Nov 28, 2005

Working Privateer remake!

Ah, I can't believe it. Finally. After years of waiting. A working Privateer remake.

See it here.



I am officially in heaven. The world if a perfect place...

For more info, see Wiki on Vegastrike.

Nov 25, 2005

Science only for the elite?

Following this Slashdot story, I arrived at a very interesting article in Guardian (British newspaper).

British Royal Society - or rather academic publishing industry pulling the strings - apparently is scared of the Internet. While they declare that "Funders should remember that the primary aims should be to improve the exchange of knowledge between researchers and wider society" in the same breath they state "We think it conceivable that the journals in some disciplines might suffer. Why would you pay to subscribe to a journal if the papers appear free of charge?".

Why? Wake up. Why should I pay for it, in the first place?

First of all, scientists publish their papers for prestige (fame) first, to get their data to the scientific community second, and for presonal profit a distant third. They get majority of their money in form of wages and/or grants. I have never heard of scientists making big bucks (or any bucks, actually) from their article publications. It's the journal publishers who are profiting, not the authors, and definetly not the public. Paying for a journal made perfect sence in the print and paper media. Now, with online publishing, wikis, blogs and such, the entire technical team can be reduced to one webdesigner (and considering that most of scientific journals have less then 1 editon per month, he can be working part-time). Money saved from publishers greedy hands can be used either to make content cheaper and more accessible to everybody, or to pay the author or the reviewrs/editors (who again very rarely get paid for their work).

Second, isn't science supposed to serve humanity? Barricading itself offline, and charging stiiff prices for your knowledge is not really ethical, yoi know. If you are not affiliated with a university (a Western one, preferably) - you need to pay from 5$ to several times that much for an equivalent of several pages. So if you really want to 'improve communication between scientists and the wider society', stop charging for your articles - especially since the primary contributors don't care either way.

Still, the Royal Society seems not to care: "While some companies do appear to be making excessive profits from the publication of researchers' papers, this should not be the primary factor guiding future developments in the exchange of knowledge between researchers." Pretty, isn't it?

Sure, some business model is needed - but there are many choices 'to have the cake' and 'eat it', as long as you don't think of publishing a journal as a profit enterpise. Live from donations. Use volunteers and trainees. Ask for grants/financial support from the state, related industries or universities. Charge universities for access - but don't charge private users.

I see no problem at all with in the scientific industry moving to free content. In such a move, everbody wins - well, everybody except the publishers. They were needed and did their job before the advent of the net. Now it is time to thank them for their job and tell them goodbye. From a useful tool they have become a parasitic relic of the past - and the sooner academic publishing realises it, the better for all of us.

Let's hope Royal Society stops looking into the past and does something more useful then trying to see who if Einstein is more popular then Newton (and they call this 'science'? sheez). Definetly not a proud day for the Royal Society.

For more info, see developing Google News stories on this subject.

Long live open access! Just watch out for the FUTON bias :)

Nov 22, 2005

Reminder

Station annoucement:

I am blogging a significant amount of stuff at my Flog Blog, and I will likely keep this dual blogging for a month. I think quite a few of my posts there contain useful computer fluency tips and tricks - so if you miss that part of my Voice, I just want to tell you it has been temporarily (since September) moved there.

End of annoucement.

Nov 21, 2005

Did I tell you I plan to live forever?

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. - Woody Allen

In the news (through KurzewilAI.net):

Geneticists claim ageing breakthrough but immortality will have to wait

The Guardian, November 18, 2005

A genetic experiment to unlock the secrets of the aging process has created organisms that live six times their usual lifespan, raising hopes that it might be possible to slow aging in humans.

In the experiment, Valter Longo, a biomedical gerontologist at the University of Southern California and his team knocked out two key genes, named Sir2 and SCH9, in yeast cells.

SCH9 governs the cells' ability to convert nutrients into energy. The researchers believe that the Sir2 gene normally plays a role in restricting an organism's lifespan, and allows energy from the food it eats to be directed into growth and reproduction. By blocking the gene, the cells were essentially tricked into believing food was scarce and switched them into a survival mode.


Read Original Article>>

Nov 20, 2005

Flurry of Wikipedia evaluations

Apprently, a new meme has appeared among journalists: check this recent story in Wikipedia Signpost.

CNET review hit the proverbial bull in the eyes: "Wikipedia offers rich, frequently updated information, but you might need to verify some of its facts."

Check other stories at

Nov 19, 2005

The Truman Show?

I hope we are not going to cross that limit and make The Truman Show* a reality.

Check out this story.

* which is, btw, a very good movie

Nov 8, 2005

Is the glass half-empty – or half-full?

Frankfurt school represents a fairly broad series of views, ranging from the pessimism of Theodor Adorno through the balancing ideas of Herbert Marcuse to the optimism of J├╝rgen Habermas. As such, I find myself torn between the disagreement with some of its thinkers (like Adorno) and my support for others (like Habermas). Therefore I decided to look at some of the issues raised in their works, attempting to show you some real-life examples, that – in my view – make or break their points.

Adorno makes the case that technology prevents the class conflict by saturating the masses with goods (p.130) yet those goods are only material, not intellectual. I will counter him with another Frankfurtianist - Walter Benjamin, who views the technology as the tool bringing arts to the masses.Yes, standarization of culture is strong, but at the same time independent forces are getting stronger then ever – look, for example, at the distribution of independent movies through the Internet (visit onedotzero or iFilm), or consider how the idependent music challenging established brands (artists saying 'we don't want to pay you crippling royalties, we will sell our music online, and here, we are all equal).

Adorno and his fellow pessimists state that late capitalism represents the subordination of reason to industry commerce and profit market. I do actually agree with this – watching The Corporation should be enough to convince anybody – but the realization that globalization and capitalism are not perfect should not really be shocking. Homo sapiens is not a creature of perfection, but have we really sacrificed justice? I don't think so – if we did, we would have never created such an organization as the International Criminal Court. Equality? Equal rights is a fairly modern concept, if I am not mistaken? Loss of imagination? Tell that to the role-playing gamers, struggling with the accusations that they live in the world of imagination. Tolerance? I haven't heard of any religious wars or stake burnings lately - have you? The world is coming to an end? Uh – too far, they have not been saying that, did they? Still - scaremongering, I say to most such concepts. Although considering that most of those are basically a minority (off mainstream culture) pastimes, I can see why Herbert Marcuse argues that the potential of change lies with the outcasts.

Finally, we reach Harbermas. His ideas do tie nicely with the critique of the more pessimistic Frankrurtians. In his writings about the public sphere he aims to overcome the pessimism of his predecessors, but not abandoning it (a healthy dose of pessimism is always good, I say). Thus he makes a very good point that the mass society, with its institutions like the political parties undermine the quality of discourse and weaken the public sphere. But there is hope: this is why classical media is becoming a dinosaur threatened by the blogs, and blogosphere for many Internet-users is becoming a proffered source of information.(if you haven't, I strongly encourage you to visit the famous blogs like andrewsullivan.com, politics1.com or Daily Kos). Similarly, the political parties are under attack from non-partisan information-dissemination sites like Project Vote Smart. Habermas writes much about such discourse online, seeing in those tools the ideal way to reach the social consensus.

All things considered, I think that Frankfurt school offers a very wide range of frameworks we can chose to look at the reality surrounding us. I have chosen mine – and I look forward to hearing yours.

 
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