Tag: computer science

Wikipedia's a Sausage Fest, Study Says

By Veronique Greenwood | August 12, 2011 2:23 pm


Compare the extremely detailed history of baseball cards and the somewhat skeletal entry on interior decorating on Wikipedia, the Font of All Knowledge, and you’ll get a sense of what a recent paper by computer scientists concluded: Wikipedia’s primarily a creation of man, not of woman.

After a NYTimes trend piece anecdotally discussed the disparity in January, citing Wikipedia’s male-heavy geek culture roots as the source, this intrepid bunch decided to actually do the numbers, pulling the data on editors’ gender from their profile information. And indeed, of the editors who joined in 2009 and disclosed gender, only about 16% were female, and they made only 9% of the cohort’s edits. Looking at signups over time, the researchers also saw that Wikipedia’s gender gap isn’t closing, in contrast to many social media sites, where women are now more likely to participate than men. This may be because Wikipedia looks like a slightly chilly place for new female users: self-identified women were more likely to get their early edits reverted than men were.

It’s neat that we now have real numbers in the discussion of Wikipedia’s gender politics. But there are few problems with a study voluntarily disclosed information: if you’re a woman, and you’ve already begun to suspect that Wikipedia is primarily a man’s operation, why would you state your gender at all? The vast majority of editors don’t volunteer that, preferring perhaps to have their work judged by the community without having gender on the table, and one has to wonder if those who declared might not be the sort who spent a lot of time on Wikipedia in the first place.

Maybe new editors might take some time to peruse this surprisingly comprehensive entry as they contemplate joining the grilling party.

Image: Stefano A / flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Modern Bedfellows: LSD Inventor Wrote to Steve Jobs, Asked for Support

By Allison Bond | July 9, 2009 3:37 pm

psychedelicApple CEO Steve Jobs is rumored to have dropped a little acid in his day, and apparently Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, knew it. In fact, Hofmann reportedly wrote a letter to Jobs asking if the he’d be willing to donate some cash to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization dedicated to investigating the psychological and medical benefits of psychedelic drugs.

A Huffington Post article brings us the original letter and a little background on the relationship between drugs like LSD and successful computer scientists:

Psychedelic drugs… pushed the computer and Internet revolutions forward by showing folks that reality can be profoundly altered through unconventional, highly intuitive thinking. Douglas Engelbart is one example of a psychonaut who did just that: he helped invent the mouse. Apple’s Jobs has said that Microsoft’s Bill Gates, would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, however, Gates coyly didn’t deny having dosed as a young man.
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The Science of March Madness: Experts Turn Their Skills to Brackets

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 18, 2009 5:01 pm

basketball.jpgChances are you’ve received an invitation to enter a pool for the NCAA tournament. If so, be warned: Bracket picking is no simple game. If everyone else in your pool picks the top seeds, then you’ll end up smack in the middle, because those who predict upsets will score higher. With a 9,000,000,000,000,000,000-to-1 long shot at making perfect picks, the odds aren’t great for anyone.

Enter Bracketscience.com, a site that takes years of stats and uses it to analyze your March Madness picks for just $20.

The website’s founder, Pete Tiernan, has gathered game programs from the “pre-digital, short-shorts age” in an effort to build a database of the entire history of March Madness stats. He uses it to run a regression analysis of the stats against the official seed rankings to find out which teams tend to do better than expected. One portion of the site allows you to enter the factors you’re interested in, such as the year, seed, school, and conference, so you can use custom-made stats to fill in your bracket. If that’s not enough, bracketscience.com also provides 10 statistical models such as “from the gut” or “upset special,” and offers team analysis to forecast a team’s 2009 performance.

Tiernan shared some pointers for picking upsets:

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