URLs of wisdom (7th December)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This instalment is a bumper two-week edition because things were pretty quiet over Thanksgiving.

Network analysis

  • Unravelling the mysteries of your Twitter network – Interesting interview by Kirk Engelhardt of Marc Smith, Director of the Social Media Research Institute. Note that for the analysis mentioned, the range of the study included the NASW’s science writers conference at which at least 3 of the top 10 tweeps were presenting. Would love to see this repeated at various points througout the year to see how fluid the network is, and also to look at other hashtags to see if there are any differences in the communities formed around science communication in different countries.
  • Making social media research more reliable and reproducible“A further problem is the lack of unrestricted access to data. According to the Science paper, social media companies use proprietary algorithms to sample and filter their data streams, so researchers are given a limited selection of the total data available, but no information on how that particular data was selected. While some researchers have relationships with these companies and are given inside knowledge of how the algorithms work, they aren’t able to describe what they know about the proprietary processing or the ways they corrected for the data sampling. This flouts a basic premise of scientific research: researchers should report on all details of the method used, so that other researchers can try it themselves to see if the results can be replicated.”


  • The fall of Facebook – “People don’t want to perform their lives publicly in the same way that they wanted to five years ago.”
  • Rehumanising e-learning – Dave White considers the importance of self-expression before users will truly engage in an online learning environment.
  • On the challenges of not creeping-out users of your online tool by revealing that you know too much about them “As our digital world becomes increasingly circumscribed by the machines that watch us as we work and play, we will be faced with more frequent decisions about who and what else we want to see in those spaces.”

Academia online 



  • Discovered a new blog recently, thanks to Twitter. Jesse Hertzberg covers various topics which really boil down to good communication within organisations, and creating a culture of community.

Web/social media developments

  • Web statistics ignore a billion people in developing countries “It could also lead to a misalignment of aid and effort in building the web in developing countries if the actual use is not recognised. The direct effect, though, is to make advertisers and service providers think that the internet audience in emerging economies is far smaller than it really is.”
  • Facebook much less popular than dark social for sharing “Sharing activity through email, instant messaging and forum posts, aka Dark Social, is three times larger than the sharing activity on Facebook, globally. 69% of all sharing activity takes place via Dark Social globally versus 23% via Facebook.”


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4 thoughts on “URLs of wisdom (7th December)

  1. Another excellent roundup, Lou! 🙂

    RE: dark social – Chartbeat just released an interesting report about how it’s been measured all wrong; turns out a lot of dark social traffic is actually from mobile apps, and Facebook mobile accounts for a large portion of traffic that was formerly thought of as being “dark social.”


    Here’s Alexis Madrigal’s take on it: http://fusion.net/story/31450/dark-social-traffic-in-the-mobile-app-era/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting – thanks for sharing, Stacy.

      The phrases that jumped out at me from Alexis’ article are: “A story’s shareability is now largely determined by its shareability on Facebook, with all its attendant quirks and feedback loops. We’re all optimizing for Facebook now.” and “Mobile is becoming the dominant way people access the Internet. And true person-to-person dark social appears to be less prevalent on mobile devices. Because what people like to do with their phones, en masse, is open up the Facebook app and thumb through their news feeds.”

      Seems that as we’re unravelling the mysteries of “dark social”, Facebook is most definitely not dead yet!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing the interview – great to see scicomm network analysis taking place. (And likewise, thanks for including my post on infrastructure in your scicomm picks this week – nice to cross-pollinate our ideas/networks!).


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