I enjoyed reading (May)

autumn book

Stop publishing web pages (Anil Dash):

Start moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices.

What happens when everyone is pushing their content out into streams that can be filtered, mixed together, repurposed and republished? I shouldn’t have to go to a page to get your stuff. I should be able to subscribe to your feed. And more than that, I should be able to subscribe to only the parts of your feed that interest me.


Impact factors declared unfit for duty:

I think basing a judgement on the name or impact factor of the journal rather that the work that the scientist in question has reported is profoundly misguided…Do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.

Of course, the problem is that while I may not think the Impact Factor has any real value, my institution does. Sad face.


The world needs you to stop being boring (Garr Reynolds):

Stop being boring. “The world needs you to stop being boring,” he says. “Everyone can be boring. Boring is easy! “What will you create that will make the world awesome?” Robbie Nova asks. “Nothing if you keep sitting there!” So get up and take the road less traveled — that’s the road that leads to awesome!


This 3D printed biplastic windpipe saved a baby’s life (Clay Dillow):

Using high resolution imaging to build a digital picture of Kaiba’s trachea, they were able to print a customized biopolymer tracheal splint for the infant using a 3-D printer.

OK, so we can do this now. We can basically take pictures of things and then print them. Perfectly. And it’s getting cheaper. How long before every house (or community) has a 3D printer connected to a database of shared schematics that people can use to print whatever they need?

Related (kind of): Two year old girl receives new trachea made from her own stem cells, and Injectable oxygen keeps people alive without breathing. Science is awesome.


Let there be stoning (Jay Lehr):

We attempt to achieve excellence of written presentation in our journals. We can require no less in our conferences. It is an honor to be accepted as a speaker who will spend the valuable time of hundreds of scientists at a conference. Failure to spend this time wisely and well, failure to educate, entertain, elucidate, enlighten, and most important of all, failure to maintain attention and interest should be punishable by stoning. There is no excuse for such tedium, so why not exact the ultimate penalty?

Is this a bit harsh? No. I don’t think so. I spend a lot of time preparing my presentations. I read up on design principles. I spend ages deciding what font I will use. I choose my pictures carefully. And that’s after I’ve spent a lot of time preparing the academic content. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the same of others. If you don’t have time to prepare well, don’t submit your abstract. See also How to give a presentation that bores your audience.