Thursday, April 26, 2007

Three dimensional real-time network visualization
Amazing. What more can I say?

An Emacs Client For Blogger (!)

As an emacs fan-boy I was both thrilled and surprised (and then again, not surprised) to find that there is an emacs client library for blogger (actually for all Google services), that I discovered on T.V. Raman's blog, emacspeak The Complete Audio Desktop. As he is usually in attendence at W3C advisory committee (AC) meetings, I'll likely be talking to him about this (hopefully) great new addition to my life at the W3C meeting at Banff, in 2 weeks.

I have as yet to install it and try it out, so perhaps subsequent entries here will talk about my experience using it (perhaps written in, and posted from, inside of emacs).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Putting the Open (and almost live) back into Science
In an effort that will surely challenge both other researchers and the Publishers, the Wiki Paper Experiment (Jean-Claude Bradley) is performing the research and writing the paper as they go on a wiki dedicated to the project, with a secondary (primary?) experiment being whether any publisher will pick-up the final paper.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New Douglas Hofstader book: I am a Strange Loop
I am very keen to pick up Douglas Hofstader's new book, I Am a Strange Loop. Having read his truly enlightening and delightful Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid while in high school, followed by his and Daniel C. Dennett's The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul, Hofstader's Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern and Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, I am very curious what this über-thinker is thinking about...

That said, I haven't kept up on all of his books (Amazon).

Science In Silico
Seed magazine has a fantastic video showing very amazing computer simulations and visualizations.

Friday, April 20, 2007

15 European countries sign pact to develop high-performance computing
Once again I get the feeling that Canada is very much at the disadvantage in the research area: it isn't Japan; it isn't the U.S.; and it isn't the E.U. So rich (both monetary- and research- wise) efforts like the above pact (and others from these three large countries/regions) do not happen, as Canada -- for the most part -- almost always has to rely only on its own resources. By having a relatively small economy (compared to Japan, the U.S. and the E.U.) and not part of some larger partnership (NAFTA doesn't really qualify), efforts that usually require a lot of smart people and a lot of money are usually beyond us. (Yes, we have many smart people, but not at the scale that many of these projects demand...).

Perhaps we should align ourselves in formal research networks with other similarly positioned countries. Off the top-of-my-head: Australia, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, India, etc. come to mind.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Open Source Athletes"
In this article in First Monday, Stefan Görling (Dept. of Industrial Economics and Management (INDEK), Stockholm) shows how the Open Source development model is not as "new and unique model of production, fundamentally differing from previous known and accepted economic models" as suggested by academic research. He makes a very compelling metaphor between open source and athletics which does support his thesis, and I think successfully shows us how there are other places where many Open Source principles are a strong part of the culture (which we already knew for areas like scientific research, i.e. Scientific Research Backs Wisdom of Open Source; Open Source Research — the Power of Us, Open-Source Science; I also discovered the long-ago (1999) First Monday paper by Nikolai Bezroukov Open Source Software Development as a Special Type of Academic Research (Critique of Vulgar Raymondism) )

Other related works by same author: Stefan Görling, 2003. A
critical approach to open source software
. Masters thesis, Royal
Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Scaleable Knowledge Discovery through Grid Workflows"

USC's Information Sciences Institute has been awarded $13.8M for this project, which aims to solve the massive data glut that swamps many disciplines by automating scientific workflows. Using grid computing and other advanced technologies (such as A.I. and Semantic Web), a workflow architecture allows for the capture of complex scientidic workflows and their application in a distributed fashion on data sets in an efficient manner. This is a very ambitious (and well funded) project. Some of the (even more) interesting parts of this project include (from the article):

"...investigate mechanisms to support autonomous and robust execution of concurrent workflows over continuously changing data...learning techniques to improve the performance of the workflow system by exploiting an episodic memory of prior workflow executions."

episodic memory (Wikipedia)

arXiv deposit leads to 35% higher citations
And a reduction of downloads of said articles from the publisher's site as well.

In a recent article (Davis & Fromerth, 2007. Does the arXiv lead to higher citations and reduced publisher downloads for mathematics articles?, Scientometrics 71:2:203-215, 2007) the authors examined this archive and the impact pre-print deposit (1997-2005) has on citations and downloads from the publisher's site. The authors find that articles deposited have on average 35% higher citations and have reduced downloads from the publisher's site.

The authors analysis invovled a direct examination of three previously described postulates: Open Access Postulate, Early View Postulate and Quality Differential Postulate (authors preferentially depositing their better works). The analysis suggests that there is little or no support for the first two, and "...inferential support for some form of a Quality Differential".

With respect to the reduced publisher downloads for deposited articles (except for 2004, 2005 where they were identical), they has some trouble explaining these differences but suggest an intriguing possible explanation:

"The most likely explanation is that the arXiv and publisher’s website fulfill different functional needs. The publisher’s website may be better for information discovery and browsing, especially for recently published articles. In contrast, the arXiv may provide some competition for known article searches. ArXiv articles have short, permanent URL (i.e., which may make them faster to retrieve and easier to share with one’s colleagues."
I am quite interested in their suggestion that the publishers (may) offer a better environment for discovery, drawing users for which this is important functionality, and that empirical studies may support this. This suggests that organizations focusing on creating richer and more effective discovery tools for the content to which they have/provide access may be taking the right path (for a portion of the community or a portion of the community's functional needs).