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Nature gives everyone free beer

Most political movements are composed of individuals whose goals are similar enough to work towards a common outcome, but which are nevertheless distinct. The soundest way to defeat a movement is usually not through brute force, but to expose these distinctions in such a way that the individuals simply fragment, when they begin to believe their interests were not so common, after all.

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Bookshelf: PHP Cookbook

Most negative reviews of programming books are written by people the book is not for. So let's get that out of the way, first.

  • This book is not an introduction to programming.
  • This book is not an introduction to PHP.
  • This book is not for people who hate PHP or think it's not a "real" programming language.
  • This book is not the PHP Manual.

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I am not a scientist anymore (And so can you!)

I have had a half-baked post in my mind now about my new job (yay!) and about what it means for my self-identity (at least career-wise), but I never did manage to figure out the right angle for it. I haven't started at the job yet, and I tend not to be a person who looks back, so reflecting on my life in academia seemed a bit pointless, while I didn't have anything at all to write about the future.

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On the emptiness of failed replications: the best parts

I've had essentially no time for reading lately as I'm doing SAHD thing, moving into a new house, and coding like a maniac whenever I get a spare hour, but there was so much buzz on Twitter around Jason Mitchell's essay about replication studies in social psychology that I had to take a half-hour to read it. And for all that is holy, let me just say: What. The. Fuck. That's 30 min of my life I can't get back. I will replicate the highlights below so that you don't have to read it yourself.

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Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus" and the open science movement

I recently finished Clay Shirkey's "Cognitive Surplus" and there are a number of great points in here relevant to the open science movement. This might seem a little surprising given the central thesis of the book: for academics, contributing to knowledge creation and dissemination is not really "surplus", it's their job. Nevertheless, the values at the heart of the open source software movement, Wikipedia, and so on, are really the inspiration for open science, with the added kick that if so much has been done by people working for free, a class of professionals paid to contribute to human knowledge should be able to do even more.

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PNAS envy

Last week, Nature published a news item analyzing the use of the so-called "contributed" track at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (also called PNAS). For those who aren't aware, members of the National Academy of Sciences "can submit up to four papers per year to [PNAS], through the 'contributed' publication track. This unusual process allows authors to choose who will review their paper and how to respond to those reviewers' comments."

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Rivers vs lakes of information: are scientific papers "the news" or "the encyclopedia"?

In Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff, the author makes a distinction between communications that have value as a result of being current versus communications that have value as a result of being curated, accurate and complete. You can think of one like a river - information that is constant flowing, and the other like a lake - information that is discarded when it becomes obsolete but comparatively stays quite stable over time.

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