The “green” font…

We’ve recently had discussions about the font of the VH site, changing it for readability etc.  And now, for another interesting take on fonts… the ‘green’ font.  From the AP, a recent news story from the UW – Green Bay.

UW-Green Bay: New e-mail font will save money

Associated Press
Updated: 03/25/2010 08:48:18 AM CDT

A Wisconsin college has found a new way to cut costs with e-mail — by changing the font.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has switched the default font on its e-mail system from Arial to Century Gothic. It says the change sounds minor, but it will save money on printer ink when students print out e-mails in the new font.

Diane Blohowiak, the school’s director of computing, says the new font uses about 30 percent less ink than the previous one.

That could add up to real savings, since the cost of printer ink works out to about $10,000 per gallon.

Blohowiak says the decision is part of the school’s five-year plan to go green. She tells Wisconsin Public Radio it’s great that a change that’s eco-friendly also saves money.

I looked this up online and the story got picked up by several newspapers. Below a link to the story in the Washington Post — read the comments below the actual story.  Some funny analysis as to whether this really is green…

Twitter, revisited….would we or should we use it? Here are 11 Commandments to ponder.

I read a short article this morning about the fact that the Department of Defense issued its social-media policy, and essentiall gave it the thumbs up.   The article goes on to discuss rules of engagement for employees’ use of social media, or lack thereof.  The author puts forth The 11 Commandments of Corporate Tweeting and while these are focused on the use of Twitter in corporate America, I think the 11 are straightforward and rational, and would apply to our setting as well.  A few of them are listed below.

– We can articulate the company vision in 140 characters or less, minus PR puffery and cliché.

– We are willing to give credit to cool, innovative, or thought-provoking ideas, even if coined by someone else.

– We are willing to challenge a potentially destructive position even if our position generates criticism.

Tangential Thoughts: Robot Scientists for a Better Use of Existing Data – And Why Translational Science May Still Need a Slightly Different Approach

Is serendipity necessary for innovation? Or in other words: Would an autonomous scientific discovery process that utilizes all available data at the time be incapable of innovation? Some think so. But not researcher Andrew Sparkes and colleagues who created Adam and Eve, two robot scientists, designed to carry out biomedical scientific research. The researchers claim that scientists robots will “make scientific information more accurate, reproducible and reusable”.

Adam and Eve are capable of generating hypotheses about a problem based on information obtained from publicly available databases, designing experiments to test these hypotheses, running the physical experiments, analyzing, interpreting the resulting data – and they even collaborate. Eve, for example, is a prototype system to demonstrate the automation of closed-loop learning in drug-screening and design.

So why not stretching this idea a bit? Could such a robot help support the clinical and translational research process? The authors of the recent paper “Translational Medicine – doing it backwards” may disagree. They argue that the general approach to hypothesis-driven research poorly suits the needs of translational biomedical research “unless efforts are spent in identifying clinically relevant hypotheses”. As Steinman pointed out, animal models, for example, can lead to results that are the opposite of what is ultimately seen in human disease. So, the authors propose “that hypothesis tested research should follow ‘factsdriven research’ and only when the collection of facts relevant to human disease has been extensive, should hypotheses be constructed to expand beyond what can be directly observed. What is needed is an approach that begins at the Bedside and then goes to the ‘Clinical Bench’.”

I guess once there are public databases available filled with “clinical realities” provided by clinically active physicians and non-physicians, robots like Adam and Eve could frame their research questions accordingly and reverse the discovery process starting with the “human reality”.

Collaborative Catalogue for Online Tools

Worth exploring:

ParticipateDB is a collaborative catalogue for online tools for participation (often referred to as tools for web-based engagement, online participation, e-participation, e-consultation, online dialogue, online deliberation etc.).

Their goal is to build a comprehensive directory that allows people to easily share, discover, explore and compare the tools available today and how they can best be applied.

Group-building Collaboration Tool

Here’s a collaboration tool that allows a person or organization to invite others to Help Me Investigate a topic. It deals mainly with civic matters in the UK.  They don’t offer collaborative document editing, but reports can be posted to show the results of investigations.

What interests me is the ease of simply posing a seed idea that could develop into a collaborative group. Could serve as a model for promoting groups on Virtual Home.

Top 5 Web Design Debates

At Virtual Home we’ve had our share of healthy differences of opinion on best practices for web design.   At web design blog Line25,  they break down both sides of the argument for the Top 5 Web Design Debates That Cause the Most Riots.

  • Should links open in a new window?
  • Should links use the words ‘Click here’?
  • Should Bold <b> and Italic <i> tags be used?
  • Should a logo be enclosed in a <h1> element?
  • Should a site should be viewable in IE6?