I’m not sure why I’m posting so much to my class blog for Science, Technology and International Politics. I guess I enjoy a chance to quietly synthesize our intense readings, and work out my longer responses without filling class time. But sometimes, I leave class realizing I’ve made a series of geeky referneces that my classmates (and perhaps professor) may not have caught, and post more information to the blog. Of course, I only do this if they are fun references, like to cryptography or comics (see below).
xkcd is an internationally popular a webcomic for geeks. Its stick figure characters move through a world of cryptography, internet trends and love, and take us with them (hover your mouse over the comics for the second punch-line in the alt-text). It is being translated into German, Spanish and Russian.
As per our conversation today about the scientific method and the ideals of scientists, I thought of this comic:
Unlike Piled Higher & Deeper (a comic about PhD candidates in physics and computer science with some good things to say about science and politics) xkcd is about amateur technologists (link is to a insightful post on the historic role of the amateur and science).
I’m passing on the xckd link because I think it can be a good primer on the quirks of geek communities (ie, rational sampling size, esoteric math, dislike of the TSA). Like reading Wired or Annalee Newitz’s Techspoitation, following xkcd for a few months can give someone without a technical background a taste of the culture and the language. They’re also fun.
An even better introduction into the mind of a scientist is today’s Science Valentine from xkcd:
“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.” — Q, Star Trek: The Next Generation “Q Who?”