A data scientist that says ‘Tell me what to do’ isn’t a data scientist. He will be a data analyst, at most. Someone who calls himself a scientist must be guided always by questions, not answers. He must be able to make questions by himself. Even if someone else tells him what to do, he should question it, think about other solutions and even more questions that could give insights that weren’t even demanded. Otherwise, he can’t call himself data scientist, but data something else. That’s the beauty of this profession. Maths require both hemispheres, it demands logic and creativity. Otherwise, you are condemned to be substituted by an algorithm sooner or later.

Iván Blanco via Horace Dediu

So the usual open source model of waiting for users to report and fix bugs as they discover them doesn’t work for security problems. To find security bugs before the bad guys do, people have to be actively looking for them. And while many IT workers understand the importance of this kind of security auditing, it’s much harder to convince management to devote resources to fixing theoretical security bugs when there are always more immediate non-security bugs requiring attention.

Timothy B. Lee on security and collective action problems in open source software

Portrait: the Neglected Desktop Aspect Ratio

Anyhooo, I’m in love with Feedbin (and User CSS).

Yikes. Someone tell me how this could possibly explain the service and drive new user adoption for twitter.

The beauty of Captain America is that he is and always has been a symbol of the American dream. But that dream encompasses what German psychologist Erich Fromm called the basic human dilemma, which is the conflicting desire for both security and freedom. As a symbol, Cap will always struggle with that balance, reflecting our own struggles to define just what being an American means.

Charles Moss

Journalism is one of the few professions that not only tolerates general innumeracy but celebrates it. I still hear journalists who are proud of it, even celebrating that they can’t do math, even though programming is about logic. It’s hard to get a journalist to open up a spreadsheet, much less open up a command line. It is just not something that they, in general, think is held to be an important skill…. It’s a cultural problem. There is still far too much tolerance for anecdotal evidence as the foundation for news stories.

Aron Pilhofer, New York Times

You’ve heard the lyrics the guy writes, right? He’s really good with vocabulary. And Craig [Finn] has this very unique way of telling you to go fuck yourself. He can tell you how to go fuck yourself and make you happy that you’re on your way. Until, like, ten minutes later, and then at home I’ll be like, ‘…Wait a minute!’

Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady

In the past, data-laziness was probably more of a threat to humanity. Since systematic data was scarce, people had a tendency to sit around and daydream about how stuff might work. But now that Big Data is getting bigger and computing power is cheap, theory-laziness seems to be becoming more of a menace. The lure of Big Data is that we can get all our ideas from mining for patterns, but A) we get a lot of false patterns that way, and B) the patterns insidiously and subtly suggest interpretations for themselves, and those interpretations are often wrong.

Noah Smith

This is what you get when you analyze big data with no theory.

Noah Smith