Toban’s recent post on improving science from the bottom up reminded me of a recent article I read about a new website called Petridish. Essentially it’s like Kickstarter (crowdsourced fundraising) for scientific research: individual research projects compete with others for donors funds in small amounts. You can chip in any amount that seems reasonable to you (from $15 to $5,000) on projects ranging from tracking ancient dog populations in Africa to finding the first exomoon. Continue reading
Here is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the evolutionary life cycle of words. It appears that a group of physicists, using data compiled by Google’s scans of books since 1800, have empirically measured how specific words emerge, persist, and fall out of use.
Language, of course, is a sporder like many others – where we can conceive of individual words as the “agents” that collectively cultivate a vocabulary that emerges among speakers. Roughly, individual words compete against other words for describing precise ideas, and certain words are collectively selected over time based on their characteristics (length, spelling, economy, phonetics, aesthetics, dialects, etc).
The authors classify their findings under the new empirical science of culture, or “culturomics” as they call it.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find the original journal article with the published findings in Science.
This could have easily become another blog about economics or politics or philosophy or current events, as all of us are eagerly interested and fairly qualified to comment on these subjects. But we chose to center our blog around the idea of sporders.
I want to take a moment to describe why I think several economically-savvy bloggers, most of us aspiring to become professional economists, are taking a broader leap outside of normal “economics” to explore sporders. Of course, this is just my own opinion and ex-post facto rationalization. But nonetheless, I think this approach brings something new and useful to the table of understanding our world and seeking to improve it. The sporder framework seems to be effective, honest, and interesting. Continue reading