Archive for July, 2012

Aurora restaurant

July 16, 2012

I dined at Nottingham’s newest restaurant over the weekend, the Aurora, and it was a fine experience. The menu is described as eclectic modern british and the setting is a lovely old lacemarket warehouse basement. If you are visiting Nottingham, I can highly recommend, not least the stunning desserts:

Aurora’s modern twisted on rhubarb parfait.

Book cakes

July 12, 2012

For all those of you at my recent book launch who complained that this blog has been slacking with respect to the lunch side of matters. These book-themed cakes were brought to the editing course I’m doing at the moment.

Not quite sure how they would handle “The loneliness of the long-distance runner”…

Famous books on cakes (cakes by http://www.classy-cupcakes.co.uk/)

 

Exploiting the Social Graph

July 3, 2012

The Web is now a subject of academic study outside the confines of computer science. It is informing, and being informed by, a range of different disciplines as diverse as law, economics and media studies. However, because of the huge data sets about individuals and their social ties that are being collected, the potential for social science and computing is especially strong.

As Cameron Marlow, in-house sociologist at Facebook, recently told MIT Review:

“The biggest challenges Facebook has to solve are the same challenges that social science has…”

Up until fairly recently, social science was essentially restricted by the difficulty of obtaining data from large numbers of people, such as accurate details of their friendship links. Web 2.0 services can now provide that data easily as millions of us have happily uploaded and shared details of our private lives, creating what are known as social graphs, studied formally by graph theory.

Back in September 2010 when I was writing my book I came across the philosopher Pierre Lévy speaking to the Royal Society to the effect that: “Graph theory will be one of the main bases of the future of the human sciences”. At the time I thought Lévy was taking things too far, but it is now clear that social media, the exploration of complex networks and the scale of data being collected have opened new and fruitful horizons for the humanities. Added to the drive and ambition of the companies involved, he might not be far wrong.