Saturday, December 22, 2007

Looking For The Hits Or Let The Hits Look For You

The recent post on HitTail got a hit from HitTail itself or to be more precise the HitTail blog Everybody Loves HitTail. What I find interesting is that the hit first came through and was on the first page. Now its no longer to be found, at least not on the first six pages and has been replaced by, at again the first page.

This helped to ante up my Technorati authority again. I still have to learn a good deal more about Technorati. It is recognizing my posts but not my tags. Also had a hit from the United Kingdom from a secretarial blog there. The keyword they used was Not sure if this means they were actually looking for my blog. It is hard to determine as their blog is password protected. So the possibility exists that a secret secretarial society in Surrey was surveying my web snippets.

I am also realizing that as far as the hits from HitTail go, there is little relationship between what I am currently writing and what brings people to my site. A recent December hit was on my Walt Whitman post which was actually posted back in November. The Questioning Assumptions post was also done in November but was hit in December, again from the United Kingdom. It is questionable whether they got what they were looking for or were they more likely asking questioning economic assumptions at a more fundamental level.

My subscribers on FeedBurner though reached a new high of 18 this past Wednesday. That beats my former high by 4. Feedburner does seem to be more current, with whatever I am blogging about at the moment. Not that they necessarily connect directly with my blog. Top link for the day on Wednesday was Professor Beth Noveck who was part of the civic media discussion found at the Define How We Communicate Define Our Culture post. The hit was through my account though not my blog. The Connecting Throughout The World post itself was also at the top of the list on that day.

For the entire time that I have been doing this blog so far the top 3 posts with the most clicks have been my post Transcending Economic Castes with 20 clicks, a direct hit to Staff Bios for the Center For Social Media with 19 and Professor Noveck with 18 total. So its seems apparent that the fair use and civic media posts had the most bang. I do not have a problem with not having people getting directly to my blog. This blog was designed as a gateway to those weblinks that I find interesting or informative with the hope that others will as well.

Still Tinkering Still Learning

One thing that needs to be admitted is that my editing is still not as good as it should be. Not that this is 'serious writing' by any means, but it is a goal to improve all aspects of this weblog experiment over time. A past visit to DailyWritingTips provided me with 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer. All of them were good suggestions though some hit home more than others.

"1. Daniel
Pay attention to punctuation; especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear."

"34. Pedro
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make."

The last suggestion is particularly true, and I have gone back and made some corrections. The writing of a weblog, I am discovering is not just a matter of the 'writing' though. There is the behind the scenes aspects of formatting and design. There is also the power of the web to connect and how we best do that. Spending some time at the WC3 school has taught me a few tricks such as figuring out why the TED videos weren't working properly (missing the back slash on the embed closing tag but turns out it can get even more involved) and how to get this blog's links to open in new windows starting on Wednesday, December 19, 2007. I always thought having to click back to be a pain.

The last focus is how to continue organizing all of the information that is being gathered and incorporated into this weblog. The original idea was to create repositories in which to place links with common themes. These were easy as links could be placed within them with two or three clicks of the mouse. The three methods tried were public folders [Social and Economic Paradigms], Google Notebooks [Science Pathways] and the shared Google Reader [Innovations, Insights, Integrity]. Then I learned more about tagging, blinklist, ma.gnolia and diigo. I have written before about how viable the different systems are for using tags to interconnect with others. I still have a preference for though using diigo in conjunction seems to work well. Diigo as said before allows me to concurrently post at least the initial tagging on all of the tagging systems that I am now using. What I especially enjoy about diigo are the webslides [Creative-Destruction]. Now I have started to combine the repositories and tagging together. Creative-Destruction is both an public folder and a web-slide list from diigo.

The question that I am now contemplating is what is the best method of organization. A recent post Breaking Through The Paradigms With Science connected with a number of different links to a Science Magazine article, external links of related subjects and past posts of this weblog. That is a good deal of information and tagging alone merely accumulates similar information, sometimes it arguably makes sense just to tag the post itself, since it contains all of the relevant information, but the chances of somebody picking up on my post compared to a Science article are pretty slim. There are some blogging tips from Jon Barger (putting aside other issues) which I can agree with and to which I have at least to some extent aspired follow.

"1. A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So is actually better for blogging than

2. You can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility."

So far I still have more links than posts though according to the original philosophy behind this weblog it could be better. These posts should be designed as the narrative thread which organizes what is an ever expanding knowledge base and to help forge my thoughts. Others with more experience and knowledge have also taken this approach. From John Hawks weblog of the Change Is At All Levels The Question Is How Fast? post.

"I started writing this blog for two basic reasons: first, because there are some really interesting issues in paleoanthropology that are not well covered in the mainstream science press, and second, because I needed a good way to organize my notes.

It turned out that the solution to the note-taking problem also made a nifty solution for writing about interesting issues -- blogging software is one of the best means of content management around. It became very simple to take notes on things I was reading, punch them up with a bit of information and context, and blog about them. In large part, what you see here are my own notes -- the very ones that I use to write my research papers and books."

This weblog remains primarily a tool for learning for myself but do I find that I enjoy creating and maintaining this weblog far more than I had envisioned.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Breaking Through The Paradigms With Science

Human Genetic Variation: 2007 Breakthrough of the Year video.

With the December issue of Science Magazine - the science oriented interest of this weblog hit the jackpot.

According to an article in Science Magazine Human Genetic Variation:is the 2007 Breakthrough of the Year.

On 21 December 2007, Science unveiled its Breakthrough of the Year for 2007 -- the realization that DNA differs from person to person much more than researchers had suspected. That conceptual advance, driven by results from several fields, may transform medicine, but could also threaten personal privacy.

In this video presentation, featuring Science news writer Liz Pennisi, Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, and David Altshuler of the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute, we offer a look at the past year's discoveries in human genetic variation and their implications.

For a basic understanding of modern biology, a good place to start is the MIT Introduction to Biology course co-taught by Professor Eric Lander, one of the founders of the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute.

Another past post of possible interest is This Software builds its Own Hardware.

Interesting Papers, Articles and Web Sites from Science Magazine
Human Genetic Variation: An NIH Curriculum Supplement
A creative, inquiry-based instruction program, designed to promote active learning and stimulate student interest in medical topics.

International HapMap Project
A multi-country effort to identify and catalog genetic similarities and differences in human beings.

Database of Genotype and Phenotype (dbGaP)
Developed to archive and distribute the results of studies that have investigated the interaction of genotype and phenotype, including genome-wide association studies, medical sequencing, and molecular diagnostic assays.

Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN)
A public-private partnership that aims to understand the genetic factors influencing risk for complex diseases.

ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements)
Project launched by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) that aims to identify all functional elements in the human genome sequence.

SNPs: A Science Primer
An introduction to single nucleotide polymorphisms, provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

A web site for sharing information about the effects of DNA variations on traits and disease.

The Human Genome: Your Genes, Your Health, Your Future
A comprehensive resource on the human genome, its role in health and medicine, and the broader social impact of unravelling its mysteries; produced by the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Walter Lewin, Web Star Rocks

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star - New York Times

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star

"CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace."

I am one of the many who have enjoyed Professor Lewin's online lectures having gone through his Physics 8.01 and 8.02 video lectures. It was Professor Lewin who showed me the potential of the Internet as a tool for education and learning. Of course the true value is in Professor Lewin himself, the world wide web is merely a highly scalable medium for dissemination. His approach to teaching both in the class room and on the web is an inspiration of what can be created with passion, which is what Professor Lewin exhibits in every class.

"Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple’s iTunes Store."

Professor Lewin's lectures and other MIT lectures are featured in the Education web-slide found at the post Philosophy For Kids Starting Paradigm Shifts Early .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Optimism Is Not For Wimps

Often when writing a series of these blog posts a certain word or concept keeps coming up even though the posts are on different subjects. The latest word to keeps crossing my computer screen is optimism. Looking over some older posts found Larry Brilliant who argued for optimism.

I have found another source of optimism via gapingvoid. I enjoy the gapingvoid cartoons featured on this webblog, but have to label its creator Hugh MacLeod the world's most optimistic curmudgeon. Personally, as a philosophy, I think it works.

It was gapingvoid that gave me Creativity Original and So-So and led me to ChangeThis: The link is to the most talked about of their manifestos. Below is taken from the about page. Again that word - optimism

"Are you an optimist?

Sometimes it seems as though our disagreements—over everything from politics to business to the designated hitter rule—are more serious and more divisive than ever before.

People are making emotional, knee-jerk decisions, then standing by them, sometimes fighting to the death to defend their position.

And yet, we’re optimists.

People call the team at Change This optimists because we don’t believe it has to be this way. We don’t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view. We’re well aware of how split our country and our world have become, but we don’t think the current state of affairs is built into our very nature."

Can Any Of This Make A Difference?

One of the questions of this ongoing web 2.0 experiment is whether all of this can make a difference in the real world? A post from CharityFocus Blog: Do Online Communities Lead to Offline Action? gives support to the idea that it can and does. Whether or not it will on the individual level is a whole other question.

"People always ask, "Ok, this online stuff is fine and dandy, but how does it improve our real world?" My meta-level response is usually that the Internet gives you the power to create long-tail networks that gives momentum to niche revolutions. Those niche ideas may or may not serve humanity well, but we'll collectively be better off when those voices are heard. "
  • Social Activism: 64.9% of folks who participate in social causes online say they are involved in causes that were new to them when they began participating on the Internet. And 43.7% of online community members participate more in social activism since they started participating in online communities.
  • Online Communities: 56.6% of online community members log in at least once a day!
  • Member Interaction: whopping 70.4% of online community members say they regularly interact with other members of their community while logged in.

Connecting Throughout The World

As has been said before, this weblog is an experiment. Different web 2.0 tools are tried out to see how they work. One tool that is being tried out and that lets you know how other things are working is HitTail. HitTail tells you if anybody has connected with one of your posts and what search engine they were using. One that I really enjoyed resulted in a transformation of one post from So Money (of any currency) Can Buy Happiness to Así que el dinero (de cualquier moneda) Can Buy Happiness. This search originated in Argentina.

A more recent search parody fair use richter scales on a more recent post put me on the first page (bottom yes, but still (just moved down to second page fame is so fleeting).

Somebody else searched for restaurant paradigms. This time I was on page 5 and it linked to Making It Up As You Go Along. While it does provide some good advice and does link to Changing Plans Changing Life, I can't be sure as to how helpful it was.

Another search from India hit on past a post featuring ideas from Seth Godin.

A search from France is a little less certain as to they were looking for or where they ended up but one possibility is Si l'argent n'achète pas le bonheur, mais le bonheur d'argent Gets What do you utiliser l'argent? which was originally If Money Doesn't Buy Happiness But Happiness Gets Money What Do You Use The Money For?

Philosophy For Kids Starting Paradigm Shifts Early

I found out about this at the TEDBlog but the original post was from BPS Research Digest. This weblog cited two other articles from BPS previously. Some highlights from the Philosophy for kids article:

Keith Topping and Steve Trickey first reported the short-term benefits of using "Thinking through Philosophy" with children in an earlier study

Teaching children the art of collaborative philosophical inquiry brings them persistent, long-term cognitive benefits, according to psychologists in Scotland.


The philosophy-based lessons encouraged a community approach to 'inquiry' in the classroom, with children sharing their views on Socratic questions posed by the teacher. The children's cognitive abilities were tested using the 'Cognitive Abilities Test', a measure which has been found to predict children's performance on external school examinations.

A number of educational weblinks have been found during the last four months of web-trekking. Most of these were placed under the section at the left hand column titled Pearls of Paradigm Processing Paradigm Shifts Through Innovation. Critical thinking is a common thread among them. Before starting on this endeavor the original title was simply Cool Stuff. It changed to Innovation because most of the cool stuff dealt with innovation. Education, on further reflection also belongs in there because it is an essential source for innovation. The concept of Education expands even further when using tags, science, civic media, social entrepreneurship have all been interrelated with education and all benefit from Socratic and critical thinking.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Bricks For Building Dreams

CoolPeopleCare | There's a Rumbling
"Passion is key for anyone looking to start something new. It's not all you need, but it's a big part of what's necessary when you set out on your own. Finding the right balance of passion and realism is key."

Those are the words of Samuel Davidson, a blogger who appears to be at the cusp of Generation X and Y, and who has provided food for thought for this weblog before. I like him because he combines idealism with pragmatism. This weblog has talked about his 4 step process from dream to reality before.

"That's the thing about passion – it's always there with us. For some of us, we wear it on our sleeves and those who know us know that we're about something..."
"Because when you have a passion, you know it. And there's no way you can't not follow it." But passion is never all we need. It's the first thing you need during the early stages of start up, but it alone won't get you to the finish line. It may not even get you to step 2. As Robert Greenleaf so eloquently pointed out:"
"Not much happens without a dream. And for something great to happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams. Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality; but the dream must be there first."
I am not quite as ready to accept his position on Schumpeter.

"Schumpeter was a very early advocate of entrepreneurship, believing that individual invention was what powered a capitalist economy, and not the role (or non-role) of the government. McCraw points out that while Schumpeter's ideas didn't immediately catch on in the first half of the 20th century, he now looks like a genius." McCraw writes:

"One of the hallmarks of Schumpeter's 1911 book is that he ventured into territory where no economist had gone before - namely, the psychology of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, he insisted, are not propelled solely by a wish to grow rich or by any "motivation of the hedonist kind." Instead, they feel "the will to conquer: the impulse to fight, the prove oneself superior to others, to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success, but of success itself...There is the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one's energy and ingenuity.

As someone who identifies with Schumpeter's definition, I believe that the organizations and companies that will succeed in today's economy will be those that embrace entrepreneurship at every level.

While I can readily agree with, "There is the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one's energy and ingenuity" Schumpeter may be getting better press than he deserves because its a quick sell for the ideas people want to get across, but Schumpeter does not philosophically epitomize the ideals being expressed as he may seem on first look.

I do appreciate the concept of creative-destruction but keeping in mind the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

We need to appreciate the effect of the destruction as well as the creation.

Finding Meaning In Creating Meaning - Rewrite

Seth's Blog: Seven tips to build for meaning

Seth Godin provides seven tips to build for meaning. Then he asks, "What happens after I click on your Google ad?"

OK, he's a marketer so from that perspective it makes sense.

"I was thinking about great Squidoo pages (lenses) yesterday, and realized that many of them, along with many blogs, have the same goal: give someone a handle, a sense of meaning--context--so they can go ahead and take action."

I have taken the position that this should be true whether we are speaking of business and making money or social change to bring about beneficial paradigm shifts. The seven tips:

  1. Use numbers and bullets. People scan. Based on the idea that people don't read, this is not one that I use a lot because I use this weblog to mold my own ideas, but I should and am trying to be more concise.

  2. Give people a place to go. The best meaning-building delivers the reader to a new place, in context. The really interesting parts of this weblog are the websites it links to, my writings just helps to organize the information for better understanding.

  3. Use pictures. Pictures communicate quality and information. pictures that tell a story. I do less of this and should try to expand on this.(though I don't actually get Seth's example)

  4. Have an opinion. If you're giving meaning, you're also making an argument. I have opinions which should be fairly apparent but this weblog is not a soapbox, its a learning tool.

  5. Don't be afraid to compare. I do compare though am less likely to make judgments or if I do more likely to rethink them.

  6. It's a brick wall, not a balloon. Built brick by brick, a little at a time. You learn what works and do it more. Here's a fine example. This one I definitely do. This is still an experiment and I try not to be worried about success or failure. (though now having reached 11 subscribers on Feedburner is cool)

  7. It's okay to be long, if you're chunky. Long letters always do better than short ones. That's because once you've sold me, I'll stop reading. But if I'm not sold and I get to the end, you lose. The web is infinitely expandable. So go ahead and tell your story. I am trying to be more chunky, focusing on particular ideas. I also try to get similar or related chunks together especially across time. Sometimes in my own reading I need to go back a few times more to be sold, but I need to want to go back.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Change Is At All Levels | The Question Is How Fast?

Science Now has an article on Human Evolution Is Speeding Up -- (Gibbons 2007 (12 10): 1 -- ScienceNOW)

Plentiful food has made it easier than ever before to survive and reproduce in many parts of the world, so it's tempting to think that our species has stopped evolving. But a controversial new study says that isn't so. Far from slowing down, human evolution has sped up in the past 40,000 years and has become 100 times faster in the past 5000 years alone, according to the analysis. This means that even though some people have been globe-trotters who interbreed, most humans on different continents are becoming more different, rather than blending together into one genetically homogenous race

The same subject is covered by the New York Times.
Natural Selection - Evolution - Genetics - New York Times Selection Spurred Recent Evolution, Researchers Say

The new survey — led by Robert K. Moyzis of the University of California, Irvine, and Henry C. Harpending of the University of Utah — developed a method of spotting human genes that have become more common through being favored by natural selection. They say that some 7 percent of human genes bear the signature of natural selection.

As well as from the Los Angeles Times: Study finds humans still evolving, and quickly. The pace has been increasing since people started spreading through Europe, Asia and Africa 40,000 years ago.By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer December 11, 2007

The pace of human evolution has been increasing at a stunning rate since our ancestors began spreading through Europe, Asia and Africa 40,000 years ago, quickening to 100 times historical levels after agriculture became widespread, according to a study published today.

From Science Now : The findings are persuasive to anthropologist Clark Larsen of Ohio State University in Columbus. But not everyone is on board. "I don't deny recent rapid selection," says geneticist Kenneth Kidd of Yale University. "But I am not yet convinced that so much rapid selection at so many places in the genome has occurred. ... I think we need much more data."

From the New York Times: David Reich, a population geneticist at the Harvard Medical School, said the new report was “a very interesting and exciting hypothesis” but that the authors had not ruled out other explanations of the data. The power of their test for selected genes falls off in looking both at more ancient and more recent events, he said, so the overall picture might not be correct.

Similar reservations were expressed by Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago.

“My feeling is that they haven’t been cautious enough,” he said. “This paper will probably stimulate others to study this question.”

From the LA Times: "The advantage of all but about 100 of the genes remains a mystery, said University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks, who led the study...If there were not a mismatch between the population and the environment, there wouldn't be any selection," Hawks said. "Dietary changes, disease changes -- those create circumstances where selection can happen."

It is the other resources provided by Science Now that have the more in-depth argument from John Hawks:

Expanding The Definition Of Innovation and Fair Use

My recently posts regarding fair use have raised some philosophical concerns for me, as has my definition of innovation. I threw both fair use and civic media into the same pot, which are two separate but I believe related issues. I have now tagged those website specifically related to civic media as civic media. However, I have retained the fair use tag on all of them. Right now I am of the opinion that you can't have one without the other. I realize that they can be dealt with from different perspectives but to my mind independent filmmakers or others worrying about fair use are practicing civic media .

As regards to the tag innovation, I made the stipulation that it had to have some economic impact but in gathering the public tags of others who had reviewed the fair use of civic media or fair use websites one tag that was used under civic media was innovation. This seems now to be a very reasonable definition and right now I can't find a better word. I don't believe creative is the proper adjective here. So I now have to expand my definition of innovation to include social impact as well as economic impact.

Global Paradigm Shift Through Global Innovation

In attempting to be more precise in assigning relevant meaning to tags I have been using, I have used the tag innovation as applied to those creative changes that have had some economic impact, whether we classify them as high or low or business or social entrepreneurship, as opposed to pure creativity as in art.

The Entrepreneurial Mind back on 12/10/07 gave us Innovation Around the Globe which cites the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship's reports on two new studies highlighting innovation in Asia and Europe.

"A new World Bank study examines the state of innovation in East Asia with a focus on three primary sources of knowledge flow into the region: international trade, acquisition of disembodied knowledge, and foreign direct investment. East Asian economies still rely heavily on knowledge flows from Japan and the US, but the region's economies are beginning to build their own home-based knowledge industries as well."

All three primary sources of knowledge are of interest but what is especially in disembodied knowledge. The second study is a new Information Technology and Innovation Policy Foundation report:

"[F]uture European prosperity depends upon Europe's ability to more effectively deploy information and communications technologies (ICT). The study notes that European productivity growth rates have lagged in recent years, and it identifies lagging use of ICT (especially in service sectors) as one culprit in the process. Like the US, Europe needs to boost productivity rates. But the pressures in Europe are even stronger, due to a more rapidly aging population. How can Europe reverse these trends? The report's author, Rob Atkinson, recommends greater overall private investment in ICT, the creation of public incentives to support such investment, and expanded efforts to promote digital literacy and adoption among the general population of European countries."

Professor Cornwall makes it clear where he falls on the economic philosophical continuum.

"Let us hope that by the phrase "more effective government supports" the authorsare referring to what has proven to be
the most effective government support for entrepreneurship -- bureaucrats and politicians getting out of the way of entrepreneurs and letting free markets work. Central planning efforts where government agencies try to pick winners and losers have never proven to be a wise long-term strategy. "

"The most effective means of encouraging private investment is making favorable policy decision for an entrepreneurial economy. Lower taxes, less regulation, and stronger property rights are all key elements. I am afraid that most of Europe has a very long way to go on all three of these critical issues of public policy."

I have to confess to some doubts to this position when I consider the amount of support that Asian countries, especially Japan, have given their businesses. I also have to wonder about the technological bump Asia got from the IT infrastructure investment that was made and how we keep on falling farther and farther behind. I am definitely not in favor of centralized planning but I am also still not willing to fully depend upon the unfettered free market. Perhaps after a few more economic courses I will change my mind.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Define How We Communicate Define Our Culture

What is Civic Media and Fair Use?

MIT World » : Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons
I am still on about the Fair Use debate. There was, my memory was telling me, another MIT panel discussion on Copyright and Fair Use. The links to the MIT World video and the websites that are cited in the post's synopsis are again being added to the "What is Civic Media and Fair Use?" online folder. The other choice, which will likely be taken as well is to tag the related websites with a common link. Still haven't decided which is best. Perhaps focusing on a specific subject is good use of the diigo webslides.

Moderator William Uricchio sets the scene for panelists' discussion of current copyright wars with a brief historical overview of copyright protection. In 1790, when news traveled by horse and carriage, copyright protection was good for 14 years. Today, when a digital, networked society enables instant transmission of data, protection lasts 70-plus years. Uricchio notes, "Bizarrely, the faster information circulates, the longer we're extending copyright protection. It seems totally at odds with where our constitution framers and case law emerged from."

Copyright came into being not just as a way of protecting authors' rights, says Wendy Gordon, but as a set of liberties for the public as well.

There is also a further aspect to this which gets into the expansion of culture. MIT and other resources have dealt with in insightful that I also want to explore.