by Stephen Downes
May 11, 2016
A new entrant based in Toronto is offering competition for Academia and ResearchGate. As this article says, Meta helps researchers to follow topics of interest in biomedical sciences (it intends to expand) with individual feed lists and libraries. The interesting bit is that Meta has organized this work as a graph of topics, researchers, journals and other elements. Presumably individuals using the service would also be included in the graph. The idea is to be able to predict emerging trends using data analytics. This may be more difficult than it sounds. After all, as cofounder Sam Molyneux says, “There’s always going to be a fraction of information that doesn’t get published in articles,” Molyneux said. “There’s also the unpublished leading edge of science." Yeah. And that's a very large fraction. I tried out the site - I really didn't like the way the wizard seized control and wouldn't just let you explore until you had set up feeds and topics, but overall it seemed relatively intuitive.
Elliott Sober is one of the more well-known and well-regarded philosophers today, and it is on the strength of work like this that he deserves his reputation. In a relatively short and crystal-clear essay he explains our historical preference for simplicity in science, and explains some of the theoretical underpinnings for that preference. In the end, as he says, "there is in the end no unconditional and presuppositionless justification for Ockham’s Razor," is is still nonetheless relevant to making decisions about scientific theories. It would be interesting to see, by contrast, what a comparable essay for a 'middle ground' between simple and complex theories would look like. After all, science is at least in part an art, and in art, simplicity is not necessarily a virtue, as Gaudi so aptly demonstrates. Via Leiter.
Interesting post from Blackboard talking about the different ways institutions can receive data from their LMS (no word on data for individual students). I like the way the different types of data provision are depicted, ranging from raw data to automatically generated predictions (as compared to fixing up your own car vs taking an Uber). I think that the author needs to get out more, though. He begins the article by saying "The nostalgic 80’s kid in me reads the title of this blog in my best Sting accent….”I want my D-A-T-A”…and then I jump into a frenetic mix of air drums, air keyboards and air guitar riffs," and in so doing gets both the reference to the artist wrong and links to a video with "content from UMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds." Although I guess we can hardly blame him for the latter.
This may seem like a pretty basic thing, but if you don't know how to do it there's no obvious place to start. I've used a number of the form providers listed here (as well as using some server-side scripts, so I have a basis for comparison). If I had to pick from those listed right now, I'd probably go with TypeForm, because the interface (for the user) is beautiful and intuitive. Here's another list from Zapier, which also provides a handy cost comparison. If you want to create tyour own (and have a backend that can accept input) you can try the JQuery form builder.
Now that I have a lot more free time (during which I will not be writing program reports) I will have time to investigate what can be usefully done with technology like Docker. There's a lot here that accords with my own thinking about educational applications. Anyhow, this is a good post looking at Docker not as a virtual machine but rather one which "views containers from a single user, desktop perspective, seeing Docker and its ilk as providing an environment that can support off-the-shelf, ready to run tools and applications, that can be run locally or in the cloud, individually or in concert with each other." The data, meanwhile, resides else, perhaps on a user's desktop or in the cloud. Maybe I'll even be able to do some rapid prototyping in this environment. We'll see. See also: What is Docker? and Get started with Docker.
Sure, they're just prom pictures. But: "There’s a pattern there. A pattern girls and boys notice and internalize, to say nothing of the messages transgender children may be picked up. Boys are heroes. Girls can only be heroes if they stop being a girl. Just ask Mulan." People learn not only from class but from the totality of their environment, and especially from marketing and media. "Representation matters. Patterns add up. If the images we boost, over and over again because they’re just 'kids having a good time', what images, voices, and representation are we not boosting?" What we share matters. What we promote matters. Each moment we act in a community, we are educating someone.
If you've noticed that the URL sci-hub.io is no longer resolving, this is the result of an injunction by Elsevier, which argues that the website, which shares academic papers, is a form of piracy. However, according to this article, "several ‘backup’ domain names are still in play, including Sci-Hub.bz and Sci-Hub.cc. This means that the site remains accessible to those who update their bookmarks. In addition to the alternative domain names users can access the site directly through the IP-address 126.96.36.199, or its domain on the Tor-network, which is pretty much immune to any takedown efforts." See also: Meet the Robin Hood of Science.
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