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Comment Same goes for wider publishing (Score 1) 106

I have sympathy for Shekman's argument, but it's the same story throughout publishing, not just for science. Publishers build their reputation on brilliant authors, but I don't know a single publisher that only publishes brilliant books/journals. Where his argument wobbles for me is when he mentions elife as being free to view but sponsored by industry. How will he and his sponsors measure success of that venture? The cynic in me suggests that as well as readership figures and brilliance of content, reputation will form a part. It may be softer than the Nature approach, but perhaps that just means it isn't as successful yet.

Comment Classify me, now! (Score 1) 267

For all those 24% who say "Stop trying to classify me!", get real. We all classify people all the time, and the nuances that different group of people go through and what we all deem acceptable will bewilder anyone who gives it any thought at all. So, like the 24%, I used to try to be insistent on being a birder rather than a birdwatcher, a road cyclist rather than a biker or cycle tourer, and so ad infinitum for any of the myriad activities I choose to indulge in. And I would get angst-ridden about people getting it wrong. But not now. It's all just labels. Some are useful; others less so, but I now choose to collect these labels. So yes, I am a geek, a nerd, a dweeb, a brainiac, a freak, a weirdo and any other label you want to throw at me. So what? If I disagreed, you'd have given me a different label - trouble, argumentative, pain in the neck, grouch, grump. Whatever. I embrace the lot. Now that you've given me a name let's have a proper conversation.

Comment ask them (Score 2) 265

Ask them what they want and adapt accordingly. They probably won't ask for pron because they can get that elsewhere and aren't dumb enough to think you can offer that at school. But if you get them to choose from a list of things that you know you are capable of offering them, you will give them some ownership in the club. They often find that easier than starting from scratch. In my experience, high school kids rarely get asked their opinions about anything that matters directly to them . . . and if you ask their opinions your club will start to matter to them.

Comment Re:3 Million Sigantures?! (Score 1) 219

Although most fruit and veg (but not grasses such as wheat and barley) are insect-pollinated, it's not true to say that honeybees have the monopoly. European studies suggest that honeybees account for around 30% of insect pollination, with the rest being down to flies, bumble bees, wasps, beetles, moths, etc. In Britain, most biologists accept that honeybees are non-native parts of our fauna, and some people think that they can outcompete native bee species, although the science for this is slim. Nor is it true to suggest that honeybees are necessarily the most efficient pollinators. Many native bees, for example, put in longer hours in colder conditions (and require no winter feeding) than lazy old honeybees, and many wildflowers (but not, I grant you crop species) have co-evolved with their native pollinator hosts and have pollen and nectar that is unavailable to honeybees, either because of the flower's size and structure or because the nectar is released at night.

Comment Why search? (Score 2) 279

Is it me, or am I the only person who searches for things *they don't already know?* As personalisation increases, our very idea of relevance becomes more limited. If I search for music and this new-fangled searchy thing is going to throw me stuff that I already like, how am I ever going to get the chance of liking anything radically different? Oh, I know. How about by not using Google+

Comment Start with an essay (Score 1) 173

It's not a book, but George Orwell's essay on Politics and the English Language should be required reading for anyone working on usability. So often the focus is on the graphics, the number of clicks of a mouse, etc, but the language used and how that fits the audience's understanding is overlooked. An example: in the early days of web design, I was presented with a page with a link to "FAQs". This was for the general public. I asked all my colleagues what FAQ meant and no-one knew. "It's the industry standard term" I was told. When we changed the link to read "Frequently Asked Questions" the number of phone calls to our enquiries department fell. You have to go where the audience is, not just where you want them to be.

Comment Depends on the data (Score 1) 56

Doesn't "how much is too much" depend more on what sort of data you are talking about than the systems used to record and analyse it? Aircraft risk analysts would surely argue that they need all the data they can get to help prevent every instance of catastrophic failure. Biologists on the other hand are used to working with extraordinarily fuzzy data and still drawing valid conclusions

Comment Re:Whose law? (Score 1) 192

I hope you mean you don't volunteer because that's what *they* say rather than that's what you are. Online and offline risks to children are manageable through carefully thought out and followed procedures rather than legislation alone, but at present it's not even clear what is legislation and what's someone's view of common sense rules.

Comment Re:Whose law? (Score 2) 192

I see where you are coming from ledow and sympathise from a user's viewpoint, but the answer to your question is that I care about the law and so does my company. I run a large UK children's club as part of a larger charity, and not surprisingly, many of the kids are not only on Facebook (shock!) but also prefer to communicate via Facebook rather than by something as 20th Century as email. Other people in my organisation are still not only scared by all the usual scary internet things, but also keep saying that even our own message boards *must* remain exclusively for adults for legal reasons. I dispute that and would like to have ways of backing up my view that not only do we need to communicate in ways that children are themselves using, but that the any rules on social media are under the control of the people who make the rules up, not the lawmakers.

Comment Whose law? (Score 1) 192

So far as I know, in the UK, there is nothing legal to prevent children of any age taking part in social media. (If I am wrong, please correct me). The European Data Protection Act is often quoted, but is not age specific, it just says that the expected target audience should understand what they are signing up to, and most agencies reckon that understanding comes at around the age of 12, which, coincidentally, is the same age at which they can be legally culpable of violent crimes. So if a bunch of savvy 11 year olds want to communicate among themselves via Facebook entirely within the UK, without asking for parental consent (or even with it) are they breaking anyone's laws? Just because Facebook tries to work within California's rules, does that mean that UK use by young children is a problem - not counting the whole appropriateness/stalker issue?

Submission + - Bee disease breakthrough (bbc.co.uk) 1

moorhens writes: The BBC is describing new research that could save honeybees from the deadly Varroa mite. Unlike other treatments that have to balance the prospect of killing the mites against killing the bees themselves, this uses a genetic switch to turn the mites into their own worst enemy. Worldwide, the Varroa mite has been ravaging honeybee populations, either as a result of direct parasitism or by transmitting viruses. If this research does result in a practical medicine for bees, perhaps this will provide an answer to colony collapse disorder that has been decimating US bees. In Europe, we haven't had CCD (whatever you may read elsewhere), but Varroa alone is enough to wipe out an untreated colony in three years.

Comment It's happened before (Score 1) 252

In 1969, Ken Loach's film, Kes, sparked a craze for kestrels as pets in Britain. The RSPB (The UK's largest wild bird conservation charity) were really worried that so many kestrels were being taken illegally from nests, especially at a time when the species was in trouble thanks ot the DDT poisoning scandal of the time. The RSPB was concerned that Hedwig may spark a similar craze in the UK, but it simply hasn't happened. Whether that is because there are very few owls around (and no snowy owls breeding in the UK), or the result of 40 years more environmental education is debatable. However, as India has comprehensively trashed its biodiversity in the recent years (eg 99 per cent decline in vulture populations in the last 10 years), perhaps Harry Bloody Potter is as convenient a scapegoat as any other.