIT News)
World-renowned mathematician, learning theorist, and educational-technology visionary was a founding faculty member of the MIT Media Lab.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhEovwWiniY

Disconnected, Fragmented, or United? A Trans-disciplinary Review of Network Science

Bookmarked Disconnected, Fragmented, or United? A Trans-disciplinary Review of Network Science by César A. HidalgoCésar A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)
Applied Network Science

Abstract

During decades the study of networks has been divided between the efforts of social scientists and natural scientists, two groups of scholars who often do not see eye to eye. In this review I present an effort to mutually translate the work conducted by scholars from both of these academic fronts hoping to continue to unify what has become a diverging body of literature. I argue that social and natural scientists fail to see eye to eye because they have diverging academic goals. Social scientists focus on explaining how context specific social and economic mechanisms drive the structure of networks and on how networks shape social and economic outcomes. By contrast, natural scientists focus primarily on modeling network characteristics that are independent of context, since their focus is to identify universal characteristics of systems instead of context specific mechanisms. In the following pages I discuss the differences between both of these literatures by summarizing the parallel theories advanced to explain link formation and the applications used by scholars in each field to justify their approach to network science. I conclude by providing an outlook on how these literatures can be further unified.

David Quammen on Books

David Quammen (1948 ― ), science, nature, and travel writer
in The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder

 

Andrew Solomon Interview on Charlie Rose

Watched Andrew Solomon interview by Charlie Rose by Charlie RoseCharlie Rose from Charlie Rose.com
Author Andrew Solomon introduces his new book, "Far and Away."
A great interview with Andrew Solomon relating to his new book Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change, travel, and the world in which we live. Though it’s not discussed directly, there’s a feel of Big History philosophy in the discussion.

Network Science by Albert-László Barabási

Bookmarked Network Science by Albert-László BarabásiAlbert-László Barabási (Cambridge University Press)
I ran across a link to this textbook by way of a standing Google alert, and was excited to check it out. I was immediately disappointed to think that I would have to wait another month and change for the physical textbook to be released, but made my pre-order directly. Then with a bit of digging around, I realized that individual chapters are available immediately to quench my thirst until the physical text is printed next month.

The power of network science, the beauty of network visualization.

Network Science, a textbook for network science, is freely available under the Creative Commons licence. Follow its development on Facebook, Twitter or by signing up to our mailing list, so that we can notify you of new chapters and developments.

The book is the result of a collaboration between a number of individuals, shaping everything, from content (Albert-László Barabási), to visualizations and interactive tools (Gabriele Musella, Mauro Martino, Nicole Samay, Kim Albrecht), simulations and data analysis (Márton Pósfai). The printed version of the book will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. In the coming months the website will be expanded with an interactive version of the text, datasets, and slides to teach the material.

Book Contents

Personal Introduction
1. Introduction
2. Graph Theory
3. Random Networks
4. The Scale-Free Property
5. The Barabási-Albert Model
6. Evolving Networks
7. Degree Correlations
8. Network Robustness
9. Communities
10. Spreading Phenomena
Usage & Acknowledgements
About

Albert-László Barabási
on Network Science (book website)

Networks are everywhere, from the Internet, to social networks, and the genetic networks that determine our biological existence. Illustrated throughout in full colour, this pioneering textbook, spanning a wide range of topics from physics to computer science, engineering, economics and the social sciences, introduces network science to an interdisciplinary audience. From the origins of the six degrees of separation to explaining why networks are robust to random failures, the author explores how viruses like Ebola and H1N1 spread, and why it is that our friends have more friends than we do. Using numerous real-world examples, this innovatively designed text includes clear delineation between undergraduate and graduate level material. The mathematical formulas and derivations are included within Advanced Topics sections, enabling use at a range of levels. Extensive online resources, including films and software for network analysis, make this a multifaceted companion for anyone with an interest in network science.

Source: Cambridge University Press

The textbook is available for purchase in September 2016 from Cambridge University Press. Pre-order now on Amazon.com.

If you’re not already doing so, you should follow Barabási on Twitter.

NIMBioS Tutorial: Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics 2016

Bookmarked NIMBioS Tutorial: Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics 2016 by NIMBioS (nimbios.org)
This tutorial will review the basics of theory in the field of evolutionary quantitative genetics and its connections to evolution observed at various time scales. Quantitative genetics deals with the inheritance of measurements of traits that are affected by many genes. Quantitative genetic theory for natural populations was developed considerably in the period from 1970 to 1990 and up to the present, and it has been applied to a wide range of phenomena including the evolution of differences between the sexes, sexual preferences, life history traits, plasticity of traits, as well as the evolution of body size and other morphological measurements. Textbooks have not kept pace with these developments, and currently few universities offer courses in this subject aimed at evolutionary biologists. There is a need for evolutionary biologists to understand this field because of the ability to collect large amounts of data by computer, the development of statistical methods for changes of traits on evolutionary trees and for changes in a single species through time, and the realization that quantitative characters will not soon be fully explained by genomics. This tutorial aims to fill this need by reviewing basic aspects of theory and illustrating how that theory can be tested with data, both from single species and with multiple-species phylogenies. Participants will learn to use R, an open-source statistical programming language, to build and test evolutionary models. The intended participants for this tutorial are graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members in evolutionary biology.

🔖 Want to read: Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

🔖 Want to read: Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.

Book Review: Fletch Won

Read Fletch Won by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch Won Book Cover Fletch Won
Fletch #8 (in the stories' chronological order: #1)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
April 7, 2010
e-book
272
Overdrive

As a fledgling reporter, Fletch is doing more flailing than anything else. That and floating around from department to department trying to figure where he fits in. His managing editor’s got him pegged for the society pages, but the kind of society Fletch gets involved with is anything but polite. His first big interview, a millionaire lawyer with a crooked streak and an itch to give away some of his ill-gotten gains, ends up dead in the News-Tribune’s parking lot before Fletch can ask question number one. So Fletch ends up going after the murderer instead, and ends up learning a thing or two about crime and punishment. At the same time, he’s supposed to be covering (or maybe uncovering) a health spa that caters to all its clients' needs, and gets hired as a very personal trainer. Never mind that he’s supposed to be getting married at the end of the week; Fletch has a few other engagements to take care of first.

I don’t remember the original Fletch (book) having the awesome biting, wry humor I found in this which is more reminiscent of the adapted feature film version. But it’s a hilarious little romp of entertainment. While not as tightly crafted in terms of plot as I remember the introductory book, which I read more than 25 years ago, it was terrifically enjoyable from start to finish.

The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the late 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series. This certainly didn’t disappoint, so I’ll be delving back through the rest to fill in some entertainment in the late end of the summer. Since I couldn’t get my hands on the second in the series from a publishing chronology, I thought I’d read them in the series timeline order instead. (Or as closely as I can from the perspective of obtaining them in this order.)

I read an e-book version of the text which was fair obviously an OCR’ed version of an earlier paperback version. There were a handful of egregious spelling errors and typos that should have been fixed, but fortunately the quality wasn’t too horrific. Hopefully the quality of OCR is maintained or improved throughout the remainder of the series.

Transplantation of spinal cord–derived neural stem cells for ALS

Favorited Transplantation of spinal cord–derived neural stem cells for ALS (neurology.org)
Analysis of phase 1 and 2 trials testing the safety of spinal cord transplantation of human stem cells in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with escalating doses and expansion of the trial to multiple clinical centers.
I built the microinjectors used in these experiments for injecting stem cells into the first human patients.

CNN also has a general interest article talking about some of the results.

Links to some earlier articles:

Transplantation of spinal cord–derived neural stem cells for ALS

Analysis of phase 1 and 2 trials

Authors: Jonathan D. Glass, MD; Vicki S. Hertzberg, PhD; Nicholas M. Boulis, MD; Jonathan Riley, MD; Thais Federici, PhD; Meraida Polak, RN; Jane Bordeau, RN; Christina Fournier, MD; Karl Johe, PhD; Tom Hazel, PhD; Merit Cudkowicz, MD; Nazem Atassi, MD; Lawrence F. Borges, MD; Seward B. Rutkove, MD; Jayna Duell, RN; Parag G. Patil, MD; Stephen A. Goutman, MD; Eva L. Feldman, MD, PhD

ABSTRACT

Objective: To test the safety of spinal cord transplantation of human stem cells in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with escalating doses and expansion of the trial to multiple clinical centers.

Methods: This open-label trial included 15 participants at 3 academic centers divided into 5 treatment groups receiving increasing doses of stem cells by increasing numbers of cells/injection and increasing numbers of injections. All participants received bilateral injections into the cervical spinal cord (C3-C5). The final group received injections into both the lumbar (L2-L4) and cervical cord through 2 separate surgical procedures. Participants were assessed for adverse events and progression of disease, as measured by the ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised, forced vital capacity, and quantitative measures of strength. Statistical analysis focused on the slopes of decline of these phase 2 trial participants alone or in combination with the phase 1 participants (previously reported), comparing these groups to 3 separate historical control groups.

Results: Adverse events were mostly related to transient pain associated with surgery and to side effects of immunosuppressant medications. There was one incident of acute postoperative deterioration in neurologic function and another incident of a central pain syndrome. We could not discern differences in surgical outcomes between surgeons. Comparisons of the slopes of decline with the 3 separate historical control groups showed no differences in mean rates of progression.

Conclusions: Intraspinal transplantation of human spinal cord–derived neural stem cells can be safely accomplished at high doses, including successive lumbar and cervical procedures. The procedure can be expanded safely to multiple surgical centers.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with ALS, spinal cord transplantation of human stem cells can be safely accomplished and does not accelerate the progression of the disease. This study lacks the precision to exclude important benefit or safety issues.

Source: Transplantation of spinal cord–derived neural stem cells for ALS

Mike Morell interview by Charlie Rose on World Politics relating to the Presidential Election 2016

Watched Mike Morell interview on Charlie Rose by Charlie Rose from Charlie Rose
Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, on Donald Trump and his recent op-ed endorsing Hillary Clinton.
First let’s start with the fact that I’m a big Mike Morell fan! If you want to know about world politics and know more about not only the big picture but the minutiae, and learn it from someone who can not only lay out an argument succinctly but with great depth, there is no better tutor than Morell. A former deputy director and a former acting director of the CIA, Mike Morell is about as good as it gets in understanding foreign policy. Morell is great at laying out simple facts and figures relating to incredibly complex and nuanced events and exploring a range of potential options, and then, only if asked, will provide any personal opinion on a subject. I love the fact that he appears frequently on Charlie Rose which is about as good as it gets in the interview game. Listening to their discussions will make you a better citizen, not only of America, but of the world.

Last week I was floored that Morell, a lifelong non-partisan due in great part to his decades long government service, broke ranks to endorse Hillary Clinton in an influential op-ed piece in the New York Times. I suspect (completely a gut reaction on my part) that despite not having registered with a political party, Morell leans more to the right and would generally vote Republican. Despite this, he laid out a scathing argument why Donald Trump should not be the next president. He was my foreign policy hero to begin with, but now I’ve got to build the pedestal even higher. I’m glad that despite the sacrifices he had to make to present such an argument, that he stood up firmly for what he believes is right for the country.

If you haven’t read his piece from Friday, I highly recommend it. If you prefer a video version with more discussion and elaboration, then last night’s Charlie Rose was fantastic.

Even better, if you want a scintillating and engaging primer on world politics, jump back into Rose’s extensive archives and watch all of Charlie Rose’s past interviews with Morell.

The Indieweb Frees Me From “Awaiting Moderation”

I run across notices on the web like this regularly and it used to aggravate me to no end:

The dreaded "awaiting moderation" notice. Is my content lost forever or not?
The dreaded “awaiting moderation” notice. Is my content lost forever or not?

Infuriatingly it usually involved having just spent 5 minutes reading something and then spending 10 minutes to hours writing a reasoned and thoughtful response. (Because every troll knows that’s what the internet was designed to encourage, right?)

After pressing the reply button (even scarier than hitting the “Publish” button because you don’t have the ability to edit it after-the-fact and someone else now “owns” your content), you see the dreaded notice that your comment is “AWAITING MODERATION…”

Will they approve it? Will they delete it? Is it gone forever? Did they really get it, or did it disappear into the ether? Oh #%@$!, I wish I’d made a back up copy because that took a bit of work, and I might like to refer to it again later. Are they going to censor my thoughts? Silence my voice?

I Get It: The Need for Moderation

I completely get the need for moderation on the web, particularly as almost no one is as kind, considerate, courteous, or civil as my friend P.M. Forni. (And who could be — he literally wrote the book(s) on the subject!)

On a daily basis, I’m spammed by sites desperate to sell or promote FIFA coins, Ray Bans, Christian Louboutin shoes, or even worse types of hateful blather, so I too gently moderate. I try to save my own readers from having to see such drivel, and don’t want to provide a platform or audience for them to shout from or at, respectively.

I won’t be silenced anymore

No longer can I be silenced by random moderators that I often don’t know.

Why, you ask?

I now post everything I write online onto a site I own first.

Because now, thanks to philosophies from the Indieweb movement and technologies like webmention, which growing numbers of websites are beginning to support, I now post everything I write online onto a site I own first. There it can be read in perpetuity by anyone who chooses to come read it, or from where I can syndicate it out to the myriad of social media sites for others to read en masse. (And maybe my voice has more reach than the site I’m posting to?)

Functionality like webmention (a more modern version of pingback or trackback) then allows my content to be sent to the website I was replying to in an elegant way for (eventual?) display. Or I can copy and paste it directly if they don’t support modern protocols.

Sure, they can choose to moderate me or choose not to feature my viewpoint on their own site if they wish, but at least I still own the work I put into those thoughts. I don’t have to worry about where they went or how I might be able to find them in the future. They will always be mine, and that is empowering.

Join me

Would you like to own your own data? Own your own domain? Free yourself from the restrictions of the social media silos like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Visit Indieweb.org to see how you can do these things. Chat with like-minded individuals who can also help you out. Attend an upcoming IndieWebCamp or a local Homebrew Website Club in your area, or start one of your own!

Homebrew Website Club Meetup Pasadena/Los Angeles 8/10/16

Last night we continued the blossoming group of indiewebbers meeting up on the East side of the Los Angeles Area, leading up to IndieWeb Camp Los Angeles in November.

We met at Charlie’s Coffee House, 266 Monterey Road, Pasadena, CA.

Quiet Writing Hour

The quiet writing hour started off quiet with Angelo holding down the fort while others were stuck in interminable traffic, but if the IRC channel is any indication, he got some productive work done.

Introductions and Quick Demonstrations

Participants included:

Following introductions, I did a demo of the browser-based push notifications I enabled on this site about a week ago and discussed some pathways to help others explore options for doing so on theirs. Coincidentally, WordPress.com just unveiled some functionality like this yesterday that is more site-owner oriented than user oriented, so I’ll be looking into that functionality shortly.

Angelo showed off some impressive python code which he’s preparing to opensource, but just before the meeting had managed to completely bork his site, so everyone got a stunning example of a “502 Bad Gateway” notice.

At the break, we were so engaged we all completely forgot to either take a break or do the usual group photo. My 1 minute sketch gives a reasonable facsimile of what a photo would have looked like.

Peer-to-Peer Building and Help

With a new group, we spent some time discussing some general Indieweb principles, outlining ideas, and example projects.

Since Michael was very new to the group, we helped him install the WordPress IndieWeb plugin and configure a few of the sub-plugins to get him started. We discussed some basic next steps and pointers to the WordPress documentation to provide him some direction for building until we meet again.

We spent a few minutes discussing the upcoming IndieWebCamp logistics as well as outreach to the broader Los Angeles area community.

Next Meeting

For a new group, there’s enough enthusiasm to do at least two meetings a month, in keeping with the broader Homebrew movement, so we’re already committed to our next meeting on August 24. It’s tentatively at the same location unless a more suitable one comes along prior to then.

Thanks for coming everyone! We’ll see you next time.

Book Review: Fletch and the Widow Bradley

Read Fletch and the Widow Bradley by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch and the Widow Bradley Book Cover Fletch and the Widow Bradley
Fletch #4 (in the stories' chronological order: #3)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
May 5, 2010
e-book
160
Overdrive

When Fletch finds a wallet with $25,000 in cash inside, he doesn’t realize it’s the last piece of good luck he’s going to see for a while. Because when he calls in to the News-Tribune, he discovers a story he’s written is causing quite a sensation, and not the good kind. He might just be out of a job permanently.

If Tom Bradley, the chairman of Wagnall-Phipps and one of Fletch’s principal sources, and not incidentally, the source of his paper’s embarrassment, is dead, who’s been signing his name to company documents, and why doesn’t the company treasurer seem to know? If he’s alive, how come his widow, Enid, has Tom’s ashes on the mantel?

Fletch may have more questions than answers on his hands, but he knows he’s a pretty good reporter, and if he’s going to get his reputation back, not to mention his job, he’s going to have to get to the bottom of more than one mystery.

This didn’t have as much of the biting humor as others in the Fletch canon or as much interesting character development or motivation. This was a bit more more up-the-middle in terms of plot, though the twist at the end was relatively well foreshadowed yet still surprising, particularly for the time frame in which it was written.

Fletch’s romantic interest Moxie was quirky, but didn’t do very much for the plot. His quest within the story was fairly straightforward, but wasn’t very well motivated from an internal perspective given his lackadaisical viewpoint in life and his general inability to afford his situation.

The finding of the $25,000 was an interesting opening, but sadly and quickly took a back seat in the plot. Given subsequent events, it could have played a better tangential role as a more integral B-plot. The final wrap up in the closing scenes was very unsatisfying for our viewpoint of Fletch as a hero and could have had a better twist. I’m getting the feeling that Mcdonald is still coming into his own at this point in his career and that the success of the 1984 film version of Fletch had a more significant influence on subsequent character development.

Most surprising was that the major plot twist occurred in a book in 1981, making it far more prescient of American culture to come in the new millennium. Barring the differences in the current state of journalism, this plot would still easily fit into the zeitgeist today from a cultural standpoint.

Given that the series is set in Los Angeles, I was curious to see if Tom Bradley, the dead character that motivates the plot, bore any resemblance to long time Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. The real Bradley had been mayor for nearly 8 years (of an eventual 20 year reign) at the time the book was written, but I couldn’t discern any direct political satire in the naming of the character, though my knowledge of early 80’s Los Angeles politics is sketchy at best.