The Scienceblogging Weekly (May 11, 2012)

In the flood of information, filters are invaluable – people you trust to pick the best so you can focus on that, only that, and ignore the less important stuff.

Editors (including Jason here at the network) at and editors (including Krystal here at the network) at filter the best science blog posts each week.

Ed Yong’s weekly linkfests (like this one) and monthly Top 10 choices he’d pay for (see this for an example) are must-bookmark resources.

Some other bloggers are occasional or regular sources of links I pay attention to, e.g., John Dupuis on academia, publishing, libraries and books, Chad Orzel on academia and science – especially physics, Mike the Mad Biologist on science and politics, and the crew at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker for the media coverage of science. And at the NASW site, Tabitha Powledge has a must-read On science blogs this week summary every Friday.

Most of the articles and blog posts I read every day are brought to my attention by my friends on Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook, I get some through email notifications, as well as gleaned from and science blog aggregators. I then share a LOT of those links to my followers on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus every day.

Every workday around midnight I post a linkfest on The Network Central to make it easier to see our network posts if you missed them during the day. Khalil and I take turns highlighting the best work by up-and-coming science writers on The SA Incubator blog. Weekly posting of the ever-growing list of posts submitted for the Open Laboratory is another resource. SciAm homepage is also set as a collection of filters – we decide what goes into “Blogs” box, what in the “Latest News” feed, what in the “Science Agenda” on top of the page, and what to collect into “In-Depth Reports” over time.

Now I will also start a weekly collection of links that are “best of the best” of everything I read over a period of a week – not the posts from #SciAmBlogs, but the rest of the Web: other blogs and other media sites. That means a lot of cutting! I mean, I tweet TONS of links every day! Choosing the best will not come easy to me, so this is a good exercise for me as well, and I hope will become a useful resource to you.

I’ll try to do this every Friday, time of day dependent on travel, work, life etc. Let me know in the comments if you have suggestions for formatting, timing, etc.

Blog of the Week:

Academic Panhandling: The art of granting for your supper. Everything you ever needed to know about writing grant proposals, written by a professional grant writer.

Top 10:

The Moscow Rules – Science Edition: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 and Part 10 by Zen Faulkes, guest-blogging at Scientopia:

The Moscow Rules were directives that undercover American intelligence agents allegedly used in the Cold War. The rules were there to increase agent’s chances of making it out safely.

Sometimes, being in academic science can feel like being enemy territory in a cold war. You are often in strange territory (new lab), with many unfamiliar people (other grad students, post-docs, faculty) whose motivations are unclear. You might not trust them completely (especially administrators). There might not be the risk of attempted assassination by having poison injected into you with a specially built umbrella, but there’s enough similarity that the Moscow Rules can still apply…

If You Want A Lizard To Run Fast, Yell At It by Jonathan Losos:

…“As you well know, some days things just don’t seem to go well when testing whole animal performance. On one of those days out of frustration, fatigue, etc., we simply yelled at an apparent “slacker” lizard in jest. Much to our surprise this seemed to make a difference. We were also aware of the two recent papers for other species of lizards in which sound appeared relevant to behaviors associated with detecting threats. So, we figured what the heck, why not test for such effects systematically. Unlike many of the studies that you and others have performed with anoles, unless we simply can’t get a lizards to run along the racetrack or they appear unhealthy, we include data from all of the individuals rather than subjectively rating the trials for their quantity. Perhaps, some of the gains in speed associated with our yelling were greatest for those individuals that otherwise might have been discarded after receiving a poor subjective quality rating. Of course, we lack a simple way of determining this. Similarly, we have not yet methodically tested for whether expletives are more effective that milder language.”…

Invisible aliens: they’re not life as we know it — yet by John Rennie:

Both publications posit that life, at its most abstract, involves a thermodynamic disequilibrium. That is, life involves physical structures that can only maintain their integrity with inputs of energy. These physical structures will require covalent bonds between atoms (to allow nontrivial chemical reactions), so the environment in which life appears must allow such chemistry to occur. Some kind of liquid, but not necessarily water, would therefore also be necessary to enable those reactions. Finally, some molecules in the living system would need to be capable of Darwinian evolution for the life to arise. (Take note, creationist doubters of evolution: it is now a useful part of the definition of life!)

From theory and experiments, both papers argue that life with these traits could evolve under a wide (but definitely limited) range of environments. Carbon-based life on worlds with liquid water might represent a particularly versatile and common set of solutions, but biochemistry could go in many directions even on Earthlike worlds. And on planets and moons where terrestrial life would perish instantly, life based on silicon instead of carbon or liquid hydrocarbons instead of water might thrive…

Plastic Lessons by Shara Yurkiewicz:

I always feel awkward when I talk to plastic patients. The simulation mannequins are impressive: their eyes blink, their chests expand as they breathe, they have pulses, they bleed, they burn. A screen monitors vital signs: I administer a pressor and a dipping blood pressure perks up, or I order a beta blocker and a racing heart rate slows. A physician in the next room lends her voice to play the patient, responding to what I do and say. A physician in the same room becomes a tech, relying results of my tests and nudging me through the next steps when I veer off course….

Twilight of the giants in taxonomy by Emmett Duffy:

In an important sense, nothing exists until it’s given a name. And in the living world of organisms, names—official, scientific names—are assigned by unique creatures called taxonomists, experts in the minutiae of structure and biology of particular groups of organisms, working according to a strict and arcane body of rules of biological nomenclature. These individuals tend to be specialists—sages of whales, anglerfishes, microscopic worms that live only between the grains of sand on beaches, microscopic algae, purple sulfur bacteria, and everything in between…

Is Technology Destroying Your Relationships? by A.V.Flox:

Social networks put a number on those weak ties, but we all have weak ties in our meatspace lives. Marche bemoans how we use machines to check out at the grocery store instead of waiting in line with other people to have our purchases rung up by an actual human. But I wonder — even if you were to speak to the woman giving you dirty looks because you were buying a product with a big carbon footprint, can you actually call that a meaningful relationship?

I talk to people all the time — cab drivers, waiters, flight attendants, the guy at the post office, my manicurist, my barista, the boys at the convenience store where I buy my cigarettes, the guy at the newsstand. I am there, in the flesh. Does this mean our connections are any more meaningful than a like or a plus on social media?

Weak ties exist. They’re everywhere. All we have to do to make them meaningful is take the chance to go deeper. This is as true online as it is offline.

What does it mean to say that something causes 16% of cancers? by Ed Yong:

…executives and policy-makers love PAFs, and they especially love comparing them across different risk factors. They are nice, solid numbers that make for strong bullet points and eye-grabbing Powerpoint slides. They have a nasty habit of becoming influential well beyond their actual scientific value. I have seen them used as the arbitrators of decisions, lined up on a single graphic that supposedly illustrates the magnitude of different problems. But of course, they do no such thing…

The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Genius by Mike Martin:

Margie Profet was always a study in sharp contradictions. A maverick thinker remembered for her innocent demeanor, she was a woman who paired running shorts with heavy sweaters year-round, and had a professional pedigree as eccentric as her clothing choices: Profet had multiple academic degrees but no true perch in academe. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Profet published original theories about female reproduction that pushed the boundaries of evolutionary biology, forcing an entire field to take note. Indeed, back then it was hard not to notice Margie Profet, a vibrant young woman who made a “forever impression” on grade school chums and Harvard Ph.D.s alike. Today, the most salient fact about Profet is her absence. Neither friends, former advisers, publishers, nor ex-lovers has any idea what happened to her or where she is today. Sometime between 2002 and 2005, Profet, who was then in her mid-40s, vanished without a trace…

Fear fans flames for chemical makers by Patricia Callahan and Sam Roe (see also Part 2 Big Tobacco wins fire marshals as allies in flame retardant push and Part 3 Distorting science):

Manufacturers of fire retardants rely on questionable testimony, front groups to push standards that boost demand for their toxic — and ineffective — products

Asymmetrical snakes by Andrew Durso:

Animals have a long tradition of being bilaterally symmetrical – that is, of the left side and the right being nearly identical. Sure, there are a few exceptions – the human heart is nearly always farther to the left side, for instance. Snakes and other elongate, limbless animals sometimes stagger their paired organs (gonads, kidneys) so that one is in front of the other, to better fit in their cylindrical bodies. Most snakes have even done away with one of their two lungs. But the basic external body plan, the bones and muscles on the left and the right, are always mirror-images of one another, right?

Enter the pareatid snakes…


Drop the base to make bagels more delectable by Raychelle Burks:

Sometimes, just hearing that certain chemicals are in food just puts people off. “I think that a lot of people would be really surprised about the precise chemicals that are used to make their favorite foods,” said Dr. Hartings. Take Cool Whip for example. One of its ingredients is polysorbate-60, a chemical that helps give Cool Whip its puffy appearance. Polysorbate-60 moonlights as an ingredient in sexual lubricants like K-Y YOURS+MINE. Our foods contain all kinds of chemicals that have more than one job. Thankfully, one of those jobs is making food delicious.

Insects that skate on the ocean benefit from plastic junk by Ed Yong:

Imagine a world of two dimensions, a world with no up or down… just across. No climbing, falling, jumping, or ducking… just shimmying and sidling. Welcome to the world of the sea skater.

Sea skaters, or ocean striders, are small bugs. They’re relatives of the pond skaters or water striders that zip spread-eagled across the surface of ponds and lakes. Except they skate over the open ocean, eating plankton at the surface…

Problems in the neurozone by Pete Etchells:

Having a scan of your brain is a uniquely odd experience. I had one done once. I was loaded, torpedo-like, into a claustrophobia-inducing, cocoon-like chamber for nearly an hour, the first few terrifying minutes of which I spent desperately trying to recall whether I had actually passed that metal ball-bearing I swallowed when I was a kid. The machines themselves are pretty damn loud, but something about repetitive clunking noises seems to lull me into a state of relaxation, so I spent the majority of my time in the launch chamber trying not to snooze. Honestly, it was all quite enjoyable…

Abandoment issues by Dr. Al Dove, guest-blogging at NeuroDojo:

There exists on my hard drive a folder into which I loathe copying files, but only slightly less than I would loathe deleting them all together. It is a folder called “Aborted Manuscripts” and it is this folder which is the source of my shame. It is a graveyard of stupid ideas and of great ones poorly executed, of unfinished cogitations, of journal rejections, of unresponsive colleagues and of frustrating students. It’s a roadmap documenting 15 years of science (read: “me”) not doing what science (read: “me”) is supposed to do – get published…

Put Away The Bell Curve: Most Of Us Aren’t ‘Average’ by Shankar Vedantam:

The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they’re either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.

New research suggests, however, that rather than describe how humans perform, the bell curve may actually be constraining how people perform. Minus such constraints, a new paper argues, lots of people are actually outliers.

Human performance, by this account, does not often fit the bell curve or what scientists call a normal distribution. Rather, it is more likely to fit what scientists call a power distribution…

The real CSI: what happens at a crime scene? by Craig Taylor:

From the diver who finds the body parts, to the forensic specialist who identifies flecks of paint on the victim and the handwriting expert who examines the killer’s notes… What happens behind the yellow tape of one crime scene

Of mice and Marmaduke (and dinosaur farts) by Mike Argento:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following column contains sophomoric humor and references to the bodily functions of dinosaurs and the size of certain anatomical features of mice, all in the name of science. If this kind of thing offends you, please skip this and go right to Marmaduke. That dog, he cracks us up…

Spacesuit In A Cave by Sarah Everts:

Most visitors to the million-year-old Dachstein Giant Ice Cave prefer to wear standard winter coats during visits to its freezing, icy interior. But for five days the Dachstein cave systems were a temporary lab for a squad of space scientists. Some 50 scientists assembled from three continents to use the UNESCO World Heritage site as a proxy for Mars—a first for the cave system, which normally hosts jazz concerts, modern art exhibits, laser shows, and a steady stream of tourists….

Experimental Biology Blogging: Self-promotion and ‘self-promotion’ by Scicurious:

But of course, this is because academics have two different kinds of self-promotion. One is ok, and one is not. One takes place in the ivory tower, and one involves the dreaded public…

1859’s “Great Auroral Storm”—the week the Sun touched the earth by Matthew Lasar:

Noon approached on September 1, 1859, and British astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington was busy with his favorite pastime: tracking sunspots, those huge regions of the star darkened by shifts in its magnetic field. He projected the Sun’s image from his viewing device onto a plate of glass stained a “pale straw colour,” which gave him a picture of the fiery globe one inch shy of a foot in diameter…

The Physics of Spilled Coffee by Jon Cartwright:

…Krechetnikov and his graduate student Hans Mayer decided to investigate coffee spilling at a fluid dynamics conference last year when they watched overburdened participants trying to carry their drinks to and fro. They quickly realized that the physics wasn’t simple. Aside from the mechanics of human walking, which depends on a person’s age, health, and gender, there is the highly involved science of liquid sloshing, which depends on a complex interplay of accelerations, torques, and forces. …

Why Do Conference Talks Suck, and How Can We Change That? by Matthew R. Francis:

…Yes, some speakers are better than others, and a few of the 42 talks I heard were very good. Also, I know I used to commit many of the same sins I witnessed in talks yesterday and the day before, so as I list the problems, I’ll flag my own bad habits (current and former). Based on conversations with my friends, this is not a problem limited to particle physics conferences, much less to physics conferences in general: it’s endemic in science, and perhaps most academic fields…

Sleek, Smart Spacesuits Are on the Horizon by Amy Shira Teitel:

Spacesuits are poised to go the way of the cell phone – once bulky and cumbersome, researchers are working on making them slim and smart. In the future, astronauts might be wearing specially engineered garments that combine the life-preserving features of a spacesuit with augmented reality technology that could intuit the wearer’s needs…

How and Why Neuroscience should be taught in School by TheCellularScale:

…Neuroscience is sort of where genetics was 20-30 years ago: The scientific frontier, fascinating to the public, changing the general worldview, raising ethical questions, science fiction’s closest reflection in reality. This has its benefits and its downfalls. There is currently strong general enthusiasm for neuroscience for just these reasons, but because everything ‘neuro’ is so exciting, the risk of media misrepresentation is high and the misuse of neuroscience concepts and terms by pseudo-science is common. …

Fetal Attraction by Robert Krulwich:

…Dr. Johnson says cells from fetal boys and girls have been found in mothers “four to five decades following the last pregnancy.” That fetus may have grown into a middle aged pharmacist, and still his cells are inside his mother. Cells wouldn’t persist in foreign body for NO reason. They must be doing something, but what?…

On Biocultural Anthropology by Daniel Lende:

…what brings many students into anthropology, and still impassions me about the field, is that it does approach the question of “What does it mean to be human?” in the broadest, most interdisciplinary way. And it strikes me that we have some core analytical approaches to that question that matter, and that this style of thinking is what really makes up the holism of anthropology, rather than a particular commitment to four-fields and working across the different sub-disciplines. This human lens includes a comparative approach, an attention to variation across time and space, a recognition that we as researchers inevitably bias our own data, and, yes, a commitment to drawing on multiple strands of research…

94 Elements by The 94 Elements team:

There are 94 naturally occurring elements, from Hydrogen to Plutonium, and together they make up everything in the world. The stories of the elements are the stories of our own lives, revealing the details of our personal lives, the patterns of our economies, and our relationships with our natural resources.

94 Elements is a new global filmmaking project, exploring our lives through the lens of the elements. The project is producing a collection of stories by different filmmakers about the endless ways the elements touch our daily lives. Each filmmaker takes one element as the basis for a film around how it’s used. The films are surprising and moving human stories – this is not about science, but about our human relationships with our mineral resources.

How Does the FDA Monitor Your Medical Implants? It Doesn’t, Really by Lena Groeger:

Each prescription drug you take has a unique code that the government can use to track problems. But artificial hips and pacemakers? They are implanted without identification, along with many other medical devices. In fact, the FDA doesn’t know how many devices are implanted into patients each year – it simply doesn’t track that data.

The past decade has seen numerous high profile cases of malfunctioning medical devices, which have led to injury or even death. Critics say the FDA’s minimal monitoring of devices contributes to these problems….

Leptin: Linking Malnutrition and Vulnerability to Infection by Michelle Ziegler:

As long as leptin levels stay within normal levels, all of the functions displayed above function normally. As the leptin levels drop, many of these functions are adversely effected. It is a wide-spread trigger for a starvation response. Why cripple the immune response during starvation? My best guess would be because of the huge energy expenditure required to keep the immune response running normally, especially in cellular proliferation.

Experts debate what makes a healthy vagina by Anna Salleh:

New US findings suggest our accepted definition of a healthy vagina could be ethnically biased, say some researchers, but others caution against over-interpreting the data.

A new study published today in Science Translational Medicine found, what an accompanying commentary describes as, an “unexpected and astonishing” variability over time in the vaginal bacterial communities of apparently healthy women….

The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps by Stacey Patton:

…A record number of people are depending on federally financed food assistance. Food-stamp use increased from an average monthly caseload of 17 million in 2000 to 44 million people in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Web site. Last year, one in six people—almost 50 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population—received food stamps.

Ms. Bruninga-Matteau is part of an often overlooked, and growing, subgroup of Ph.D. recipients, adjunct professors, and other Americans with advanced degrees who have had to apply for food stamps or some other form of government aid since late 2007….

Nicholas Kristof and the Bad, Bad Chemical World by Deborah Blum:

…Because his secondary crusade of the last few years, you know, the one against evil industrial chemicals, is really starting to annoy me. This is not saying that he’s entirely wrong – there are evil industrial chemicals out there. And, in many cases, they aren’t as well researched or as well regulated as they should be.

But if we, as journalists, are going to demand meticulous standards for the study and oversight of chemical compounds then we should try to be meticulous ourselves in making the case. And much as I would like it to be otherwise, I don’t see enough of that in Kristof’s chemical columns. They tend instead to be sloppy in their use of language, less than thorough, and chemophobic enough to undermine his legitimate points….

How Academic Biologists and Physicists View Science Outreach by Elaine Howard Ecklund, Sarah A. James and Anne E. Lincoln:

Scholars and pundits alike argue that U.S. scientists could do more to reach out to the general public. Yet, to date, there have been few systematic studies that examine how scientists understand the barriers that impede such outreach. Through analysis of 97 semi-structured interviews with academic biologists and physicists at top research universities in the United States, we classify the type and target audiences of scientists’ outreach activities. Finally, we explore the narratives academic scientists have about outreach and its reception in the academy, in particular what they perceive as impediments to these activities. We find that scientists’ outreach activities are stratified by gender and that university and disciplinary rewards as well as scientists’ perceptions of their own skills have an impact on science outreach. Research contributions and recommendations for university policy follow.

Blue-eyed-people-are-all-related zombie news by Jon Wilkins:

…So, to recap, 1) Cool paper. 2) Sex between blue-eyed people is not incest. 3) We have no idea when or where this mutation came from, but it is now conceivable that we could ask the question. 4) Embarrassingly bad science reporting spontaneously rises from the grave four years later and tries to eat your brain.

Conceptual Replication by Dave Nussbaum:

There is no substitute for direct replication – if you cannot reproduce the same result using the same methods then you cannot have a cumulative science. But conceptual replication also has a very important role to play in psychological science. What is conceptual replication? It’s when instead of replicating the exact same experiment in exactly the same way, we test the experiment’s underlying hypothesis using different methods…

Replicating Dissonance by Dave Nussbaum:

Another reason conceptual replication is so important is that if the field relies exclusively on direct replication then they risk replicating the same mistakes as well. Today I wanted to illustrate this risk by looking back at the history of one of social psychology’s most influential theories: cognitive dissonance. The richness and depth of Cognitive Dissonance Theory is a result of dozens of conceptual replications. I suggest that, had it not been for conceptual replication – had dissonance only been tested and re-tested in the original paradigm (Brehm’s Free Choice Paradigm) – the theory may not have stood up to recent criticisms directed at that particular paradigm…

Chimp acts like jerk, gets praised by scientists by Eoin O’Carroll:

A chimpanzee at Furuvik Zoo in Sweden has been lauded for his ‘innovation’ and ‘sophisticated cognitive skills,’ after behaving like a complete schmuck.

What is Peru’s dolphin and pelican die-off telling us? by Al Dove:

As many as 900 dolphins and over 4,000 pelicans have washed up dead on the beaches of northern Peru in the last couple of months, (see news coverage here, here and here), leading to a flurry of activity as various authorities and other interested parties move to find out what is going on. Experts cited in the news coverage suggest that unusually warm surface waters (10F higher than the season average) are changing the swimming patterns of the huge anchovetta schools off the coast of Peru, driving them deeper and out of the diving range of pelicans. In other words, the pelicans appear to be starving. The dolphins on the other hand, have shown a high prevalence of infection with morbilivirus, which is an infectious disease…

Why a Sperm Cell Is Like a Roomba by Elizabeth Preston:

A sperm cell, much like an expensive robotic vacuum cleaner, is a minimally intelligent body on a mission. Both the Roomba and the male gamete have to navigate a walled space without much idea where they’re going or why. And although it won’t clean your floors on the way, the sperm cell uses some of the same strategy as the robot vacuum…

In the Spring, Bat Moms Choose Girls by Elizabeth Preston:

Naturally a mother bat is happy to welcome into the world a bouncing baby whatever, as long as it has all its fingers and toe-claws. But she also wants her little one to have every advantage she can give it. So when spring comes early, big brown bats prefer to keep their female embryos. Unwanted males are reabsorbed into their mothers’ bodies as if they never existed…

Media, Publishing and Technology:

Science and Truth: We’re All in It Together by Jack Hitt:

…By now, readers understand that the definitive “copy” of any article is no longer the one on paper but the online copy, precisely because it’s the version that’s been read and mauled and annotated by readers. (If a book isn’t read until it’s written in — as I was always told — then maybe an article is not published until it’s been commented upon.) Writers know this already. The print edition of any article is little more than a trophy version, the equivalent of a diploma or certificate of merit — suitable for framing, not much else.

We call the fallout to any article the “comments,” but since they are often filled with solid arguments, smart corrections and new facts, the thing needs a nobler name. Maybe “gloss.” In the Middle Ages, students often wrote notes in the margins of well-regarded manuscripts. These glosses, along with other forms of marginalia, took on a life of their own, becoming their own form of knowledge, as important as, say, midrash is to Jewish scriptures. The best glosses were compiled into, of course, glossaries and later published — serving as some of the very first dictionaries in Europe.

Any article, journalistic or scientific, that sparks a debate typically winds up looking more like a good manuscript 700 years ago than a magazine piece only 10 years ago. The truth is that every decent article now aspires to become the wiki of its own headline. …

Neuroscience: Bloggers rule? by Paul Raeburn:

..We might be hard put to find any area of science coverage that hasn’t been subject to those kinds of distortions. Coverage of Lipitor and its ilk was certainly as likely to contain dramatic headlines, and particular agendas, including those of pharmaceutical companies. And ideological arguments? It depends upon what the meaning of “ideological” is…

Brain waves by Curtis Brainard:

From advice about “exercising your mind” to treatises on “the gay brain,” media coverage of neuroscience in the UK often pushes “thinly disguised ideological arguments” and reinforces artificial divisions between social groups, according to a new study….

What Will Become of the Paper Book? by Michael Agresta:

…In the past several years, we’ve all heard readers mourn the passing of the printed word. The elegy is familiar: I crave the smell of a well-worn book, the weight of it in my hands; all of my favorite books I discovered through loans from a friend, that minor but still-significant ritual of trust; I need to see it on my shelf after I’ve read it (and I don’t mind if others see it too); and what is a classic if not a book where I’m forced to rediscover my own embarrassing college-age marginalia?

Luddites can take comfort in the persistence of vinyl records, postcards, and photographic film. The paper book will likewise survive, but its place in the culture will change significantly. As it loses its traditional value as an efficient vessel for text, the paper book’s other qualities—from its role in literary history to its inimitable design possibilities to its potential for physical beauty—will take on more importance. The future is yet to be written, but a few possibilities for the fate of the paper book are already on display on bookshelves near you…

Abraham Lincoln Did Not Invent Facebook: How a Guy and His Blog Fooled the Whole Wide Internet by Megan Garber:

…He expected — and banked on — the web’s virality, he says; he didn’t anticipate, though, how eagerly that web’s self-defined news sources would pass along his “discovery.” And he assumed people would figure out the story’s hoaxiness much more quickly than they actually did — and, then, that the corrective powers of the social web would make that joke clear within the first hour or so after the story went live…

WWW inventor warns against call for comment sections to be placed under Data Rentention Act by Kristine Lowe:

…Berners-Lee said he was concerned about how increased demands for monitoring the web, both from governments looking for greater powers to track down terrorists and companies looking to trade our personal web data for commercial purposes, threatens the very infrastructure of the web.

He described his worry that people in the end will no longer trust and use the web for e.g. researching sensitive things like depression if they fear everything they do online is being monitored…

7 New Educational Startups Founded By Minorities in Tech by Wayne Sutton:

One of today’s most challenging yet promising markets is the educational system. If you want to see startups hungry to disrupt an industry, look no further. Founders are trying to solve the problems plaguing our education system: including reconciling student debt, providing students with the skills required to land a job both before and after graduation, and offering the best course material online regardless of age, location and educational level…

5 things med students can do to engage in social media and medicine by Josh Herigon:

One topic we neglected, however, was what current medical students can do right now to get their foot in the door and begin engaging in the social media and medicine conversation. I had hoped to get to this topic during my panel discussion, but there just weren’t enough hours to cover everything. Below is my attempt to remedy this omission. Here are a few simple things you can do:

Blinding us with science journals by Peter McKnight:

A competitive university culture that discourages the sharing of knowledge has led to the publication of many flawed and fraudulent studies…

The Arrogance of Publishers vs. Academic Culture – Why the Outcome Is Virtually Certain a scholarly kitchen metaphor by Mark Carrigan:

Imagine a situation where homes had no kitchens and utensils were unavailable. We would all be dependent on cafes and restaurants to eat and, it follows, our idea of what it is to prepare food would be exhausted by those working in such a capacity within these establishments. Now introduce kitchens into homes and affordable utensils into shops. Suddenly we can cook meals at home. Obviously the quality of the infrastructure is lower and there’s less expertise. For the sake of the thought-experiment, assume kitchens and utensils appeared suddenly, to an extent profoundly disruptive of established practices of going out for every meal. The meals cooked at home would be of poor quality, probably pragmatically orientated and often imitating (poorly) the meals available in restaurants and cafes.

The Science of Obituaries: Dead Pools, Obits in the Can and More by Arthur S. Brisbane:

Mr. McDonald said The Times currently has 1,500 advance obits in the can – “and we’re adding about 250 a year. Even if you subtract the number of those we’ll publish in a given year – say, 50 – the archive is growing significantly.”…

The Psychological Prerequisites of Punditry by Julian Sanchez (also see response by Andrew Sullivan):

….The nice way to say this is that selects for pundits who have a thick skin—or forces them to quickly develop one. The less nice way to say it is that it forces you to stop giving a shit what other people think. Maybe not universally——you’ll pick out a domain of people whose criticisms are allowed to slip through the armor—but by default….

Four perspectives on communicating your research, and then one more. #EB2012 by William Gunn:

…The most popular sentence of the whole session was “Don’t underestimate your audience’s intelligence, but do underestimate their vocabulary.” In other words, drop the jargon if you want the public to get what you’re saying. …

Filter-then-publish vs. publish-then-filter by Mike Taylor:

…In the face of such a flood of information, no-one can read everything that’s made it through the filters into all their favourite journals. So in practice what actually happens is that each of us filters again – finding relevant publications in a huge range of journals by the social web we’re in: mailing lists, blogs, Twitter, and so on. I believe some people even use FaceBook….

10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics by Katrina Gulliver:

…Twitter is what you make of it, and its flexibility is one of its greatest strengths. I’m going to explain why I have found it useful, professionally and personally, and lay out some guidelines for academics who don’t know where to start….

Fungible by Stijn Debrouwere:

A treatise on fungibility, or, a framework for understanding the mess the news industry is in and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Why Publishers Don’t Like Apps by Jason Pontin:

…But the real problem with apps was more profound. When people read news and features on electronic media, they expect stories to possess the linky-ness of the Web, but stories in apps didn’t really link. The apps were, in the jargon of information technology, “walled gardens,” and although sometimes beautiful, they were small, stifling gardens. For readers, none of that beauty overcame the weirdness and frustration of reading digital media closed off from other digital media. …

The brilliant Joe Weisenthal by Felix Salmon:

Appelbaum is absolutely right that Weisenthal stands apart by starting earlier, writing more, publishing faster. That’s who Joe is. But he’s absolutely wrong that there’s an “intensely competitive world of financial blogging, dominated by young men who work long hours and comment on every new development”. Go on — name a single other financial blogger who fits that description. I’m waiting. There’s the anonymous group blog ZeroHedge, perhaps. But the fact is that Henry Blodget, in hiring and promoting Joe, has succeeded in identifying and harnessing and leveraging a nervous energy which has been there all along. He didn’t start with some kind of inhuman job description and then hire Joe to fill it; he found Joe and then basked in the fruits of encouraging him to simply be his natural self.

River of News — FTW! by Dave Winer:

…I don’t think that fancy layout trumps newness. The name “news” tells you what’s important about news. Newness. So if you follow that clue, it leads you to the obvious conclusion that news should present first the newest bits we have. What’s next? The second newest bits. And third, fourth and so on. permalink
News is one of those things that is that simple. But it takes people a while to get there if they don’t allocate the time to take walks in the park and think about this stuff in an organized way….

Blogging and Kickstarter go together by Dave Winer:

…But once the users can communicate with each other, we will be able to pool our experience, and given enough time, smart users will learn the technology well enough to make the products that (key point here) they know there is demand for. Because they are the ones demanding it….

The Pernicious Myth That Slideshows Drive ‘Traffic’ by Alexis Madrigal:

…If you’re trying to juice page views, your staff will ineluctably be forced to make galleries. Where else can they get a 10x or 20x multiplier on their work? I can guarantee you that will not help you break the kinds of stories or do the kinds of analysis that will keep people coming back. Not only that, but it’s demoralizing to your best people, the ones who want to be out there producing their best work.

Worse, readers may click through your slideshow, but they’ll hate you a liiitttle bit more than they did when they got to the site. And I bet they’ll feel the same way about whatever advertiser was unlucky enough to get stuck on the page with some stupid thing that a reporter did with a little bit of hate in his heart and fingertips. ….


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