URLs of wisdom (25th January 2015)

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



  • Privacy and cybersecurity – key findings from Pew Research – “Americans express a broad loss of control over the way their personal data are managed by companies. Fully 91% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” that “consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Other news

  • How do people post important life events on Facebook? “the specific event itself did not determine how an individual would share the news on Facebook, rather whether it was positive or negative. Users tended to share positive life events indirectly and negative life events directly”

Academia online 

Social media/networks

  • The number one predictor of career success according to network science Having an open network is a huge opportunity in a few ways:
    • More accurate view of the world. It provides them with the ability to pull information from diverse clusters so errors cancel themselves out. Research by Philip Tetlock shows that people with open networks are better forecasters than people with closed networks.
    • Ability to control the timing of information sharing. While they may not be the first to hear information, they can be the first to introduce information to another cluster. As a result, they can leverage the first move advantage.
    • Ability to serve as a translator / connector between groups. They can create value by serving as an intermediary and connecting two people or organizations who can help each other who wouldn’t normally run into each other.
    • More breakthrough ideas. Brian Uzzi, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at the Kellogg School of Management, performed a landmark study where he delved into the tens of millions of academic studies throughout history. He compared their results by the number of citations (links from other research papers) they received and the other papers they referenced. A fascinating pattern emerged. The top performing studies had references that were 90% conventional and 10% atypical (i.e., pulling from other fields). This rule has held constant over time and across fields. People with open networks are more easily able to create atypical combinations.”


  • Do 80% of Americans not know there’s DNA in food? Ben Lillie looks at a recent claim and the survey behind the headline. “We only go and poke at numbers if they seem wrong. What that means is that “80% of people don’t know there’s DNA in food” didn’t register as odd for quite a lot of people. I think that’s a problem. “The US public is incredibly stupid about science” is a hell of a seductive narrative for scientists. And for that reason it’s very much worth questioning.”


  • Jono Bacon discusses the challenges of bridging Marketing and Community activities within an organisation: “If we are passionate about a brand, we want to play an active role in how we can make that brand successful. We want to transition from being a member of the audience to being a member of the team. Most brand managers want this. All community managers want and should achieve this. Thus, brand and community managers are really singing from the same hymn sheet and connected to the same broader mission. Brand and community managers are simply people with different skill-sets putting different jigsaw pieces into the same puzzle.”

Social media developments

  • Facebook allows uses to flag “fake” news stories – what does this mean for real publishers?“Facebook is adding a layer of what looks like editorial accountability without actually taking on the responsibility of figuring out what’s true…So Facebook gives the impression that it is an editorial gatekeeper, but there’s still this buffer that protects Facebook from having to actually explain its thinking the way a newsroom would have to.”



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