Thursday, October 17, 2019

Be Careful What You Measure

"Be careful what you measure, because that's what you'll get" is a management platitude dating back at least to V. F. Ridgway's 1956 Dysfunctional Consequences of Performance Measurements:
Quantitative measures of performance are tools, and are undoubtedly useful. But research indicates that indiscriminate use and undue confidence and reliance in them result from insufficient knowledge of the full effects and consequences. ... It seems worth while to review the current scattered knowledge of the dysfunctional consequences resulting from the imposition of a system of performance measurements.
Back in 2013 I wrote Journals Considered Harmful, based on Deep Impact: Unintended consequences of journal rank by Björn Brembs and Marcus Munaf, which documented that the use of Impact Factor to rank journals had caused publishers to game the system, with negative impacts on the integrity of scientific research. Below the fold I look at a recent study showing similar negative impacts on research integrity.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nanopore Technology For DNA Storage

DNA assembly for nanopore data storage readout by Randolph Lopez et al from the UW/Microsoft team continues their steady progress in developing technologies for data storage in DNA.

Below the fold, some details and a little discussion.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Real-Time Gross Settlement

Cryptocurrency advocates appear to believe that the magic of cryptography makes the value of trust zero, but they’re wrong. Follow me below the fold for an example that shows this.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Data Isn't Yours

Most discussions of Internet privacy, for example Jaron Lanier Fixes the Internet, systematically elide the distinction between "my data" and "data about me". In doing so they systematically exaggerate the value of "my data".

The typical interaction that generates data about an Internet user involves two parties, a client and a server. Both parties know what happened (a link was clicked, a purchase was made, ...). This isn't "my data", it is data shared between the client ("me") and the server. The difference is that the server can aggregate the data from many interactions and, by doing so, create something sufficiently valuable that others will pay for it. The client ("my data") cannot.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Guest post: Ilya Kreymer's Client-Side Replay Technology

Ilya Kreymer gave a brief description of his recent development of client-side replay for WARC-based Web archives in this comment on my post Michael Nelson's CNI Keynote: Part 3. It uses Service Workers, which Matt Gaunt describes in Google's Web Fundamentals thus:
A service worker is a script that your browser runs in the background, separate from a web page, opening the door to features that don't need a web page or user interaction. Today, they already include features like push notifications and background sync. In the future, service workers might support other things like periodic sync or geofencing. The core feature discussed in this tutorial is the ability to intercept and handle network requests, including programmatically managing a cache of responses.
Client-side replay was clearly an important advance, so I asked him for a guest post with the details. Below the fold, here it is.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Boeing 737 MAX: Two Competing Views

Two long and very detailed articles on the background to the 737 MAX disasters present very different views. William Langewiesche's What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max? is subtitled:
Malfunctions caused two deadly crashes. But an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty.
Maureen Tkacik's Crash Course: How Boeing's Managerial Revolution Created The 737 MAX Disaster puts the theme in the headline. Below the fold I discuss them, and relate them to my post First We Change How People Behave.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Promising New Hard Disk Technology

It has been too long, two-and-a-half years, since the last of Tom Coughlin's Storage Valley Supper Club events. But he just organized one to coincide with the Flash Memory Summit. It featured an extremely interesting talk by Karim Kaddeche, CEO of L2 Drive, a company whose technology seems likely to have a big impact on the hard disk market. Follow me below the fold for the explanation. I didn't take notes, so what follows is from memory. I apologize for any errors.