URLs of wisdom (mid-Feb to mid-March bumper edition)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. Due to travel, this is a bumper instalment covering mid-February through to mid-March.

Network analysis

  • How Twitter shapes public opinion – the importance of the “rich get richer” effect in establishing a majority opinion, but that complete consensus is difficult to reach.


  • Great thought piece by Tim O’Reilly on big data and privacy. He argues that it’s not the collection of data that’s worrying, it’s when companies use it in ways that feel “creepy”.

“The right way to deal with data redlining is not to prohibit the collection of data, as so many misguided privacy advocates seem to urge, but rather,  to prohibit its misuse once companies have that data.”

Academia Online

  • The Inside Cells and Molecules blog (ICaMB) celebrated its first birthday and shared a year in blog stats – useful reference for any other researchers looking to set up a group science blog.
  • Making time to blog – is it about forming the right routines or simply writing when inspiration strikes?
  • David Shiffman led a session at ScienceOnline about using social media data for research. He then blogged 5 key discussion points from the session, including the ethical challenges of big data that I raised at the conference.


  • I facilitated a discussion at the ScienceOnline conference about Online Communities and made a Storify to capture some of the resources mentioned and other discussion points.
  • From thriving anarchy to failed corporate state – a reflection on what went wrong for the virtual world of Second Life from the perspective of balancing corporate and community needs.

Web/Social media developments

  • March saw the much anticipated launch of Mosaic, The Wellcome Trust’s new online science magazine whose content is published under a CC-BY licence – meaning that it can be reproduced for free elsewhere. I love how the team have been detailing their planning on the magazine’s blog. They also shared some metrics about the first week post-launch.
  • Eva Amsen and I launched MySciCareer – a site for first person science careers stories. The launch coincided with a session that Eva coordinated at the ScienceOnline conference on alternate science careers, which I live-tweeted. Storify of the discussions here.
  • The remake of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS series launched in the US with high hopes that Neil de Grasse Tyson could raise public interest in science. But a cautionary piece following the launch argues “there isn’t going to be a savior for science. That’s everyone’s job now”.
  • What do all those Buzzfeed quizzes tell us about virality?


  • There were many sessions at the ScienceOnline conference and David Zaslavsky did a fantastic job of listing all the Storifys from them.
  • Matt Shipman hosted a write-up of tools from #sciotools session by Eleanor Spicer-Rice on his Communication Breakdown blog. The post includes a link to this google doc where session attendees started to list their feedback about various online tools. Something that might be a useful resources if others contributed their thoughts too?
  • List of 29 free online tools social media managers might find useful.
  • The Ipsos MORI 2014 Public Attitudes to Science survey results were released – and discussed by Alice Bell in The Guardian. The results include data about online engagement with science for the first time in the 5 years the survey has been carried out.

Just for fun

Wonderful data visualisation by xkcd (if it doesn’t animate here, do click through!).


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