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Showing posts from August, 2010

Suffering from Information Overload... BING.

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The Microsoft advert for it's Bing search engine has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks now. Do you like mustaches? As someone that fell head over heels in love with Apple products about a year ago I was slightly reluctant to go back and try something that Microsoft has created. The persistent marketing tells me that, Bing promises to make search results easier to read by being 'visually organised' - I am presuming that is a fancy term for 'uses pictures', but I wouldn't know, I haven't used the system yet. I generally use Google and Pubmed to search (along with a few other sciency search engines).

This morning I have been dealing with/suffering from information overload (apparently soon to become a medical term, 'information fatigue syndrome'). I am trying to figure out a puzzle in my PhD project and I am attempting to do this by going through the literature. It's tough going. A search produces 1000s of results and the information th…

Science - all about the new, in an old fashioned way.

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Scientists work on the unknown; they are at the forefront of knowledge. They know what is new in technology, engineering and medicine before anyone else. Ironically, the way scientists record their information is firmly stuck in the dark ages, they hand write stuff, with pen and paper. The record of the experiments they carry out is contained in handwritten lab books. Hardly anyone still works with paper and ink anymore, is this an example of where something that isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed, or can technology help make life easier?

Filling out a lab book is annoying. Just writing one basic experiment can involve 2/3 pages of handwritten notes, 3 trips to the printer and a lot of cutting and sticking. As most experiments are repetitions of previous ones the methods are the same but the methods still need to be written out by hand in the lab book. For the majority of experiments results are revealed through a computer and the graphs created from results are also created by a comput…

Conflicts of Interest - What Journalists can Learn from Research

There is a report today in the Guardian covering the 'news' that various PR groups are changing images of areas (such as the country Rwanda) by giving journalists huge freebies (such as holidays to Rwanda) and then getting them to write about it. Of course they are. PR companies are experts in changing the opinions of the general public on people/places/organisations - that is what they are paid to do. I do not have a problem with this, PR is a good thing, it can change lives and educate people on certain topics.  The problem with this sponsored article writing is clear, only one view is being represented by the journalists involved as they are being 'paid' (through the freebies) to represent the people/place/organisation. This leads to an unbalanced article being reported - the journalist more than likely wouldn't have come to the same conclusions if they had been simply told by their boss to 'go and write a report on Rwanda'. Further, it leads to inaccura…