URLs of wisdom (3rd November)

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



  • The politics of privacy in the digital age “Increasingly, as data from many other users are aggregated and interpreted using algorithms, one’s own data has an impact on others by predicting their tastes and preferences. The concept of ‘networked privacy’ developed by danah boyd (2012) acknowledges this complexity. As she points out, it is difficult to make a case for privacy as an individual issue in the age of social media networks and sousveillance.”

Creating healthy spaces online

There’s a lot of talk in recent months about safety online (see my earlier post about how urban planning may be able to inform some of our thinking). Here are a few more recent posts:

  • Making public spaces online safe  – Sam Klein offers some solutions.“…the “publicness” of large digital spaces can help make them more welcoming in ways than physical ones – where it is harder to remove graffiti or eggs from homes or buildings – and niche ones – where clique formation and systemic bias can dominate.”
  • How to fix Twitter“Which leads to my idea for changing Twitter. It’s actually two ideas:

    1) Allow people to put an icon at the end of the tweet that invites readers to click if they want a little elaboration. If they click, a little box will drop down that contains a few lines of text—maybe up to, say, 350 characters’ worth. And readers would have to click to see the box—it shouldn’t be visible by default, like inline photos; the scanning efficiency afforded by the 140-character limit should be sacrosanct.

    2) Allow people to put another “elaboration” icon at the end of this elaboration box. If readers click on that, a new browser window will open up and they’ll see a page featuring no space limitation at all. It can house a few sentences of elaboration, a 3,000-word essay—whatever.”

Technology and Urban spaces 

NYC remains an inspiration to those studying cities:

Other stuff…

Academia online 

  • Minds need hands” On the importance of both working with active projects to build new things as well as studying them: “There’s another advantage to having Makers as part of a community of Thinkers: The conversations include people who know the realities of the field down to the bits and gold-plated contacts level. This turns out to be crucial. For example, if you’re researching the future of libraries (to take a not so random example), it’s an enormous advantage to be part of a community that is prototyping library futures in bits or atoms. Working with material often reveals possibilities for that material that otherwise would have been blind to thought.’
  • From attention to citation – do altmetrics and citations correlate? Summary of findings from a study which sought to answer the following: “do different types of view patterns make same impact on citations? Furthermore, does distinguishing different types of view patterns offer a more reasonable description for measuring the impact of an article? Although previous studies show that there is low correlation between altmetrics and citation, how is the relationship between altmetrics and other metrics, e.g., article views?”
  • Science blogging and citations – Matt Shipman explains a study of papers published in 2009 and 2012 that were blogged about: “For the 2009 papers, seven of the 12 journals (58 percent) had low p-values – and six of the journals had really low p-values, less than 0.01. That means that, statistically, papers in those seven journals that were blogged about were likely to have more citations than other papers in the same journals that were not blogged about.”


  • The trouble with modern friendship – Oliver Burkeman has a smart take on Dunbar’s number: “until recently, on arriving in a new place, you’d inevitably lose your ties with the one you’d left; you’d be forced to invest fully in a new social circle. These days, thanks to motorways and airliners, email and Skype, you need never cut those ties. You never leave your old life behind, so your emotional investments are scattered.”
  • Givers, takers and matchers” – Interesting ideas about individuals showing generous behaviour within organisations and how it can benefit the organisation as a whole.

Digital marketing

Just for fun

  • I may have spent a few hours of my life over the past week on this fun citizen science project to tag penguins in photos from Antarctica 🙂 A fun way to relax – and help science!



2 thoughts on “URLs of wisdom (3rd November)

  1. The “trouble with modern friendship” piece is all too true. I’ve moved around a lot since grad school, and keeping up with friendships from afar is difficult and at times lonely. So worth it, though.


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