Data is at the heart of new science ecosystem – DATA – Research Information

Open data and open APIs offer huge opportunities for research and innovation, writes Elsevier’s Rafael Sidi

via Data is at the heart of new science ecosystem – DATA – Research Information.


Beating A Dead Horse – some sage advice

We’re always trying to solve the most toughest technical challenges but some challenges are just dead horses. You might as well try riding something else. A mighty philosopher in our firm imparted this sage advice to me –

Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in government we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Saying things like “This is the way we always have ridden this horse.”

4. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.

5. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.

6. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.

7. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.

8. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment.

9. Pass legislation declaring that “This horse is not dead.”

10. Blaming the horse’s parents.

11. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.

12. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.” [Classic if you ask me]

13. Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.

14. Do a Cost Analysis to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.

15. Procure a commercial design dead horse.

16. Declare the horse is “better, faster and cheaper” dead.

17. Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.

18. Revisit the performance requirements for horses.

19. Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.

20. BRAC the horse farm on which it was born.

21. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position

via The Humor Bin – Beating A Dead Horse.

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3Be path to having a great day

Public speaking has been one of my interests right from high school through college to a few company events. So i jumped at the opportunity when i was recently invited to be the target speaker at our local Toastmasters club meeting. The topic had to be something motivational since that was the general theme of the day.

Here’s a short version of the 15 mins speech –

There are two kinds of people in the world – Those who are happy at the end of the day and those that are not. You probably want to be the former. At the end of the day everybody wants to feel good about themselves and the way their day went. One way to try and accomplish that is by what i call the 3Be Path.

1. Be confident – Know your strengths and limits. Accept challenges as they come and have confidence in your ability to meet and tackle them. I’m not saying blind faith. I’m saying be confident enough to accept a challenge because of the next step – the 2nd Be – in this path.

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

Be also confident enough to be able to turn down challenges if they are outside your limits. If you spend each day looking forward to the next challenge because you are confident about yourself, its the first step to having a great day.

2. Be knowledgeable – So you have accepted a challenge. That’s only the first step. Now you have to find ways to meet them. Read. Learn. Ask for help. A truly confident person is one who does not shy away from asking for help. Accumulate as much knowledge as you can everyday and in your lifetime because that will be your greatest asset. Learn to apply what you have learned. Fail quickly and often so you can learn faster.

3. Be vocal – Now comes the crucial and most important next step and probably the more tougher thing to do. Share your knowledge and experience. Find ways to voice your opinion, voice your thoughts, share it with others. When you spend your day teaching others what you have just learned, you learn more yourself. Talk about it at staff meetings, seminars, conferences, perhaps Toastmaster meetings. It will not only make you the new ‘expert’ but funny enough, you will find yourself feeling more confident about yourself which brings us back to the first ‘Be’. Sharing knowledge and being vocal will make you more confident about yourself.

So the more confident you are, the more challenges you accept. The more you accept, the more knowledgeable you become. The more knowledge you accumulate, the more you will have to share with others and voice your expertise which brings you back again to step 1. It completes the feedback loop and you will find yourself more satisfied with the way your day went. In the end that’s all that matters.

The 3Be path is just plain common sense and you probably already know you should be doing this. Now go ahead and do it.

My fav mashup – Gmaps Pedometer

This is simply the most useful mash-up i have ever ‘run’ into.

Gmaps Pedometer

Time to run

The Cult of Done Manifesto (@bre)

Love it. Just happened to run into this post and i can’t agree with this more (especially #12). Check out the article for more…

The Cult of Done Manifesto

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

3. There is no editing stage.

4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.

7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.

8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.

10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.

11. Destruction is a variant of done.

12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

13. Done is the engine of more.

via Bre Pettis | I Make Things – Bre Pettis Blog – The Cult of Done Manifesto.

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Addressing the right needs for researchers and students

As a Product Manager I always wonder if I am really addressing the right issues for our users. I recently read an article (linked below) that talks about encouraging young researchers to be comfortable with asking questions and diving into the unknown. Great essay titled – The importance of stupidity in scientific research. Please read it. Though the essay is addressed to students following a PhD program, I could definitely relate to it in my daily work.

Some takeaways are –

  1. productively stupid – that is, if we don’t feel stupid it means we’re not really trying
  2. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries

[The author Dr. Martin A. Schwartz distinguishes between being ‘productively stupid’ and ‘relative stupdity’ within the article.]

But perhaps the bigger takeaway for me was this –

How could I possibly frame the questions that would lead to significant discoveries; design and interpret an experiment so that the conclusions were absolutely convincing; foresee difficulties and see ways around them, or, failing that, solve them when they occurred?

This question has to be very common in the minds of students who are new to the PhD program and trying to find the appropriate topic to research on.  It has to be somewhat similar to my job as a Product Manager trying to find an area of the product to improve. What has been done, what has not been done, is somebody already working on this, who do i talk to, what if i have ‘stupid question’, so on and so forth. More importantly, formulate a hypothesis, determine if its really going to be useful and then sell it.

The question on my mind is – Are we really doing anything via appropriate tools and solution to help address these real work flow issues for researchers. Are we really facilitating the discovery of knowledge? Or are we merely repositories that people come and rummage through in the hopes of finding some nuggets of information?

Please read The importance of stupidity in scientific research — Schwartz 121 11: 1771 — Journal of Cell Science.

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ScienceDirect – Search log analysis: What it is, what’s been done, how to do it

The use of data stored in transaction logs of Web search engines, Intranets, and Web sites can provide valuable insight into understanding the information-searching process of online searchers. This understanding can enlighten information system design, interface development, and devising the information architecture for content collections. This article presents a review and foundation for conducting Web search transaction log analysis. A methodology is outlined consisting of three stages, which are collection, preparation, and analysis. The three stages of the methodology are presented in detail with discussions of goals, metrics, and processes at each stage. Critical terms in transaction log analysis for Web searching are defined. The strengths and limitations of transaction log analysis as a research method are presented. An application to log client-side interactions that supplements transaction logs is reported on, and the application is made available for use by the research community. Suggestions are provided on ways to leverage the strengths of, while addressing the limitations of, transaction log analysis for Web-searching research. Finally, a complete flat text transaction log from a commercial search engine is available as supplementary material with this manuscript.

via ScienceDirect – Library & Information Science Research : Search log analysis: What it is, what’s been done, how to do it.

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