LinkLog: Numerati, Semantics in Spreadsheets and the Future of Web Apps

InfoMinder Alerts on 21st Oct 08:

Steven Baker’s Numerati

A captivating look at how a global math elite is predicting and altering our behavior — at work, at the mall, and in bed

In this tour de force of original reporting and analysis, journalist Stephen Baker provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we’re all entering — and to the people controlling that world. The Numerati have infiltrated every realm of human affairs, profiling us as workers, shoppers, patients, voters, potential terrorists — and lovers. The implications are vast.

How Semantics Can Revolutionize Spreadsheets

Last fall, senior enterprise architect Brand Niemann of the Environmental Protection Agency issued a challenge to the semantic web industry: Who will step forward and show how to take the reams of government data currently locked away in spreadsheets to the semantic web? This spring, at the Semantic Technology Conference, May 18-22 in San Jose, Calif., Niemann and Lee Feigenbaum, VP technology and standards at Cambridge Semantics Inc., will demo the solution to that question.

What makes the spreadsheet such an important application to semantify? Put it down to a couple of things. The first is that lots of government data is stored in spreadsheets, inaccessible to the Google crawlers of the world. …This technology means they can continue using and working in the application they love, but develop semantic web applications at the same time.

Videos from the Future of Web Apps Conference

I just started watching  them.  Kathy Sierra’s is really good.

Good Reads: An Element of Beauty in Learning

There is an element of beauty versus duty in learning most things. When the task is all duty, you may do it, but you may never like it. Indeed, you may come to hate it and stop altogether when the external forces that keep you on task (your teammates, your sense of belonging) disappear. When you enjoy the beauty of what you are doing, everything else changes.

From Eugene’s Math and Computing as an Art.

I think I finally found my morning reading. I stumbled upon this blog following threads of a controversy about a new CS curriculum and ending up in A Small Curricular Tempest. I spent a few hours, reading many of his posts, before I realized that I spent a few hours. This is what used to happen when I was a teenager and in early twenties. Endless hours of reading, engrossed and not even noticing the passage of time.

Thanks Eugene for making my day a bit better and giving me lots of stuff to read.

Study: Impact of Improving Cognitive Skills

A Study Finds Sharp Math, Science Skills Help Expand Economy.

Increased years of education boost economic growth — but only if students’ cognitive skills, as measured by math and science tests, are improved as a result, a new study says.

The study, released in this spring’s issue of Education Next, an education-policy journal, concluded that if the U.S. performed on par with the world’s leaders in science and math, it would add about two-thirds of a percentage point to the gross domestic product, or the total value of goods and services produced in a nation, every year.

People think of Math as a subject to learn. But we may be missing the point. To me it looks more like a basic skill for people to learn. Here is Jagjit Singh on Great Ideas of Modern Mathematics, a book first published in 1959.

It is true that physical sciences, such as physics and astronomy, did use a good deal of mathematics, but even in these sciences one could get along and often make useful contributions without it.

Nowadays, even descriptive sciences, e.g. biology, zoology, genetics, psychology, neurology, medicine, economics, philogy, etc., have begun to employ elaborate mathematical techniques.

Math can be made easy to learn by great teachers. On a more personal note,  I had wonderful teachers from elementary school till the end of my undergraduate (engineering) course. The early teachers were such an inspiration. They were mostly responsible for my interest in Math and later in Sciences and Engineering.