All posts by max

Design for Doulas

I have typically avoided the realm of UI design, as I view as fraught with of cults of personalities and nonstop bikeshedding, but this semester I decided to try my hand and find seperate the theory from the style posing as theory. The course I am taking is centered around a large project to design an application that helps a population of people with a need they have. This coincides nicely with a dream I have harbored to make technology for doulas– providers of nonmedical, practical and emotional support for pregnancy.  My partner is a doula and leader in a doula organization, so I have been somewhat privy to the way they use tech to run their program.… Read the rest

U and Why?: Part 2: Snow Bike and the Seven Identities

While Ceephax has exposed me to a hyperactive, ultrajoyful side of myself, Why? has shown me how to cope with inexorable loss of impermanent identities. Just today I was going to go to an event I’d been looking forward to for over a year; the Stupor Bowl is a 50 mile bike ride in Minneapolis, stopping at 9 bars, and on the coldest day of the year. But after ceding a pool table yesterday to a man who my friends told me looked very much like myself, due to his moustache and cycling jacket, I became paralyzed by the self-awareness of my new identity.… Read the rest

U and Y. Part 1


In this Ceephax Acid Crew Live youtube video there’s a comment which says “Love that one guy going nuts.” And it’s true, there is a guy in the front of the crowd feeling the music and letting his body follow. That’s not a particularly amazing fact to many people, but to me its a revelation on a virality with which I’m infected. Because just 24 hours earlier, I was that person in the front.

24 hours even before I was going nuts, I was getting nervous. Ceephax was playing at the Science Museum in San Francisco, and this would be my first opportunity to see him in the flesh.… Read the rest

Dried and True

I didn’t like the Dyson Airblade at first. Its slick futuristic form with neon yellow striping gives the visual indication that it will instantly dry your hands, which it doesn’t. It takes 12 seconds. Still, I claim this represents a revolution. The watch-a-microwave-tick-down waiting time is a small price to pay for leaving the tiled room with hands truly free of water, rather than the less-wet state my whole life prior to this invention taught me was normal.

The Dyson Airblade. Attribution:

To understand why the Airblade represents such a leap forward in hand-drying technology, we have to understand the past that Dyson was trying to escape.… Read the rest

Against the Grain: Influencing Factors of Opinion Change in Wikipedia’s Article for Deletion Process


This is my final project from my Machine Learning course this past semester. My collaborators and I attempted to find out when, and why users at English Wikipedia’s article for deletion forum, voted against their tendencies. That is, what makes an “deletionist” vote “keep” and when an “inclusionist” votes “delete”? In the end we found that basic machine learning techniques could not perform much better than random, but the intelligence that did emerge came from using information about group herding behaviour, and appeals to the local bureaucratic process.

Against the Grain: Influencing Factors of Opinion Change in Wikipedia’s Article for Deletion Process

Zhiyi Li, Cheng Peng, and Max Klein


On 1 November 2015, English Wikipedia hit 5,000,000 articles; but while article creation is much celebrated, deleting an article is a lesser known process.… Read the rest

WIGI Update: Results from Usability Testing

Since the beta version of, our site dedicated to the biography gender gap on WIkipedia is progressing on the technical side, we decided  conducting usability study on to help improve interaction aspects. We conducted a usability study to find out more. It was fantastic to here people say ”this is the tool we’ve been waiting for,” and we also want to address issues that lead people to describe their experience as “burdensome”.  Thanks to Masssly for compiling the report. I repost his summary here, and the full report can be read on wikimedia commons:

Executive Summary

During the week of November 17 – December 1, 2015, WIGI was tested among participants pulled from the Wikimedia community, loosely described as anyone who edits Wikipedia-the-encyclopedia, or is a potential reader of any of its language versions.… Read the rest

Differently Shaped Virtual Paper

The very first time I heard it I was immediately convinced by Killer Mike’s un-festschrift “Reagan”. It’s a lucid, orchestrated, and damning exposé of what Reagan’s legacy has meant for less privileged people in America  “[…] thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics”. However as much I appreciate what Killer Mike spits, and specifically how he’s spitting it, I never felt I could fully connect with the message having never been directly effected by Reagan’s policies – until now.

This week my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program application was “rejected without review.” The reason given was my application was not conforming to the submission standards, I hadn’t left 1 inch margins.… Read the rest

Data Management: The Plan

Perhaps because it’s not something I would have done on my own, thanks to the prodding of Daniel Mietchen, I  have created a data management plan for my open-PhD adventure. What is a data management plan (DMP), you might ask? Now that I’m up to speed, I can tell you that it’s a document in which you set out the parameters for how you will create, share, and store the outcomes of a project. It’s also the sort of thing you go through in order to pose detail questions to yourself and make rigorous your otherwise slightly sloppy thinking.… Read the rest

Dear NSF: Part 1

In what will surely not be the last time I ask the U.S. government for money, I made the plea to be a fellow of theirs today. The Nation Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP)  supports new PhD students in their research aims for 3 years.  And I am told, and also suppose, that I want that. The way in which they ask you to prostrate is a standard multi-essay plus recommendations mode. The essays, when viewed as “papers for which you haven’t done the work,” were useful writing and thought exercises. I am quite energized by firming up a proposal about what I might do in the next three years, even if it seems incomprehensibly difficult and moon-shot-ish  right now.… Read the rest

Am I Doing My PhD In The Open?

Yesterday I clicked on a JSTOR link, and a full text PDF popped up – it wasn’t an Aaron Schwarz liberation plan. I was in the academy reading closed access research. I’m in the academy, and I’m on the precipice of taking it for granted.

Last November I asked if I should do my PhD in the open and answered in the affirmative, but at that point I hadn’t even been accepted by any PhD-granting institutions. Only one month into ensconcing myself in the GroupLens lab, at the Univ. of Minnesota, I somehow forgot about the my commitment to openness.… Read the rest