Guardian launches new science section – and not a moment too soon, either. British science reporting is woefully poor (with the exception of the BBC) and often completely exaggerated (Sunday Times, anyone). I’m happy to see that the Guardian recognises the importance of decent science reporting.
MetaFilter has just become energised about a new project: MetaFilter Online Journalism (aka MoJo). You can see the origin of this idea in this thread. It is basically being put forward as some kind of website in which members of the public will be able to perform collaborative and investigative journalism, something which has been tried often, with varying degrees of unsuccessfulness.
My personal thoughts on the matter are that if MoJo can be designed well, it could really signal a change in how the media works. Of course, designing it well will be damned difficult. However, I’d give the MetaFilter crew (backed by Rusty of K5 fame) as good a chance as anyone else. Here’s a comment about parallels to software development and trust matrices I made in the thread. I also set up a FreeFilter site for discussion of MoJo.
I just renewed my subscription to Salon.com. Salon is one of only three places on the web that I’m prepared to pay to read (the other two are Kuro5hin and Metafilter – both of which I’ve donated a few dollars to). I don’t visit Salon quite as much as I used to in the past, by virtue of not visiting it daily, but I do read it often enough for it to be worth the $30/year subscription.
To be honest, I feel a little sorry for Salon. They’ve got a fair number of subscribers, but I heard that they’re losing money and it would be a shame to see them go bust; a bit like seeing a cute kitten die of a fatal, inherited illness.
Incidentally, if you want a cut-price subscription to Salon for $20/year (that’s a third off) then just contact me; current subscribers can give ‘gift’ subscriptions for less money (you’d have to send me the $20, of course). And no, I don’t see anything wrong with this, because I think that the only people likely to want this are those who are merely curious and wouldn’t have gone for the full rate.
One of the things that I despise the most in this world is when someone twists your words. Glenn Reynolds recently said in a column that Sir Martin Rees, by saying:
“If they were governmental or international (expeditions), Antarctic-style restraint might be feasible. On the other hand, if the explorers were privately funded adventurers of free-enterprise, even anarchic disposition, the Wild West model would be more likely to prevail.”
he is implying that the Wild West model is a bad thing. Reynolds then goes on to talk about the commercial utilisation of space and throws in a few cheap shots at Europeans (no surprise there) and Sir Martin Rees himself. Reynolds, of course, is a fan of the Wild West model. I’m personally model-agnostic.
I was at the presentation when Sir Martin said those words. Even taken out of context, the quote to me does not imply that he doesn’t like the Wild West model – he’s merely making a statement of fact. From what he said elsewhere in the talk, it didn’t seem to me like he was at all bothered about which model prevailed; he spent most of his time talking about posthumans roaming the galaxy and the speciation of humans.
Part of the problem is that the media decided to quote only a single paragraph of Sir Martin’s presentation (the one above) and left everything else out. That however does not excuse the twisting of his words and frankly the insults thrown at him.
The Guardian has just launched a competition for the ‘Best British Blog’. As far as I know, it’s the most lucrative competition of its type ever, with a £1500 prize fund. I, like many others, believe that this isn’t a good idea. It fosters an uncomfortable kind of competition in an area that doesn’t need it, and isn’t even suitable for it – how exactly do you judge what the best weblog is?
I find it similar to the type of competition ABC is trying to create with its seven figure Push, Nevada prize for the mmoe/ARG community, in other words, mildly distasteful and ultimately unproductive. If the Guardian wants to promote the visibility of weblogs and what they are, there are far better ways to do it than this.
Israeli media article on mmoes (PDF translation). I recently found out that there’s an article online at some kind of Israeli website (feel free to read it if you can understand Hebrew) all about the Cloudmakers, AI, Lockjaw and mmoes. I was quite happy about the way it linked to all the appropriate websites and was a good introduction to the topic. I then thought – hold on a second, as far as I know, I’m the person who coined the term mmoe. So why don’t I get a credit?
Of course, I conceded, it’s possible that someone else thought of mmoe before I did, so I did a Google search on it. As it turns out, there is one instance of someone else using mmoe before I’d thought of it, in February on a messageboard (see the fourth post). This means that I can’t claim to have invented the acronym, although I can take some consolation in the fact that I was the first person to use it in terms of AI-like games. And of course I still should’ve been credited by that article (I find it highly unlikely that the author got mmoe from a single messageboard post). Oh well.
My answer to a firewalking question was published in today’s Notes and Queries section of the Guardian.
The June issue of Wired Magazine is now online – ever since their new editor came in, Wired stopped their practice of putting issues on the web a month late. This was probably a good idea – the magazine is so cheap in America ($10 for a year’s subscription) that you might as well subscribe, and elsewhere it’s so hideously overpriced (almost £4 per issue in the UK, at least five times than in America) that no-one wants to buy it.