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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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[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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[22 Dec 2014 | 5 Comments | ]
Loss, time and money

For my holiday project I’m reading through my old blog posts and trying to track the conversations that they were part of. What is shocking, but not surprising with a little thought, is how many of my current ideas seem to spring into being almost whole in single posts. And just how old some of those posts are. At the some time there is plenty of misunderstanding and rank naivety in there as well.
The period from 2007-10 was clearly productive and febrile. The links out from my posts point to …

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[18 Nov 2014 | 5 Comments | ]
Data Capture for the Real World

Many efforts at building data infrastructures for the “average researcher” have been funded, designed and in some cases even built. Most of them have limited success. Part of the problem has always been building systems that solve problems that the “average researcher” doesn’t know that they have. Issues of curation and metadata are so far beyond the day to day issues that an experimental researcher is focussed on as to be incomprehensible. We clearly need better tools, but they need to be built to deal with the problems that researchers face. …

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[30 Jul 2014 | 2 Comments | ]
A Prison Dilemma

I am currently on holiday. You can tell this because I’m writing, reading and otherwise doing things that I regard as fun. In particular I’ve been catching up on some reading. I’ve been meaning to read Danah Boyd‘s It’s Complicated for some time (and you can see some of my first impressions in the previous post) but I had held off because I wanted to buy a copy.
That may seem a strange statement. Danah makes a copy of the book available on her website as a PDF (under a CC BY-NC license) …

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[29 May 2014 | 3 Comments | ]

It takes me a while to process things. It often then takes me longer to feel able to write about them. Two weeks ago we lost one of the true giants of Open Science. Others have written about Jean-Claude’s work and his contributions – and I don’t feel able to add much to those reflections at the moment. I will also be participating in a conference panel in August at which Jean-Claude was going to speak and which will now be dedicated to his memory – I may have something …