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Mike Smith
Statistician, modeller, simulator, music wrangler.
Statistician, modeller, simulator, music wrangler.

Mike's posts

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A news article on the Bristol University website seems to suggest that we all struggle with maths and that equation-heavy theoretical works are cited less because they form a barrier to communication of the assumptions, results and implications of the theory. So far, I agree with that premise. However they've made an extrapolation from one manuscript on research of citations in the biology field out to ALL science. The manuscript looked ONLY at papers published on ecology and evolutionary research where it found that papers with more theoretical results / equations are cited less often. While I'm sure that this is a valid finding for this area of research, I'd argue that this is unlikely to hold true for other scientific areas e.g. statistics.

One of the most cited statistical papers is the one by D.R. Cox "Regression Models and Life-Tables", read before (i.e. presented to) the Royal Statistical Society in 1972 and subsequently published in the JRSS Series B (Methodological). Series B is infamous for its theory-heavy manuscripts. And this one is no exception. (To be fair, this manuscript balances theory and application more than perhaps current JRSS B papers do). The Cox paper has been cited 18193 times = 1342/year. Not too shabby.

So while I'd agree that too much maths and not enough explanation DOES indeed get in the way of the message, I'd argue that sometimes it is a necessary evil to justify why a method works.

* DISCLOSURE: This author's bias - I HATE stat theory and I'm no mathematician.

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Three years ago, Andrew Dubber of New Music Stragies ( and +Steve Lawson had a chat about Twitter - how it might be used, what it meant to independent artists and how they saw it being used by some. 3 years on, they talked again, discussing how Twitter has changed and how it has influenced the connection between artists and their audience. Fascinating stuff, and also some really useful advice on how (not) to use Twitter more generally. If you don't get Twitter, watch this...

Original video:
Steve Lawson:,
Andrew Dubber:

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You know that 19% extra risk due to red meat story? Here's the proper stats: (feat.@undunc) Hurrah for proper stats!

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+Steve Lawson released an album this year called "Believe in Peace" - an improvised reaction to an art installation by Geoff Bush. Steve makes his music available under a Creative Commons license which gives us free reign to adapt, remix, sample and use for creative purposes provided we give him proper attribution… So, I took it, applied Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch algorithm and created a 50 minute stretched, smoothed remix. You can listen to it here:

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My remixes of Calamateur's "Retreat" are now on SoundCloud:

The original is a lovely track, and in fact the whole album it comes from is superb. Well worth a listen.

Built a website for my running club using Google Sites + docs + Picasa + groups. Wasn't too painful, but time will tell if the UX for non-Google users is bearable.

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My geekiness has reached new levels. BBC news item on CERN / LHC / Higgs Boson starts with a description of the atom showing orbiting electrons. Says I: "Electrons don't orbit like planets. That's SO outdated". Then, footage showing CERN presentation on Higgs Boson features Comic Sans. #awkward

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+Steve Lawson - "Asking rock star millionaires to understand the internet is like asking Prince Philip to help with your self assessment tax return."

Pete Townsend talking about music and the internet for the inaugural John Peel lecture:

For a slightly different take on how the internet is a positive, supportive output for independent musicians with new and interesting avenues for them to get their music out and ENGAGE with the public (not just at one off speaking engagements), read THIS:
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