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People Doing Science, Sometimes Badly

first_imgHarvard historian of science Steven Shapin has a really long subtitle for his latest book, but it reveals all.  The title is very short: Never Pure.1  Here’s the long subtitle: “Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority.”  Now you know what it is about.    Shapin’s book tries to “naturalize” science – to show that it is inextricably wound up with human nature and human history, explained Robert E. Kohler in his review of the book for Science magazine.2  Science is not some pure entity out in space.  “Naturalizers offer us instead a vision of science as a cultural activity that is an integral element of the societies in which it is practiced, and whose basic mores and conventions it shares,” Kohler explains.  “To understand the science of a time and place, one must understand the society whose way of knowing it is.”    Kohler, in the Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, enjoyed the thought-provoking book and respects the author, but he tried at the end to hang on to some scientific realism – the view that science provides a more-or-less objective measure of external reality.  He thinks Shapin throws out the baby with the bath water and knocks down some straw men.  “I think there was in fact a scientific method—just not what its later advocates and deconstructors said it was,” he said.  “I also believe that ‘pure science’ realistically describes the science most valued in the first, academic, market for career scientists.”  But he could not deny that Shapin’s trenchant analyses of science as actually practiced by real people in history have “lasting power to inform and provoke” the beliefs of scientific realists.    The Climategate controversy (11/26/2009, 03/04/2010, 05/13/2010, 02/18/2010) provides an opportunity to test Shapin’s views.  This strident debate, pitting an intransigent consensus against conspiracy-theory bloggers, with a range of positions between the extremes, and the future of the globe and the wealth of nations at stake, is perhaps the clearest recent example of science’s inescapable dependence on human frailty.  There’s plenty of fodder for the fires on both sides.    A revealing look into the state of “science as if it was produced by people” is shown in Michael Lemonick’s news feature, “Climate heretic: Judith Curry turns on her colleagues,” from Scientific American (published online by Nature News).  It’s the story of a prominent meteorologist at a prestigious university going over to the “dark side” of the anti-consensus view after her pro-consensus paper was criticized, she thought legitimately, by climate skeptics.  Lemonick, a former science writer for Time Magazine and a senior science writer at Climate Central, a nonprofit, nonpartisan climate change think tank, portrayed two storylines about Curry: the peacemaker, trying to bring understanding between both sides, and the dupe – “someone whose well-meaning efforts have only poured fuel on the fire.”  Lemonick, who worries about the fate of the planet if something is not done, is not sure which is the correct storyline.  Notice that both have intense human elements:In a sense, the two competing storylines about Judith Curry—peacemaker or dupe?—are both true.  Climate scientists feel embattled by a politically motivated witch hunt, and in that charged environment, what Curry has tried to do naturally feels like treason—especially since the skeptics have latched onto her as proof they have been right all along.  But Curry and the skeptics have their own cause for grievance.  They feel they have all been lumped together as crackpots, no matter how worthy their arguments.  The whole thing has become a political potboiler, and what might be the normal insider debates over the minutiae of data, methodology and conclusions have gotten shrill.  It is perhaps unreasonable to expect everyone to stop sniping at one another, but given the high stakes, it is crucial to focus on the science itself and not the noise.But is there such a thing as “the science itself” when it must be mediated by human beings?  Lemonick’s assumption of scientific realism cannot avoid the very issues of Shapin’s naturalist/historicist vision apparent in Lemonick’s own article: how are scientific facts determined?  What should scientists do with uncertainty?  What is the role of a consensus?  How does science convince a wary public?  How do political dynamics influence science?  How does a skeptic of the consensus avoid the stigma of being branded a heretic? 1.  Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority by Steven Shapin, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2010. 564 pp. $70. ISBN 9780801894206. Paper, $30. ISBN 9780801894213.2.  Robert E. Kohler, “History of Science: A Naturalizer’s Vision,” Science, 22 October 2010: Vol. 330. no. 6003, pp. 450-451, DOI: 10.1126/science.1196506.That’s all we need – another use of the word naturalist.  Riddle: What is a naturalist naturalist naturalist naturalist?  Answer: A materialist who worries about human cultural affects on science while categorizing wildflowers and munching an organic banana.  When using the equivocal word natural, be sure to define your terms.    These issues are crucial for understanding the origins debate.  While CEH does not take a position on the human-caused global warming controversy, issues of philosophy of science and history of science deeply infect the origins debate as well.  One cannot understand evolutionary theory and the behavior of its consensus supporters and outsider critics without taking into account “science as if it was produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority.”(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Can Seattle’s silo-busting keep it from becoming a “dumb” smart city?

first_imgRelated Posts How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic … Donal Power Tags:#featured#Internet of Things#IoT#Seattle#shotspotter#Smart Cities#smart city#top For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In…center_img Though many cities are rushing to launch smart city projects willy nilly, Seattle is taking a deeper look at how to implement new technology that doesn’t build more dumb silos.Seattle is making a concerted effort to put new connected technology in place that is properly integrated horizontally instead of it building vertical silos.See also: Mid-sized cities lead the smart city chargeFor example, a dumb smart city project could include multiple weather sensors installed on municipal utility poles that send information to multiple data centers. This creates an un-smart city situation where the left device doesn’t know what the right device is doing.“That’s what we want to avoid,” said Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer. “That is a dumb smart city.”This attitude has led to a silo-busting crusade that Mattmiller has led since taking on his current role in 2014.“We consolidated technology professionals last year into one department. We had 15 departments that were all trying to figure out technological solutions for themselves and focus on what was tried without thinking of these broader solutions,” he said. “In the past year, we’ve driven awareness about the need to eliminate silos and we’ve worked with all of our departments.”Still full speed ahead despite the change?The technology reorganization hasn’t stopped Seattle barreling ahead with new smart city initiatives like the ShotSpotter’s gunshot detection pilot. This project aims to help police officers determine from which locales gunshots were fired.As well, the city is connecting 800 body video cameras for police officers in early 2017.The city is also involved in various partnerships with the University of Washington such as the RainWatch smart city initiative.In a city known for its high levels of annual rainfall, the RainWatch project monitors precipitation in real time so the city can send out flood-related safety warnings.As well, the city has partnered on an adaptive transportation management system that enables traffic lights to adapt to road and weather conditions.Seattle’s commitment to smart cities jives with recent research that found that mid-sized U.S. cities were filling the pipeline with more urban technology projects than the largest cities.The research found that of the 335 smart city projects currently underway, 168 are in mid-sized cities, 98 in small cities and only 69 are ongoing in large cities. How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi… Surveillance at the Heart of Smart Citieslast_img read more

Discover Missteps in Your UX Design

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Stephen Moyers is an out of the heart writer voicing out his take on various topics of social media, web design, mobile apps, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, startups and much more in the cutting edge digital world. When he is not writing, he can be found traveling outdoors with his camera. You can follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenMoyers. Source: Google ImageUse Tools to Check UX Design EffectivenessLuckily, there are tools available that will make it easy to determine if your website is struggling and what the specific issues are. Google Analytics offers many possible reports that can tell you which pages on your site are successful along with other information.Google also has a tool called PageSpeed Insights that will check how long it takes to load your pages, a key aspect of UX design. You can also use Pingdom Tools and Web Page test, which also provide information about the load time of yourwebsite pages.Specific Areas Where Your Site Might StruggleOne of the most common reasons users will bounce from a site is slow page loading speed. If a user needs to wait for a page or image to load, there are many other sites where they can find what they want – and faster. If you know some aspect of your page is slow to load, fix it. No matter how unique or special it is, it doesn’t matter if your user leaves the site. Also, communicate in ways users expect. Many interfaces include signals for the user that an action has been completed. For instance, Twitter includes a swooshing sound when a tweet has been posted. These small signals of completion have become the norm, so it makes sense that you should include them on your site – users will likely expect them.Another issue is having a UX design that does not coordinate with the real world. Websites often use overly complex wording or steps that designers believe are intuitive but aren’t. Imagine your users’ mistakes or confusion before they happen by being empathetic. It also helps to be empathetic when you imagine potential user error.Considering the large numbers of visitors every day, errors are common on most websites. For instance, if your site sells shoes, make sure users can find Tom’s and Toms. It can be helpful to users to offer them prompts when they are searching for things. For example, Google will come up with a list of possible searches after you type just one word of a phrase into the search bar. This helps the user because they don’t always have to remember the specific thing they need to type in.Other websites struggle with having designs that are too complex. While aesthetics are important, it is just as crucial to avoid making your site cluttered or flashy. Prioritize necessary information so it is easy for the user to find what they are looking for.If your site is suffering from a high bounce rate or isn’t seeing the traffic you’d like, it might be time for a UX diagnostic text. Don’t lose customers because of poor UX; spend time considering how to make your site user-friendly and intuitive because there’s no time to drop the mic in this constantly evolving tech landscape. UX design – the process of creating a website that is intuitive to the user – is ongoing and must adjust to the needs of your market and users. While you may feel like dropping the mic after getting your site up and running, it’s not over and done. As users and the digital landscape change, so must your website.In fact, optimal UX could be the factor that determines the success of your company. If your website is struggling to retain visitors, it may be that it needs a UX update. Try these strategies to identify whether your website has a UX design problem and how you can fix it if so.Put Yourself in the Customer’s ShoesA central part of any successful business is thinking like the customer. After all, they are why your business exists in the first place. Use the same strategy when determining whether your UX design needs an update. If you are always analyzing your company from your own viewpoint, you may only see the good. Though seeing what’s positive about your site is important, knowing what doesn’t work is just as crucial. The best way to figure this out is by empathizing with your customer.You can do certain things during this stage of development to make your UX more effective. Think about what aspects of your site may be frustrating for users. Choose a few types of people that are in your target audience. Take time to look at your website from the point of view of each persona. Consider situations when a user would be on your website. The more circumstances that you can address, the more potential issues you will find.For a more clear-cut way to understand the customer’s perspective, ask your customers. Getting direct feedback about your website will make it easier for you to identify the issue. Pay attention anytime a customer contacts you with a complaint or issue, so you can utilize that in diagnosing your UX design problem.Define the ProblemOnce you have started analyzing your UX design from the viewpoint of your customer, you need to specifically define the issue that you need to fix. By putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, you can realize what is frustrating or inconvenient about your website but not exactly what makes it frustrating or inconvenient.To fix the problem, you need to determine what the specific issue is. To get the most out of your site, don’t assume you’re able to see all the issues it may have. Do some research and consider avenues where you can learn how to see the problems at hand.While you are defining the problem, remember that it is a team effort. It is more difficult for one person to figure out the specific problem than for a team of people. Each person will have their own ideas and inspirations about what could be frustrating to your users. When working with a team to diagnose the issue, it might be helpful to create a dashboard where people can put their ideas in an area where everyone can see them.Create a Problem StatementA problem statement is where you outline a guide about what the problem is and strategize about how best to fix it. It is extremely important because it is what you and your associates will use to improve your UX design. There are a few things you should keep in mind while crafting a problem statement: Tags:#User Experience#user interface#user interface design#UX Do not make it too narrow. While it may seem that the narrower a problem statement is, the better, this is not the case. One of the most important steps in diagnosing and fixing a UX design is encouraging creativity. Each person on the team working to solve the issue must be able to access creative solutions. If the problem statement is too specific, it could stifle people’s creativity. By limiting the potential solutions, you could reduce the number of ideas that people will have about how to improve your UX design. Focus on the customer. Some companies, understandably, get caught up in how to best sell their product or service. Instead of framing your business that way, think about how to offer users the best experience. By providing the optimal UX, your sales will inevitably go up. When you are creating your problem statement, focus on the customer. Talk about how to solve the issue so that they will have the most positive opinion of your website possible. The goal of a problem statement is to find ways to improve your UX design. Do not make it too broad. If your problem statement is too broad, it will not be as effective. Make note of the problems specifically because, often broad problems lead to broad answers, and those are often ineffective. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Stephen Moyers Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Kashmir makes hay while the sun shines

first_imgRains lash Bihar Colour purple: Autumn in the Valley is tinged mauve from saffron blossoms Rains lash Bihar Rains lash Bihar What’s a wedding without wazawan in Kashmir Other Slideshows The good doctor of Odisha’s Malkangiri village Colour purple: Autumn in the Valley is tinged mauve from saffron blossoms What’s a wedding without wazawan in Kashmir The good doctor of Odisha’s Malkangiri villagecenter_img Chhath Puja celebrations What’s a wedding without wazawan in Kashmir Chhath Puja celebrations Sacred games | Supreme Court verdict breathes fresh life into Ayodhya Sacred games | Supreme Court verdict breathes fresh life into Ayodhya The good doctor of Odisha’s Malkangiri village Chhath Puja celebrations Sacred games | Supreme Court verdict breathes fresh life into Ayodhyalast_img read more