Monday, January 29, 2007

Morning Walk

A fox and a rabbit played a game of cat and mouse in the snow. Bear followed their tracks hours later hoping to chase either of them.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Getting Even Isn't Always Cool

Now most of you know that I am not a big fan of W. I usually feel sorry for almost anyone who winds up on the wrong side of the word EVEN. For example, it is so easy EVEN Buddy can do it. EVEN a broken clock is right twice a day.

Despite my compassion for those finding themselves on the right side of EVEN, I think that W is deserving of being the posterboy for understating the obvious.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Open Source Science

There will always be questions about the appropriate way to release new knowledge, especially in the giant arena of what counts for science. However, if I look at this product objectively I love it. Everyone has access and anyone can review recent scientific findings and even jayne/joe public is allowed to comment. This just might help to demystify the Ivory Towers of urban political myth.

"The scientist values knowledge; the inventor takes pleasure in seeing the leap from a dry formula to an impact on people's lives, to making a difference in the real world. Invention in technology is a form of magic: revealing the methods does not ruin its effect. There is magic to any creation," said Kurzweil - MIT Tech Talk on December 5, 2001.

I think the more rapidly quality information is available to the masses the better off we will be. I know, it sounds like such a simple straightforward idea in practice, but in fact it has been so difficult to put in practice in general and specifically in Science. There are popular science magazines which help enthusiasts get excited about discoveries...but often don't provide enough nuts and bolts for practical application. Then there are the refereed science journals, usually only available in large research libraries, or at a prohibitively costly personal subscription. Lots of good and bad science has died in the stacks. Textbooks can serve as a bridge, but too often the information printed in them is woefully out-of-date and poorly checked for factual error.

Plos ONE is one of a growing number of cases demonstrating that the Internet can do more than help distribute counterfeit medicines for ED and serve as a public clearing house for porn. Plos ONE can help bridge the gap and make some of the newest information available to the next great inventor out there.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Information Visualization

Seen Grokker ???... not sure how to use it best yet...but graphic search map is pretty cool.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Sadly, I am both of these chickens...just call me Sybil.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New word and old ideas

Noosphere - "sphere of human thought" - sounds so genX, but Pierre Teilhard de Chardin came up with this nearly a hundred years ago.

I definitely realize, as I get older, that the fraction of what little I think I know shrinks relative to the volume of what is really out there to learn...and even if I continue to learn more...which I really try to do...would I recognize a good idea if it hit me on the head with a sledge hammer ? Read the following passage:

"Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, 'memex' will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow. Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together.

Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through a maze of materials available to him."

---Vannevar Bush's classic essay "As We May Think"

Now some of you technical types out there may have read this before, but being in the life sciences, I hadn't. I thought, OK, cool, Bush is describing things like an iPod, Blackberry, Wikipedia, Blogs, WWW, etc...but the kicker is that the essay was written in 1945!

So I have a bad habit of being a realist sometimes...but next time I hear something that sounds a little far fetched...I think I will try to embrace the possibility.

Friday, January 05, 2007

25 year ago

In case you missed this Tim Burton gem in 1982 :-)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wide Awake

"The average child in the United States watches four hours of television every day. These kids are exposed to 20,000 commercials annually. They see 8,000 on screen murders by the time they finish grade school. Is this a good thing?"

--- from Ambient Findability by Peter Morville

Sometimes I read things and then I have to reread. Could that really be? First, I am not against TV. We have two fat panel models (we still have the beefier non-flat models that take up a corner and require a TV stand...I know...we are so 90's) in our house and many satellite signals arrive that are wonderfully converted into a multitude of channels which are regularly surfed from the relative comfort of a sofa...with a couple of dogs sleeping at my feet.

I still go to the gym, run, bike, and get outside relatively often...but there is something comforting and relaxing about the old tube. Still when the numbers are presented in a summary format, as in the excerpt above, it is a bit frightening.

I watched some reasonably violent TV as kid...but Bo and Luke never really hurt anyone and I can't remember anyone dying after the explosions on the A-Team. Crockett and Tubbs killed a few guys but they were wearing really awful pastel clothing from the 80's...and it was the height of the war on didn't seem real. Mork rarely did more than trip on the stairs in Mindy's Boulder apartment and only jokes occasionally died on Seinfeld. I just hope kids don't grow up to be desensitized about what we now see on CNN everyday 24-hours a day. I am optimistic that most will be able to differentiate between Baghdad violence and what they see on CSI, the Sopranos, and whatever new shows are produced.