Four short links: 27 May 2019

Better Figures, Neal Stephenson, Reputation Inflation, Interactive Code

By Nat Torkington
May 27, 2019
Four Short Links
  1. Ten Simple Rules for Better FiguresA more accurate definition for scientific visualization would be a graphical interface between people and data. In this short article, we do not pretend to explain everything about this interface. […] Instead we aim to provide a basic set of rules to improve figure design and to explain some of the common pitfalls.
  2. Neal Stephenson Explains His Vision of the Digital AfterlifeI saw someone recently describe social media in its current state as a doomsday machine, and I think that’s not far off. We’ve turned over our perception of what’s real to algorithmically driven systems that are designed not to have humans in the loop, because if humans are in the loop they’re not scalable and if they’re not scalable they can’t make tons and tons of money. The result is the situation we see today where no one agrees on what factual reality is and everyone is driven in the direction of content that is “more engaging,” which almost always means that it’s more emotional, it’s less factually based, it’s less rational, and kind of destructive from a basic civics standpoint.
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  4. Reputation InflationA solution to marketplace information asymmetries is to have trading partners publicly rate each other post-transaction. Many have shown that these ratings are effective; we show that their effectiveness deteriorates over time. The problem is that ratings are prone to inflation, with raters feeling pressure to leave “above average” ratings, which in turn pushes the average higher. This pressure stems from raters’ desire to not harm the rated seller. As the potential to harm is what makes ratings effective, reputation systems, as currently designed, sow the seeds of their own irrelevance. AAAAAAAAA++ article, would read again.
  5. Dal Segno — interactive code editor (the language is a bit like Scheme) that, when you change a function, rewinds until the last time that function was called. It’s like magic.
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