Published in 2012

Information exchange defines us as humans, and perhaps even as living things. In 2012, we’re approaching a whole new level. Greg Laden introduces us to Apple’s iBook, which handles images better than a generic eBook. Greg says “An iBook can be a product that has almost no writing in it at all, or it can be a way of producing a written work that has mostly words and stuff.” While “words and stuff” may be undervalued in an increasingly visual, interactive, and abbreviated mediasphere, it has never been easier to get your words published, and in front of eyes around the world, for free. On A Few Things Ill-Considered, contributor H.E. Taylor shares a homebrewed, post-Peak-Oil novel called The Bottleneck Years. And Kevin Bonham adds an academic perspective on We Beasties, writing “I think that moving towards open access and even entirely different models for disseminating scientific information is one of the most important causes in modern science, and I think we should pursue every angle to convince people of its merit.”

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Science, Hot off the Press

Bridging new media and old, The Open Laboratory takes the best scientific blogging of the year and prints it on actual paper. For 2010, forty reviewers narrowed down nearly 900 submissions to fifty of the very best. This year’s edition also includes six poems and a cartoon! Editor Jason G. Goldman announces availability of the book on The Thoughtful Animal, suggesting you “buy one for yourself, buy one for your significant other, buy one for each family member, buy one each for as many neighbors, friends and colleagues you can think of, and buy a copy for the local library.” In another post, he runs down the list of finalists included in Open labratory 2010, and thanks everyone involved in the genesis of the project. Congratulations Jason on a job well done! We are already looking forward to Open Lab 2011, which will be the sixth iteration of this groundbreaking publication.

Google: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then what of the hand that rocks the world? Dr. Jeffrey Toney reports that Google recently showed its revolutionary colors with speak2tweet, a service that enabled netless Egyptians to access Twitter over the phone. After breaking with China over censorship issues last year, Google’s political conscience is becoming clear. Their Android operating system powers smartphones around the world, their driverless cars turn heads in California, and the new information services just keep on coming. Jessica Palmer shares the Google Art Project, where you can virtually tour the world’s museums and inspect artwork at incredible levels of detail. PZ Myers decries the indiscriminate filtering of Google Scholar, which returns creationist sources among its academic search results. And Frank Swain plugs the phrase ‘apparent death’ into Google’s Ngram Viewer, which plots the rise and fall of word usage in its concordance of digitized books. Google’s mantra is ‘don’t be evil,’ but as their influence grows, here’s hoping that power won’t corrupt their good intentions.

Dawn of The Systems Age [Updated]

On Collective Imagination, Joe Salvo declares the Information Age is done for, writing: “a period of history can be characterized by the dominant technology that separates the leaders from the followers.” He believes humanity has approached a tipping point where the separation between leaders and followers will cease to exist, as the internet democratizes the planet and good information becomes ubiquitous. So what’s up next? Salvo calls it a “Systems Age,” which involves “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision.” Sounds like a lot of fun! For an artificial intelligence.

On Applied Statistics, Aleks Jakulin considers the importance of privacy but also the potential windfalls of sharing medical data, saying it would “allow massive advances in medicine.” And on A Blog Around The Clock, Coturnix (aka Bora Zivkovic) explores the ways our nascent age of interconnectedness affects book publishing, as the internet offers writers more ways to start writing, get noticed, self-publish and embrace new forms.