Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grassroots work in the Roma community

"All the Roma professionals who were interviewed had great hand-on experience working with Roma at the grassroots level, and also in international institutions. Most of us had very little or no experience with sugar-coating failures, accepting and supporting poor decisions of senior management, promoting practices that waste huge amounts of money in useless meetings, huge consultancy fees, and irrelevant trainings. In other words… none of us had worked for the European Commission.

What message did I get out of this? That if I want a job as a bureaucrat, the skills that matter are to have low energy, to accept poor decisions made by others around me, to be able to present failures as success, and to have a non-threatening personality. The glass ceiling is concrete solid when it comes to Roma. Roma participation is indeed very important as long as is done from a very safe distance." 

More here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lincoln's depression

"Much research suggests," Alloy has written, "that when they are not depressed, people are highly vulnerable to illusions, including unrealistic optimism, overestimation of themselves, and an exaggerated sense of their capacity to control events. The same research indicates that depressed people's perceptions and judgments are often less biased."

"Throughout his life Lincoln's response to suffering—for all the success it brought him—led to greater suffering still. When as a young man he stepped back from the brink of suicide, deciding that he must live to do some meaningful work, this sense of purpose sustained him; but it also led him into a wilderness of doubt and dismay, as he asked, with vexation, what work he would do and how he would do it."

 "Lincoln saw how man's reason could discern purpose even in the movement of a vast machine that grinds and cuts and mashes all who interfere with it. Just as a child learns to pull his hand from a fire, people can learn when they are doing something that is not in accord with the wider, unseen order."

".. he was always inclined to look at the full truth of a situation, assessing both what could be known and what remained in doubt. When faced with uncertainty he had the patience, endurance, and vigor to stay in that place of tension, and the courage to be alone."

 Full article here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From research to product

".. the competitive advantage likely to be gained from the introduction of a new product largely depends on one's ability to create a demand for it, which usually has more to do with an ability to second-guess consumers than anything truly revolutionary in the product itself. Thus, relatively small innovations can end up making huge profits for big companies, while truly radical innovations can be easily captured or ignored."

".. the expansion of the arts and sciences faculties in the universities in the 19th and 20th centuries had been nation-building exercises motivated by the prospect of citizen mobilisation in time of war. The humanities provided instruction in the values that needed to be upheld; the social sciences taught the relevant mechanisms of social control; and the natural sciences contributed to the consolidation and upgrading of the nation's infrastructure and defense system. However, in times of peace, these disciplines potentially created obstacles to commerce by reifying differences that could otherwise be negotiated away in the free exchange of goods and services."

Steve Fuller, Knowledge Management Foundations

"Pedro Cuatrecasas states, “during the R&D of acyclovir (Zovirax), marketing [department of Burroughs Wellcome] insisted that there were ‘no markets’ for this compound. Most had hardly heard of genital herpes...” Thus marketing the medical condition – separating the ‘normal cold sore’ from the ‘stigmatized genital infection’ was to become the key to marketing the drug, a process now known as ‘disease mongering’."
Much of the hysteria and stigma surrounding herpes stems from a media campaign beginning in the late 1970s and peaking in the early 1980s. There were multiple articles worded in fear-mongering and anxiety-provoking terminology, such as the now ubiquitous "attacks," "outbreaks," "victims," and "sufferers." At one point the term "herpetic" even entered the popular lexicon. The articles were published by Reader's Digest, U.S. News, and Time magazine, among others."

Wiki article

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pushing boundaries

"Boundary pushing is more likely to occur when there is a balance between ability and challenge, otherwise frustration and disappointment may set in."

Bereiter and Scardamalia, Surpassing Ourselves: An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I have a dream

"We know that we will be able to do tomorrow what we barely dreamed of yesterday, and that successful innovations will be assimilated rapidly into the texture of our society to become part of our everyday routines and expectations."
Brian R. Gaines

"humans became behaviourally modern when they could reliably transmit accumulated informational capital to the next generation, and transmit it with sufficient precision for innovations to be preserved and accumulated."
Kim Sterelny

"the compulsion to know is a mania, just like dipsomania, erotomania, homicidal mania: it produces a character out of balance. It is not at all true that a scientist goes after the truth. It goes after him. It is something he suffers from."
The Man Without Qualities, Musil

"The first major library of which we have detailed accounts are those of Aristotle some 2,400 years ago, collected despite the sarcastic comments of his peers because he regarded it as important to understand the ideas of others in developing his own."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Research tensions in NLP

"There seems to be kind of Boyle-Mariotte Law (volume times pressure is constant) in operation: at one end of the scale, researchers apply a lot of “pressure” (deep analysis) to a few dozen to few thousand items; at the other end, they apply analytic techniques that are a great deal shallower, but the volume of items is considerably larger, often in the millions to hundreds of millions of items."

Andras Kornai and Beth Sundheim
In the introduction of a workshop.