nmg: (angry)
[personal profile] nmg

Cavilling hack Andrew Orlowski sticks in the boot following the withdrawal of funding for the Web Science Institute.

Nice to hear one's research described as "webtastic wankery of dubious intellectual merit and zero commercial potential".

Date: 2010-05-26 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steer.livejournal.com
It's Orlowski. If he dislikes something it's surely a sign it's good. Other projects he has said were obviously pointless and doomed to failure include linux and wikipedia. He's single handedly responsible for me no longer reading El Reg.

Date: 2010-05-26 11:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lionsphil.livejournal.com
He's one of their professional trolls, and he's moderately good at it if only through bombastic volume. His baiting of the Pirate Party pre-election was quite amusing too.

Date: 2010-05-26 11:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burkesworks.livejournal.com
I've written about Orlowski before. "Wankery of dubious intellectual merit" sounds like fair criticism of his El Reg articles.

Date: 2010-05-26 11:11 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
You can count me also as disliking Orlowski intensely. Even when he has good points to make he makes them in such an offensive way that I want to disagree with him.

Date: 2010-05-26 11:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ramtops.livejournal.com
The man is a fool - I never read his stuff these days.

Date: 2010-05-26 12:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surliminal.livejournal.com
Incredible isn't. Someone linked me to his article on the Tims paywall yesterday and the min I saw the byline I just stopped reading. i think i'll save my blood pressure and skip this one too. FWIW I've been tweeting the chop story..

Date: 2010-05-26 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moral-vacuum.livejournal.com
Stop being hysterical...

Date: 2010-05-26 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surliminal.livejournal.com
..or academic? Must try that search and find if it still works..

Date: 2010-05-26 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
Yes - tried it earlier today.

Date: 2010-05-26 12:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quercus.livejournal.com
Even for Orlowksi, that was a clueless rant

Except possibly for his previous one (linked in the article) where he'd been even more of a pratt.

I like "webtastic wankery" though. Should be a conference / T shirt.

Date: 2010-05-26 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] surliminal.livejournal.com
I'm amazed to discover he was at the TBL opening lecture. i was at that - could have brought rotten tomatoes :)

Date: 2010-05-26 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quercus.livejournal.com
Has he commented on the pox-ridden cyborgs of Reading yet?

Date: 2010-05-26 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
I saw that story too - it's nice to see that there's more than just Kevin Warwick at Reading.

Date: 2010-05-26 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
There's *several* of us here, believe it or not. Not all with pieces of hardware surgically implanted, though.

Not sure how long there will be several people here for, though. The axe is currently swinging wide...

Hugo.

Date: 2010-05-26 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] del-c.livejournal.com
borgs of Reading

Help! Help! I'm being assimilated!

Date: 2010-05-26 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lionsphil.livejournal.com
John Leyden beat him to it.
Beyond saying that malware-infected heart pacemakers are not a risk at present at the end of the report, Cellan-Jones allows the publicity-hungry academic to make his claims without challenging their plausibility.

But giving stupid people a voice is what the BBC is for! If journalists actually tried to insist that arguments were supported by fact, that wouldn't be impartial enough.

Date: 2010-05-26 12:24 pm (UTC)
ext_8559: Cartoon me  (Default)
From: [identity profile] the-magician.livejournal.com
What they all said. He's a wanker and a fool.

He's the "Comic Book Guy" who feels his only reason for living (or "claim to fame") is to try to tear down other people ... and his research is poor too.

I've given up correcting him when he makes some factually incorrect statement on El Reg about smartphones and markets and who was first with something (he can't escape the "Microsoft and Apple created everything first" view, even when the facts show he's wrong)

Date: 2010-05-26 01:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zotz.livejournal.com
It's years since I've bothered with the Register, and that sort of article is exactly why. It gradually turned into the Daily Mail's online tech supplement.

Date: 2010-05-26 02:49 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
What's the best tech news site? I still have the reg on my feed list, even if I do open about one article in 30. Having a better site would be nice.

Date: 2010-05-26 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gnommi.livejournal.com
doesn't that translate to "subject I have no grasp of and therefore no interest in"?

I sympathise, but...

Date: 2010-05-26 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tlrmx.org (from livejournal.com)
So, I can't tell how competent Orlowski is, exactly. But you can read his version of his encounter with Wendy, Tim and Nigel and they don't come off very well.

Orlowski, whether by accident or insight, presents them with the big unsolved problem. I know it's the big unsolved problem, Steve knows it, hopefully you recognise it. I'm not actually sure if Wendy, Tim and Nigel know, but if they don't that's a very good reason not to give them this money. Tim tries the "it worked last time" argument and quite rightly Orlowski doesn't buy it, because it didn't work last time, last time is what we have now, and it doesn't really work.

Try it: Google for eXfuze scam. You may find some plausible hits. Follow them, examine. Damn, the one you chose was telling you it isn't a scam. Try another. And another. And another. The eXfuze scammers have money and technology, and with it they've successfully blinded Google.

This provenance problem is really nasty, and Tim's toy systems do nothing about it. Without a _working_ solution the Semantic web is either the Wild West again or just the Semantic intranet and that sounds like something private enterprise should be funding, not government. I like Tim, Nigel and Wendy, but I can't say I'm displeased that they'll have to get on with something else for a while. A few PhD students might get supervised, for a start.

(Sorry, as a result of my choice of example you may get a lawyer letter, or LJ may just remove this entire blog post, eXfuze are just as effective in blinding legal systems as they are at blinding search engines)

Re: I sympathise, but...

Date: 2010-05-26 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
In *his* version of the encounter they don't come off very well. That's hardly surprising - he's not going to write a story that says "I asked some stupid questions and the clever people pointed out that I was an idiot".

Yes, poisoning of search engines is a big, unsolved problem, but I'm not convinced that it's *the* big unsolved problem. Nigel, Tim and Wendy are aware of it, for certain.

Orlowski's take, which you characterise as "it didn't work last time, last time is what we have now, and it doesn't really work" doesn't acknowledge the constant co-evolution of spoofing/scamming techniques and counter-measures that are designed to sort the wheat from the chaff. Altavista did a good job of scaling out conventional term vector IR. The scammers misrepresented pages by adding extraneous terms. Google analysed hyperlinks to better rank pages and weed out the scammers. The scammers build networks of extraneous pages. And so it goes.

*One* of the hopes of Web Science is that, by applying computational techniques to the modelling, analysis and prediction of the behaviour of complex networks, we can better understand this sort of co-evolution. It's certainly not the whole of Web Science, but it's an example that most people can understand.

As for Orlowski's competence, consider this from the same article:


Hendler jumped in:

"I was the external reader for a paper for somebody here at ECS. [...]


The first time around, he'd attributed that quote to Danny Weitzner. I set him right on that much (I was the internal examiner for [livejournal.com profile] fides's thesis) but he kept the "external reader for a paper" phrasing that a) makes no sense and b) isn't something that Jim said (Jim knows and uses UK academic terminology).

Re: I sympathise, but...

Date: 2010-05-27 08:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theno23.livejournal.com
I don't doubt Tim, Nigel, Wendy, or Jim's intelligence, having worked them at various points, however they all have a very laissez-faire attitude to security, which is common across semantic web academics, and many practitioners.

I was at Tim's inaugural too, and I didn't think they answered the point well.

It could be that real trust on the (semanitc) web is impossible, and personally I think that would be a price worth paying for the advances, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do better this time round.

Re: I sympathise, but...

Date: 2010-05-27 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
Granted, security on the SW has taken a back seat so far, mainly because there are more fundamental areas that needed to be addressed first (representation, reasoning, query, etc), and that security is concerned with a broader field than just the SW; developments on the Web should work for an extension like the SW.

As for trust - existing Web approaches don't work particularly well, and the different tack taken by early developments in the SW is an indication that CS researchers are *trying* to do better this time around.

Reading through some of his previous articles, Orlowski's main complaint seems to be that the primary goal of CS research isn't market-ready products, but that would be because research is not the same as development. For that matter, academic CS research is a different beast to industrial CS research (a dying breed), with the latter being more closely tied to product cycles and portfolios.

Date: 2010-05-26 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theno23.livejournal.com
I hope no-ones upset because a Reg hack put the boot in because, um... duh :)

Date: 2010-05-26 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
Not upset, more infuriated, but the man does seem to bear a family-sized bag of McCain's finest on each shoulder.

Date: 2010-05-26 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theno23.livejournal.com
I don't normally rate Orlowski's articles, but his thing on the Times paywall is actually pretty good.

Personally I don't like the "newspaper is the collective noun for jounalism" mindset, but I'm glad someone is trying to find an actual business model for journalism, even if it's Murdoch, and the model is questionable.

Date: 2010-05-26 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
...and that's what's infuriating. He *can* write well-reasoned bits of analysis, but all too often he tosses off dreck like this.

Date: 2010-05-27 08:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theno23.livejournal.com
Ha, well, The Reg is ad supported, so I would imagine that someone has to write contraversial headlines, misleading bylines and/or overblown articles in order to get the page impressions up.

Compare Slashdot to LWN, for example.

Picking my words very carefully here, but I don't think Mr. Orlowski is /neccessarily/ incorrect, history will prove one way or the other, but he doesn't exactly present his ideas in a very tactful way.

Date: 2010-05-27 10:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
The Reg is a tech tabloid, that's for certain.

Date: 2010-05-27 08:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marypcb.livejournal.com
I quite like Andrew in person, over a beer, but I can't read his pieces any more than I can read Julie Burchill; in both cases, I believe they may be intending to provoke a reaction.

Date: 2010-05-27 10:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nmg.livejournal.com
Oh quite, but it starts to get a little tiresome when you often find your colleagues (and by inference yourself) on the receiving end of his pieces.

Date: 2010-05-27 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moral-vacuum.livejournal.com
On a completely different subject - there was someone in the lift today whose security pass said "Daniel Gark".

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