November 25, 2005

Goodbye and Good Luck to Computing Chris

Chris Leonard of Elsevier has just posted this on his Computing Chris blog:

OK - the news is out! I am leaving Elsevier as of today to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I have had fun and met some amazing people, but I feel the time is right to move back to England and have a fresh start in another field entirely.

To everyone who reads the blog, who I have met at conferences and visited at your institutes - thanks for making the last few years so enjoyable.

Best wishes for the future,

PS: I will remain contactable on cjleonard at mac dot com. Also, I will try to keep up with the blogging here.

Although Chris was only part of the scitech biblioblogosphere for short time, I always appreciated the insights he gave into the journal publishing world.

On the off-chance Elsevier removes his blog, it's worth reprinting here his post on 14 Steps to the Perfect CS Journal:

  1. FREE ACCESS - at least at the point of use. Subscribers access the journal for 1 year, then all articles are available to everyone who wants them?
  2. DIGITAL PRESERVATION - the profileration of electronic journals is all well and good, but they need to be available in 100 years time. This could be done by independent 3rd parties.
  3. UPDATEABLE ARTICLES - following the example of versions on arXiv, authors should be able to update their articles whenever new date or results are available. Old versions remain available as well.
  4. BETTER PEER REVIEW - open, on-going peer review. Anyone can comment on an article and suggest improvements or point out inaccuracies. Maybe also worth adopting something like F1000 or this reviewer rating system.
  5. SOME PROFIT - a commercial company needs to make a profit to survive. What would be an acceptable level of profit to make (after tax)? Any excess could go to reducing the costs of the journal subscriptions.
  6. INTERACTIVE ARTICLES - apart from readers being able to leave comments on an article, it would be nice to see some real functionality in CS articles. Maybe raw data for manipulation within Mathematica or Maple?
  7. RAW DATA - all articles to have raw data available on the web in an open, interchangeable format.
  8. INSTANT PUBLISHING - if we adopt a model whereby people can comment on articles when they are published, peer-review becomes an constant, ongoing process. Authors may choose to make sure the paper is refereed before submission. When the editor evaluates a submission, he or she is simply making sure it makes sense and is in the right journal - a 10 minute process, eliminating the need for lengthy review processes.
  9. OPTIONAL PRINT - electronic journals with an optional print version available for a small fee.
  10. RSS FEEDS - all journals to have RSS feeds for Table of Contents.
  11. SOCIAL SOFTWARE - allow users to tag articles to create a folksonomy (good for discovering articles from other journals you wouldn’t normal consult). Adopt things like ‘interestingness’ but for journal articles.
  12. SEARCH ENGINES - abstract or full-text indexed in all search engines.
  13. ADVISORY BOARD - alongside an editorial board, an advisory board of scientists and librarians to suggest and comment on new directions for publishing the journal.
  14. CUSTOMER SERVICE - available via email, but also Skype, instant messaging etc. A regular weblog from this source would also help keep interested parties updated on what is happening behind the scences.

November 24, 2005

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

Thanks to John Rennie at Scientific American for making the above article that he wrote freely available to the world at the following link. A while back I emailed the SciAm digital library asking if they could make the article available for free on their website. I remembered the artcile very clearly from when I'd read it in July 2002 and remembered it as a very useful summary of the main points for defending evolution. In any case, I shortly got back a very nice response from Rennie, the Editor-in-Chief, saying that they would make the article available and that they were in the process of creating a pro-evolution web presence on their site. It's been a while since I last checked to see if the article was up, but I did today and it's there now. There's also a link to the sidebar material from the original article on other resources for defending evolution.

Thanks to SciAm and John Rennie for performing this valuable service.

Here's the link that the SciAm website wants me to use:

Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism
by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up

November 22, 2005

TA's as the Key to Science Teaching

A thought-provoking article by Scott Jaschik over at InsideHigherEd. It seems that if you spend a little time teaching TAs how to teach and supporting their efforts while they're teaching, you get happier students, who then want to remain in your program.

November 21, 2005

Engineering makes you sexier...

Or maybe not. As much as I like Dilbert, as funny as I think it is, as much as it refects what my previous life as a software developer was like, I also have to think that it might be one of the worst things that ever happened to the profession, at least in terms of forging a positive public image. If kids are staying away from engineering (and science) careers, maybe it's because there are so few positive images of scitech careers in the media. Think about it -- what tv show out there portrays science and scientists in a positive light? You can name them on the fingers of one hand. Compare the media image of scitech careers with doctors, lawyers, police, mediums, ghost hunters and all the rest. Thank god for the odd forensic expert on the police shows (I consider CSI & its clones more cop shows than scientist shows). I think this lack of positive image in the media also plays an important role in discouraging girls from pursuing scitech careers, again comparing the progress women have made in fields like law & medicine where there are lots of positive media role models. End of rant.

Geeks R Us

A couple of less-than-serious posts from Locusmag:

By the way, I hope to get back to my regular posting frequency in the next couple of weeks. In particular, I'm working on a "My Job in 10 Years -- Further Comment" essay about my love-hate relationship with Google which I'm going to try and finish this week. November may just be one of those months.

November 10, 2005

Game developer demographics

The Internation Game Developers' Association has just released a Demographics Report on their industry.

The typical gamer is:

  • Male (88.5%)
  • White (83.3%)
  • Heterosexual (92%)
  • 31 years old
  • 5.4 years in the industry

With lots more information on level of education and other demographic information. Apparently, the industry is worried that a workforce lacking in diversity won't be able to create games that will have broader appeal. The IGDA has a page full of various reports on issues such as quality of life in the industry, legal issues, censorship and a bunch of SIGs. via SciFi Weekly, believe it or not.

Women & Engineering

Prism, The ASEE's magazine, is usually a good read. Interesting discussions about the challenges of engineering Education. The latest is highlighted in ASEE's Engineering & blog here. In particular, the cover story on the challenges of attracking women into engineering is very good. It covers some of the obstacles women face, why engineering is not attractive to women and what one female engineer is doing to change things. Bravo to Prism for this great set of articles. The links from the Engineering & page are to full text for all the articles.