URLs of wisdom (January 4th 2015)

Happy New Year!

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


  • To keep or ditch comments? “Still, it’s becoming more common, and more acceptable to readers, to see outlets ditching their comments. And for most sites, eliminating the section won’t result in an overall hit on engagement, though it may deter a select group.”
  • Cutting through Singer’s paradox “…this is the problem every good cause outside of your current walk to work faces. They are trying to solve a difficult problem far away. They’re working to do something that is neither close nor now. And often, because the work is so hard, there’s no satisfactory thank you, certainly not the thank you of, we’re done, you’re a hero. The challenge for real philanthropic growth, then, is to either change the culture so our marketing psychology is to donate to things that are neither close nor now, and that offer little in the way of thanks, or to create change that hacks our current perceptions of what’s important.”

Academia online 


Social media

  • A political economy of Twitter data “to study social media data, and in particular Twitter data, is to concern oneself with emerging economies of data and their attendant politics. Rather than considering platforms like commercial social networking systems as easy and plentiful sources of research data, they require hard work: it is hard to gain access to that data (as non-technical and non-wealthy academic researchers); and: some hard critical epistemological reflection is required upon what can and cannot be asked and/or concluded given the specificities of each kind of dataset and data source we use. The means of access, the APIs and other elements necessary to access the data, are important interlocutors in the stories we tell with these data.”
  • Social media and science communication – what are your benchmarks for success? “If you write for a blog for instance, how many reads are considered doing well? Do comments matter, and if so, how many is good? If you make videos, how many views make each hour of production worth while? And if you hang out on Twitter, what’s the quality and quantity of retweets and engagements that make your time feel well spent?”


  • A content strategy for codes of conduct “Codes of Conduct exist to communicate with people who may be (or have been) the target of abuse that they are participating in a community where their needs are heard, listened to, and will be met with respect and concern. It is to make clear to the community at large that we protect vulnerable people and do not tolerate abuse….There is a difference between taking steps to create a safe conference environment, and communicating to the public that steps have been taken.”

Web/social media developments

  • The social media phase of the internet is over – “Messaging is the new social media … Families use WhatsApp groups instead of Facebook. Kids use Snapchat instead of Instagram. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in February of this year was the transaction that defined this trend.”


Just for fun

New emoticons for 2015!



2 thoughts on “URLs of wisdom (January 4th 2015)

  1. Another great roundup, Lou! Some thoughts below.

    Eliminating comments: I was recently reading (can’t remember where) about a company that decided to ditch comments because so much discussion was already taking place on social media. That engagement, plus the difficulty of moderating a comments section, made getting rid of comments an easy decision for the news outlet that decided to do so. I do wonder it there’s not consequences w/r/t to a) disallowing long-form commentary to be included on the same article/post/what-have-you that a commenter is responding to, and b) moving the conversations onto some social media platforms where pseudonyms are disallowed/frowned upon (LinkedIn, Google+, etc).

    Think I need to read up more on exactly how Gawker’s Kinja works, and what effect its had on their commenter community. I know that I’ve been frustrated when comments I’ve left on Gawker blogs have never appeared because I wasn’t a super-active commenter–that strategy has disincentivized me from participating more often.

    Liked by 1 person

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