URLs of wisdom (January 31st 2015)

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



  • Why apps for messaging are trending “The most popular apps that sustain themselves day after day, month after month, at the top of the leader board, are messengers…That’s a reflection of what people do on their phones.”
  • The cultural specificity of health technologies “App designers and those who develop many other digital technologies for medical and health-related purposes often fail to recognise the social and cultural differences that may influence how people interact with them. Just as cultural beliefs about health and illness vary from culture to culture, so too do responses to the cultural artefacts that are digital health technologies.”

Academia online 

Social media/networks

  • When is a feature a product and a product a business? Interesting read about scholarly publishing and new technologies “Get three publishers into a conference room together or, more productively, at a bar and wait for the conversation to turn to something like this:  “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could [insert your feature here]?” And it would be cool. Conversations like these mostly focus on new things that would be appreciated by end-users–because we are all, at certain moments, end-users ourselves. This creative process is valuable, but it ultimately has to be married to how the new capability will be expressed in an economic context. Hence the defining question of the age: What is the business model?”
  • Reaching 4000 Twitter followers – Paige Brown reflects on what Twitter means to her: “It’s not about the followers, it’s about the friendships”
  • Facebook use and academic performance“the relationship between Facebook and grades provides a way of capturing self-regulation skills in freshmen. In other words, the pattern of Facebook use helps us see something about self-regulation we might not otherwise be able to measure. This is also evidenced by how regular use of Facebook for students at other class ranks is not related to academic performance.”
  • Not strictly “online” – new PeerJ pre-print asking what the optimal size for a research group is – “We show that the number of publications increases linearly with group size…[further examination of the data] suggests that PIs contribute on average 5-times more productivity than an average group member and using multiple regression we estimate that post-doctoral researchers are approximately 3–times more productive than PhD students.”


  • The latest Pew Research Center survey looks at public and scientists’ views on science and society and “marks a more formal commitment [by the Center] to studying the intersection of science with all aspects of society – from public opinion, to politics and policymaking, to religious and ethical considerations, to education and the economy.”
  • And some responses to the survey results – from Matt Shipman – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: to protect public funding for research at the state and federal level – much less increase that funding – you need to have broad public support. And thekeys to building that public support lie, in part, in science communication. Now, do I have the answers? No. We know that the deficit model – the longstanding idea that folks would support science-based decision-making if they just knew more about science – isn’t all that effective. But we haven’t come up with anything to replace it. Yet. I think a lot of folks agree that we need to incorporate cultural mores and beliefs into our science communication efforts, and that science communication shouldn’t be confrontational. We shouldn’t start out by saying “What you believe is wrong, and here’s why.” But how do we do those things? I have no idea.”
  • …and John Besley at The Conversation: “The main thing that seems potentially troubling about the research results is the small decline in positive views about science. Such results echo through the report’s comparisons of the 2014 figures against a similar study from 2009. For example, whereas 79% of Americans thought science made life better in 2014, 83% held this view in 2009.”


  • The Community Roundtable have opened their annual survey on the State of Community Management. It should take about 20 minutes to complete.

Social media developments

  • With the news that Andrew Sullivan, a blogger of 15 years, has decided to stop blogging, Matthew Ingram responds: “Blogging is still very much alive, we just call it something else now” –“When blogs first showed up, there was no other economical way to write and share your thoughts and hear from other writers or readers, but now they are everywhere. We can tweet and Snapchat and Instagram, and post things to Facebook or Google+ or Medium or dozens of other places.”


  • Buzzfeed shares its ethics guide “a first attempt at articulating the goal of merging the best of traditional media’s values with a true openness to the deep shifts in the forms of media and communication.”

Just for fun

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