Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 27 September 2009

One of those test posts by email

Not sure about the wisdom of being able to email in blog posts but testing the system.

Mophie batteries (part one)

I love my Mophie Juice pack which adds extra battery oomph to my iPhone.

There are two kinds that I'm aware of:- Mophie Juice pack and Mophie Juice pack Air, both available from http://www.mophieuk.com/ or 0845 619 0845.

Mophie's battery page is at http://www.mophieuk.com/index.php/batteries.html, the relevant batteries are the first and fourth in the picture grid (of four batteries shown)

Mophie Juice pack Air is currently £64.99
Mophie Juice pack is currently £69.49

Compared below (the text is pinched from their website which I will of course remove if this irks Mophie).

What sold the Juice pack for me was the oomphed 3G time for iphone 3Gs, having been to several conferences where the wifi signal was somewhat feeble - having said that there's no guarantee that you'll get a good 3G signal. But I can watch videos / listen to podcasts for longer too. Mind you, in areas of guaranteed wifi the Juice pack Air might be the better bet, but doesn't last as long for non-internet things.

Mophie Juice pack Air
http://www.mophieuk.com/index.php/batteries/juice-pack-airtm-iphone-3g-and-3g-s.html
iPhone 3GS:
Standby Time: Up to 270 hours
Talk Time: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G Up to 10 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G Up to 8 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 27 hours
Video Playback: Up to 9 hours

iPhone 3G:
Standby Time: Up to 270 hours
Talk Time: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G Up to 9 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G Up to 5.4 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 20 hours
Video Playback: Up to 6 hours

Mophie Juice pack
http://www.mophieuk.com/index.php/batteries/juice-packtm-iphone-3g-and-3g-s.html
iPhone 3GS:
Standby Time: Up to 350 hours
Talk Time: Up to 6 hours on 3G Up to 12 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 6 hours on 3G Up to 7 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 28 hours
Video Playback: Up to 8 hours

iPhone 3G:
Standby Time: Up to 350 hours
Talk Time: Up to 6 hours on 3G Up to 12 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 6 hours on 3G Up to 7 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 28 hours
Video Playback: Up to 8 hours

My Mophie Juice Pack for 3G - the picture on the left is the actual battery, and the metal bit at the moment clips into the phone's socket so that the battery envelopes the phone. The photo on the right shows the unopened battery - there's a tiny button on the back that lets you check how charged up it is. Presumably it ships 3/4 full (there are four blue LEDs, three are lit below).
It's gorgeous :)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Thoughts on collating blog posts on bad health topics

Yes... this is another idea from me on aggregating things....

There are many blogs which cover general areas of bad science / health reporting, but this post refers more to those which look at a discrete topic such as reflexology, iridology, homeopathy, ear candling etc.

It's quite easy to do a literature review in PubMed and other databases. It's not impossible to do a blogerature review in Google but it's not as easy as that database includes a whole load of other pages with plenty of the same keywords, but no "Filter by bad science" option.

There are some blogs that are linked - eg scienceblogs - which I believe you can search en masse (I might be wrong about this in fact) but that of course would only include the linked, and not the independent, blogs. Possibly the fact that they are linked also adds in a layer of quality control (in that they get to be linked) - I'm not sure.

My suggestion is that a meta-list of blog posts, themed by topic, isn't a bad idea - and one that everyone could add to. I've no idea how to make this work, also others might think it's a crap idea! Also it could be quite a palaver to set up and maintain - this is me thinking aloud.

I'm not particularly bothered about people retreading a topic previously written about - always plenty of new things to say on many topics - but many of the science bloggers will have, by virtue of their diligent approach, done some of the groundwork in finding some relevant references and it's perhaps useful to come across this when tackling the subject again.

At the moment if I want to find out who's written on a topic I can throw myself on the mercy of Google or ask my science blogger chums on Twitter. Both pretty good but for someone wanting to read more about an area who doesn't know some of the science bloggers, or the actual blogs themselves, or who wishes Google had a bad science filter my idea might help.

?

Fun with iridology

Shortened link for this post is http://is.gd/zQcjFk

EDIT: 4 June 2011 - I've added at the end the text from the complaint I've just made about iridology claims on http://www.livebloodtest.com

A local shop, full of undoubtedly kindly hearted people, sells iridology as a diagnostic tool.

"Iridology
Is a diagnostic science which studies the iris of the eye to gain information about the body. Genetic strengths and weaknesses, levels of inflammation and toxaemia, efficiency of the immune and eliminative systems can all be read here."

Further reading (admittedly Wikipedia mostly) suggests the idea that all the organs of the body map onto the iris so that examination of the iris/irises (actually I think it's irides) could tell you about ailments in the various organs. I think this is nonsense. I think the Wikipedia authors do too.

But I have some homework to do on this I think... this is a sort of 'draft post' while I collect some information and check a few things... no rush :)

1. Genetic strengths and weaknesses
I don't doubt that the appearance of the iris is related to a person's genes - heredity plays a role in pigmentation for starters; there are other genetic conditions affecting the iris, for example aniridia.

If someone is born with an error in another organ of the body I can't see any reason why this information would already be available as a marker in the iris... but I suppose I should check!

The iris doesn't appear to change much throughout life so if some other change happens to an organ in the body, during life, it's probably not being reflected in any changes to the iris.

2. Levels of inflammation
They might have a point on this one, provided they limit it to anterior uveitis also known as iritis, which is an autoimmune inflammation of the iris. It affects the whole iris, rather than just a discrete patch of it. Judging from photos on the internet you perhaps wouldn't need to be an iridologist to spot some of the cases...

Possibly there are other inflammatory conditions of the eye but with eye problems I think you can usually tell just by looking at the eye rather than focusing on the iris.

3. Toxaemia
Well I suppose... but I don't think it would be specific to the iris. There are perhaps better clues for toxaemia which in my book means blood poisoning.

4. Efficiency of the immune system
Struggling to see how the iris could tell you much about this. If the iris is inflamed then white blood cells may well be doing their immune 'thing; so at a stretch you could glean some information about the immune system's efficiency. But you can't do this just by looking at the iris, I think some fancy lamps are involved and more high tech equipment.

5. Eliminative systems
Well I think we might be on to something here. Unfortunately I've found only one example - the deposition and buildup of copper in the outer surface of the eye leading to Kayser-Fleischer rings around the iris. This is apparently a sign of Wilson's disease which arises because of a problem with the liver's ability to handle copper.

I don't consider this to be much evidence in favour of iridology though because, again, it affects the whole iris and is not restricted to a particular "liver" section of the iris wherever that might be.

The kidney is also an eliminative system but iridology seems to be useless in detecting problems here...
Ernst, E (2000) Iridology: not useful and potentially harmful. Arch Ophthalmol, 118: 120-121.

------ Other things to consider -------

6. Evidence that iridologists can detect illness from irises
It's not looking good. Asking iridologists to look at people who have a health condition and healthy controls (without knowing who's healthy or not, or what condition they have) results in diagnoses that are no better than chance, or missed diagnoses - false positives and false negatives as well as some 'hits'. Not reliable, not much of a diagnostic tool.

The studies I've found gave iridologists photographs of the eye. I can imagine that in a real world situation an iridologist would see the whole person before looking at their eye, affording plenty of opportunity for cold or hot reading (let's face it you can make some educated guesses about a person's health just by looking at them, perhaps combined with comments made by the person about their health, or their responses to questions or comments).

Of course, if the patient were visiting a doctor then this sort of information would be available to them too, but who has the better record in spotting problems I wonder...

Representation at a distance
The idea of a 'record' of a diseased organ showing up in a different organ - is there a term for that? The concept also crops up in reflexology, a little in palm reading, phrenology to a certain extent - and rumpology (or asstrology).

Can iridologists tell you any information about the health of the eyes?
Let alone any hope of spotting problems in other organs, can iridologists diagnose iritis, Wilson's disease as well as glaucoma, macular degenerative disorders, retinopathy etc.?


--------------------- ASA complaint text --------------------

Dear ASA 

This is a new complaint about claims made about iridology on one of the Fitalifestyle Ltd websites - Live Blood Test. Having looked into the evidence myself I'm certain that it's lacking for all of the claims made. Bizarrely some conditions (cataracts, Wilson disease, uveitis) actually can be detected from looking at the eyes or irises (though other confirming tests might be needed) yet these are mentioned nowhere on the pages. 

All of the following claims were collected from http://www.livebloodtest.com/iridology.php

1. "with the iris revealing information about your entire body"This is untrue. There is no mapping between the iris and the body and I think it's misleading to suggest that the iris can reveal any information about 'your entire body'. Iridology is a bogus diagnostic test.
 
2. "reliable way of obtaining a ‘snapshot’ of your health"As above, it isn't reliable. Appropriate blood tests (not the ones on sale here where blood is viewed under a microscope) and other genuine diagnostic tests can give more accurate and relevant information. 

3. "An iris analysis is a preventative tool offering many benefits"It is not, and cannot prevent disease.

4. "Learning about and understanding your genetic constitution will help you resolve or even prevent chronic health problems, including allergies, arthritis, diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and many others"By itself this is marginally true - genetic counselling is available for many conditions and knowing your family history for disease risk can change behaviour (unlikely to help 'resolve' conditions though). 

However in the context of this page, the claim follows a sentence about iridology and I can't help concluding that the intention is to imply that iridology is somehow able to give health information about any of the diseases listed, prevent them or 'resolve' them. That's not true. 

5. "After your irises are analysed, you will be given a detailed personalised iridology report with the following information:
· Your genetic iris make-up, including any pre-dispositions to diseases and potential health challenges
· Any inefficient organs and systems in the right and left side of your body
· Nutrition recommendations and lifestyle advice beneficial for your genetic iris type and/or any weakened organ areas."
'genetic iris make up' is pretty meaningless - clearly the colour of the iris has a genetic cause but that's pretty much it. 

Virtually no information can be gleaned about inefficient organs or systems unless the person's irises contain 'Kayser-Fleischer' rings around the iris which indicate Wilson's disease (which is an inherited disorder). This is a condition in which the liver is less able to process copper and this is instead deposited in other tissues including the iris. The rings appear around the whole iris and are not restricted to a particular area, for example an area that is believed to map to the liver. 

Anterior uveitis / iritis can also be seen, an inflammation of the iris and eye can be clearly seen in a photograph of an eye, or the 'live' eye, however neither Wilson disease nor uveitis / iritis are mentioned as conditions that can be detected. From a quick Google the signs seem so obvious that to be honest I think I could probably have a sporting chance of detecting them. 

I do not believe that there is any relevant nutritional recommendation that could be made following an iridology test for the conditions listed. The bit about 'genetic iris type' and 'weakened organ areas' is nonsense. To be fair, if Wilson disease was picked up then the patient would be given nutritional advice as it’s recommended that they avoid high copper-containing foods, such as shellfish or liver. However drug treatment for this condition is apparently necessary as well.

6. "iridology serves as a wonderful adjunct to nutritional microscopy live blood testing"This implies that nutritional microscopy is something other than nonsense. I have already had an adjudication upheld against Fitalifestyle Ltd's claims made about nutritional microscopy on their 'Live Blood Test' analysis leaflet, and a complaint about similar claims on the http://www.livebloodtest.com website is currently under ASA investigation. Both iridology and nutritional microscopy lack evidence for the claims made. 

7. "It not only complements but also enhances and confirms the findings of live blood analysis by providing supporting evidence"~Again, no. 

Claims 8 and 9 are combined. Claim 9 comes from http://www.livebloodtest.com/iridology.php?gid=2
8. "we are able to offer an online iridology service. All you need to do is email us a clear digital image (in JPEG format) of your right and left iris"
9. "Cost £120 payment needs to be paid before detailed report is sent"£120 is an incredible amount of money to charge for something that cannot possibly give you any useful information about your health. 

I'm pretty sure that genuine registered doctors would be in serious trouble if they withheld important information from patients based on a lack of payment. However, since no important information can be gleaned from iridology analysis I'll restrict my complaint to amazement at the price charged for this nonsense.

[signoff]


Also known as live blood test 

All the applications I've ever blocked on Facebook

I hadn't realised that Facebook kept a list of all the applications I've blocked, but of course - when you think about it - they'd have to. Since I discovered that whenever a friend adds an application it immediately can see whatever my friend sees (ie, pretty much everything) I've made sure that I block them and limit what they can see. Because I use the basic applications (links, groups, notes, photos) I can't eliminate what applications see entirely.

Facebook's great and I can't really complain about having information on the internet, but it's the principle of the thing ;)

So... here are all the apps I've blocked.

--------
https://register.facebook.com/privacy/?view=platform&tab=other
Blocked Applications
You have blocked the following applications.
This means they cannot access any information about you or contact you, but they may still appear on your friends' profile.
If you want to remove the block for any of these applications, click remove.


SpeedDate
RockYou Live
Slide FunSpace
SuperPoke!
Twisted Gifts
Lexulous
Movies
Hug Me
Likeness
Snowball Fight!
Mesmo TV - Make me a Celebrity
Are you a bitch?
Music
Likeness UNRATED
Flirt Wall
ATTACK!
Superlatives
My Questions
My Personality
Will you KISS me?
Actions Pro
Video
Naughty vs Nice
Say Merry Christmas
Growing Gifts
Quizzes
Hatching Eggs
Cities I've Visited
YouTube Video Box
Are You Normal?
Personality
New England Patriots Fans
Send SMS - Text Messaging
Pirates: Rule the Caribbean!
Moods
Developer
Ipswich
Scramble
Water Globe Gifts
Genius Test
Swansea
Pirates: Rule the Caribbean!
Are YOU Interested?
Send and Receive Cards
Food Fight!
Top Friends
Happy Hour!
Friend Wheel
Medline Publications
True or False Quiz
Strictly Come Dancing Conga
Emotional Intelligence
Fairyland
Zimride Carpool
MSN Messenger Button
Greenbook
Books
Texas HoldEm Poker
What kind of date are you?
Sexy Gifts!
Send Good Karma
Vampires
Where I've Been
Skiers vs. Snowboarders
WereWolves
Zombies
Slayers
Friends For Sale!
FA Cup Picks
Blackjack
G.I. JONNY
Friend Hug
Wales Rugby
Best Match!
Animated GIFTS
HairMixer
HugMe
How fat are you?
Pillow Fight!
There/Their/They're Test
Triumph
Online People
Beer Finder
What is Your Secret Sexual Fantasy?
(Lil) Green Patch
Are You Intelligent?
Logical vs Creative
Causes
Visual Bookshelf
LX Champions League
Where am I?
I Am Green
Fun Cards - Birthday & More!
Owned!
Happy Pills
Classic IQ Test
Birthday Cards
Sketch Me
How British are you?
Hugs
England Rugby
Shakespearean Insult Generator
How Evil Are You?
IQ Test
YES or NO?
Fishticuffs
U.S. Citizen Test
Advanced Wall
What's Your Stripper Name?
Philosophers + Philosophy
The True Age Test
What Beatle are you?
How emotional are you?
Spatial IQ Test
Free Animated Gifts
Most Wanted Valentine!
What Kind of Cat Would You Be?
Buses
Pool Party
Monty Python Gifts!
blast from the past
Snoopy :)
LivingSocial
MyCalendar
Are You A Chav
Birthday Calendar
Word Challenge
Who Has The Biggest Brain?
Zoosk
Geo Challenge
Bowling Buddies
Honesty Box
Friend Facts
Pet Society
Chocolate Buttons
Love Football (Soccer)
Circle of Moms
Finbarr Saunders' Double Entendre Gifts
Tatty Teddys For Every Me To You Fan
Write in Pictures
Restaurant City
How good are you in bed?
Astrology Badge and Match
Million Women Rise 2009
In Love ?True Or False
Mingers
Mafia Wars
What instrument are you?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Climate Camp - Blackheath / Lewisham / Greenwich residents' meeting

Thanks to the Blackheath Bugle's blog I found out that there was to be a public meeting to discuss the recent Climate Camp (Camp for Climate Action) which was held on part of the heath, between Lewisham and Blackheath, over the end-of-August Bank holiday weekend and beyond. I loved having the camp in my back garden, it was like a little slice of Glastonbury - but much tidier and quieter.

Helen, from the camp, was the facilitator - she brought lovely cakes - and James was another camper there to hear our views and answer our questions. Beyond that there were another seven people in the room from New Cross, Lewisham, Blackheath, Greenwich etc.

Generally I hate things that involve sitting in a horseshoe shape and having to 'go round the room and introduce' yourself - but I started enjoying myself when Helen explained how we would use our hands to indicate when we wanted to make a point, correct another's point, make a proposal and show our agreement. I'd heard about this sort of thing going on at the camp and it's a lot less daft than it sounds actually.

Everyone there was in general favour of the aims of the camp and the way that they had conducted themselves on the heath (we didn't really discuss the direct action that took place in various parts of the city).

One lady, Anne, had had some serious concerns about the timing of the camp as it coincided with migratory movement of birds (we have some fantastic birdlife in Blackheath, including a fine bunch of Canada geese). She highlighted that the birds were less able to feed on the insects living underground (presumably larvae and I'm aware that the chafer beetles that swarm around the heath on summer evenings spend plenty of larval time below ground) and that having pitched so many tents would kill off some of these insects.

I've no way of assessing if this is true or not - I can see how the birds would have to go elsewhere for their food, apparently that part of the heath is quite the thoroughfare for migrating birds between August and October - there is a lovely pond there too, one of several in the area. Perhaps having canvas over you for a week might well kill you off if you're an insect larva too!

She also highlighted an indirect problem. In being labelled as a protest (possibly more by the newspapers than the campers themselves) the police response would inevitably be a certain level of surveillance - she suggested that the campers do some homework about police classification of camps, protests etc.

Apparently the surveillance involved some sort of police sonar which interfered with the activities of the local bat population and in the week that the camp was in residence she found two dead bats on visiting the area. I've no idea what the normal death rate is for bats, or if there's any causal relationship between the police signals and bats having difficulty in navigating (or just being deafened perhaps - she said that she has some recording equipment which was 'off scale' during the period of surveillance). I think the police ensconced themselves in the Cadet Training Centre on Wat Tyler Road!

I asked her if the weekend revellers on the rest of the heath, and the Fair, have much impact on wildlife - apparently mostly positive, which surprised me. The muck from the heath does get cleared up fairly quickly, similarly the edible detritus doesn't get a chance to hang around and is probably welcomed by the local wildlife. The location of the fair doesn't have much of an impact and there are no tents - so it might seem as if the camp scored a bit of an own goal there in terms of sensitivity to wildlife.

My (mild) concern was seeing loads of long grasses / 'weeds' (see comments here) being used as decoration, there were quite a lot of bundles lying around and I wasn't keen on the idea of people having ripped them out for that purpose - however it seems that the council had apparently removed them (and the wrong ones too) and left them there, so might as well use them I suppose.

In writing about this in detail it might sound like there was a great deal of bleating. In fact it was overwhelmingly positive - it's just that I made notes here as there were some perspectives I'd not heard before and I found it interesting.

We all agreed that we liked having the camper folk around who were keen to share a variety of 'do it yourself' skills - and the wind turbine workshop was particularly popular - as well as the talks and debates. Some of us in the room (me!) would rather like Blackheath to be covered in wind turbines but having read a little more into 'acoustic ecology' it might be actually a miserable noisy experience.

This area of South London seems to be a bit of a hub for local green activities such as Transition Towns (one in Lewisham and Westcombe Park) and we had a chat about whether or not there would be any added value, beyond Climate Camp being better known than Transition Towns, in having a specific climate sub-group - and certainly no benefit in duplicating what others are doing.

We have local societies whose focus isn't specifically green activism, but who care about local amenities - a number of these had been supportive of the camp's aims but annoyed, on behalf of the wildlife, at the location and timing of the camp. There was a bit of discussion on how to get everyone back on friendly terms.

The group suggested a regular, perhaps monthly, meeting in Greenwich. There was some chatter about moving the meeting place around - ie going to people, but I think that's still being considered. We've all signed up our email addresses to hear more.

I mentioned that I'd heard about the whole camp 'thing' solely from my being online, following the Bugle's blog and hearing via Twitter about some of the events as they took place in London. My suggestions largely involved 'more online things' - I know we've all shared our email addresses with the camp reps but I'd have been keen to share them within the group as well.
Perhaps they'll read this and get in touch :D

No pictures of the actual meeting but here are some leaves in Greenwich Park...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Mophie batteries (part two): iPhone battery spares

An earlier post comparing two Mophie batteries http://brodiesnotes.blogspot.com/2009/09/mophie-batteries-part-one.html

At the last couple of conferences I've attended / live blogged (the British Science Association [nee the BA] 's Science Communication Conference and the World Conference of Science Journalists) I have been using my iPhone, as well as my laptop, to post to Twitter, FriendFeed etc.

The iPhone battery is pretty good for quite heavy internet use and there are some tips to extend battery life from Apple - basically connect to wifi if you can (you can also switch off 3G in the settings), reduce the screen brightness and switch off any location services, set your email checking to manual etc.

But the afternoon tweets included a couple from fellow iPhone users bemoaning that their batteries were needing recharged, not to mention their laptops. Fellow twitterer @IanRobinson suggested that we should get ourselves a Mophie Juice pack which is a battery that attaches to the iPhone, effectively turning your phone into a brick. So I did.

It's absolutely great and possibly the most beautiful gadget I've ever bought, apart from the phone itself. It cost me £70 from the company directly (I visited the Apple store, they had the Mophie Juice Pack Air but I wanted the Mophie Juice Pack as it's a bit more powerful on 3G (I think the Air probably pips it for wifi, but overall the Juice Pack wins on audio, video, standby etc).

Here's how I have been using it.

Charging the battery - I've found it works well if I plug the battery into my laptop in one USB port and if I want to also charge the iPhone too plug that into a separate one. My preference is to keep them separate for charging.

The iPhone will sync perfectly well if it's docked in the Mophie, but it tends to get a bit warm which always makes me wary.

I attach the Mophie only when the iPhone's down to about 20 per cent battery (I've tweaked the settings so I can see a numeric value for the battery display) - I'm not sure that there's much point having it attached beforehand as it is pretty determined to deliver power. If the phone doesn't need power then it might just heat up too much! It delivers the charge very rapidly, much more so than from the laptop, as far as I can tell.

There's a little button the back of the Mophie which lights up four blue LEDs (it really is a pretty device) to indicate how much charge is there - as expected these blink out, one by one, as charge is delivered.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Thoughts on job vacancies pages

For a couple of years I've moderated a group on Facebook called Science Communication jobs (mostly London).

It contains a list of vacancies pages for a variety of SciComm types of places (heavily weighted towards medical research charities that are members of the AMRC but all sorts of other things too). I'm keeping a parallel list of vacancies on this blog now as well, here.

There are a couple of things I've noticed about vacancies pages.

1. They're often difficult to find and not where you'd expect them. You can search for jobs, vacancies, even recruitment or careers - I tend to try and search within the site map (perhaps I'll find a "work for us" section) as those terms will often appear in other pages that aren't relevant to vacancies.

2. Jobs / vacancies are listed only when they are available to be advertised.

That might seem obvious, but - why?

I once heard a very good description of the blood glucose testing that people with diabetes do several times a day as "driving down a motorway with your eyes closed and opening them every few hours to see how you're doing" - this was being compared with continuous glucose monitoring which gives a pretty much constant readout of ups and downs ('glycaemic excursions').

I think veiling all information about jobs until one becomes vacant is similar.

People might actually find it useful to know that your fantastic Job X is currently filled (and therefore unavailable) but that such a role exists and become available again at some point in the future (perhaps they'll even monitor your page more often* to see when the job 'opens' and be first in the queue to apply).

Perhaps people could see what sort of jobs they might want to consider for the future, and ensure their skills and experiences would match in a year or two.

Probably it's a bit of extra work to maintain a website database of all current roles, job descriptions and person specifications. I appreciate that jobs can change considerably in 18 months but I don't think it's insurmountable that a bit of extra information could be provided to people searching for jobs now and people gathering intelligence for future jobs.

At the time of writing the Facebook group has recently doubled its membership to over 70 members - it's been running for just over two years and I update it sporadically (if anyone's reading I think the best source for science communication jobs is still psci-com / STEMPRA and mailing lists like that).

*More RSS feeds (ability to receive updates) would be helpful here too.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

We're going to need a bigger hashtag(s) II

Short link for this post: http://is.gd/2V4Fe

I've set up a TwapperKeeper page for #scidebate which will record each tweet which contains that hashtag http://twapperkeeper.com/scidebate

This system also lets you set up folders so that, by using a second tag, tweets can be further filtered.

Using the additional tag !g will send a copy of that tweet to a folder for good examples of news stories about science; the tag !b will send the tweet to the bad examples folder.

Examples

  • Newspaper X on Story Y (URL) gets the story right #scidebate !g - this tweet goes to the good examples folder.
  • Newspaper Z on Story A (URL) is an example of churnalism #scidebate !b - off to the bad examples.
Yes, it is a bit Veruca Salt and the Golden Egg in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Background info
This post follows on from my thoughts on collecting 'good' and 'bad' examples of news stories relating to the forthcoming RI debate between Ben Goldacre and Lord Drayson - I first blethered about this here http://brodiesnotes.blogspot.com/2009/08/were-going-to-need-bigger-hashtags.html

Ben G points out in the latest edition of TSR (The Science Reporter, the newsletter of the Association of British Science Writers) that "discussions on this problem could easily descend into banal lists of examples."

Unfortunately banal lists of examples is exactly what I'm playing around with - partly to try new web tools, partly to see what the info's like, partly to enable the collection of 'data' for other people. I've no idea if it will actually work or be useful.

I had already set up a What The Hashtag page for the tag #scidebate, however I noticed that not all instances of the tag persist - some of the earlier tweets have already been lost. Annoying, but I still think that wthashtag is a very agile way of harvesting a bunch of tweets from an event.

Hence my TwapperKeeper plan B. While I was setting it up to record the tag I spotted the bit about filtering into folders and thought that might work. We shall see.

More background info
Probably the best way to collect examples would be for a competent social science research team to go through newspapers and press releases objectively and report their findings. It's a while since I did my Dip Sci Comm with Birkbeck so I'm not really part of the dialogue any more, but possibly it's been done and I'll reserve this space for the info that comes in if people tell me about it :)

************************************
This space for pulished research findings...
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Anything else that I / others do via Twitter or FriendFeed is likely to be very biased by people sufficiently motivated to bleat from their side of the debate and to be using Twitter to do so. I'm not under any illusion that this constitutes quality evidence - but I don't see any harm in having examples of good and bad to hand.

It's also worth considering that turning things into an either / or choice is daft as some will be 'mostly good' - also there's the issue of the importance of a story. The further I get through this blog the less I think of the idea ;)