Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Let's pick our ballot at random next time!

In this interesting article, it is shown that a parliament would govern a society more efficient if some of the legislators were elected "randomly". These randomly selected legislators are not politicians but just civilians (that most probably satisfy a set of criteria). The paper provides a golden rule for the number of independent legislators taking into account the size of the parliament as well as the elected percentage of each party in the parliament.

It is surprising that adding randomness in a social system boosts its efficiency. In the same direction it will be interesting to see if adding randomness in an online social system/network helps it achieve its goal. E.g., for twitter, if we randomly follow some people does this increase the entropy of the information we obtain from the "tweets" ? Online social networks suffer from a large number of issues (e.g., spam, multiple accounts, etc.) that add challenges to similar studies and/or approaches to boost the efficiency of the underlying system.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Wikipedia vs. the Universal Decimal Classification

This is an interesting graphic comparing Wikipedia's social classification and the Universal Decimal Classification.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Trouble Brewing for the iSchool at Seattle?

I regularly read a blog from/for library school students known as HackLibrarySchool, and found this posting today. Hmmm?

Speak up! Advocating for the UW iSchool
Heidi Kittleson 02/03/2011 at 6:12 AM

For those of you who don’t know, I attend the Information School (iSchool) at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. And while I, like most students, have had both positive and negative experiences in my education (you have or can read about them here or on my blog), I want to take a moment to express my deep concern for the future of the iSchool and the irreplaceable service it provides through its students, faculty and staff.

Washington, like many other states, has been dealing with a severe budget crisis. Since 2009, the University of Washington (UW) has lost 30% of its state appropriation — $132 million — and I have just become aware that after another round of proposed funding reductions, UW will have lost 50% of its state appropriation in just 3 years.

Last week the student leaders of the iSchool received an email from the iSchool’s dean – Harry Bruce. In the email, he attached both a letter the UW interim president, Phyllis Wise, sent to the legislature and press, and the budget reductions scenario worksheet. Reading the email and the attached documents left me shocked and horrified. On the list of possible actions as a result of the proposed reductions is this:

“Consider consolidating the Information School with another college and significantly reduce course and degree offerings.”

This. Cannot. Happen. It cannot happen for the ‘simple’ reason that there is not enough money for it to exist on its own. The iSchool recently began its centennial celebration. Although it has changed names, locations on campus and has evolved through the lifecycle of the Information Revolution, throughout its nearly 100 year history, its mission, vision and impact on Seattle, Washington and the Pacific Northwest have only expanded during that time.
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