jm + academia   10

The American Chopper meme, explained - Vox
"Maybe we should have been blogging in dialectics all along"
memes  american-chopper  dialectics  academia  discussion  plato  dialogue 
15 days ago by jm
"The couple, who had no experience of wine-making but much faith in professorial expertise…"
I love this story -- a wealthy couple buy a vineyard in the Languedoc for its theoretically-optimal microclimate for wine-making. Defying what one's preconceptions would expect (mine included!), the results were fantastic.

In the Languedoc there is a vineyard that teaches us an important lesson about textbook learning and its application to the world. In the early Seventies it was bought by a wealthy couple, who consulted professors Emile Peynaud and Henri Enjalbert, the world’s leading academic oenologist and oenological geologist respectively. Between them these men convinced the couple that their new vineyard had a theoretically ideal microclimate for wine-making. When planted with theoretically ideal vines whose fruits would be processed in the optimal way according to the up-to-date science of oenology, this vineyard had the potential to produce wine to match the great first growths of Bordeaux. The received wisdom that great wine was the product of an inscrutable (and untransferable) tradition was quite mistaken, the professors said: it could be done with hard work and a fanatical attention to detail. The couple, who had no experience of wine-making but much faith in professorial expertise, took a deep breath and went ahead.

If life were reliably like novels, their experiment would have been a disaster. In fact Aimé and Véronique Guibert have met with a success so unsullied that it would make a stupefying novel (it has already been the subject of a comatogenic work of non-fiction). The first vintage they declared (in 1978) was described by Gault Millau as ‘Château Lafite du Languedoc’; others have been praised to the heights by the likes of Hugh Johnson and Robert Parker. The wine is now on the list at the Tour d’Argent and the 1986 vintage retails at the vineyard for £65 a bottle. The sole shadow on the lives of these millionaires is cast by the odd hailstorm.

No one to whom I have begun recounting the story believes it will end well. Most people are extremely unwilling to grant that faith in textbook knowledge should ever be crowned with success. We have a very strong narrative bias against such stories. It is a bias we forget once our children fall sick or we have to travel in an aeroplane, but so long as we are in storytelling mode we simply deny that systematic textbook reasoning can make headway against whimsy and serendipity. Apart from anything else, it is deeply unfair that it should.
books  science  languedoc  wine  academia  microclimates  preconceptions 
september 2016 by jm
The Rise of Pirate Libraries
The history of this is fascinating:
Today’s pirate libraries have their roots in the work of Russian academics to digitize texts in the 1990s. Scholars in that part of the world had long had a thriving practice of passing literature and scientific information underground, in opposition to government censorship—part of the samizdat culture, in which banned documents were copied and passed hand to hand through illicit channels. Those first digital collections were passed freely around, but when their creators started running into problems with copyright, their collections “retreated from the public view,” writes Balázs Bodó, a piracy researcher based at the University of Amsterdam. “The text collections were far too valuable to simply delete,” he writes, and instead migrated to “closed, membership-only FTP servers.” [....]

There’s always been osmosis within the academic community of copyrighted materials from people with access to scholar without. “Much of the life of a research academic in Kazakhstan or Iran or Malaysia involves this informal diffusion of materials across the gated walls of the top universities,” he says.
pirates  pirate-libraries  libraries  archival  history  russia  ussr  samizdat  samizdata  academia  papers 
april 2016 by jm
Grade inflation figures from Irish universities
The figures show that, between 2004 and 2013, an average of 71.7 per cent of students at TCD graduated with either a 1st or a 2.1. DCU and UCC had the next highest rate of such awards (64.3 per cent and 64.2 per cent respectively), followed by UCD (55.8 per cent), NUI Galway (54.7 per cent), Maynooth University (53.7 per cent) and University of Limerick (50.2 per cent).
tcd  grades  grade-inflation  dcu  ucc  ucd  ireland  studies  academia  third-level 
october 2014 by jm
Facebook Doesn't Understand The Fuss About Its Emotion Manipulation Study
This is quite unethical, and I'm amazed it was published at all. Kashmir Hill at Forbes nails it:
While many users may already expect and be willing to have their behavior studied — and while that may be warranted with “research” being one of the 9,045 words in the data use policy — they don’t expect that Facebook will actively manipulate their environment in order to see how they react. That’s a new level of experimentation, turning Facebook from a fishbowl into a petri dish, and it’s why people are flipping out about this.

Shocking stuff. We need a new social publishing platform, built on ethical, open systems.
ethics  facebook  privacy  academia  depression  feelings  emotion  social-publishing  social  experimentation  papers 
june 2014 by jm
New faculty positions versus new PhDs
The ever-plummeting chances of a PhD finding a faculty job:
Since 1982, almost 800,000 PhDs were awarded in science and engineering fields, whereas only about 100,000 academic faculty positions were created in those fields within the same time frame. The number of S&E PhDs awarded annually has also increased over this time frame, from ~19,000 in 1982 to ~36,000 in 2011. The number of faculty positions created each year, however, has not changed, with roughly 3,000 new positions created annually.

(via Javier Omar Garcia)
via:javier  career  academia  phd  science  work  study  research 
october 2013 by jm
How Kaggle Is Changing How We Work - Thomas Goetz - The Atlantic

Founded in 2010, Kaggle is an online platform for data-mining and predictive-modeling competitions. A company arranges with Kaggle to post a dump of data with a proposed problem, and the site's community of computer scientists and mathematicians -- known these days as data scientists -- take on the task, posting proposed solutions.

[...] On one level, of course, Kaggle is just another spin on crowdsourcing, tapping the global brain to solve a big problem. That stuff has been around for a decade or more, at least back to Wikipedia (or farther back, Linux, etc). And companies like TaskRabbit and oDesk have thrown jobs to the crowd for several years. But I think Kaggle, and other online labor markets, represent more than that, and I'll offer two arguments. First, Kaggle doesn't incorporate work from all levels of proficiency, professionals to amateurs. Participants are experts, and they aren't working for benevolent reasons alone: they want to win, and they want to get better to improve their chances of winning next time. Second, Kaggle doesn't just create the incidental work product, it creates a new marketplace for work, a deeper disruption in a professional field. Unlike traditional temp labor, these aren't bottom of the totem pole jobs. Kagglers are on top. And that disruption is what will kill Joy's Law.

Because here's the thing: the Kaggle ranking has become an essential metric in the world of data science. Employers like American Express and the New York Times have begun listing a Kaggle rank as an essential qualification in their help wanted ads for data scientists. It's not just a merit badge for the coders; it's a more significant, more valuable, indicator of capability than our traditional benchmarks for proficiency or expertise. In other words, your Ivy League diploma and IBM resume don't matter so much as my Kaggle score. It's flipping the resume, where your work is measurable and metricized and your value in the marketplace is more valuable than the place you work.
academia  datamining  economics  data  kaggle  data-science  ranking  work  competition  crowdsourcing  contracting 
april 2013 by jm
Science funding doesn't add up - The Irish Times
'[Science Foundation Ireland] said it was continuing to support basic research, but there are a number of leading scientists here who were refused funding despite having qualified for it in the past.

Dr Mike Peardon of the School of Mathematics was recently been turned down, having been “administratively withdrawn”. This means the application for funding was rejected at the first post during initial consideration and before it had a chance to be assessed by external experts. Several others in his department suffered a similar fate. “The school of mathematics at Trinity is ranked the 15th best maths department in the world and now we are not fundable by Science Foundation Ireland,” he said.

“The cases I heard of have all been in pure maths,” said Prof Lorraine Hanlon in UCD’s school of physics. “All reported that the people in pure maths were returned unreviewed.” She believes other areas may also come under pressure. “Pure maths is the thin end of the wedge. The Government says mathematics is fundamental, but on the other side says we dont really care enough to support it. That is a schizophrenic approach,” she said.'
mathematics  ireland  science  research  academia  funding  tcd  ucd  sfi 
july 2012 by jm
Canadian Universities Agree To Ridiculous Copyright Agreement That Says Emailing Hyperlinks Is Equal To Photocopying | Techdirt
'The agreement reached last month with the licensing agency includes provisions defining e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student and surveillance of academic staff email.' wow, incredibly bad terms
copyright  canada  hyperlinks  copyfight  techdirt  licensing  academia 
february 2012 by jm
HEA now requiring all research positions obtain its approval before hire
regardless of the source of the funding, be it external EU grants with no HEA/exchequer input.  pretty stupid stuff (via Brian Lucey)
hea  grants  ireland  bureaucracy  academia  research  postdocs  funding  jobs  from delicious
february 2011 by jm

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