Pew bloggers’ survey

If you would like to take the Pew Internet survey of bloggers, please go to this link.

The instructions say that the survey takes 40 minutes but it took me about 10.

Blogging for academics

Brad de Long writes about why blogging is good for academics in an article "The invisible college."  Although the author is an economist, the argument applies to the sciences and any academic discipline, in my opinion. Here are some excerpts:

"I walk out my door and look around: at the offices of professors who know more about topics like the history of the international monetary system or the evolution of income distribution than any other human beings alive, and at graduate students hanging out in the lounge. It’s a brilliant intellectual community, this little slice of the world that is our visible college. You run into people in the hall and the lounge, and you learn interesting things. Paradise. For an academic, at least.

But I am greedy. I want more. I would like a larger college, an invisible college, of more people to talk to, pointing me to more interesting things. People whose views and opinions I can react to, and who will react to my reasoned and well-thought-out opinions, and to my unreasoned and off-the-cuff ones as well."….

….."with the arrival of Web logging, I have been able to add such people to those I bump into — in a virtual sense — every week. My invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least.

Plus, Web logging is an excellent procrastination tool. Don’t feel like grading? Don’t feel like writing that ad hoc committee report or completing the revisions demanded by clueless referee X? Write on your Web log and get the warm glow of having accomplished something.

Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience rather than merely an ivory-tower audience. That is true of those on the right as well as the left. Web logging is a promising way to do that….."

This article is part of a series published in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "Can blogging derail your career?", arising from the case of Juan Cole, who may have missed out on an appointment at Yale Univeristy because of his blogging. I believe that the articles in the series(listed and linked below, including one by Army of Davids author Glenn Reynolds) are freely available.

Article: The Lessons of Juan Cole by Siva Vaidhyanathan

Article: The Politics of Academic Appointments by Glenn Reynolds

Article: The Trouble With Blogs by Daniel W. Drezner

Article: Exposed in the Blogosphere by Ann Althouse

Article: The Attention Blogs Bring by Michael Bérubé

Article: The Controversy That Wasn’t by Erin O’Connor

Article: Juan R.I. Cole Responds

See The Chronicle Review

Onion ‘celebrates’ Wikipedia

The Onion has got around to satirising Wikipedia, with an article entitled "Wikipedia celebrates 750 years of American Independence. Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr T. honored."

Here’s a taste of what’s in the article:

"The commemorative page is one of the most detailed on the site, rivaling entries for Firefly and the Treaty Of Algeron for sheer length. Subheadings include "Origins Of Colonial Discontent," "Some Famous Guys In Wigs And Three-Cornered Hats," and "Christmastime In Gettysburg." It also features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals."

For the full effect, go to the link.

How popular is your name?

Have you ever wanted to know the popularity of your name, or how its popularity has changed over time since 1880?  If so,  go to this link for an excellent data visualisation tool.  Key in your name (or any name; the site is intended for people choosing a baby’s name) and you can see in graphical form how popular it is and was.

"Maxine", for example, was barely known in the 1880s but had a huge spike of popularity in the 1900s, peaking at about 1,300 per million babies in the 1920s, which is 84th in popularity in whichever population is counted by the site. Its popularity decreased almost as rapidly, so that by the decade I was born it was 276th and by the 1980s it had vanished from the scale (less than 10 per million, it seems). I had no idea that "Maxine" is an "old" name, though I do know that my mother found it in the back of Chambers’ dictionary and awarded it to me when I was born.

I have not looked into the parameters of this measure (is it international? what are the ranking criteria?), but it is mildly diverting. If you look up your own name, please do note its popularity in the comments to this post. If I get enough comments I will create a "top ten" list 😉

Polygon 14 August

Polygon puzzle
Using the given letters no more than once, make as many words as possible of four or more letters, always including the central letter. Capitalised words, plurals, conjugated verbs (past tense etc), adverbs ending in LY, comparatives and superlatives are disallowed.

How you rate: 14 words, average; 18, good; 23, very good; 28, excellent.

Source: the Times

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers on the continuation page

Continue reading

Magpie’s collection

I was in mid-post when Internet Explorer "encountered a problem and decided to close". I hadn’t kept a draft, so lost it. Will I ever learn?

I’ll just briefly mention what was on it, then, as I can’t bear to recreate everything I wrote in full.

Eurocrime, which has rapidly become one of my top favourite blogs, has the news that Michelle Spring has a new book coming out, The Night Lawyer, her first for five years.

Muderati has a two-for-the-price-of-one that you can’t miss: an Elaine Flinn interview is always great reading in its own right, but this time her subject is the inestimable Sarah Weinman (Confessions of an Idiosycratic Mind and half of Galley Cat).

L. Lee Lowe (Lowebrow) collects some beautiful last lines of novels. You can add your own suggestions in the comments. Lee also comments on the delights of slow reading, a concept with which I agree totally, not least out of necessity (increasing age).

A bit of blogosphere news: UGC (user-generated content) brands are the biggest growing part of the blogosphere. More power to the individual consumer (that’s us — members of the Army of Davinas/Davids). And have you ever wondered what a Blogmobile looks like? Go here if so. Batman has nothing on it.

Professor Branestawm

Sweet_machine Not much Internet activity yesterday by me because it was Jenny’s eleventh birthday — a fact I wouldn’t have mentioned on this blog unless the person concerned had asked me to do so. Presents included a bow and arrow set (Robin Hood influence still continues); a paintball gun with many safety instructions including a request not to use it on animals which immediately gave me an idea for how to deter the many pesky cats that hang around in and pollute our garden; and a "build an electric sweet machine". Age 8 and up according to the instructions. Luckily, Jenny has a father who is a professor of science, a qualification that certainly was needed to achieve functionality. Norman Hunter would have been proud of the finished product.

Welcome to Petrona

Welcome to Petrona. This weblog is about books I’ve read or read about, and various other topics that interest me. I often write about and link to articles on the web.

My other blogs are Librarian’s Place (a collection of articles sent to me by OWL service) and Web Writer, a collection of links from the Internet of use to writers. I save miscellenous links on Petrona 2, which also features my complete blogroll.

Please see the vertical navigation bar on the right for favourite links of various kinds.

Book carried on plane

The front page of today’s Times featured a montage of photographs (unavailable in the online edition) of transparent plastic bags being carried onto planes. In one of these was a book! Hooray. For information (especially for Jenny D) the title in question, clearly visible, is "10lb penalty" by Dick Francis. I hope the passenger concerned made it to their seat.

Libraries on the web

The Good Library Blog now has a podcast to explain some of the entries. I don’t have volume on my computer, but I would bet that Mrs Ginger Biscuit and Lord Cream Cake are worth a listen.

Public libraries using Web 2.0 technologies are highlighted on Information Wants to be Free. Meredith says, "I know there are a lot of libraries that are doing really exciting things with social software and other technologies and deserve a lot more notice. So which public libraries in the United States do you think are doing the best things with Web 2.0 technologies and why? " Meredith mentions half a dozen or so that she knows, and asks for more. You can bet there won’t be many, if any, from Europe – a suspicion borne out so far by the comments to the post.

More about SixApart’s Vox — a blog with a book library — on Science Library Pad. (SixApart is owner of Typepad, this blogging platform.) As well as providing a very useful overview of Vox, Richard has been posting interesting articles about the Long Tail and Chris Anderson’s book of that name, which he’s reviewed for the journal Nature. Some of these posts are featured on Librarian’s Place, so please go there or to Science Library Pad to read them. Science Library Pad always features interesting articles on technology in science publishing or libraries, for example how university presses might benefit from collaboration with academic bloggers, and the controversial (but could be true) argument that the semantic web dream will never work for two reasons: people lie; and people are lazy (links provided for further explanation!)