Research Picks August 2015

Clouds on the horizon

The latest shipping forecast talks of clouds on the horizon as researchers develop the concept of a maritime internet in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research. Kleanthis Dellios, Dimitrios Papanikas and Despina Polemi of the University of Piraeus, Greece, hope their investigations and insights will lead to the development of a “cyber ocean”. The maritime domain is one of the oldest across human history shipping goods, information and culture across the globe for centuries. Even if long-haul air travel has usurped the long-distance voyage for people, modern international trade still relies almost entirely on ships. “The maritime domain is considered part of the physical, cybernetic and network backbone of a nation’s economy sector, security and public safety for innovative developed nationwide strategies,” the team says. The team explains that the maritime domain needs on-demand self-services, ubiquitous network access and location-independent resource pooling, which they suggest could be delivered by cloud computing technology.

Dellios, K., Papanikas, D. and Polemi, D. (2015) ‘Cyber Ocean: a roadmap to maritime cloud’, Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.415–436.

Processing natural language

Searching and trawling news on the internet often focuses on keyword searching. Now, researchers in India have developed a clustering algorithm that can find the days news on a given topic from a wide range of news outlet as well as identifying related content that does not necessarily overlap with the primary sources in terms of specific keywords. The team explains that its natural language processing techniques identified articles dealing with the same news and served with summarised news from all sources. The system offers a 4 percent improvement on recall and a 5 percent improvement on precision when compared with simple keyword-based retrieval systems. A 5% increase in efficiency could represent a significant cost and time saving for many organisations.

Kamath, S.S. and Kanakaraj, M. (2015) ‘Natural language processing-based e-news recommender system using information extraction and domain clustering’, Int. J. Image Mining, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.111–125. Free fulltext available.

Anthropocene Park

We are living in what some pundits refer to at the Anthropocene by analogy with earlier geological periods such as the Pleistocene, which lasted from more than 2.5 million years ago until the end of the last major glaciations period just 12000 years ago. The Anthropocene represents the period during which human activity, hence the name, is affecting our planet, its atmosphere, ecosystems and climate. Tourism and its attendant air travel, construction and development and interference with indigenous peoples and vulnerable environments are likely to contribute significantly to unsustainable practices on our planet. Now, Amelia Moore of the University of Miami, USA, has looked at the impact of tourism particularly on a small island archipelago and put forward a four-pronged concept for understanding the Anthropocene in this context: 1 interspecies ethnography, 2 socioecologics, 3 global assemblages and 4 naturecultural design. Her conceptual work should allow the social sciences and the humanities to discuss and research tourism in the context of the increasingly well-established Anthropocene with greater clarity.

Moore, A. (2015) ‘Tourism in the Anthropocene Park? New analytic possibilities’, Int. J. Tourism Anthropology, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.186–200.

The geography of happiness

Gaël Brulé and Ruut Veenhoven of the Erasmus University of Rotterda, Netherlands, have explored how perception of “happiness”, an elusive concept in itself, might differ from nation to nation. They suggest that there are two parts to our concept of being happy: a hedonistic aspect that is related to our doing things that make us feel good and a second cognitive component that relates to whether life is giving us what we expect of it. Using data from the Gallup World Poll, the team concludes that “average” happiness differs widely across nations and that these differences are systematic and linked to societal characteristics such as economic affluence and the type of government. The more modern nations seem to have happier citizens and in most industrialised nations happiness has been on the increase during the last 40 years. They also found that inequality within nations in terms of happiness is declining. Affect and contentment go hand in hand in most cases, the team reports, yet there is also a cluster of nations in which people are fairly contented but feel bad, such as the former communist countries. There are also several clusters of nations where people feel fairly good but are discontented, such as the Latin American countries.

Brulé, G. and Veenhoven, R. (2015) ‘Geography of happiness: configurations of affective and cognitive appraisal of life across nations’, Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.101–117.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.