Blue Ribbon Blog Rally for Free Speech Online; een Blauw Lint voor Vrijheid van Meningsuiting

26 04 2009

I have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafiblackribbonsign

Thanks to T at Notes of an Anesthesioboist for getting this going, a group of bloggers is holding a blog rally in support of Roxana Saberi, who is spending her birthday on a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has been incarcerated for espionage. According to NPR, “The Iranian Political Prisoners Association lists hundreds of people whose names you would be even less likely to recognize: students, bloggers, dissidents, and others who, in a society that lacks a free press, dare to practice free expression.” blackribbonsign-2

Hearing reports like these has prompted us to do a ribbon campaign. Blue for blogging.

Please consider placing a blue ribbon on your blog or website this week in honor of the journalists, bloggers, students, and writers who are imprisoned in Evin Prison, nicknamed “Evin University”, and other prisons around the world, for speaking and writing down their thoughts. Also, please ask others to join our blog rally.

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

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Text is from Notes of an Anesthesioboist and Paul Levy of Running a hospital

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nl vlag NL flagI have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

T van Notes of an Anesthesioboist heeft ander bloggers opgeroepen om deze week een blauw lint op hun blog te plaatsen. Blauw staat voor bloggen, vrijheid van bloggen wel te verstaan.

De aanleiding is dat de Amerikaans-Iraanse journaliste Roxana Saberi, die beschuldigd wordt van spionage en vastzit in Iran, vandaag haar “verjaardag viert” in een Teheraanse Gevangenis, alwaar ze in hongerstaking is gegaan.blackribbonsign-2

In de Iraanse gevangenis zitten honderden, veel minder bekende mensen gevangen: studenten, bloggers, dissidenten, en anderen die hun vrije mening durfden te uiten in een land dat geen vrije pers toestaat.

In navolging van T wil ik u daarom ook vragen om deze week ook een blauw lint op uw blog of website te plaatsen om alle journalisten, bloggers, studenten, en schrijvers te ondersteunen die gevangen zitten in de Evin gevangenis, ook wel “Evin Universiteit” genoemd, of waar dan ook ter wereld voor het vrij uiten van hun gedachten.

Wilt u ook anderen vragen om aan deze blogrally mee te doen?

Jacqueline.

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Reference Management Software, Shut Down of 5 Google Apps and a Plane that Crashed.

18 01 2009

Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed. What have they in common? Nothing, except that these three unrelated subjects all reached me via Twitter last Thursday eve.

[1] When I checked my Tweetdeck (a twitter client) I saw a huge number of tweets (twitter messages) about the crash of a plain in the Hudson river. It now appears that Twitter and Flickr broke the news 15 minutes before the mainstream media. Below is the first crash picture which was posted on Twitter from an iPhone, taken by Janis Krums from a ferry. Earlier (Twitter as a modern tam tam) I gave some other examples of Twitter as a breaking news platform.

jkrums-plaatje-voor-blog

[2] Twitter is also a useful tool for up to date information and exchange of thoughts. For instance some tweeple (people on Twitter) had been asking about free reference management software. I had retweeted (RT, resend) the message and Thursday eve DrShock (of Dr Shock MD, PhD) tweeted a very useful link to Wikipedia which compared all reference management software, which was retweeted to the Twitter community.

The wikipedia article gives a comprehensive overview of the following software: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero.

The following tables are included: the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions.

Very useful (although not always accurate). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

wiki-ref-man-system

[3] @Symtym (of the blog Symtym) had just learned me how to use Google Notebook to clip and collect information as you surf the web, organize the notes in notebooks and publish the public notes automatically to twitter via twitterfeed. I found it real handy and gathered some material to write a post about it.

But then came the news, brought to me by @Dymphie (of Deetjes (Dutch)), that Google decided to close many services, including Notebook as well as Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball) or as ReadWriteWeb says it: “Google Giveth, and Taketh Away”. (see announcement on the Google Operating System blog).

google-stopt-met-aantal-zaken1

Although Google Notebook itself will remain, the active development will be stopped. Of course this was shocking for many faithful users, including me, Dr. Shock and many others (see comments here)

wtf-gn-is-going-down-shock

What are the alternatives? Soon @DrCris, author of several blogs including Applequack, tweeted on a solution soon to come: “Evernote is working on a Google notebook importer“. I heard great things about Evernote, many doctors seem to use it, so I might as well give it a try.

evernote-google-nb-importer

Diigo is also planning to make a GN importer (see here). Presumably other tools will follow soon.

Note added:

Two articles in Lifehacker give tips [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” and [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Thanks Dr.Shock.)

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nl vlag NL flag“Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed”. Wat heeft dit met elkaar te maken? Niets eigenlijk, behalve dat ik donderdagavond hiervan via twitter op de hoogte gesteld werd.

[1] Eerder gaf ik al voorbeelden dat twitter als een moderne tam tam werkt en vaak een primeur heeft. Donderdag was dat ook het geval. De eerste berichten van het neerstorten van een vliegtuig in de Hudson rivier kwamen via twitter binnen.

[2] Twitter is ook nuttig om informatie te delen. Deze week vroegen mensen naar gratis reference manager software. Ik twitterde dat door (RT of retweet) en donderdag kwam @DrShock (van Dr Shock MD, PhD) met een erg nuttige link naar een artikel in wikipedia. Vervolgens werd door ‘retweeten’ een groot aantal volgers op de hoogte gesteld

In het artikel wordt de volgende software vergeleken: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero met betrekking tot de volgende punten: “the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions”.

Heel erg nuttig en overzichtelijk (in tabelvorm met kleurtjes). Zie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

[3] Van @Symtym (blog: symtym) had ik juist geleerd hoe ik Google Notebook kon gebruiken om teksten al surfende op het net te knippen, bewaren en verzamelen in kladbloks en vervolgens te publiceren op twitter via twitterfeed (berichten automatisch ingekort tot 140 lettertekens). Ik vond het ontzettend handig. Het is een ideale manier om snel informatie te organiseren om later te bekijken, om er een stukje over te schrijven en/of om direct met anderen te delen.

Maar toen kwam als donderslag bij heldere hemel het nieuws via @Dymphie (van Deetjes) tot mij dat uit verschillende Google applicaties de stekker zou worden getrokken. Ook uit Google Notebook. En daarnaast Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball).

Google Notebook zelf zal nog wel even blijven, maar de ontwikkeling zal worden stopgezet. Natuurlijk is dit nogal een schok voor trouwe gebruikers. Eerst worden mensen geenthousiasmeerd om een nieuwe tool te gebruiken en vervolgens wordt deze hen weer ontnomen

Gelukkig twitterde @DrCris, auteur van o.a. Applequack, vrijwel direct dat Evernote werkt aan een Google notebook importeerfunctie. Ik heb erge goede dingen gehoord van Evernote en veel artsen gebruiken het, dus ik ga dat ook maar eens proberen. Diigo is ook bezig met het ontwikkelen van een GN importeerfunctie (zie hier). Waarschijnlijk zal dit wel navolging krijgen. Toch blijft het vervelend om steeds maar van tool te moeten veranderen. Maar misschien moet je dat op de koop toenemen bij gratis applicaties.

Achteraf toegevoegd

Twee artikelen in ‘Lifehacker’ gaan over dit laatste punt [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” en [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Met dank aan Dr.Shock.)





23andMe: 23notMe, not yet

29 09 2008

23andme cheeper

The company 23andMe was in the news thrice this month:

  1. cutting the price of its service by more than a half
  2. organizing a celebrity spit party
  3. the husband of the 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, better known as Google co-Founder Sergey Brin, revealed he is at risk for Parkinson’s Disease, as determined by….23andMe.

Coincidence or part of a strategic plan?

23andMe is a ‘direct to consumer genetic testing’ company that as 23andMe puts it: “democratizes personal genetics”. The lowering of the service price from $999 to $399 brings personalized genomics within the range of many.

What do you get for those $399? A spit kit, you do your thing, send the tube to a certified lab, which analyzes your saliva for more than a half-million points (called SNPs) scattered across the 23 pairs of chromosomes you have (hence 23andMe), as well as your mitochondrial DNA. 23andMe shows the digital data and gives you information on certain traits and diseases. 23andMe also gives information on your ancestry and compares your DNA to your relative’s and friend’s-genes, if you want to share that knowledge with them. With your genes in their database you help 23andMe to perform more research for new discoveries, a program called 23andWe. In fact once you sign up you cannot refuse the use your (anonymous) DNA for this purpose.

The main question is: what purpose does this serve (besides as a potential for yielding income)?

According to 23andMe the main purpose is ‘for research’, ‘for education’ and ‘for fun’: “It’s fun to learn about your own genome”.

In this light, we should probably see the recent event 23andMe organized: a spit party where a few hundred people were lured away from the catwalks during the Fashion Week in New York City. On the sound track of “a whole lot of love” celebrities were spitting their DNA-containing saliva in a tube (see here and here). According Guy Kawasaki, who report on it on his blog (see here),

“even Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell were there providing their spit, but their handlers wouldn’t let me take a picture. I found this ironical: Giving DNA was okay but not a picture.”

The aim for which Sergey Brin let 23andMe test his DNA was less funny. As Sergey (whos mother has Parkinson) explains in his brand new blog:

(…..) Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson’s in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20% to 80% depending on the study and how you measure. At the same time, research into LRRK2 looks intriguing (both for LRRK2 carriers and potentially for others).

Thus this shows a 3rd aim: diagnostic?!
Formally 23andMe denies there is a diagnostic purpose (in part, surely, because the company doesn’t want to antagonize the FDA, which strictly regulates diagnostic testing for disease). However, 23andme does give information on your risk profile for certain diseases, including Parkinson.

In addition, 23andMe encourages the formation of networks of people sharing the same traits.

“If you want to have a community around psoriasis,” Ms Wojcicki said, “we’d like to be able to allow you to form a psoriasis-specific community.” (see New York Times article)

Psoriasis-specific community when you only have the genes that may enhance the risk of getting psoriasis??

That sounds like condemning you to a psoriasis patient already?!

Then lets discuss the following burning question: how well does 23andMe predict that you will get the disease?

Even the LRRK2-gene data of Mr. Brin aren’t that conclusive. A marked higher chance of 20% to 80% is often misconceived as meaning that Sergey’s chance of getting Parkison is 20-80%, or “he will almost get the disease for sure”. As explained by the Gene Sherpa in his excellent post on this subject (see here) it only means that the LRRK2-mutation increases the normal chance of Americans/Europeans getting Parkinson from 2-5% to 4-10% at the most (the chance is less than doubled). Furthermore LRRK2 isn’t the most crucial gene for getting Parkinson.

23andMe has chosen to relate personal health info only to common diseases and common genes. Thus whether you have an enhanced or lowered risk for breast cancer (normal 1 out of 8 women) is determined by 2 (not very predictive) SNPs associated with Breast Cancer, but not by determining BRCA1/2 mutations that are highly predictive for breast cancer, but rare in the entire (western) population .

Although 24andMe explicitly mentions that the tests are for non-diagnostic purposes, it is hard to imagine that people will see it otherwise. But:

  • Most genes are only weakly predisposing
  • Often multiple genes are working in concert in a difficult to predict way (seldom one gene-one disease)
  • The environment and chance also play an important role.

Thus the value of these fun predictions is low, but how does it affect people that think they are prone to having a disease? For some it might be reason to adjust their lifestyle (but then, what is the chance you really change “your destiny”), others may get fixed on their presumptive future disease, confused, or depressed. It is not without reason that genetic screening is usually restricted to people with high risks, when a disease can be predicted accurately (without too many false positives and negatives), something can be done about it (prevention or treatment), and only as part of a genetic consultation by professionals.

Sources; further reading




Nature science blogging conference

30 08 2008

There is official forum for Science Blogging in London, today. The event is organized by Nature Networks.

You can find the program and the attendees here.

AJCann of Science of the Invisible has summarized in this post how you can virtually follow this conference.

At this moment (saturday 11.45 am) you can follow the forum live here

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge

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Vandaag is er een conferentie voor ‘wetenschapsbloggers’ in Londen.

het wordt georganiseerd door Nature Networks

Hier kunt u het programma bekijken.

Op dit moment (zaterdag 11.45 uur) kunt u het programma hier live volgen.

AJCann van Science of the Invisible heeft hier samengevat hoe u deze conferentie kunt volgen.

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge





The Real Sputnik Virus

15 08 2008

I just rewrote the “about” section, saying that this blog was started as part of the web 2.0 SPOETNIK (EN: Sputnik) course, that I saw this blog as an experiment, but that I am now irreversibly infected by the blog/Sputnikvirus.

Coincidentally a real Sputnik virus has been discovered.¹ The virus is called Sputnik (Russian for “travelling companion”), because it “accompanies” the mamavirus, the big ‘mama’ among the recently discovered giant mimiviruses. Both the mamavirus and its satellite were present in an amoeba-species, found in a water cooling tower. Strikingly Sputnik cannot infect the amoeba on its own, but needs the companion of a mimivirus. In fact Sputnik hijackes the ‘viral factory’ of the mimivirus in order to replicate, making the mimivirus less infective. Therefore the Sputnik virus is said to actually “infect” another virus

Wait a minute…!! A virus that ‘lives’ from an other virus and takes over his replicating machinery? This means that the virus that is being ‘infected’ (the mamavirus) is a living organism??? But viruses are ‘dead’, at least that is what I learned.

Definition of a virus in one of my studybooks (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Thus ‘per definition’ viruses are not alive ànd they do not infect other viruses?!

But what is in a definition/name?
According to Aristotle a definition of an object must include its essential attributes or its “essential nature”. However humans may only observe part of the essential attributes, especially when it concerns the infinitely small or infinitely large (which limitates the accuracy of our observations). Nature made his own definitions/categorizations and we just trying to find the rules, if any, to bring some order into chaos. But in science rules and concepts can be falsified and this rule may be one of them.

That viruses may be at the boundaries of life is no new discussion. According to wikipedia:

Biologists debate whether or not viruses are living organisms. Some consider them non-living as they do not meet all the criteria used in the common definitions of life. For example, unlike most organisms, viruses do not have cells. However, viruses have genes and evolve by natural selection. Others have described them as organisms at the edge of life.

As you can see from the scheme above (from wikipedia) the classification of living organisms has never been rigid and as time goes more ‘kingdoms’ have been discovered.

The Mimivirus seems to be at “the edge of life”, because it

Besides the what-is-a-living-organism-issue the discovery of the Mimi-Sputnik virus couple raises some other interesting points.

  • The paradigm that viruses are evolutionary latecomers, evolving as parasites after the archaea, bacteria and eukaria had formed is challenged by comparative genome-analysis which suggests that the virus world is the most ancient.
  • There is an abundance of Mimi-like genetic sequences in the (virus-rich) ocean leading to a suspicion that giant viruses are a common parasite of plankton.
  • Sputnik-like DNA is also found in the ocean, raising the possibility that satellite viruses could play a role in regulating the growth and death of (Mimi-infected) plankton. Therefore these marine viruses could be mayor player in the global ecosystem
  • Although Mimiviruses primarily infect amoeba, antibodies have been found to the virus in some human pneumonia cases. If these mimiviruses have their own satellites…. then this might perhaps be therapeutically exploited against large DNA viruses in human.

Finally I would like to close this post with an apt poem of Jonathan Swift (often cited in this context):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

And another coincidence: There is a popgroup sigue-sigue-sputnik that has an number called virus (on the album ray-of-light.)

NOTES
¹The Sputnikvirus has been detected by the team led by Jean-Michel Claverie and Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles), the same team that identified the mimivirus as a virus.
²Some of the finding are not completely new, e.g. Sputnik was not the first virus-satellite: Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus had been discovered before. Some researches don’t regard a satelite virus as a virus, however, but as subviral

SOURCES
La Scola, B et al The virophage as a unique parasite of the giant mimivirus, Nature DOI:10.1038/nature07218; announced in ‘Virophage’ suggests viruses are alive – Nature News, 2008 august 6th
Other news-coverages:
NRC-handelsblad, 2008-08-09 en wetenschapsbijlage 2008-08-10
telegraph.co.uk 2008-08-06
sciencenow daily news 2008-08-06

BACKGROUND INFO and HYPOTHESES
about the sputnikvirus
:
findingdulcinea.com: good starting point for further information about Sputnik and mimiviruses with links to other sources
scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/
the-scientist.com/blog/
about the mimivirus :
a general overview in
http://www.microbiologybytes.com (last update 2007)
and “unintelligent-design at discovermagazine.com/2006

about the origin of viruses and their presence in the sea: again….
Nice overview
Viruses in the sea’ in Nature by Curtis A. Suttle et al(2005)
Hypothesis: The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells by Eugene V Koonin in Biomedcentral (2006) (pdf-open access)
General: Wikipedia, ie about Viruses and Bacteriophages

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Ik heb net de “about” pagina herschreven: ik schrijf dat ik dit blog ben gestart in het kader van de web 2.0 SPOETNIK cursus, dat ik dit blog als een experiment zag, maar dat ik inmiddels voor altijd geinfecteerd ben met het blog/Spoetnikvirus.

Toevallig las ik afgelopen zaterdag in het NRC dat er een echt Spoetnik virus is ontdekt.¹ Van de Spoetnikcursus weet ik nog dat Spoetnik in het Russisch metgezel betekent. Het virus kreeg deze naam omdat het zich samen met het mamavirus, het grootste virus onder de reusachtige minivirussen, in een amoebe ophoudt. Opmerkelijk genoeg is het Spoetnik virus helemaal niet in zijn eentje in staat om de amoebe te infecteren, maar heeft jij daarbij de hulp van het mimivirus nodig, in die zin dat Spoetnik de virusfabriekjes van het mimivirus inpikt om zichzelf te vermenigvuldigen. Met andere woorden, het Sputnik virus is in staat een ander virus te infecteren.

Wacht even?!……… Een virus dat een ander virus infecteert en ‘ziek maakt’? Dat betekent dat het virus dat geinfecteerd wordt ‘leeft’. Maar virussen zijn dood, dat heb ik tenminste zo geleerd.

Definitie van een virus in een oud studieboek (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Dus viruses leven per definitie niet en kunnen andere virussen niet infecteren?!

Maar “what is in a definition/name”?
Volgens Aristoteles moet een een definitie van een voorwerp/begrip essentiële elementen of de ware aard omvatten. Maar mensen zien misschien maar een deel van deze kenmerken, vooral als het om oneinig grote of oneindig kleine dingen gaat. De natuur maakt zijn eigen indelingen en wij proberen om wetten te achterhalen, voor zover deze er zijn, om orde in de chaos aan te brengen.
Volgens de regels der wetenschap zijn wetten en concepten echter toetsbaar en falsifieerbaar. Dat virussen levenloos zijn zou dus ook ontkracht kunnen worden.

Het al dan niet ‘levend zijn’ van virussen is geen nieuwe discussie. Sommige biologen zien virussen als niet-levend, omdat ze niet àlle belangrijke kenmerken van leven hebben, ze hebben bijvoorbeeld geen cellen. Virussen hebben echter wel genen en evolueren door natuurlijke selectie waardoor ze volgens anderen wel op het randje van het leven balanceren.

Het Mimivirus lijkt nog het meest op het randje te balanceren. Het

Behalve bovenstaande implicaties voor wat we ‘leven’ noemen, maakt het Mimi-Spoetnik-koppel nog meer discussie los.

  • Op basis van vergelijkend genoomonderzoek lijkt het onwaarschijnlijk dat virusen evolutionaire nakomertjes zijn, maar meer dat ze aan de voet van de archaea, de bacteriën en de eukaryoten hebben gestaan.
  • Er is heel veel Mimi-achtige genmateriaal in de oceanen gevonden, hetgeen zou kunnen betekenen dat reuzevirussen wel eens een algemene parasiet van plankton zouden kunnen zijn.
  • Spoetnik-achtig DNA wordt óók in de oceaan gevonden. Misschien dat satelliet-virussen wel een slutelrol spelen in de regulatie van de hoeveelheid plankton.
  • Hoewel Mimivirusen vooral amoeben infecteren, zijn antistoffen tegen dit virus ook bij enkele patienten met longontsteking gevonden. Als deze mimivirusen hun eigen satellieten hebben, kunnen deze wellicht ingezet worden tegen de ziekteveroorzakende virussen.

Tenslotte een zeer toepasselijk gedicht van Jonathan Swift (veelvuldig in deze kwestie aangehaald):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Nog een toevalligheid Er is een band sigue-sigue-sputnik met een (vrij heftig) nummer virus (album ray-of-light).

NOTES
¹het Spoetnik- en het mimivirus zijn ontdekt door Jean-Michel Claverie en Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles) en zijn team.
²Niet alle bevindingen zijn echt even nieuw. Vòòr Spoetnik waren er al andere virussatellieten ontdekt, zoals de satelliet(virus)van tabaksmozaïekvirus. Door velen wordt zo’n virus niet als ect virus gezien, maar als subviraal beschouwd.





Twitter Traumas: Twitter’s Janus Face

7 08 2008

In a few posts I praised Twitter, the free microblogging service, for its value as a rich source of social contacts, news and ideas. See for instance this post about Twitter as a modern tamtam or this one titled: “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

In the short period I used it (2 months) I also noticed some drawbacks: its frequent down times, for instance. The sudden disappearance of half of my followers, a phenomenon, which appeared to affect half of the Twitter community last week. The vanishing of part of the archive (@Deeboeks). However, last week the situation has come to a head by the banning of some if its most active users. Why? Because these highly following and followed twitterati were apparently suspected as spammers. Without thorough verification, that is. These addicted Twitter-users were greatly inconvenienced.

@davedelaney: “(from his blog) Take my email analogy and consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

@pfanderson: (from her blog) “Now, two important points. First point, earlier this week I stated in this blog that Twitter is my #2 productivity tool. In other words, this is REALLY important for me! Second point, Twitter funkiness (like Second Life funkiness) is not unusual, so at first I did not realize this was anything beyond the typical. (…..) All kinds of alarms went off. I had just been asked to demo Twitter (among other social techs) at an important upcoming meeting. Wait a week? For them to just look at the problem? Ummm, that could be a REAL problem!”

Well, it isn’t bad when spam is banned. Indeed many of the spamming or advertising twitterati are following a huge number of people, but are followed by relatively few. Thus a ratio of 1500:50 sets the alarm bells ringing. But then you must do a second check: of profiles, website links and tweets, of course. A proper check of @davedelaney, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (one of my favorites) @narain (a twitterer I referred to as bringing breaking news about Bomb blasts in Bangalore!!) would have learned that these people intensively use twitter for serious purposes. Quite different from other twitterers that follow a whole crowd, only producing twitter messages like: “want to do X than look at this (= my) website” or all kind of quack. And these twitter-spammers are not banned…

But everybody can make mistakes, as long as you….. right, 3rd problem….. communicate it directly to your customers, preferably before you ban them. And if you faile to do so, … right 4th mistake…. do you best to fix the problem and …..o.k. 5th really unforgivable mistake …. always give yours sincere apologies!!

Nothing of the kind happened and that is really bad. If I could, I would ban @Ev (Twitter’s silent leader who was enjoying wine and pie while some of his most loyal users were panicking, according to @davedelaney‘s description) at least for a while. Without checking, without notification, without responding to his frequent requests for help, and foremost without any apology afterwards!!

As far as I know all accounts are back now, but it has cost these people a lot of precious time and has changed their feelings about twitter as a program.

@davedelaney has a poll at the end of one of his post asking:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% of the responders gives an affirmative answer.

There are some Twitter alternatives, but as Delaney says:

“Of course my main love for Twitter is the Community (…). Without the people there would be no Twitter. I don’t love Twitter, I love the people on Twitter who make it such a vibrant place to be. I don’t love Twitter, I don’t even like Twitter at the moment – I may even hate them.”

Further reading:

On Dave Delaney’s blog (August 3rd) : 5-reasons-why-i-hate-twitter. Very balanced: he also gives 5-6 reasons why he loves Twitter; some alternatives mentioned as well)

An account of the banning adventure :can also be found at the blogpost of @pf anderson: twitter_banning.html and on here slideshow on Flickr

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Eerder promootte ik Twitter als een microblogging-dienst, omdat het zo’n rijke bron is van sociale contacten, nieuws en ideeen. Zie bijvoorbeeld de berichten: Twitter as a modern tamtam en “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

Maar in de korte periode dat ik het gebruik, ondervond ik ook enkele nadelen. Twitter is bijvoorbeeld herhaaldelijk niet bereikbaar (“down” , “upgrading” of te zeer belast). Vorige week verdween ongeveer de helft van mijn fans (en ik heb er al zoveel), maar “gelukkig” bleek ik niet de enige te zijn. Soms verdwijnt een deel van het archief, bij @Deeboeks bijvoorbeeld: “Al mijn tweets van voor 6 april 2008 zijn uit ‘t archief verdwenen”. Maar vorige week was toch wel de klap op de vuurpijl. Opeens waren de accounts van de meest actieve twitteraars verdwenen. Waarom? Ze werden kennelijk van spammen verdacht en zonder staving verwijderd. Dat bracht behoorlijk wat ongemak met zich mee, daar dit juist mensen zijn die Twitter veel gebruiken en er deels ook afhankelijk van zijn. Voor @pfanderson: is Twitter is haar “#2 productivity tool“. @davedelaney: “zegt het als volgt:

“consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

Natuurlijk is het bannen van spam niet slecht. Als de verhouding following/followers 1500:50 dan moet er wel een belletje gaan rinkelen. Maar dan moet je vervolgens het e.e.a. checken: profiel, evt. website en natuurlijk de aard van de tweets.
@davedelaney
, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (een van mijn favorieten) @narain (die het nieuws over de aanslagen in Bangalore bracht!!) zijn intensieve en serieuze gebruikers. Dat kun je in één opslag zien.

Iedereen kan fouten maken, maar je moet natuurlijk wel goed en tijdig communiceren met je gebruikers, alles doen om de fout te herstellen en vooral achteraf je excuses aanbieden. En dat is allemaal niet gebeurd.

Wat zou ik graag Twitterbaas @Ev (die alleen twitterde dat hij heerlijk genoot van wijn en quiche terwijl zijn klanten in paniek waren en om zijn hulp vroegen) het zelfde lot doen ondergaan: account rucksichtlos verwijderen, niet op de hoogte brengen, niet reageren en niet helpen. En natuurlijk al helemaal geen excuses aanbieden!!

Ik geloof wel dat alle accounts nu weer in orde zijn, maar het heeft deze mensen wel veel ergernis bezorgd en hun gedachten over Twitter veranderd.

@davedelaney heeft zelfs een poll gezet onder zijn Twitterbericht met de vraag:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% van de mensen die hierop gereageerd hebben zegt ja.





New OvidSP version 2.0 postponed

6 08 2008

The new OvidSP version 2.0 scheduled to be launched August 5th and announced on my blog yesterday (see here) is postponed a few days.

According to OvidSP:

“Some last minute adjustments are being carried out at present to ensure the absolute excellence of the platform. Unfortunately this means that the release date has been postponed with no new date available yet.”

As a result, my training schedule on August 8th will be cancelled (so that’s how I found out). It is advised to register for any training session on “what’s new in OvidSP” (click here) once the release date is announced.

Thus we have to wait a few days for the much-desired new OvidSP version.
That’s regretful, because my coming days are fully planned with OVID searches and I’m really looking forward to this new flexible platform…. But changes are on their way… And I’m looking forward to them

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In mijn vorige bericht kondigde ik aan dat de nieuwe OvidSP versie 2.0 gisteren in de lucht zou zijn, maar deze deadline is kennelijk niet gehaald. Er moet toch nog het e.e.a. aan versie 2.0 gesleuteld worden, voordat deze perfect werkt.

Ook de trainingssessies zijn tot nader order uitgesteld. Aangeraden wordt om je pas op te geven als OvidSP werkelijk draait.

Ik vind het jammer, want ik keek er echt naar uit. Juist nu, want de komende dagen zijn gevuld met lange OVID searches (voor systematische reviews en een richtlijn). Maar, ja, wat in het vat zit verzuurt niet…