Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Overconfidence Trumps Accuracy?

This article in last week's Globe and Mail, written by Wency Leung, may be of interest to some of you. It's an interesting study, but also one that raises quite a few questions in terms of the research design, quantitative approach, and conclusions drawn. How would/should we operationalize "overconfidence," I wonder. Is it simply a matter of believing in oneself even when wrong? Is it truly an exclusive category from accuracy? How are the outcomes deemed to be successful or not? What do you guys think?

Here's an excerpt:
The researchers from University of Edinburgh and University of California, San Diego, simulated the effects of overconfidence over generations, using a mathematical model. They compared the outcomes of overconfident strategies against accurate and under-confident strategies, and found that being overconfident frequently works to one’s advantage, as long as the rewards outweigh the risks. People with unbiased, accurate perceptions, on the other hand, usually fare worse, UPI says.

The research suggests that over time, natural selection favours those who have an overly positive self-image over those who are insecure.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Awesome Tool Alert: ImagePlot

This new (free) data analysis/visualization tool, just released by Lev Manovich's Software Studies Initiative, looks AMAZING. It allows you to view large image and media collections in a single visualization composed of the actual images in the data set. The visualization can be organized in a variety of ways (date, colours, etc.), which means you can also use it for identifying trends or patterns, make comparisons, discover outliers and clusters, track changes over time, etc. According to the ImagePlot website, you can also use the tool to turn the visualizations into animations.

I've seen some of the results (e.g. the Freakangels webcomic archive visualizations are especially cool), and am really looking forward to finding out firsthand what this puppy can do. If any of you end up downloading it and testing it out, be sure to let me and the rest of the class know what you think! 

Here's an excerpt of the description posted on the ImagePlot Overview page:
"ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. It is implemented as a macro which works with the open source image processing program ImageJ. [...] Existing visualization tools show data as points, lines, and bars. ImagePlot's visualizations shows the actual images in your collection. The images can be scaled to any size and organized in any order - according to their dates, content, visual characteristics, etc. Because digital video is just a set of individual still images, you can also use ImagePlot to explore patterns in films, animations, video games, and any other moving image data."

And read some of the background/theory behind the tool:
Lev Manovich. "What is Visualization?" In Visual Studies. Routledge, 2011.
Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass, Tara Zepel. "How to Compare One Million Images?" article draft, 8/2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Updates Coming Soon!

Greetings incoming class of the fall 2011 iteration of INF1240 Research Methods. You have indeed found the write URL and, despite appearances to the contrary, this blog is (or will soon be) active. Please check for updates, new posts and links over the coming week as I get our course up and running. In the meantime, please feel free to peruse the archive of last year's materials, presentations and student blogs to get a sense of what's in store.