Slideshare FAIL

I enjoy a good joke. I’m not so politically-correct that I won’t laugh at the expense of others – remember I grew up in the UK, where bullying was part of the culture ;-), nor so po-faced that I can’t laugh at my own expense.

I do not enjoy April Fools. Jokes on this day are rarely, if ever, good jokes. Perhaps they were more fun when humans lived in small, isolated communities with little knowledge of the outside world and so could be fooled en masse by spaghetti trees. However, this is the 21st century, the age of information. We should be harder to fool, because we know more about the world.

Paradoxically, it’s the information age that enables the flood of tedious, blatantly false, time-wasting stories in our inboxes and feed readers every April 1st. You might even say that everyday is April 1st, somewhere on the Web. The elements of surprise and ignorance are gone. Perhaps it’s time to abandon this quaint custom.

Which brings me to Slideshare, who decided that it would be tremendously funny to (1) inflate users’ slide views by adding two zeroes and (2) inform their users by email. Read the rest…

Spreading the message, a few minds at a time

Given my passion for online science networking, it’s surprising that I’ve never given a talk on the subject [1]. So a big thank you to William who invited me over to his institute for an informal chat about the topic with a small group of staff.

I learned that:

  • A good quote from an internet guru goes down well
  • Everyone loves an xkcd cartoon
  • Many biologists still don’t know what an RSS feed is

My slides are embedded, below or visit Slideshare – best viewed full screen.

1. Oh wait, I work in a university
See the slides

FeedJournal: silly but fun

Via LifeHacker:

Web application FeedJournal turns your RSS feed(s) of choice into a newspaper-formatted PDF.

A little clunky and buggy when I tried it out, but I eventually generated this PDF from a few of my Google shared items. I’m not keen on the way articles are headed “by neilfws” – I didn’t write any of them!

What use is it? Not much – perhaps a nice way to generate a PDF for the next edition of Bio::Blogs.

It’s what you say, not how you say it

Like most bloggers, I keep an eye on my blog statistics (and try not to get too obsessive about it).

I frequently see a spike when Genome Technology Online link to one of my posts. The previous post, on Facebook apps for scientists, resulted in my biggest spike ever – 798 views in a day. Somewhat surprising at first, given that it was a short, uninformative post linking to a far better blog article (Bertalan, I hope that you received some traffic!)

What this tells me is not that my post was great, but that people are very interested in what Facebook (and perhaps social networks in general) can do for scientists. Next question: what should we (the “web 2.0 for science” community) be doing better to capitalise on that interest?