24 June 2010

Daily Digest, 2010.06.23

Today: Scholars say file sharing not so bad (but their argument may be incoherent); the trouble with psychiatry; memory performance improves during walking; computer nerds working on musical handwriting identification; Laurie Anderson is bored with the avant-garde; pianos all over New York; William Shatner for Governor General? (not a horror-movie review); iPads forbidden in German Bundestag?; lying magazine covers 

Quote of the day: "You can't make someone believe you just by telling the truth any more than you can make the truth false just by not believing it." — Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary.

Nate Anderson at Ars Technica reports on a new study purporting to show that file sharing has "weakened copyright" and that it has, if anything, strengthened incentives to create. The paper is:
Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, "File-Sharing and Copyright." The paper was recently given at a conference in Vienna on music business. It is available for free download here. Oberholzer-Gee is at the Harvard Business School and Strumpf at the University of Kansas.
My first impression, based on Anderson's summary, is that their argument doesn't seem entirely coherent. (This may be partly Anderson's fault: for example, he writes that the authors claim that file sharing "weakens copyright," whereas they actually say "weakens effective copyright," which isn't the same thing at all.)

But I'll reserve final judgment until I read the entire article. (Via digg via Dr. Mike.)

Neuroskeptic discusses a new book by psychiatrist Daniel Carlat, Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry—A Doctor's Revelations about a Profession in Crisis, a presentation for a general audience of Carlat's critique of a profession that, in his view, has climbed entirely into the pocket of Big Pharma. Sounds like a must read, and a possible subject for a review essay, in conjunction with Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us, which I read a few weeks ago.

BPS Research Digest summarizes a new study showing that memory performance improves during walking.  The article is: Sabine Schaefer et al. (2010), "Cognitive performance is improved while walking: Differences in cognitive-sensorimotor couplings between children and young adults," in European Journal of Developmental Psychology. The abstract is here, and the article is available for free download from Psychology Press at Informaworld.

A blast from the past (or perhaps a peek at one of the things I might have been doing and might even be doing now if I had the position and support to continue my former research):
Albert Gordo, et al. (2010), "A bag of notes approach to writer identification in old handwritten musical scores," in ACM International Conference Proceedings Series: Proceedings of the 8th IAPR International Workshop on Document Analysis Systems. The abstract is here. [Corrected link; H/T to DB] The article is behind a paywall, and one must have an account with the ACM Portal even to see the price, which is $15.00.
The abstract gives the list of references, which would be enormously useful, if one were able to do research on the topic.  But those articles are probably all behind paywalls too.

However, for old-times' sake, I've created a "Handwriting Identification" folder in Zotero.

This article was a serendipitous find using Google Scholar Alert, although it has nothing to do with the intended topic of my query, which was the evolution of music.

Delicious irony of the day: the ACM Portal has, hands down, the slowest web server of any I have recently encountered.  Perhaps they're running it on an original IBM PC?  That would be a cool techie trick, but.... And when I say "slow":  it took me approximately an hour and half to set up an account and then login simply so that I could see the price of the article.  Most of that was spent waiting for pages to load.

My dissertation, with a chapter on musical handwriting identification, is here.

At Salon.com, an entertaining interview with Laurie Anderson, "Laurie Anderson is bored with the avant-garde," in which she talks about that boredom, her recent concert for dogs, and much else. Some quotes:
[Discussing the title of her album "Homeland":] And the word "homeland" for America has air quotes  around it. No one ever says that word. Ever. No one asks, "How do you feel about your homeland?" That sounds like a bad translation from a small Balkan country.

[On the label "performance artist":] The thing is that I often start working on one medium, and it turns into a different one. I start working on an opera and it turns into a potato print. What I do is tell stories, and how do you fit that in a museum? They fit in your head, but they don't fit into the room.

[On deciding on new projects:] If I'm trying to decide on a project, it has to have two of the three following things: It has to be fun, it has to be interesting, or it has to make money. The third one sounds crass, but when you're an artist, you do actually have to make a living. And you only have to have two of those things.

[On the "avant-garde":] Oh my god, I'm just feeling myself more and more deadened by that kind of stuff. I don't mean to be a plebeian, but I think it's so repetitive. I go to some shows and think, "I went to the same concert about feedback in 1971 in a loft." It's the exact same thing, I mean, exact. It just feels a little precious for me.

The installation "Play Me, I'm Yours" has opened in New York City.  It is the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram, who has placed 60 pianos in public at various locations around the city, where anyone can play them.

I'm trying (and failing) to imagine this happening in Boston...or (hehehe) Vienna.

William Shatner for Governor General of Canada?  There's a Facebook group for that (but I'll let you find it).

Well, look at it this way: he can't be any worse at that than he is at acting.  Not to mention singing.

The Berlin Kurier reports (auf Deutsch) that the Bundestag is considering whether it is contrary to the rules of the chamber to use an iPad.  Apparently it is against the rules to use a laptop computer, and the Bundestag is now considering whether that rule applies to the iPad, after one was used by Jimmy Schulz, of the FDP.  I'm sure there was a good reason for this rule at one time, but it's difficult to see now what purpose it serves.

An excellent example of the visual dishonesty of the depictions of "beauty" on current magazine covers. Normally, I detest flashing pictures on web pages, but I make an exception in this case, because the gif animation makes the point so clearly:

Via Dump.com.

If you don't understand why this is filed under "BDD," keep tuning in to this blog and you'll find out.
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