“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 KJV
When I think about creative works generated by generative AI, I think about golems. According to legend, Rabbi Yehudah Loew created a automaton from clay to protect the Jews of Prague by animating a soulless lump of clay with the Word of God. Like the Rabbi of folklore, when we write or produce a work of art, we like to think we’re doing something that imbues our work with soul. People say an image created by GenAI lacks the “creative spark”, but what does this really mean? What distinguishes an illustration by Sendak or Doré or Geiger from a similar work created by prompting Midjourney?
Imagine Hugging Face puts on an event where they put a generated illustration next to a work from a famous illustrator and ask an art critic to point out differences. The art critic will get deep in the weeds and point out various differences, then they’ll ask another art critic, who’ll emphasize different distinctions, then another will identify still others as crucial and then Hugging Face will say, “Aha! The critics couldn’t reproducibly find differences and therefore there really are none!” Lots of breathless media headlines and dunking on critics will ensue, unless… Continue reading →
I’ve written before about what seems to be the most persistent and error-proof way to handle citing journal articles in blog posts and blog posts in journal articles (1,2), because it seems like some people have gone to quite extensive efforts to address this problem, apparently without looking to see if someone else has already gotten started on a solution. I’m glad to see that people are starting to talk to one another about how to handle things, as opposed to creating their own version of the wheel.
But what if we provided a different service for more informal content? Recently we have been in talking with Gunther Eysenbach, the creator of the very cool WebCite service about whether CrossRef could/should operate a citation caching service for ephemera.
As I said, I think WebCite is wonderful, but I do see a few problems with it in its current incarnation.
The first is that, the way it works now, it seems to effectively leech usage statistics away from the source of the content. If I have a blog entry that gets cited frequently, I certainly don’t want all the links (and their associated Google-juice) redirected away from my blog. As long as my blog is working, I want traffic coming to my copy of the content, not some cached copy of the content (gee- the same problem publishers face, no?). I would also, ideally, like that traffic to continue to come to to my blog if I move hosting providers, platforms (WordPress, Moveable Type) , blog conglomerates (Gawker, Weblogs, Inc.), etc.
The second issue I have with WebCite is simpler. I don’t really fancy having to actually recreate and run a web-caching infrastructure when there is already a formidable one in existence.
“Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting strives to identify serious academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research by offering an icon and an aggregation site where others can look to find the best academic blogging on the Net.”
It is all great except that it already exists and for a long time before BPR3. You can go to the papers section in Postgenomic and select papers by the date they were published, were blogged about, how many bloggers mentioned the paper or limit this search to a particular journal. I have even used this early this year to suggest that the number of citations increases with the number of blog posts mentioning the paper.
Since I wrote that last post, it has become apparent that there’s a lot of confusion regarding citing material on the internet, which isn’t surprising given that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the internet itself. Put your mind at ease, gentle reader, for clarity awaits.
Taking a cue from my colleague Attila, I will be writing my dissertation via blog. My hope is that increased exposure, however slight, will improve the clarity of my thought and strength of my research plan through helpful comments and suggestions from readers. The extra scrutiny I am compelled to give this work before exposing it to the world will also serve as an additional impetus to get it right.
As I am now beginning to look for a postdoc, it doesn’t hurt to be visible to potential employers, either. Continue reading →
I will endeavor to write more in active voice, but I think it’s appropriate to shift focus from who’s doing the action to what’s being done in some cases.
Case 1:Writing up your results for publication. Use active voice, because it makes for more natural sounding, easier to read sentences.
We assayed the samples for calcium, alkaline phosphatase, and osteoprotegerin.
The samples were assayed for calcium, alkaline phosphatase, and osteoprotegerin.
Case 2:Writing a grant proposal. The focus should be on what’s going to be done, rather than who’s doing it. Passive voice works here, because active voice would just be a bunch of, “We will …” phrases stuck on the beginning of every sentence, not adding much.
The choline deficiency model of hepatocellular carcinoma will be used to generate malignant cells.
We will use the choline deficiency model of hepatocellular carcinoma to generate malignant cells.
It used to be that people would wander in the dusty stacks of the library or old bookstores in search for arcane lore. More recently, it’s been indie artists who seed obscure references into their music, and even more recently, independent films or TV series such as Twin Peaks. The most difficult thing has always been that it takes a certain amount of commercial success to get your work seen by a large number of people. Writers have always struggled to find publishers, musicians have always wrestled with how to get a recording contract without sacrificing artistic integrity, and TV shows have had much the same problem. The problem has gotten successively worse as the cost of producing a single work has gone up from print to film. In all media, pulp has been the predominant output, be it trashy romance novels, boy bands, game/reality shows and soap operas. But now there’s a new game in town.
For less than it costs a publishing company to run a small pressing of books, anyone can share lessons learned from life experiences. Any kind of arcane or abstruse discovery now has an unlimited production run, in almost any language, too, thanks to text translation tools such as Babelfish(itself an arcane reference to THE answer) or Google’s Language Tools. I’m talking mostly about blogs.
Here’s my bit of arcane lore: This is why we as a nation have become increasingly shallow through the last half of this decade. We’re predominantly exposed to more and more shallow media just due to the economics of the situation. Information we receive about “how life is” comes from more shallow sources. There’s been a resurgence of the nerd, a person deep in at least some respects, precisely due to the fact that blogging about “how life is” isn’t subject to nearly as strong of economic forces. (This revival of the nerd started before blogging became a phenomenon, but it does closely parallel the development of computing.) Instead of “Everyone Loves Raymond” for everyone, there’s millions of different ways people can see other people getting through life, making mistakes and learning from them. I think this is so big, it has the potential to restore my faith in the human race.
Of course, the primary output of internet media is still pulp, too.