Response to “Path: A Twenty-First Century Geotagging Journal”

Replied to Path: A Twenty-First Century Geotagging Journal by Adeline Koh (ProfHacker | The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Adeline, Path might be a reasonable tool for accomplishing what you’d like, but it’s original design is as a very small and incredibly personal social networking tool and therefore not the best thing for your particular use case here. Toward that end, it’s personalization ability to limit who sees what is highly unlikely to change as they limit your “friends” to less than your Dunbar number in the first place. Their presupposition is that you’re only sharing things with your VERY closest friends.

For more functionality in the vein you’re looking at, you might consider some of the Google tools which will allow you much more granularity in terms of sharing, tracking, and geotagging. First I’d recommend using Google Latitude which will use your cell phone GPS to constantly track your location at all times if you wish of the ability to turn it on and off at will. This will allow you to go back and see exactly where you were on any given day you were sending them data. (It’s also been useful a few times when I’ve lost/left my phone while out of the house or in others’ cars and I can log in online to see exactly where my phone is right now.) Latitude will also allow you to share your physical location with others you designate as well as to export portions of data sets for later use/sharing.)

Unbeknownst to many, most cell phones and increasingly many cameras will utilize GPS chips or wifi to geolocate your photo and include it in the EXIF data imbedded into the “digital fingerprint” of your photo (along with the resolution, date, time, what type of camera took the photo, etc.) For this reason, many privacy experts suggest you remove/edit your exif data prior to posting your photos to public facing social media sites as it can reveal the location of your personal home, office, etc which you may not mean to share with the world.) There are a number of tools you can find online for viewing or editing your exif data.

You can then upload those photos to Google Plus which will allow you to limit your sharing of posts to whichever groups of people you’d prefer with a high degree of granularity, including using email addresses for people who aren’t already on the service. (They actually have a clever back up option that, if selected, will allow your phone to automatically upload all your photos to G+ in the background and making them private to you only for sharing at a later date if you choose.) I’m sure that with very little work, you can find some online tools (including even Google Maps perhaps) that will allow you to upload photos and have them appear on mapping software. (Think about the recent upgrade in Craigslist that takes posting data and maps it out onto the Openstreetmap.org platform).

Finally, as part of Google’s Data Liberation initiative you can go in and export all of your data for nearly all of their services including Latitude and from Picasa for photos.I think that playing around with these interlocking Google tools will give you exactly the type of functionality (and perhaps a little more than) you’re looking for.

Their user interface may not be quite as beautiful and slick as Path and may take half an hour of playing with to explore and configure your workflow exactly the way you want to use it, but I think it will give you a better data set with a higher degree of sharing granularity. (Alternately, you could always develop your own “app” for doing this as there are enough open API’s for many of these functions from a variety of service providers, but that’s another story for another time.)

Book Review: Charles Seife’s “Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception”

Read Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception (Penguin)
Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception Book Cover Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
Charles Seife
Mathematics, Popular Science
Penguin
September 23, 2010
Hardcover
320

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives. According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything. "Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

Charles Seife doesn’t prove that mathematics is essential for a democracy, but he certainly shows how the lack of proper use of mathematics can fray heavily at the edges!

Proofiness was a great book to have read over a long Fourth of July holiday. Though many people may realize some of the broad general concepts in the book, it’s great to have a better structure for talking about concepts like Potemkin numbers, disestimation, fruit packing, cherry picking, apple polishing, comparing apples to oranges, causuistry, randnumbness, regression to the moon, tragedy of the commons, and moral hazard among others. If you didn’t think mathematics was important to daily life or our democratic society, this book will certainly change your mind.

Seife covers everything from polls, voting, politics, economics, marketing, law, and even health to show how numbers are misused in a modern world that can ill-afford to ignore what is really going on around us.

This is a fantastic book for nearly everyone in the general public, but I’d highly recommend it for high school students while taking civics.

Original review posted on GoodReads.com on 7/9/12.

Reading Progress
  • 07/07/12 marked as: currently reading
  • 07/07/12 23.0% #
  • 07/09/12 52.0%
  • 07/09/12 Finished book

Reply to Feed Your Research

Replied to Feed Your Research by Ellen Keith (The Sheridan Libraries Blog)

All props to the graduate student in Sociology who alerted me to this wonderful time saver. I knew that researchers could set up RSS feeds and e-mail alerts for tables of contents, but I wasn’t practicing what I preached. I’ve got my e-mail alerts set up for tables of contents of favorite library science journals (an oxymoron, I know), but truth be told, those were starting to feel a little old school. I’ve got RSS feeds set up in Google Reader for all my favorite library blogs (NOT an oxymoron). But, although we promote this, I hadn’t set up any RSS feeds from our databases. When a student in the Soc department asked me a question about his RSS feed, I finally set one up myself to see what he was seeing.

You can do this in almost any database but my example above is from two databases we get via ProQuest: Sociological Abstracts and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences. These databases can be searched simultaneously and an RSS feed set up for their combined results. New citations that match my search show up in my feed reader, and as a bonus, the feed results import Find It links so if the articles are in full-text, I’ve got immediate access to them. Best of all, my time is saved by setting up this feed. I’m not constantly checking these databases for new articles on my topic. Instead, they’re delivered to me!

To take it a step further is there an easy way to integrate it into other social tools like Instapaper, ReadItLater, et al or to have the full journal article results emailed to my Kindle’s address so that the papers all show up for instant reading on my Kindle, tablet, e-reader?!

Thanks for the tip Ellen!

Christoph Adami: Finding Life We Can’t Imagine | TEDx

Watched Finding life we can't imagine by Christoph Adami from ted.com
How do we search for alien life if it's nothing like the life that we know? Christoph Adami shows how he uses his research into artificial life -- self-replicating computer programs -- to find a signature, a "biomarker," that is free of our preconceptions of what life is.
Adami’s work is along similar lines to some of my own research. This short video gives an intriguing look into some of the basics of how to define life so that one can recognize it when one sees it.

Reply to Library Shop Classes | The Sheridan Libraries Blog

Replied to Library Shop Classes by Robin Sinn (The Sheridan Libraries Blog)

Library shop classes? Of course!

wrenches & pliers by Ron Wiecki via Flickr

The Sheridan Libraries offers many tools to help you with your library research. While you can always stop at the Reference Consultation Office on M Level, use our Ask a Librarian service, or contact your liaison librarian with any questions you may have, we also offer workshops about specific tools. These tools include databases and citation management programs.

Below is a list of our Fall Workshops, with links for registration.

Refworks 2.0 Workshops
Tues., Sept. 20, 2011, 11:00-12:00 Wed., Sept. 21, 2011, 4:00-5:00 One class can help trim hours off your time spent researching and writing. Come learn the secrets of organized citations and easy, quick bibliographies.

Citation and Organization Tools
Wed., Sept. 28, 2011, 2:00-3:00 Wondering what tools can help keep you and your papers organized? We provide a comparison and overview of several popular tools. RefWorks, Mendeley, Zotero, and Papers will be included.

Scopus and Web of Science
Wed., Sept. 28, 2011, 4:30-5:30 Help your research and save your time: learn to use these two powerful tools in the most effective ways. Feel free to bring topics that we can use as search examples!

Making the Best of Google
Tues., Oct. 4, 2011, 4:00-5:00 You seek. But do you find? Join us for a tour of Google, Google Scholar, and Google Books. Learn how they really work and how to make the best use of each.

E-Books for Academics
Wed., Oct. 5, 2011, 4:30-5:30 We love reading our fun fiction on our mobile devices, but the JHU libraries have 1 million academic e-books as well. Bring your e-readers, tablets, and any mobile device that you use to read books. Find out which e-books can/can't be downloaded directly to your e-device, and practice while the librarians are there to help.

Copyright and Fair Use 
Wed., Oct. 12, 2011, 10:30-11:30 With the increasing use of images, music, and other kinds of audio-visual resources as well as the delivery of course content through online course management systems like Blackboard, scholars and academic institutions are facing challenges as to what constitutes fair use and what does not. Therefore, the aim of this workshop is to create awareness about some of the challenges related to copyright and provide an electronic toolkit for the participants.

History Detectives: The Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition
Wed., Oct. 12, 2011, 6:00-7:00 Want to impress your friends and professors alike with research skills that would surpass those of Sherlock Holmes? Detective-Librarians Chella and Heidi will lead you on a madcap journey through Victorian London as we discover the secrets of the Crystal Palace. Gumshoes will have the opportunity to put together their own case files explaining the who, what, when, where, and whys of the Crystal Palace!

PubMed
Wed., Oct. 26, 2011, 5:00-6:00 Great tips for using the tools within PubMed that will help you find exactly what you want, much more quickly. You'll be able to practice online, too, while the librarians are there to help!

I hope that some discusses LibX in some of these presentations. It’s my favorite new research tool!

📅 18th International C. elegans Meeting, 22nd-26th June 2011

RSVPed Attending 18th International C. elegans Meeting
The Organizing Committee invites you to attend the 18th International C. elegans Meeting, sponsored by the Genetics Society of America. The meeting will be held June 22 – 26, 2011 at the University of California, Los Angeles campus. The meeting will begin on Wednesday evening, June 22 at 7:00 pm and will end on Sunday, June 26 at 12:00 noon. On Friday, June 24 at 5:00 pm there will be a Keynote Address by Joseph Culotti, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Toronto, Canada

Bob Frankston on Communications

Watched Triangulation 4: Bob Frankston by Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt from TWiT Network
Computer pioneer who helped create the first spreadsheet, Bob Frankston, is this week's guest.
On a recent episode of Leo Laporte and Tom Merrit’s show Triangulation, they interviewed Bob Frankston of VisiCalc fame. They gave a great discussion of the current state of broadband in the U.S. and how it might be much better.  They get just a bit technical in places, but it’s a fantastic and very accessible discussion of the topic of communications that every American should be aware of.

Reply to Mythbusters | The Sheridan Libraries Blog

Replied to Mythbusters by Margaret Burri (The Sheridan Libraries Blog)

Ever walk past a campus tour and wonder how much of it is true? While most of it is, and we love the plug for “your own librarian,” there are a couple of long-standing inaccuracies that we’d like to put to rest:

“No building on campus can be taller than Gilman Hall because that’s what’s in Gilman’s will.” Wrong. Decisions about buildings’ heights, including that of the library, have been made based on the scale of the campus and the architecture of Homewood House. Stand at the middle of the lower part of the beach, and look through the glass windows of MSEL. Notice anything? That’s right–Gilman Hall is beautifully framed in the center.

Gilman died in 1908, and mentioned nothing in his will about buildings. In 1912, the Trustees began to plan a new “Academic Building.” This was completed in 1915, and formally named after Gilman in 1917.

“The library sank three inches when they put the 2.5 million books in it in 1964.” Wrong again. I often wonder how many parents, when they hear this, would like to end the tour right there. First, there weren’t 2.5 million books in 1964; we didn’t reach that milestone until the 1990s. When the new library opened on November 15, 1964, there were just over 1.1 million books on the shelves.

Second, no sinking occurred. The weight of the thousands of shelves and books had been calculated into the plan, and the foundation was, and remains, more than adequate to hold the weight.

One thing that is true about the library is that when the hole was dug, an underground stream was discovered, and had to be rerouted before work on the building could continue. John Berthel, the library director at the time, poses in the recently dug hole with some of the books that would later grace the shelves.

Did Winston go down into the new hole for the BLC while they were digging and take a similar photo with a pile of books? The two photos would make great “book ends!”

Bill Davenhall at TEDMED 2009 on Geomedicine: How Your Environment May Affect Your Health

Watched TEDMED 2009 on Geomedicine: How Your Environment May Affect Your Health by Bill Davenhall from TEDMED
Does where you live have an impact on your overhall health? Bill Davenhall believes that the location of our homes is critical to our medical history.
This is a great thing to think about the next time your doctor asks for your medical history. Perhaps with more data and a better visualization of it, it may bring home the messages of pollution and global warming.

Matt Ridley’s Thesis: When Ideas Have Sex

Watched When ideas have sex by Matt Ridley from ted.com
At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
When extrapolated a bit, this thesis is one of the best arguments for why Twitter and other methods of social media are so useful.  There really is a great idea at the core of this presentation.

Nicholas Bourbaki and Serge Lang

Replied to Scientific Fiction – The Bourbaki Mystery by Sue Vazakas (The Sheridan Libraries Blog)

In the 1930s, a French mathematician began writing journal articles and books. His name was Nicolas Bourbaki. He didn’t exist.

Bourbaki was and is actually a group of brilliant and influential mathematicians, mostly French but not all, whose membership changes but whose collective purpose remains the same: to write about mathematical topics they deem important. Between 1939 and 1967 “he” wrote a series of influential books about these selected topics, collectively called Elements of Mathematics.

A mysterious, mostly anonymous group of writers publishing momentous things under a single name is just really cool. But don’t try to read any of his stuff unless you are an expert mathematician.

Instead, read a wonderful story by novelist and award-winning chemist Carl Djerassi, called The Bourbaki Gambit. What do you think happens when a group of scientists, being discriminated against for various reasons, team up and use the “Bourbaki” approach to try to get their latest discovery taken seriously?

There’s an old mathematicians’ joke that goes like this:

Q: When did Nicholas Bourbaki quit writing books about mathematics?

A: When (t)he(y) realized that Serge Lang was only one person!

Twitter Changes Rules on Users. No Auto-Follow. | Kyle Lacy

Replied to Twitter Changes Rules on Users. No Auto-Follow. by Kyle Lacy (kylelacy.com)
(hat tip to ZDNEt and Chris McEvoy for the lead) From ZDNet: “With no notice, Twitter yesterday “pulled the rug out from under its developers” one developer says, by discouraging auto-following and imposing 1,000 person-per-day following limits.” Now… this is not news to me because of the “pulling the rug out from under its developers” thing or the 1,000 person-per-day following limit… The news to me as a Twitter user… I don’t really remember getting a message or alert that the new limits were going to be enacted. I use Twitter on a daily basis. It seems fairly odd that I would not know about the change.
I’m personally glad they’d be implementing something like this and wish they had done it about a month ago. Eventually without any controls the site would have become a waste land. In the spirit of using it as the tool it has become, they needed to implement changes like this as the site scaled up to more and more people. It’s very similar to the changes they instituted in the fall of 2008 when they created a cap of being able to follow more than 2000 people when your own number of followers wasn’t commensurate with that number. As a game theorist, I’m sure that people will somehow find some other way to artificially game the system.

As a separate note, who really wants to waste the time building thousands and thousands of followers when none of them are really going to ever pay attention to you? Yes, it’s great to have a high number, but really what is your ultimate reach? How many people are you engaging?

Finished reading Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought by P.B. Medawar

Originally published in 1969. This book explains what is wrong with the traditional methodology of “inductive” reasoning and shows that the alternative scheme of reasoning associated with Whewell, Pierce and Popper can give the scientist a useful insight into the way he thinks.

References:

Acquired The Mathematical Theory of Communication by Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver

Acquired The Mathematical Theory of Communication (The University of Illinois Press)
Scientific knowledge grows at a phenomenal pace--but few books have had as lasting an impact or played as important a role in our modern world as The Mathematical Theory of Communication, published originally as a paper on communication theory in the Bell System Technical Journal more than fifty years ago. Republished in book form shortly thereafter, it has since gone through four hardcover and sixteen paperback printings. It is a revolutionary work, astounding in its foresight and contemporaneity. The University of Illinois Press is pleased and honored to issue this commemorative reprinting of a classic.