Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Snippets - a blogging meander

Down in Victoria in Memory and history, the Resident Judge is worried by her inability to re-find a key reference for her thesis. I empathized at once. Looking at what she does already to record and manage material left me standing in awe!

You no full-feedee? Me no subscribee!, a post on Gordon Smith's personal blog, part answered some questions that have been interesting me, the impact on blogging and blogging statistics of the use of feeds and other aggregation devices such as Google Reader. Among other things, it means that individual site statistics become a less reliable indicator of actual readership patterns.

Still on blogging as well as the increasing use of on-line material in research, Don Arthur's Down the memory hole (or how I went from man to mouse) provides an interesting discussion on the problems that can arise as a consequence of the sometimes ephemeral nature of the on-line world, as well as the increasing concentration of on-line resources in a small number of sites.

I actually worry about this at a personal level. For example, when should I include include an on-line reference in a footnote? What do I do with a personally interesting block of material that I find? If I just include a link, then that may simply disappear. If I replicate it on-line, and ignoring copy right issues, how long will my own site survive?

These issues are not new, of course, but they have got worse. As an earlier example, the decision to move records to microfilm caused major problems because, while it saved space, the short life of those records and the cost involved in preserving and replicating them quickly became a major issue.

Really, the best chance of longer term survival still lies in paper.

Neil's Google Reader led me to Vast majority of published research claims may be false. The issue that it deals with, the validity of the statistical techniques used in modern research, is an important one.

I struggle a little with this one. I have written a fair bit about evidence based approaches, here for example, because they are so important today. While I do support them, I am always conscious of the ways in which they can mislead. I have a very particular personal problem in that my knowledge of the theoretical basis of statistics as a discipline is so imperfect. In some ways today we have just too much information, too little knowledge.

Sheep are dumb. Now there's a categorical statement! I was reminded of this by a post on Ochre Archives, Drenching Sheep and Weaning Lambs. Now as I have said before, I am a townie, not a farm kid. As a kid helping on the property, those merino ewes were pretty large relative to my then size. You would grab them, push, and nothing would happen!

Mind you, sheep are a bit like people. You have to give them time!     

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