URLs of wisdom (28th December)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. Thanks for following this year – more to come in 2015!

Network analysis

Behaviour

  • How engaged time affects reading comprehension “Roughly 40% of participants engaged for less than 15 seconds correctly assessed the message of the article, compared to more than 80% of those engaged for more than a minute.”

Academia online 

Blogging

Social media

Web/social media developments

  • Inadvertent algorithmic cruelty – Facebook’s 2014 summary hasn’t been a welcome suggestion for all users. “It may not be possible to reliably pre-detect whether a person wants to see their year in review, but it’s not at all hard to ask politely—empathetically—if it’s something they want.  That’s an easily-solvable problem.  Had the app been designed with worst-case scenarios in mind, it probably would have been.”  And the follow-up post, by the same author: “…they have fallen prey to…a failure to anticipate how a design decision that really worked in one way completely failed in another, and work to handle both cases.”
  • Jay Rosen on the importance of understanding the relationship between journalism and business models based on content – “The Editor has to come to a clear agreement with the publisher and commercial staff on: a.) what the business model is, meaning: how are we going to sustain ourselves and grow? b.) exactly how — in that model — the editorial team creates value for the business, and c.) the zone of independence the editorial team will need to meet those expectations.”

 

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URLs of wisdom (3rd May)

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

Network Effects

  • Rumour cascades on Facebook  “Online social networks provide a rich substrate for rumor propagation. Information received via friends tends to be trusted, and online social networks allow individuals to transmit information to many friends at once. By referencing known rumors from Snopes.com, a popular website documenting memes and urban legends, we track the propagation of thousands of rumors appearing on Facebook. From this sample we infer the rates at which rumors from different categories and of varying truth value are uploaded and reshared. We find that rumor cascades run deeper in the social network than reshare cascades in general.”
  • Ed Yong describes another recent online study of the Matthew effect (or “richer get richer” phenomenon). See also my post on an older study.

Behaviour

  • The great Facebook deep clean – Kevin Roose raises the interesting broader question of how you enable a user to keep her social network *socially* relevant over the long haul, when friendships fade and tastes change.
  • And related – Twitter testing a mute button to silence follows.
  • The networked selfie –Selfies tell a story. They reveal and they conceal, because that is what a story does. It makes some aspects of an event, a memory, a feeling more visible, and in so doing, it directs attention to certain things —and inadvertently away from others. But it is a story. It affirms who we are. We tell stories to make sense of things, our lives, our selves. To make meaning and in so doing, connect with others.”

Academia Online

Web/Social media developments

Lots of discussion about the future of Twitter after their first quarter earnings report disappointed some.

  • Is Twitter dying?  A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel. Communities can’t be fully measured by how many people are in them……From the beginning, there were a few useful precepts that those of us who have obsessed over the platform had to believe. First, you had to believe that someone else out there was paying attention, or better, that a significant portion—not just 1 or 2 percent—of your followers might see your tweet. Second, you had to believe that skilled and compelling tweeting would increase your follower count. Third, you had to believe there was a useful audience you couldn’t see, beyond your timeline—a group you might want to follow one day. Those fictions have proven foolish, one-by-one.”
  •  Twitter’s not dying, it’s on the cusp of becoming something much biggerTwitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks…Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal.”
  • Twitter is no Facebook – and that’s fine.  “perhaps the modern world has room for more than one social service. LinkedIn and Twitter both do things — and do them well — that Facebook does not. Conversely, they do not do the things that Facebook does well. Ultimately what Facebook does best — help people keep in touch with far-flung friends and family — strikes very close to the universal heart of human existence, so it’s no surprise that it’s the biggest company.”

Other news…

  • Facebook’s anonymous login is evil genius  – “Developers are the mass at the bottom of the pyramid, and if they want access to the gold at the top — access to pretty much everyone who might ever buy their product — then Facebook is going to make them pay for it. It’s just good business sense. And if it can make them pay for it while simultaneously pleasing their users, calming their nerves on privacy while continuing to collect the same amount of information on them, so much the better.”  and an explainer of the changes here.
  • Five things – Obama’s big data experts warned him about – in the White House report released this week.
  • Beyond net neutrality  “The big challenge with this whole internet interconnection world is that everything is opaque.” 

Engagement and metrics 

“How do you even define “working”? Advertisers have their own favored audience metrics, but are they the best way to measure user engagement? The focus is often on time on site and repeat visits, according to Tom Negrete, The Sacramento Bee’s director of innovation and news operations….But he argues newsrooms and journalists have an obligation to go further, to measure comprehension: Can an individual understand what was just read in a news story?”

There were various suggestions on how to reimagine comments — from inline commenting to encouraging commenters to respond to a specific question posed about the article. A consensus among the participants was that increased interaction with newsroom staffers could help with the civility dilemma — but they also acknowledged that many newsrooms do not have the resources to devote staffers to mind the comments.”

Resources

  • New book (available free online) by Jono Bacon – Ubuntu Community Manager and author of The Art of Community. His latest offering, Dealing with Disrespect, offers advice on how to deal with online critics.

Just for fun

All that typing away on keyboards…what’s it all for?!

 

URLs of wisdom (19th April)

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

Network analysis 

  • How does false information spread online?  We don’t know exactly…Understanding the spread of false information online requires a better understanding of two things. First, how information spreads online; second, what we mean by false information.”

Behaviour

“Social media users engage in practices that alter their visibility to machine algorithms, including subtweeting, discussing a person’s tweets via ‘screen captures,’ and hate-linking.”

  • Aleks Krotoski’s weekly Radio 4 podcast, Digital Human, is back – this week’s episode “Voice” considers questions such as why video content will never go viral and the emotional response we get when we hear the voice of someone we know.

Academia Online

  • Three issues: privacy, trust and the challenge of managing the popular culture record in a digital age.

Communities

  • Managing change within communities – some lessons learned from Open Street Map. Great advice which includes the following key areas:
    • Work in the open
    • Do the work in small pieces
    • Overcommunicate
    • Be polite
    • Set bounds
    • Call for closure
    • Be patient
  • Video linked to from the above post – Building Compassionate Communities in Tech. How do we encourage healthy (“non-violent”) communication in online communities? How do we not react badly to the trolls?

Web/Social media developments

Resources

Just for fun

Free speech – does it mean what you think it means…?

URLs of wisdom (30th March)

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

Network analysis

The most active and popular social media users are often the ones that are overloaded. Moreover, we find that the rate at which users receive information impacts their processing behavior, including how they prioritize information from different sources, how much information they process, and how quickly they process information. Finally, the susceptibility of a social media user to social contagions depends crucially on the rate at which she receives information. An exposure to a piece of information, be it an idea, a convention or a product, is much less effective for users that receive information at higher rates, meaning they need more exposures to adopt a particular contagion.”

Behaviour

  • The era of Facebook is an anomaly – Lots of things to ponder in this great Q&A with Danah Boyd, author of “It’s complicated – the social lives of networked teens.” Includes some discussion of multiple online identities, ephemerality, and how what we perceive to be the norms of behaviour online don’t always agree with what actually takes place, as revealed by the data:

“….the realities of the data did not align with our artificial understandings of the social community. And this is one of those challenges that we have over and over again in these social environments, which is that we have these fictions that we hold on to that are extraordinarily valuable and that make us feel loved and a part of a community, and part of the social dynamic. It falls apart under deep inspection.”

“When I feel empty or lonely, anonymous Likes fill the hole and offer comfort. But when I feel steadfast in my identity and self-worth, when I feel comfortable with myself, I don’t need the external validation. I don’t have to play jester and entertain the crowd. I’m content having a thought and keeping it to myself.

Herein lies a great challenge for anonymous apps. Without the arc of emotional current that sparks when we know we’ve delighted a particular friend, can anonynous apps provide enough charge  to keep us coming back?”

“Key to BuzzFeed’s strategy…is to create content with a strong emotional or informative appeal to readers, who are then more likely to share it because it reveals something, whether consciously or subconsciously, about their own identity.”We create media that is meant as a form of communication, not simply as something to be consumed.

Academia Online

Communities

  • The problem with community.  Community has become an increasingly popular term for organisations looking to be more user-focused, but the approach can come with particular challenges for Community Managers:

“In community-peripheral companies, Community is used to describe supportive and operational roles, often in marketing or customer service. These companies don’t typically invest a lot of resources in their community, and the influence of Community Managers is limited. In community-centric companies, Community is about strategy as well as operations. The line between Community and Product is blurred and the career trajectory of a great community person expands with the company.

The misuse use of the word “Community” has hurt community managers: people who would love working at Community-centric companies end up at Community-peripheral companies and grow frustrated from lack of respect, resources, and care for the Community.”

Web/Social media developments

Resources

Just for fun

Random quiz: what’s the correct way to respond to this text messageTried this on a few friends with amusing discussions afterwards 🙂

URLs of wisdom (end of March 2014)

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

Network analysis

Behaviour

  • Twitter’s root injustice – Why it’s so hard for new Twitter accounts to attract new followers and what Twitter could do to make things fairer.“…the real issue is the network effects that come from being first. It’s a classic platform problem. Every time you’re followed it gets easier for others to follow you because you have a bigger audience more likely to spread your message to more people.”
    (see also my earlier blog post on “rich get richer” effects online)
  • The dangers of data-driven list making –  “…we sometimes mistake optimization for inspiration. Data is for optimization; humans are for inspiration. Expecting the former to give you the latter is a bad thing.”
  • The importance of recognising cultural diversity in understanding online behaviour –  Zara Rahman argues for the importance of understanding cultural background before making grand statements about the internet: “This is, I feel, what has been missing in the work by many other internet commentators: a genuine understanding of the offline culture in the countries they’re talking about, and an appreciation for how the offline society and politics affects the way people use the internet.”
  • Creeping connectivity – work and life in a hyperconnected world – Krystal D’Costa takes a look at changes in the structure of a working day and how technology has facilitated that.
  • Oops – sorry for being so creepy – light article on the gaffes that we make with technology

Academia Online

  • Privacy in sensor-driven human data collection – a guide for practitioners. Paper considering how to deal with the ethical concerns of studying big data about human behaviour.  “Protecting the wellbeing of the participants of the studies in any domain is of utmost importance. The trust that exists between the participants and the researchers is even more difficult to establish and maintain when the amount and resolution of the collected data increase.”
  • Candle in the dark – On the importance of being visible online.
  • MOOCs of every shape and size – a comparison of different MOOC providers with an interesting infographic splitting out the two different types of MOOCs. (See also my write-up of my first MOOC experience)

Communities

Web/Social media developments

Resources

  • I started a Twitter list of network science tweeps. Suggestions welcome!
  • Interesting set of list of top astronomers, physicists and philosophers on Twitter by number of followers plus listing of top tweets. Note that many of these accounts don’t tweet that much on a daily basis…
  • The AAAS folks have been busy creating Storifys of sessions from the annual meeting that took place in Chicago in February. Overall summary of the meeting. Summary of the session on using social media for science communication and the one on engaging with public events.
  • I found this fantastic free online book, Network Science, which is being released online chapter by chapter.

Just for fun

Do you really need to read the manual…?

URLs of wisdom (mid-Feb to mid-March bumper edition)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. Due to travel, this is a bumper instalment covering mid-February through to mid-March.

Network analysis

  • How Twitter shapes public opinion – the importance of the “rich get richer” effect in establishing a majority opinion, but that complete consensus is difficult to reach.

Behaviour

  • Great thought piece by Tim O’Reilly on big data and privacy. He argues that it’s not the collection of data that’s worrying, it’s when companies use it in ways that feel “creepy”.

“The right way to deal with data redlining is not to prohibit the collection of data, as so many misguided privacy advocates seem to urge, but rather,  to prohibit its misuse once companies have that data.”

Academia Online

  • The Inside Cells and Molecules blog (ICaMB) celebrated its first birthday and shared a year in blog stats – useful reference for any other researchers looking to set up a group science blog.
  • Making time to blog – is it about forming the right routines or simply writing when inspiration strikes?
  • David Shiffman led a session at ScienceOnline about using social media data for research. He then blogged 5 key discussion points from the session, including the ethical challenges of big data that I raised at the conference.

Communities

  • I facilitated a discussion at the ScienceOnline conference about Online Communities and made a Storify to capture some of the resources mentioned and other discussion points.
  • From thriving anarchy to failed corporate state – a reflection on what went wrong for the virtual world of Second Life from the perspective of balancing corporate and community needs.

Web/Social media developments

  • March saw the much anticipated launch of Mosaic, The Wellcome Trust’s new online science magazine whose content is published under a CC-BY licence – meaning that it can be reproduced for free elsewhere. I love how the team have been detailing their planning on the magazine’s blog. They also shared some metrics about the first week post-launch.
  • Eva Amsen and I launched MySciCareer – a site for first person science careers stories. The launch coincided with a session that Eva coordinated at the ScienceOnline conference on alternate science careers, which I live-tweeted. Storify of the discussions here.
  • The remake of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS series launched in the US with high hopes that Neil de Grasse Tyson could raise public interest in science. But a cautionary piece following the launch argues “there isn’t going to be a savior for science. That’s everyone’s job now”.
  • What do all those Buzzfeed quizzes tell us about virality?

Resources

  • There were many sessions at the ScienceOnline conference and David Zaslavsky did a fantastic job of listing all the Storifys from them.
  • Matt Shipman hosted a write-up of tools from #sciotools session by Eleanor Spicer-Rice on his Communication Breakdown blog. The post includes a link to this google doc where session attendees started to list their feedback about various online tools. Something that might be a useful resources if others contributed their thoughts too?
  • List of 29 free online tools social media managers might find useful.
  • The Ipsos MORI 2014 Public Attitudes to Science survey results were released – and discussed by Alice Bell in The Guardian. The results include data about online engagement with science for the first time in the 5 years the survey has been carried out.

Just for fun

Wonderful data visualisation by xkcd (if it doesn’t animate here, do click through!).