Book Reviews

[Day Permalink] Friday, August 7, 2009

[Item Permalink] Goodbye to Universal Rule - closing shop -- Comment()
As the Radio Userland software is at the end of its life, I'm closing down this blog and will not move it elsewhere. Some parts of it (book reviews etc.) may appear elsewhere at some point, but no promises. The blog will disappear from the net at the end of 2009, perhaps even earlier.

[Day Permalink] Monday, January 5, 2009

[Item Permalink] Photography is the thing -- Comment()
I haven't been blogging much here at Universal Rule for some time, but those who are interested in what I'm currently doing, please check out the Light Scrape blog, which is about photography. I'm nowadays mostly using the Panasonic LX3 for taking photos, over 23,000 photos taken so far with the camera. There has been much less time for other topics since I got a major interest in photography, but that can of course change at some point. But currently it seems that photography poses an interesting long-term project, defined in my own terms. So, other topics such as DRM, Macs, and such will have to wait.

[Day Permalink] Sunday, July 13, 2008

[Item Permalink] Uses of science in advertising -- Comment()
These U-Haul graphics are great. A different way of making your vehicles memorable. Many of the illustrations contain science and mathematics topics.

[Day Permalink] Tuesday, July 8, 2008

[Item Permalink] The generative internet - is the bell tolling? -- Comment()
I have been reading an article by Jonathan L. Zittrain on the so-called generative internet, that is the "capacity for unrelated and unaccredited audiences to build and distribute code and content through the Internet to its tens of millions of attached personal computers". The impact has been huge, and the growth and innovation has made it possible to engage in all kinds of new endeavors.

However, there has been a backslash, trying to restrict innovation, the freedom of speech, and building new things on top of existing. I hope the generative capacity of the internet will survive, but it is far from certain.

[Day Permalink] Thursday, July 3, 2008

[Item Permalink] Much ado about the end of theory -- Comment()
Backreaction discusses The End Of Theory, a proposition that data management and analysis will make obsolete the model-bases scientific paradigm.

I beg to disagree. Science is currently going to the exactly opposite direction. Huge amounts of data have been gathered in, e.g., biosciences, but still we don't know much about how biological systems work. Trying to find insight from a huge pile of data produces noise - accidental correlations and similar artefacts.

To make progress we need predictive models. What use is it for us to notice - after the fact - that something happened, when we need to model, predict and act.

For example, in finding the right action in a potential worldwide pandemic, or in fighting the climate change, data is just junk by itself if we can't make predictive models.

[Day Permalink] Sunday, June 29, 2008

[Item Permalink] Changing the world -- Comment()
Chris Guillebeau wrote an interesting (although simplistic) pamphlet on how to set personal objectives and how to change the world. The two key questions are
  1. What do you really want to get out of life?
  2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?
These are interesting questions, and hard to answer. Thinking about the future is hard, and I'm not altogether convinced that it is productive thinking. But I can look instead at today: what kind of things would I like to do if I would be able to do anything.

Here is the thing: I wouldn't change much of the current situation. What I would like to change is the world. Make it better - more collaborative, more fair, more open, less cynical. And of course I would like to live a good life while doing that.

I believe computational science is a key area for solving the complex societal problems we are currently facing. Thus, promoting computational science is the key thing for me. Whether we are talking about climate change, bioscience or nanotechnology, computational science is needed to make progress. Thus, developing the knowledge and recognition of this field is essential for the society.

Currently I'm in a position where I can make changes happen. But it is not easy and fast - it takes time, constant discussions, and repeating the message again and again. I hope I can to a certain degree provide a bridge towards understanding.

I'm not a deep specialist, but I can help on the general level. And there are others who are willing to participate in the change. We can become a spring of insights, and act as stepping stones on the way to change.

[Day Permalink] Saturday, June 28, 2008

[Item Permalink] The Britney Spears Problem -- Comment()
Brian Hayes has written on interesting article in American Scientist on the so-called Britney Spears Problem: "What I'm trying to understand is how we can know Britney's ranking from week to week. How are all those queries counted and categorized? What algorithm tallies them up to see which terms are the most frequent?"

The article is an interesting discussion about a relevant computer science problem. Hayes ends his article in a wish: "Years from now, someone will type "Britney Spears" into a search engine and will stumble upon this article listed among the results. Perhaps then a curious reader will be led into new lines of inquiry."

Might it be possible to help Hayes to get the deserved future recognition by linking to his article?