The Highs and Low of Educational Achievement

The Awesome: , genius, has written an article on rule-set evolution that has the world talking. Dr. Von, Jeff Vail, John Robb, Rick Klau, and ZenPundit discuss Understanding Evolved Strategies for System-Wide Coordination on Noisy Environments. Here’s a taste:

Since it is harder to determine the majority state for initial conditions with an approximately equal number of 1’s and 0’s, the initial conditions are chosen with some with bias. They are distributed evenly from an initial condition of all 1’s to an initial condition of all 0’s. There are always the same number of initial conditions with a majority of 1’s as there are with a majority of 0’s.

Every time step the rule is tested for convergence by checking the next time step without noise, to see if all units are in the same state. If the system has reached a consensus, and remains so in the next time step, then the updating is halted. If it has converged to the correct state for that initial condition, it is counted as a success. If no consensus is reached after 2N time steps, it is assumed to have failed on that initial condition.

The best part? It was written while Alex was in high school.

Scroll down for a low…


On the other side of honor, I came across a particularly glaring example of plagiarism today. Worse, it was structured in such a way that the downstream effects could have been exceptionally negative had I not caught it in time. Plagiarism, which in this case involved page after page of verbatim copying from Wikipedia, is a serious offense. That is was so poorly done just adds insult to injury.

If the offending portion

A weblog is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles, which are normally in reverse chronological order. Although most early weblogs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of “blogging.” Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services.

Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.

A blog has certain attributes that distinguish it from a standard web page. It allows for easy creation of new pages: new data are entered into a simple form (usually with the title, the category, and the body of the article) and then submitted. Automated templates take care of adding the article to the home page, creating the new full article page (Permalink), and adding the article to the appropriate date-based or category-based archive. It allows for easy filtering of content for various presentations: by date, category, author, or other attributes. It allows the administrator to invite and add other authors, whose permission and access are easily managed.
Blogs are different from forums or newsgroups. Only the author or authoring group can create new subjects for discussion on a blog. A network of blogs can function like a forum in that every entity in the blog network can create subjects of their class. Such networks require interlinking to function, so a group blog with multiple people holding posting rights is now becoming more common. Even where others post to a blog, the blog owners or editors will initiate and frame discussion, manipulating the situation to their specification.

While straight text and hyperlinks dominate, some blogs emphasize images (such as webcomics and photoblogs) or videos (videoblogging). Some textual blogs link to audio files (podcasting). A notable niche is the MP3 blog, which specializes in posting music from specific genres. New words have been coined for many of these content-oriented blogs, such as “moblog” (for “mobile blog”).

Importance of Blogging
The first broadly popular American blogs emerged in 2001: Andrew Sullivan’s AndrewSullivan.com, Ron Gunzburger’s Politics1.com, Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire and Jerome Armstrong’s MyDD. They were all blogging primarily on politics.
The importance of the blogging community, and its relationship to larger society, gained rapidly increasing importance. Established schools of journalism began researching blogging and noting the differences between journalism and blogging. This gave greater credibility to blogs as a medium of news dissemination. Though often seen as partisan gossips, bloggers sometimes lead the way in bringing key information to the public light. This puts the mainstream media in the unusual position of reacting to news that bloggers generate.

Since 2003, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. The Iraq war saw both left-wing and right-wing bloggers taking measured and passionate points of view that did not reflect the traditional left-right divide.

Blogging to express opinions on war and other issues by established politicians and political candidates, such as Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, cemented blogs’ role as a news source. Meanwhile, an increasing number of experts blogged, making blogs a source of in-depth analysis. For example, J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, writes a popular blog, Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal. It covers political, technical, and economic issues, as well as criticism of their coverage in the media.

In 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services, and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning began to blog to bond with constituents.

Many bloggers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media, while others are members of that media working through a different channel. Some institutions see blogging as a means of “getting around the filter” and pushing messages directly to the public. Some critics worry that bloggers respect neither copyright nor the role of the mass media in presenting society with credible news.

Bloggers’ credibility problem, however, can be an advantage for the bloggers and for the mainstream journalists who take an interest in them. News organizations are sometimes reluctant to tell stories that will upset important people. But when bloggers or activists make sensational claims, then they become stories themselves, and journalists can use them as cover for reporting the underlying scandals.

seems really, really close to this Wikipedia article, that’s because it is.