You are not the boss of me!

This assertion, made by millions of children with respect to their siblings, has its echos in many contemporary conversations about scholarship and authoritativeness. Whether it is the dominance of genetic or environmental effects in child development, or the value of a prostate specific antigen test, or the meaning of a genetic mutation, one group's truth is another's discredited hypothesis or outdated approximation. Of course, there some facts whose authoritativeness are beyond doubt, such as the speed of light. Well, maybe. Certainly, until that eschatological moment when we will all know the absolute truth, those of us who are entrusted with the curation and dissemination of knowledge, in its various guises, will have to provide tools to manage the growing multiplicity of perspectives.

In that spirit, I have unearthed a piece I wrote with Russ Altman over a decade ago about authoritativeness in the peer review process and how it could be managed ecumenically. We'll see if our futurology was authoritative.


Faster, cheaper and in control

Let's say you have a problem (e.g aligning the world's literature to defining the phylogenesis of the components of the current world-wide written corpus for scholarly attribution and automatic detection of plagiarism) that requires a computational solution. But it's taking days for the software to run. Buying a faster, bigger computer might provide some speed up, but what if you could get a 1000 fold improvement through a better implementation of the algorithm at the core of your software? Here's your chance to see if it can be done through a contest hosted by the Harvard Catalyst. Will the Overmind answer your most difficult computational questions?

XKCD Wikipedian protestor