Yet another academic plagiarism scandal: blockchains, medical research, and patents

One must be intrinsically motivated to be ethical and honest. Integrity cannot be imposed by peer review.

This is not another SFYL (sorry for your loss) tale of cryptocurrency scamming. That is merely a grace note. Academic plagiarism can happen, regardless of whether bitcoin, blockchains, or cryptocurrency are involved.

One’s own professional community, and the moral implications of having lied and plagiarized i.e. shame, should be enough to keep scientific and other original researchers (and investigatory work in general) honest. It clearly isn’t. I make that observation based on this passage via Andrew Gelman (emphasis mine): (more…)

Published in: on November 16, 2018 at 6:28 am  Comments (7)  
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Internet standards for HTML

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is standardizing over 100 specifications for the open web, in at least 13 working groups. The CSS Working Group alone is in charge of 50 specifications. This does not include work on Unicode, HTTP and TLS.

http://tantek.com/2011/028/t5/standards-w3c-100-openweb-specs

New tag proposal.  Not really.

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from

I was waiting to post this until the debate between W3C and WHATWG about the status of HTML5 scope was resolved. However, I have waited since February 2011. Consensus is that HTML5 is being inappropriately used as a catch-all for every standard supported by modern browsers. Modern browsers actually include much more: CSS3 styling, WOFF (web fonts), semantic web elements such as microformats, 3-D graphics including SVG, and performance enhancements. HTML5 tags are merely one part of semantic web support. As a result, terminology was modified by WHATWG. HTML is the new HTML5(more…)

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 4:25 am  Comments (1)  
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PDF history and something special from Adobe

Part One: PDF history 

PDF is a formal open standard, ISO 32000. It was invented by Adobe Systems 17 years ago.

PDF = Portable Document Format

PDF history by Adobe

History of the PDF by Adobe Systems

The image links to a pleasant interactive timeline of Adobe Systems and its role in the development of the PDF. The chronology is in Flash, and thankfully free of any video or audio. Read more about Adobe Systems role in the history of PDF file development.

PDF files are more versatile than I realized, and

  • are viewable and printable on Windows®, Mac OS, and mobile platforms e.g. Android™
  • can be digitally signed
  • preserve source file information — text, drawings, video, 3D, maps, full-color graphics, photos — regardless of the application used to create them

Additional PDF file types exist, including PDF/A, PDF/E and U3D. All are supported by Adobe software.  (more…)

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm  Comments (3)  
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Transitory nature of information technology

Are we losing the means to preserve an enduring research trail? The premise is that due to the multiple forms of communication between academics and developers, and a lack of digital preservation standards, the steps leading to past scientific discovery and technological innovation will be lost.

Why is this re-creation, even documentation, so important?  First, for history of science and secondly, for innovators to be, coming through the pipeline. Not-yet-arrived scientists will want to study the development process. Sometimes what appears to be a flash of inspiration is preceded by months, or years, of reading, analysis or experiments. Documentation is important for understanding creative research design. Relatively easy access to successful examples from the past is a necessity.

The pace of innovation is wonderfully fast!

Representations like Alan Warburton‘s video, Format: A Brief History of Data Storage always makes me feel a frisson of delight, shiver of awe. It has great music too, Short Like Me by Beni (Kitsuné Maison).

More than information overload

Data deluge swamps science historians is an eyebrow-raising news story about the collected research materials of the world’s leading evolutionary biologist, William Hamilton, following his demise. This is more than a problem of information overload. When the British Library received Hamilton’s working papers, they were faced with assembling the contents of

  • 200 crates of handwritten letters, draft typescripts and lab notes,
  • 26 cartons of vintage floppy disks, reels of 9-track magnetic tape, and 80-column punch cards, but no devices that could read these archaic storage media

It was enough to convince me that we need better digital preservation and archival standards.