Archive for the ‘Scientists’ Category

Information Patterns – very exciting!

December 10, 2007

Science is all about identifying patterns and then representing those patterns abstractly.  Abstract representations allow us to contemplate the properties of a whole class of things, rather than treating each thing on a case-by-case basis.

For example, long ago people noticed that when an object is lifted and released, it falls down to earth.  It doesn’t matter whether the object is a rock or feather or anything else.  All objects exhibit the same pattern of behavior.

The Internet is all about exchanging information.  Certainly we should be able to identify patterns in that vastness of information.  Thus we are challenged to become information “scientists”: identify patterns in information, create abstract representations of the patterns, and then for each particular instance (i.e. each web document) relate it to an abstract representation.  Once we – the community of web designers – start to do this then we will be able to do some exciting very things.  We will, for example, be able to collect all instances of an information pattern and (1) recognize that they are all of the same class of things, and (2) aggregate, manipulate, and massage the information in ways that make sense for that class of information.

Here is an example of an information pattern: Garlic Lowers [Does Not Lower] Cholesterol

Meaning of “conflict of interest”

September 26, 2007

Consider a scientist who is hired by a drug company to test a drug that the company recently created. The scientist has conflicting interests: on the one hand, as a scientist he has a responsibility to provide unbiased and trustworthy results; on the other hand, as a human being he would like for the results to be favorable to the drug company so that the company will pay him to conduct future research. We say that the scientist has a conflict of interest.

Conflict between the drug sponsor and the scientific ethos

The Scientist’s Paradox

September 13, 2007

Scientists collaborate to increase their productivity.

Scientists compete for recognition.

While scientists are competing for recognition, that recognition comes from the very people they are competing against!

So science presents us with the curious paradox of an enterprise that is simultaneously competitive and cooperative.

— Extracted from The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki