URLs of wisdom (21st December)

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


  • Review of an interesting-sounding book: “Sharing our lives online: risks and exposure in social media”.
  • The readers we can’t friend – on reaching beyond social media communities for sharing of news content. “We have become supplicants to other platforms in order to get our readers. That’s already a problem, and it’s going to be a bigger problem. How do we increase both the broadness of reach and the depth of loyalty with our own names as news organizations and not as a brand page at the indulgence of fickle Silicon Valley trend-chasing? Do we collaborate with other news organizations to create our own social platforms? Will the answer be partnerships and memberships that draw readers into news brands by combining reporting with live events and entertainment and context?”
  • 2015 – the year we get creeped out by algorithms? Three significant factors are outlined. i) One: Our devices are becoming more and more central to our social, personal, financial, and civic interactions. ii) Two: Most digital mediation takes place on platforms and apps in which the true owner, the platform itself, keeps centralized control. iii) Three: Algorithms are increasingly being deployed to make decisions where there is no right answer, only a judgment call.”

Academia online 

  • The latest OKCast episode is an interview with @arfon about open science, citizen science and cultural change in academia.
  • The Mozilla Science Lab blog is reviewing their year – this post on prototyping for change in online research gives an overview of some of their projects.


  • Big changes at the Scientific American blog network were announced this week with the network roughly halved in size as part of a “reshaping” process. Matt Shipman interviewed the blog editor, Curtis Brainard, while Paige Brown speculated about some of the decisions involved and DrugMonkey ponders about the life span of blog networks in general: “networks appear to have a natural life-cycle. The ones that are tied up to a traditional publishing entity perhaps are on a short burn from the start”.
  • “Internal motivations, ‘I blog for myself,’ are the motivations that keep us going when we can’t know whether we are truly making a difference or not to science literacy and broader public understanding of science.” – Paige Brown considers blogging motivations.

Social media

Science Publishing


  • Bad community is worse than no community – thinking about digital engagement: “By coupling a format that encourages intimacy with a network design that encourages out-of-context amplification, Twitter has evolved into something fundamentally volatile.”

Web/social media developments

  • What are MOOCs good for? – “For all the hype, MOOCs are really just content—the latest iteration of the textbook. And just like a book on a library shelf, they can be useful to a curious passerby thumbing through a few pages—or they can be the centerpiece to a well-taught course. On their own, MOOCs are hardly more likely than textbooks to re-create a quality college education in all its dimensions.”
  • Buzzfeed CEO: “It’s not just a site, it’s a whole process” – “We went from the traditional media model of content and distribution to the vertically-integrated model of content distribution technology to the network-integrated model of technology helping at every level.”


  • Wikimedia produces a monthly YouTube recording of discussions of recent research on the platform. Find all the archives here.

Just for fun

Happy holidays!

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