O'Really?

April 2, 2012

Open Data Manchester: Twenty Four Hour Data People

Sean Ryder at the Hacienda by Tangerine Dream on flickr

Sean Ryder, the original twenty-four hour Manchester party person of the Happy Mondays, spins the discs at the Wickerman festival in 2008. Creative commons licensed image via Tangerine Dream on flickr.com

According to Francis Maude, Open Data is the raw material for “next industrial revolution”. Now you should obviously take everything politicians say with a large pinch of salt (especially Maude) but despite the political hyperbole, when it comes to data he is onto something.

According to wikipedia, which is considerably more reliable than politicians, Open Data is:

“the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.”

Open Data is slowly having an impact in the world of science [1] and also in wider society. Initiatives like data.gov in the U.S. and data.gov.uk in England, also known as e-government or government 2.0, have put huge amounts of data in the public domain and there is plenty more data in the pipeline. All of this data makes novel applications possible, like cycling injury maps showing accident black spots, and many others just like it.

To discuss the current status of Open Data in Greater Manchester there were two events last week:

  1. The Open Data Manchester meetup “24 hour data people” [2] at the the Manchester Digital Laboratory (“madlab”), which recently made BBC headlines with the DIY bio project
  2. The Discover Open Data event at the Cornerhouse cinema
Here is a brief and incomplete summary of what went on at these events:

(more…)

March 15, 2012

Be nice to nerds … you may end up working for them

Thought for the day: be nice to nerds because you might end of up working for them.

This sound advice comes from DARPA defector and newly appointed Googler Regina Dugan (see picture below).

Regina Dugan by Steve Jurvetson

What’s that you say? You’re not sure exactly what a nerd is? There are many definitions but the graphic below sums it up better than the Oxford English Dictionary ever could.

Are you a nerd, geek, dork or dweeb?

But beware! Many self-confessed nerds may actually be dorks, dweebs or geeks. It’s a grey area out there in the Venn of Nerdery, not quite as clear cut as the diagram above. To be sure of treating nerds right, you’ll need to be nice to dorks, dweebs and geeks too! See video for details…

[Creative Commons licensed picture of Regina Dugan at TED via Steve Jurvetson]

August 7, 2007

Scifoo: Geek Out! Le Geek, C’est Chic…

Deepak Singh and Euan Adie

As well as big famous superstars at Science Foo Camp (scifoo), there is a chance to meet and “geek out” with younger engineers and scientists like Vince Smith, Aaron Schwartz and Vaughan Bell.

Aaron Schwartz and the open library project

On Sunday at scifoo, Aaron (of archive.org) gave a quick demo of the Open Library. Currently this project is taking books that are out of print and not in other book catalogues like Amazon, and making them available online. They are intending to move into archiving scientific journals, so watch that space. I’ve always wondered how the internet archive survived financially, and managed all its interesting projects (like the open library). It’s all funded by some bloke called Brewster Kahle. They provide some great services, like hosting digital artifacts for free, see http://www.archive.org/create/.

Vince Smith, Museums and Drupal

Vince Smith is a “cyber-taxonomist” at the Natural History Museum in London. He’s a world expert on parasitic lice, and uses a multi-site installation of Drupal, see vsmith.info (Hmmm, that drupal skin looks familiar…). Vince uses a drupal module for bibliographic citations, called biblio, looks handy. It’d be nice to have it on nodalpoint? Anyway, anytime spent looking around Vince’s site is time well spent.

Vaughan Bell, Mind Hacker

Vaughan Bell is a clinical psychologist. We chatted about wikipedia and science, as demonstrated by Schizophrenia. He’s also a contributor to a book on MindHacks and blogs at mindhacks.com. My suitcase is full of free O’Reilly book-schwag I filled my boots with on Friday, one of which is Vaughan’s book. Looks like it will be a good read on the plane home, because my brain is in need of some serious “optimisation”.

(Two more geeks, pictured right, but regular nodalpoint readers will know all about them already, Deepak Singh and Euan Adie.)

Theres plenty more I could blog about scifoo, but I’m all foo-ked up, geeked out and mashed-up. It’s time to go home. For more scifoo blogging see www.technorati.com/tags/scifoo, www.nature.com/scifoo and network.nature.com/blogs/tag/scifoo.

References

  1. Aaaaah: Freak Out! Le Freak, C’est Chic…

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