Recent Blog Entries

To filter or not to filter?

Published on 29 September 2014.

Rumors have been afloat that Twitter may be making a significant change to its service: moving away from the reverse-chronological timeline in favor of an algorithmically tuned news feed. And Zeynep Tufekci’s critique of this prospect made the rounds, in waves, through my Twitter stream.

I must confess, my initial reading of Tufekci’s article (as a recommender systems researcher and developer) was somewhat knee-jerk. I latched on to this statement:

Zucchini Pasta

Published on 9 August 2014 and tagged with recipes, vegetables.

Inspired by a delicious zucchini ratatouille I had at Root Cellar Cafe, I ordered a julienne peeler and bought some vegetables from the farmer’s market tried to make something like it. There is still a bit of refining to do, but it worked pretty well:

Future Work

Published on 23 May 2014 and tagged with career.

I’m pleased to announce that my job search has reached a successful conclusion. I have accepted a faculty position in the computer science department at Texas State University in San Marcos, beginning this fall.

I don’t have time to say a lot more right now — I have a thesis to finish and defend, after all — but I do plan to continue working on LensKit there.

Robot Dreams

Published on 13 April 2014 and tagged with books, science fiction.

I’ve been working through some of my backlog of started-but-not-yet-finished books and finally finished Asimov’s Robot Dreams collection.

I’ve read a fair amount of Asimov before — robot stories, novels, the Foundation trilogy (which I greatly enjoyed), the Foundation sequels (Foundation and Earth accomplished the rare feat of retroactively damaging the trilogy; I prefer to pretend it does not exist) — but this collection would stand as my recommendation for someone seeking a starting point for Asimov. At least if they don’t want to dive into the world of Foundation. It has a smattering of robot stories, Multivac stories, and other things, many of them excellent.

The Crowd is a Monad

Published on 20 February 2014 and tagged with crowdsourcing, functional programming, conferences.

I had a great time this week at Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing. Met lots of interesting people, heard good talks, enjoyed Baltimore.

One of my favorite papers of the conference was AskSheet: Efficient Human Computation for Decision Making with Spreadsheets by Alex Quinn and Ben Bederson. The concept is brilliantly simple: embed crowdsourcing capabilities in a spreadsheet, allowing decision makers (and others) to use the tools they already know to solicit information via Mechanical Turk and process the responses. To make it all work, they did some very interesting work on batching queries, estimating the likelihood of actually needing a piece of data and using this to order the crowd data requests, and other things to improve the efficiency of an application’s use of the crowd.

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