[Plura-list] XKCD's scientific microfiction meme; Attack Surface is a Locus Awards finalist

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sun May 2 10:09:42 EDT 2021


On May 7, the Gaithersburg Book Festival is featuring me in an interview
conducted by John Scalzi; we pre-recorded the event but I'll be in the
live chat for the premiere.



Today's links

* XKCD's scientific microfiction meme: "Types of scientific paper."

* Attack Surface is a Locus Awards finalist: And what EXCELLENT company
it's in!

* This day in history: 2001, 2006, 2011, 2020

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🍫 XKCD's scientific microfiction meme

In 2008, I traveled to the world's largest scientific data-centers for a
Nature story. No matter whether the labs were devoted to internet
archiving, the human genome, or the Higgs boson, they had two things in
common: vast server farms, and XKCD.


Randall Munroe's webcomic is so unabashedly geeky, so unafraid to be
obscure or format-breaking, so affectionate and knowing about the
triumphs and pitfalls of science that it is absolute catnip for scientists.

Last week, Munroe published strip #2456, "Types of scientific paper," a
3x4 grid of thumbnails of journal articles with titles like, "We put a
camera somewhere new" and "My colleague is wrong and I can finally prove


Even by XKCD standards, this is heavy scientist-bait. The research
community has risen to the challenge, flooding the net with remixes that
are, if anything, even better than the original: works of microfictional
genius to rival Hemingway's "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Many of these have been collected on Bruce Sterling's Tumblr blogs, and,
taken as a body, they constitute an act of wry, insightful
auto-ethnography - self-criticism wrapped in humor that tells a story.

"Types of Paper in Epidemiology and Public Health"

* We counted how many people have a disease, here are maps with poor
countries in red

* We found that if you call your research 'genetic epidemiology,' then
people are surprisingly OK with eugenics


"Types of History Paper"

* Stuff happened: a chronology 1910-1974

* They missed so much stuff, it's honestly embarrassing 1910-1974

* I am so tired of stuff scholarship

* Wokeness is killing stuff scholarship! A senior scholar weighs in


"Types of Glaciology Paper"

* The ocean is doing a bunch of weird stuff to this glacier

* Why is it doing that: the wild physics

* Why is it doing that: now with machine learning

* We found a glacier that's doing fine! Oh, wait, nevermind


"Types of Entomology Paper"

* This pesticide is completely safe, says one very restricted metric

* This pesticide will kill us all: extrapolation from irrelevant data

* 39,000 new parasitic wasps


"Types of Climate Science Paper."

* Here's a bad thing about climate change you hadn't even thought about

* Did any of you guys take a statistics course?

* Things are definitely worse than we thought

* Things are definitely better than we thought


"Types of Quantum Computing Paper"

* Simulating our system with our system

* We've solved QC with our new scripting language


"Types of Remote Sensing Papers"

* We saw stuff on the ground from space

* We saw stuff on the ground better from space

* What's that? Let me see if I can see it from space

* Have you tried neural networks though?


"Types of Building Energy Papers"

* Expensive material improves building efficiency

* Stop climate change by rebuilding all buildings this way

* Insulate all things


"Types of Housing Papers"

* Why tech workers deserve condos with better walk scores

* Design students' yurts will end poverty

* Supportive housing costs less than boiling poor people in oil and it's
more efficient

* Elders have rebuilt enough equity for a new round of predatory lending

* Neighborhood gained wealth when rich people moved in

* This city ended homelessness (for left-handed veterans with cats)


I saved my favorite for last: "How a reporter sees types of science papers"

* This journal puts the full paper online

* Quantum

* I know this person responds to emails

* GIF-able video in the supporting information

* Fig 1 seems like it basically sums the whole thing up

* Scientist beef!

* I covered their last paper



🍫 Attack Surface is a Locus Awards finalist

The annual Locus Awards finalists have been announced and I am thrilled
to pieces to see my novel ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone book in the
Little Brother universe for adults, in the final ten for Best SF Novel!


Even more exciting than making the top ten is the company it puts me in:
the other finalists are:

* Machine by Elizabeth Bear
* Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
* Agency by William Gibson
* The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
* War of the Maps by Paul McAuley
* The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
* The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
* Network Effect by Martha Wells
* Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

(also excited to see Tor Books, my publisher, next to so many of those

The entire list is, as always, a must-read guide to the best sf/f of the
past year. This year's Locus Awards Weekend is a virtual affair (for
obvious reasons) and runs Jun 23-26. You can sign up here:



🍫 This day in history

#20yrsago Microsoft slams Open Source. Again.

#20yrsago Fiery screed about the state of Linux desktop environments

#15yrsago Rich Americans as sick as poor Brits

#15yrsago Classic multi-ending MAD flexidisc MP3s

#10yrsago Brust’s Tiassa: versatile fantasy in three modes

#10yrsago Will technology make us freer, and if so, how?

#1yrago Kim Stanley Robinson on "our rewritten imagination"

#1yrago Ticketmaster gets $500m from Mohammad bin Salman

#1yrago How "contact tracing" apps could be worse than useless

#1yrago Prisons, meatpacking plants, nursing homes


🍫 Colophon

Currently writing:

* A Little Brother short story about pipeline protests.  RESEARCH PHASE

* A short story about consumer data co-ops.  PLANNING

* A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation.  PLANNING

* A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written
with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown."  FINAL EDITS

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Past Performance is Not Indicative of Future Results

Upcoming appearances:

* In conversation with John Scalzi (Gaithersburg Book Festival), May 7,

* Interoperability and Alternative Social Media, Reimagine the Internet,
May 12, https://knightcolumbia.org/events/reimagine-the-internet

* Book launch for Aminder Dhaliwal's Cyclopedia Exotica (Indigo), May
13, https://www.crowdcast.io/e/udbva8py/register

* Seize the Means of Computation, Ryerson Centre for Free Expression,
May 19,

Recent appearances:

* Talking "Robot Artists & Black Swans" with Bruce Sterling

* The Right to Repair Movement, Monopolies, and Solarpunk

* The surveillance state, digital monopolies, and why we should be
worried (Podsongs)

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:
(signed copies:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics,
Beacon Press 2022

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provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link
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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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