(A lot of) Misc Links

September 1, 2010 at 4:17 am

| Gabriel |

  • A few years ago Jeremy revealed that his incredibly nerdy hobby. was writing interactive fiction (think “Zork”) about a procrastinating grad student trying to lash himself to the mast so he can get some work done instead of playing around on the internet. This gem of 21st century literature might never have existed if Jeremy just spent $10 on Freedom, a program that disables your internet connection for a few hours. I’d like to see my university buy a site license for this thing — we’d shoot to the top of the NRC rankings within a few years.
  • Internet culture has now produced the second derivative of awesome with the North Carolina A&T marching band doing an awesome instrumental cover of the Gregory Brothers’ awesome remix of Antoine Dodson’s awesome rapped news interview about his awesome defense of his sister from a decidedly not awesome attempted rapist.
  • Somebody at Coach handbags has been reading Joel Podolny (ht MR)
  • Good stuff on scraping websites with Python (ht Gelman’s blog)
  • Speaking of data mining, Ad Age has another article on how major corporations use it to assess the health of their brands.
  • One of my pet peeves is political journalism that explains statistically insignificant blips in opinion polls on the basis of obscure events, you know, stories like “Is Obama dropping in the polls because his American flag lapel pin was a little crooked last week?” Meanwhile back in reality, most voters can’t name a single Supreme Court justice. As such I thoroughly enjoyed this satire showing what political journalism would look like were it written by academic political scientists.
  • Matt Salganik has released the data from his amazingly good dissertation (i.e., the MP3 experiment with manipulated download counts). Also in there are the actual MP3s so you can finally hear what Stunt Monkey sounds like.
  • Rethinking Markets has a good account of how the writers at Scienceblogs revolted when the site tried to create a nutrition blog brought to you by Pepsi (yes, really). Most people see this as a glass half empty thing in that structural factors such as dependence on revenue skewed science journalism to promote corporate interests. Myself, I see the glass half full since labor went on strike when its professional ideology was threatened. More generally, the strength of the journalist ideology of “objectivity” is the main reason why I don’t believe in Marxist political economy, either structural or instrumental, about the mass media. I mean, how is the boss man supposed to exercise his theoretical power if every time he tries the journalists raise hell? In the long-run this could theoretically change, especially as the objectivity ideology is conspicuously weakening, but in the short to medium run I’m pretty confident about this.
  • Felix Salmon has a good column on how Hollywood managed to squash the HSX (i.e., betting on motion picture box office). I was personally disappointed by this because I was hoping to analyze the data, which would be a lot more interesting if it switched from Monopoly money to cash.
  • Rudix is a minimalist Unix package manager for Mac. It has a very limited selection of packages but could be good for people who have trouble getting Fink or MacPorts to work. The two packages of most interest to sociologists are probably gnuplot (statistical graphs) and wget (web scraping).
  • As previously expressed, I refuse to buy Kindle e-books because the architecture allows the server to delete files from the client, for instance if Amazon gets a court order to this effect. While I more or less trust US courts to respect a free press, I am profoundly cynical about foreign courts and the libel and hate/blasphemy laws they adjudicate. Likewise, I have no confidence in Amazon’s willingness to defy court orders to throw my books down the memory hole if a court can credibly threaten to freeze its foreign assets. You’d have to be nuts to buy a Kindle edition of, for instance, Orianna Fallaci’s last few books. Fortunately Congress passed a law barring US courts from enforcing foreign (read: British) libel judgements. Now if they’d only extend this to cover blasphemy/hate speech I can begin to wean myself off of paper. Better yet, Amazon could just change the architecture of the device so that it’s impossible to delete anything from it without client-side approval.

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