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The New Napster: How Sci-Hub is Blowing Up the Academic Publishing Industry

There has been an explosive new development in how scientific research is read and distributed. It’s name is Sci-Hub.

Founded in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan (who was, at the time, a 22 year-old graduate student based in Kazakhstan), the site has seen a major uptick in the last year. In February 2016, 6M+ scientific papers were downloaded from Sci-Hub, including articles from major journals like Nature and Science, to more niche titles across many fields, by hundreds of thousands of researchers all across the globe [1]. Simply by punching in a paper title or a DOI (document object identifier), which is a kind of ID number for scientific papers, researchers can get immediate, free access to 50M+ articles on the site. Continue reading…

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The Science of Growth with Sean Ammirati (2-time Founder Turned VC)

I recently finished reading a new book about startups. It’s called The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust. It’s written by Sean Ammirati, who is a partner at Birchmere Ventures and an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon, where he teaches a courses on entrepreneurship. He was previously COO of ReadWriteWeb and cofounded mSpoke, a content recommendation engine that was acquired by LinkedIn.

The book is a spiritual successor to Four Steps to the Epiphany, in that it is an intellectual framework for thinking about high-growth entrepreneurship written someone with deep experience in the field. While there’s a cursory similarity to Good to Great / Great by Choice in comparing pairs of winner/loser companies, it really shines as a way of thinking about, talking about, and analyzing startups at different stages of growth: Continue reading…

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Delivering My First Keynote Speech

In September of 2015, I received a short email with an invitation:

Hi Jason,

I am part of a non-profit public relations association that is interested in having you speak at our annual conference. Are you currently accepting speaking engagements for 2016? We don’t have an exact date but are looking at spring and would be willing to work with your schedule if we find that we can afford your fee!

Thank you for your consideration!

The email was from Robyn Bridges, the Vice President of the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, and a member of the East Alabama chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA).

So began a fascinating journey which culminated with my giving a 90 min keynote presentation at the Auburn University Hotel this past Wednesday to kick off PRCA’s annual state conference. Here’s how it happened.. Continue reading…

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11 Nifty Javascript and CSS Libraries for Newb Programmers (Like Me)

One of the things that can be surprising to people who don’t spend much time creating software is just how much code is really a giant mashup of pre-existing pieces of code that have been modified to interact with each other. The beauty of software is that it can be used without being consumed, like an idea or a piece of writing, and that’s what makes it so powerful.

In building side projects, I’ve found and used a number of neat Javascript (and CSS) libraries, which are organized bundles of code that perform specific functionality or style websites in certain ways. Here I’ll share eleven of my favorite ones. I know there are many, many, more* but as an apprentice programmer, these ones are particularly easy to use and I’ve been happy with them.
Continue reading…

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Early Observations from My New Podcast on Breaking Records

A few weeks ago I launched a new project called The Record Breaking Podcast (link to the podcast on iTunes). In each episode, I interview someone who has set or broken a significant record. Often these are world, first-ever, all-time records, though I do sometimes veer into records that may not be of that caliber yet are personally meaningful. I’ve interviewed four people so far and already I’m learning all kinds of interesting things Continue reading…