Posts Tagged ‘seasonal’

nerdnite 7: data. data data data.

UPDATE: videos up! Prezis from the talks are available here.

The next coupla months are gonna be busy.  Just warning you.  There is going to be MUCH nerdnite-related awesomeness happening.

But for now!  Presenting nerdnite #7.

It’s about data.  All kindsa tasty data, and what we do with it, and how it affects us.  Oh, yes, and we will also have a special outro (details below).


As usual, it’s happening on a Monday – the 19th September, to be precise.  And at Club Ivy.  Also, and this is important: September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  So don’t be surprised if you see many piratey people, and hear ‘aarrrr!’ a lot.

Aaaaand, some of our speakers for the evening are, in no particular order:


The extended mind

Matt Boyd

Traditionally materialists (i.e. those who don’t believe in spooky stuff like souls) have taken the brain to be the object of study when we want to learn about the mind. But a lot of important information processing goes on outside of the brain and outside the body. We use fingers to count and respond to our own gestures when we talk. We refer to instructions or lists we’ve made in order to remind ourselves what it is that we believe. We physically rotate objects to solve spatial rotation problems rather than doing it in our brains alone.

In many cases it is only a kind of brain-bias that prevents us from calling these information processing acts ‘thought’ and counting the external objects as parts of our minds. But, even if we resist claiming that minds are partly constituted by external objects, looking at these interactions focuses our attention on how important stuff ‘out there’ is to our thinking. We really can give someone a lobotomy by hiding their notebook and iphone, tying up their opposable thumbs, and preventing them from using written symbols. In fact there was a time when none of this was actually available to us, and we would have thought in very different ways back then. This begs the question, if minds ‘extend’ in any meaningful sense then what psychological changes will waves of new technology bring?

I will introduce the idea of the ‘extended mind’ and suggest that this way of thinking about the way we think, raises interesting questions about who owns various thoughts, and the impact of technology on our minds.

Matt has recently submitted his PhD thesis ‘As We Build Our World We Build Our Minds’ to Victoria University of Wellington. His research interests are philosophical topics in evolution and the mind. When he’s not arguing with Richard Dawkins in the academic literature, Matt enjoys writing bad philosophical fiction. After nine years in Wellington he is about to take up an academic post at the University of Auckland (the recent snow had nothing to do with this decision).

Gimme the cache!

David Preece

Computers do two things: store numbers and do things with them. Exactly how you get the numbers from storage to the coal face, and the impact this has on performance is hugely interesting. If you’re a nerd. Dave will give an overview of the situation as it stands today, how we got here and what the well dressed modern developer needs to know about caching.
David Preece is an old school computer nerd with interests in mashing lots of numbers. During the day he mashes numbers for Weta and has previously mashed numbers for audio, video and network software in a variety of different forms. He spends his evenings being amazed at how cool his family are.

Musical outro!

Zuni Preece

Zuni learned to play “Still Alive” (the outro music from best-computer-game-ever Portal – ) for a school thing and could be persuaded to play music for nerds. Maybe even with a bouncing dot over the words or something…

Bummer of a Summer? The science of seasonal forecasting

James Renwick

How come some winters start early? Why is summer a non-event some years, and a scorcher in others? Can we know these things in advance? This talk will bring you up to speed on why the climate varies from one year to the next, what’s predictable and what’s not, and will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about El Niño, La Niña, and the Southern Annular Mode.

James is a principal climate scientist at NIWA. He got interested in climate forecasting after mastering weather forecasting back in the 1980s. He’s interested in how and why the climate varies on pretty much all time scales, from days to centuries, and what the future holds for the climate of New Zealand.

Steampunk DH

Sydney Shep

Digital Humanities is an alternative approach to humanities and social science scholarship using new digital tools to reinterpret and visualise traditional data. This talk presents some of the local and international e-research projects in the humanities that move us beyond the current “Mix ‘n Mash” competitions and challenge us to think about how and why we create new knowledge.

Dr. Sydney Shep, is Senior Lecturer in Print and Book Culture at Victoria University of Welllington, NZ, and The Printer at Wai-te-ata Press, a letterpress teaching, research, and fine press publishing facility. She has been involved in humanities eResearch over the last decade from the “Print History Project: Wellington’s Book Trade 1840-2000” to the current Print Culture eResearch Hub which hosts “The Printers’ Web: Typographical Journals and Global Communication Networks,” the “NZ-Reading Experience Database,” and “The Digital Colenso,” a prosopographical collaboratorium. Sydney is currently the NZ representative for the newly established Australasian Association for Digital Humanities.