URLs of wisdom (mid-September to mid-October)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This is a bumper edition to capture some of the posts while I’ve been away on vacation.


“First, academics respond well to cash incentives. No surprise there, especially as these referees are all economists.

Second, academics respond well to tight deadlines – this may surprise you. One explanation is that many academics overload themselves and find it hard to prioritise. For such an overworked individual, tightening the deadline may do the prioritisation for them.

Third, the threat of public shame also works – especially for better-paid, more senior people with a reputation to protect (and less need to impress journal editors).”

Web/Social media developments

  • There’s something rotten in the state of social media – on the problems with montetization, automation and enforcement.
  • What does ethical social networking software look like? “Social networks are like languages — they are only worthwhile when they are broadly adopted. This makes an incredibly compelling case for user tracking and advertising, since success as a broad network makes the most sense by giving network access away and then selling the people to companies. This is a hard model to escape.”
  • The evolution of your home timeline – Twitter on continuing to experiment with what we see in our feeds
  • You can now listen to a podcast in a tweet – and keep scrolling – new Twitter audio cards
  • Why Twitter should not algorithmically curate the timeline“Twitter’s uncurated feed certainly has some downsides, and I can see some algorithmic improvements that would make it easier for early users to adopt the service, but they’d potentially be chopping off the very—sometimes magical—ability of mature Twitter to surface from the network. And the key to this power isn’t the reverse chronology but rather the fact that the network allows humans to exercise free judgment on the worth of content, without strong algorithmic biases.”
  • Buzzfeed’s forthcoming news app

Academia online 


  • Whispering in the Town Square: Can Twitter provide an escape from all its noise? “If the purpose of social networks is finding the people you actually want to talk to, then Twitter needs to not only facilitate the finding, but the talking. Once you have made friends, or by Twitter parlance found people you enjoying following, you want to deepen those connections, not necessarily continue creating new ones. That’s what DMs do that public tweets do not. If a platform doesn’t allow for intimacy once relationships are formed, then its users will inevitably leave it.”

Digital marketing


Just for fun

Move fast and break things…sometimes


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