As posted in early August from JSM 2010 in Vancouver, StatProb was launched as a way to promote an on-line encyclopedia/wiki with the scientific backup of expert reviewers. This was completely novel and I was quite excited to take part in the venture as a representative of the Royal Statistical Society. Most unfortunately, the separation of the originator of the project, John Kimmel, and of the editor Springer-Verlag (which is backing up the project) a few weeks later put an almost sure stop to the experiment by exposing the lack of incentive in investing a not-inconsiderable amount of our time in editing the entries and the need for part-time operators that would handle LaTeX and other editorial issues… The core of the matter is, I think, that the “reward” in getting involved in the wiki is sadly too limited from an academic perspective to balance the investment (the more because most members of the editorial board were senior researchers). This was clear for instance in the search of a person in charge of the LaTeX aspects of the submissions: I could not find a strong enough reason to convince a younger colleague to dedicate part of his (limitless!) energy to this task, apart from service to the community… So, in the end, and in agreement with the Royal Statistical Society, I have sadly resigned from the board of StatProb along with George Casella and Nando de Freitas.
Archive for statprob
After a very good early run in Stanley Park, I went to a morning session on new statistical challenges in genetics, but unfortunately could not keep focussed enough (due to a very short night, still being not tuned to Pacific time!) so I ended up chatting with Sid Chib at the Springer booth about the future of R and the drawback of it running too slowly… The second session of the morning I attended was the I.J. Good memorial session (although there were many alternative choices I could have made at the same time!) where Steve Fienberg, Jim Berger, Adrian Raftery and David Banks gave different perspectives on the life and influence of this leading figure. After his work in Bletchley Park along Alan Turing during the war, already using Bayes factors introduced a few years earlier by Harold Jeffreys, I.J. Good contributed very much to the Bayesian revival of the 50’s. (A fact not mentioned this morning is that he was a consultant for 2001: A Space Odyssey!) The afternoon session on Bayesian processing of massive data systems was somehow compulsory since I was talking in this session! While the talks were interestingly diverse, there were however again very people in the room, making me feel the attendance was much lower than last year. As the day ended earlier to let free space to the presidential address, this eventually came as a less exciting day (but left me time for an early evening swim plus two mixers!)…
Via the [financial and technical] support of Springer, probability and statistics societies are launching a specialised wiki called StatProb. It operates as a wiki in that authors can submit short articles on any topic, with further co-authors joining in later to improve those articles, but with the contents guaranteed via the filter of an editorial board. The members of the board and subsequent associate editors are nominated by the statistical societies involved in the project. (For instance, I was nominated by the Royal Statistical Society., Susie Bayarri by ISBA, George Casella by the ASA, etc.) As a starting basis, StatProb will reproduce a few hundred entries from the incoming International Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences edited by Miodrag Lovric (to which I contributed). Obviously, the wiki will only work if enough contributors submit their piece and make StatProb a reference for statistics. I joined the project because, as opposed to costly encyclopedias, wikis are living things that evolve with the field (if enough activity is maintained by its members) and that can be accessed freely by all. Another good thing about StatProb is that entries are submitted in LaTeX, making the output looking fairly reasonnable. (To start the ball rolling, we submitted this short piece on random number generation with George Casella, exctacted from an older piece that had been sitting around for a while. It does not mean to be the only piece on random number generation, nor on MCMC or Monte Carlo methods. And it can be updated and augmented as in other wikis.) Unless I am confused, I think the site will be officially launched at JSM 2010 in Vancouver this weekend.