Friday, February 27, 2009

another shortcoming of typical transport modeling i just realized while reading a paper by anable (2005). the four step model uses basic demographics (income, household size, vehicle ownership etc) during trip generation and mode choice. the assumption is that individuals equivalent on these metrics will have identical trip rates and mode choices. this is completely absurd. why do the models not account for differences in personalities (as assessed by attitudes). what would be the difficulty with sticking an additional 25-50 question battery on a travel survey to complexify the model. further, what are the cost tradeoffs with this approach vs. moving to more advanced models. to what extent can the 4sm be "saved" by marginal increases in complexity?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"If the gap is to be bridged, that will have to be done by people with sufficient specialized training to read the technical papers of the scientists they study. There are other significant sorts of work to do in the social study of science--work that does not demand significant background in science--but they should not occupy the entire field simply by virtue of its currently standard patterns of recruitment."

Thomas Kuhn, writing in 1983 after being awarded the JD Bernal Prize for contributions to the social studies of science.

He's saying that tech-minded folks (scientists, but surely he meant engineers as well) need to get involved in science 1983...where are they? Definitely not in any of the major sts departments.

Friday, February 20, 2009

laboratory life

having had a hard time reading latour, but knowing that there's something there that i want to wrap my head around (or maybe it's just the fact that i like to be challenged with ideas, and don't like to give up without some kind of sustained struggle), i'm now trying a fourth (or is it fifth) attempt at another book. the plan is that something will stick, then i'll be able to go back to all the books that i put down and come away with brilliant insights.

laboratory life is latour's first book, so i'm assuming it'll be somewhat less obtuse than the others i've tried. seems like i'm right so far. he's actually got a very clear motivation that he lays out right at the beginning of the book.
Whereas we now have fairly detailed knowledge of exotic tribes, we remain relatively ignorant of the details of equivalent activity among tribes of scientists, whose work is commonly heralded as having startling or, at least, extremely significant effects on our civilisation.
woot! hopeful clarity will lead to insight.