Archive for: October, 2012

Around the Web: The Impact of Social Media on the Dissemination of Research, Would you include your blog in your tenure file and more

Oct 27 2012 Published by under around the web

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Friday Fun: UK Health Secretary to open world's first placebo hospital

Oct 26 2012 Published by under friday fun

This is a classic case of "so funny because it's so almost true that if you didn't laugh you would stab yourself in the eye but that's a bad idea because all the hospitals are placebo hospitals and placebos don't work so well on stab wounds."

From my new best friend, Newsbiscuit: Jeremy Hunt to open world’s first placebo hospital.

Britain’s first hospital built entirely on the power of suggestion is to be opened next week as a cost-effective solution to the rising price of healthcare. The Royal London Placebo is totally fabricated, offers no actual treatments and will be manned entirely by extras from TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City.

‘Each doctor will have a nice white coat, a plastic stethoscope and a range of brightly coloured sugar pills,’ explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. ‘No expense has been spared,’ he said, ‘except the expense of building an actual hospital with trained staff and equipment.’


Pilot studies show that half the patients who attended a placebo hospital imagined they were better and went home; meanwhile the other half had a failure of imagination and died on the spot. ‘Either way it’s a win-win,’ said Hunt.

Read the whole thing. It's very funny.

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Around the Web: On Naming Names and Calling Out Trolls, Not so tech-savvy millennials and more

Oct 24 2012 Published by under around the web

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Getting Your Science Online: Presentation at Brock University Physics Department

It seems that Brock University in St. Catherine's, Ontario really likes me. Two years ago, the Library kindly invited me to speak during their Open Access Week festivities. And this year the Physics Department has also very kindly invited me to be part of their Seminar Series, also to talk about Getting Your Science Online, this time during OA Week mostly by happy coincidence.

It's tomorrow, Tuesday October 23, 2012 in room H313 at 12:30.

Here's the abstract I've provided:

Physicist and Reinventing Discovery author Michael Nielsen has said that due to the World Wide Web, “[t]he process of scientific discovery – how we do science – will change more over the next 20 years than in the past 300 years.” Given the cornucopian nature of the Web, there’s a tool or strategy that will help most everyone with concrete goals in their research program. In this session we’ll take a look at some of the incredible opportunities the Web has opened up for scientists, from Open Access publishing, Open Notebooks and Open Data on the one hand, to blogs, Twitter and Google+ on the other.

It looks to be great fun! I'd like to thank Thad Haroun and the Brock Physics Department for kindly inviting me. I'll post the slides on the blog later this week.

The rest of this post is what I guess would count as "supplemental materials" for the presentation. The first chunk is a bunch of links on the main topics of the presentation, all the various "Open Whatever" topics. The rest is a long list of readings on blogs, Twitter and general social media for academics that I've assembled over the years and at least somewhat digested into the presentation, mostly based on a post from last year but will some extra and more recent items added.
Open Access

Open Access Mandates & policies

Open Access Repositories


Open Data

Open Notebook Science

Blogging networks


Blog Aggregators

Some physics & math blogs

And here are the blogs/twitter/social media resources I promised.

Feel free to add any suggestions in the comments.

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Current/Future State of Higher Education: Week 2 reading list!

Oct 18 2012 Published by under acad lib future, academia, cfhe12, education, librarianship

I'm at the Access Conference in Montreal this week starting today, so I'm a bit behind on the readings for the Current/Future State of Higher Education MOOC I'm participating in. I'm hoping a nice long relaxing train ride will give me the opportunity to catch up.

Anyways, Week 1 was a great introduction to the issues facing higher ed and here in Week 2

Week 2: Net Pedagogies: New models for teaching and learning
Readings and Resources

Blended Learning Models

Online Learning

And this week we do have some interesting learning activities to get ourselves thinking.

Learning Activities: Week Two

  • Map what you are hearing to your institutional context. What parts are relevant to your institution?
  • What might be your role in moving your school to a new model?
  • Write a dialog/argument you would make to sell the administration on the idea of moving to a new model

The learning activities I'm basically just doing in my head rather than writing them down anywhere. And that's partly because my institution is both a little behind on these types of things but is also definitely aiming much higher and hoping to make some progress. As our Provost Patrick Monahan's TEDxYorkU talk ably demonstrated, there is the desire and the will at the very top.

At the same time, I'm also quite aware that the learning activities do make an important assumption that is perhaps not completely justified -- that the correct and only path is finding a new technology-centric model and advocating for moving to that model. Which is I guess not surprising for a MOOC on basically that very topic. But still, I think an equally valid outcome for this course might be rejecting any idea of the inevitability/desirability of such a new model and coming up with an argument for that position.

Open inquiry is open inquiry, right?

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Around the Web: A victory for Fair Use, Defining critical thinking and more

Oct 17 2012 Published by under around the web

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The Canadian War on Science: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution

Oct 15 2012 Published by under Canada, environment, Politics

C. Scott Findlay, associate professor of biology at the University of Ottawa and a visiting research scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, had a sobering article in the Toronto Star a few days ago.

It's titled Governing in the dark: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution and it fits right in with my recent seemingly endless catalogue of how the current Canadian Conservative government is systematically undermining the free inquiry in Canada, scientific and otherwise. In the article Findlay first lays out some of the recent abuses and then gives four reasons why Canadians should resist the government's efforts to ignore science.

There are at least four reasons why all Canadians should repudiate Prime Minister Harper’s systematic erosion of science capacity in some areas, and more generally, his repudiation of scientific evidence.

First, true democracy is possible only with a well-informed and skeptical populace. And it is scientific evidence that informs, and the spirit of scientific inquiry that motivates, this essential constructive skepticism.

Second, the repudiation of scientific evidence is a de facto rejection of one of humanity’s greatest intellectual pursuits. It is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of science students in high schools, colleges and universities — and the spirit of intellectual curiosity and imagination that motivates them. In short, it undermines the intellectual capacity on which the future progress of Canadian society depends.

Third, there are areas of basic and applied research which are enormously important for the welfare of Canadians yet for which there is little potential for industrialization or commercialization — for example, the science that informs how best to protect both ourselves and our environment from the unsalutary consequences of the industrialization and commercialization of scientific knowledge.

Fourth, our tax dollars go to support programs and policies that are designed, we are told, to achieve certain goals. The more scientific evidence that is considered in taking decisions, the more likely we are to achieve desired goals and avoid undesired consequences.

Evidence-free decisions are merely uneducated guesswork. Scientific evidence is a form of insurance, a comparatively inexpensive yet effective way to ensure that much larger investments in government programs are not wasted, that opportunities are not squandered, and that others will not have to shoulder the burden of (whoops!) undesired and unanticipated consequences. In other words, scientific evidence forms the basis for true public accountability. And isn’t accountability the horse on which Harper rode into Parliament?

And here are some of my recent posts about the Harper government's war on information in general and science in particular:

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Around the Web: Everyone should program, Programming is hard, Both and more

Oct 13 2012 Published by under around the web

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Friday fun: 15 Lovecraftian stories to read once you've read all of Lovecraft

Oct 12 2012 Published by under friday fun

Longtime readers will know that I'm a big fan of the works of HP Lovecraft. And every once in a while it's nice to do an eldritch, namelessly horrific take on your typical Friday Fun.

I don't know about you, but I've read all of Lovecraft's original fiction (though not all the collaboration and ghost-written works) and even a fair bit of Lovecraftian or Cthulhuvian themed works by other writers.

But there's always more Mythos works being written and older works I've not tracked down yet. Blastr has been kind enough to recommend a bunch, many of which I've not seen or heard of and maybe you haven't either.

And so: 15 Lovecraftian stories to read once you've read all of Lovecraft.

(Some are short stories, so I link to a collection or anthology where they are available.)

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Current/Future State of Higher Education: An Open Online Course: Week 1 reading list!

Oct 11 2012 Published by under acad lib future, cfhe12, education, librarianship

Well, I've done it. I've signed up for a MOOC. MOOC, of course, being Massively Open Online Courses, are all the rage in higher-ed-more-disruptingly-than-thou circles, what with their potential is greatly expand the reach of higher education beyond a campus-bound constituency. But not without criticism, of course. Coursera is a popular example of a company that's offering MOOCs but there are a bunch of them out there now.

Having read so much about them over the last year or so, I thought I'd give one a try.

And as a bonus, this one is about the changes happening in the higher education world.

It's called Current/Future State of Higher Education: An Open Online Course.

In countries around the world, the transition to knowledge and service economies occurring rapidly. Competitive countries are no longer only those that have an abundance of natural resources, but also those with a highly educated populace. Higher education is increasingly recognized as a vehicle for economic development.

University leaders are struggling to make sense of how internationalization, the current economic conditions, and new technologies will impact their systems. Educators are uncertain of the impact of open educational resources, alternative accreditation models, de-professionalization of academic positions, and increased grant competitiveness. What is role of the academy in increasing national economic competitiveness while preserving the “vital combat for lucidity” that defines an open democratic society?

The six week course (which started this past Monday) covers the following topics:

Weekly Topics:

  • Change pressures: What is influencing higher education? (Oct 8-14)
  • Net pedagogies: New models of teaching and learning (Oct 15-21)
  • Entrepreneurship and commercial activity in education (Oct 22-28)
  • Big data and Analytics (Oct 29-Nov 4)
  • Leadership in Education (Nov 4-11)
  • Distributed Research: new models of inquiry (Nov 12- 18)

Weekly Format:

  • Each week will include readings, videos, and recommended activities. Live weekly presentations (2-3 each week) will be held with guest speakers.
  • The content will include peer-reviewed articles that articulate the landscape of educational change. Interactive activities will be included each week to give participants an opportunity to evaluate their understanding of the weekly content.

Course participants will also engage in recommended weekly activities (artifact creation and sharing) to contribute to the knowledge base of the weekly topic

Here in this space I'll be sharing the week's readings and perhaps even reflecting on my progress through the course. I'm not sure I'll be interacting much in the forums or on twitter, but you never know.

The hashtag is #CFHE12.

Week #1

This week's readings set the stage for the rest of the course, with a nice range of items all over the "omg higher ed the world is coming to an end spectrum" of commentary. I like the international perspective on the readings, that's for sure. I also like how they mix things up a bit on the techno-utopian side as well as strong criticisms of the techno-commercial approach. The "status quo is mostly alright" seems to be represented as well. I haven't gone through all of them in detail yet but it promises to be enlightening and entertaining.

I'm tempted to pull in a few suggestions of my own from all my Around the Web posts, but I think I'll just stick with what's on the official readings list for now.

Here goes.

OK, I can't resist including a bunch of items from my York colleague Melonie Fullick:

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