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Four short links: 8 June 2011

  1. Who Writes Wikipedia -- reported widely as "bots make most of the contributions to Wikipedia", but which really should have been "edits are a lousy measure of contributions". The top bots are doing things like ensuring correctly formatted ISBN references and changing the names of navboxes--things which could be done by humans but which it would be a scandalous waste of human effort if they were. We analyse edits because it's easy to get data on edits; analysis of value is a different matter.
  2. How I Failed and Finally Succeeded at Learning How to Code (The Atlantic) -- great piece on teaching and learning programming, focusing on Project Euler. Kids are naturally curious. They love blank slates: a sandbox, a bag of LEGOs. Once you show them a little of what the machine can do they'll clamor for more. They'll want to know how to make that circle a little smaller or how to make that song go a little faster. They'll imagine a game in their head and then relentlessly fight to build it. Along the way, of course, they'll start to pick up all the concepts you wanted to teach them in the first place. And those concepts will stick because they learned them not in a vacuum, but in the service of a problem they were itching to solve.
  3. The Believing Brain -- Belief comes quickly and naturally, skepticism is slow and unnatural, and most people have a low tolerance for ambiguity.
  4. 3D Printed Rocket -- stainless steel rocket engine.

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