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[26 Aug 2015 | 2 Comments | ]
What exactly is infrastructure? Seeing the leopard’s spots

We ducked a fundamental question raised by our proposal for infrastructure principles: “what exactly counts as infrastructure?” Of course this is not a straightforward question and part of the reason for leaving it in untouched in the introductory post. We believe that any definition must entail a much broader discussion from the community. But we wanted to kick this off with a discussion of an important part of the infrastructure puzzle that we think is often missed. That the infrastructure we should care most about is often a layer below where our attention is focused.

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[19 Aug 2015 | 4 Comments | ]

A question I have got quite frequently over the last few months is “…no but seriously, what are you actually doing…”. The answer has got more precise bit by bit but I truly didn’t leave PLOS with a specific plan for world domination. What I did want to do was find a way to combine a return to a hard core research focus with projects that really are very practical. I guess its the same problem with all research, how to combine theory with practice.
As a first step towards finding …

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[7 Jul 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

For a long time it was difficult for evolutionary biology to make sense of a (male) peacock’s tail. Clearly it is involved in courtship but the investment in growing it, and the disdvantage of carrying it around, would seem to be a disadvantage over all. The burden of the tail might be worth it for a single male if female preferences are fixed
Fisher found a solution to this problem by noting that the genes for large tails in male peacocks would tend to be carried along with the genes for …

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[24 Jun 2015 | 8 Comments | ]

There has been much talk about both “academic freedom” as well as the responsibilities of scholars over the past few weeks. Both of these are troublesome concepts, not least because one person’s “freedom” is another’s irresponsible conduct. But particularly in the context of “academic freedom” the question of freedom to do or say what, and what responsibilities come with that is complex. And of course the freedom to speak is not the right to an expectation to be taken seriously. Any such right or authority is also tied to certain, …

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[15 Apr 2015 | Comments Off on Community Support for ORCID – Who’s next to the plate? | ]

Geoff Bilder, Jennifer Lin, Cameron Neylon
The announcement of a $3M grant from the Helmsley Trust to ORCID is a cause for celebration. For many of us who have been involved with ORCID, whether at the centre or the edges, the road to sustainability has been a long one, but with this grant (alongside some other recent successes) the funding is in place to take the organization to where it needs to be as a viable membership organization providing critical community services.
When we wrote the Infrastructure Principles we published some weeks …

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[6 Apr 2015 | Comments Off on .everyone or .science? Or both? Reflections on Martha Lane Fox’s Dimbleby Lecture | ]

On March 30 the BBC broadcast a 40 minute talk from Martha Lane Fox. The Richard Dimbleby Lecture is an odd beast, a peculiarly British, indeed a peculiarly BBC-ish institution. It is very much an establishment platform, celebrating a legendary broadcaster and ring marshaled by his sons, a family that as our speaker dryly noted are “an entrenched monopoly” in British broadcasting.
 
Indeed one might argue Baroness Lane Fox, adviser to two prime ministers, member of the House of Lords, is a part of that establishment. At the same time the …

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[10 Mar 2015 | One Comment | ]

Following on from (but unrelated to) my post last week about feed tools we have two posts, one from Deepak Singh, and one from Neil Saunders, both talking about ‘friend feeds’ or ‘lifestreams’. The idea here is of aggregating all the content you are generating (or is being generated about you?) into one place. There are a couple of these about but the main ones seem to be Friendfeed and Profiliac. See Deepaks’s post (or indeed his Friendfeed) for details of the conversations that can come out of these type …

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[23 Feb 2015 | 13 Comments | ]
Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures

Everything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures. We propose a set of principles by which Open Infrastructures to support the research community could be run and sustained. – Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin, Cameron Neylon

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[22 Feb 2015 | Comments Off on The problem of expertise: The Brighton/English Touring Theatre production of Stoppard’s Arcadia | ]
The problem of expertise: The Brighton/English Touring Theatre production of Stoppard’s Arcadia

The play Arcadia by Tom Stoppard‘s links entropy and chaos theory, the history of english landscape gardens, romantic literature and idiocies of academia. I’ve always thought of it as Stoppard’s most successful “clever” play, the one that best combines the disparate material he is bringing together into a coherent whole. Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead feels more straightforward, more accessible, although I don’t doubt that many will feel that’s because I’m missing its depths.
In the Theatre Royal Brighton/English Touring Theatre production that just closed at the Theatre Royal in Bath the part of Thomasina was played by …

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[9 Jan 2015 | 3 Comments | ]

There’s an argument I often hear that brings me up short. Not so much short because I don’t have an answer but because I haven’t managed to wrap my head around where it comes from. It generally comes in one of two forms, either “You can’t possibly understand our world because you’re not an X” (where X is either “humanist”, “creative” or “social scientist”) or its close variant “You can’t possibly understand…because you’re a scientist”.
There are a couple of reasons why this is odd to me. The first is a …