URLs of wisdom (16th August)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology.


Thinking about algorithms and user behaviour:

  • “Algorithms have consequences”
  • “Is anyone immune to the social media echo chamber?” – The polarising effects of social media.
  • I liked everything I saw on Facebook for two days – here’s what it did to me  – A reminder about filter bubbles “This is a problem much bigger than Facebook. It reminded me of what can go wrong in society, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other. We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves—the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground.”
  • Tricking Facebook’s algorithm “…I wanted to see if I could trick Facebook into believing I’d had one of those big life updates that always hang out at the top of the feed. People tend to word those things roughly the same way and Facebook does smart things with pattern matching and sentiment analysis. Let’s see if I can fabricate some social love.”

Other news

  • We don’t talk about this – Great post by Paige Brown on responding to online criticism of your writing: “According to the theory of motivated reasoning, there are two basic types of reasoning motives: accuracy goals and defensive goals. We often look at motivated reasoning on the part of science communication audiences. But science writers themselves are not immune to motivated reasoning processes.”

Web/Social media developments

  • What good is all this tech diversity data anyway? – A look at the recent trend for tech companies to release their data about employee demographics:“A litany of tech companies followed Google’s lead, using the formula it had established. And that formula has now become the de facto way to share (and apologize for) diversity data in Silicon Valley. It goes something like this:
    • 1. Write a blog post about the importance of transparency, acknowledging how your company has a long way to go and outlining a few diversity-related initiatives
    • 2. Include a sleek graph showing how few women and minorities you employ
    • 3. When asked to talk about the issue, decline interview requests and redirect people back to the original blog post.”


Academia online 

  • an increased sense of agency about the crafting of writing
  • a stronger sense of audience
  • more understanding of how to make writing accessible within the confines of their discipline
  • improved skills as critical readers
  • more access to critical peer support, and
  • more opportunity to shape a scholarly identity in and through writing.”



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