URLs of wisdom (15th November)

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

Behaviour

  • How numbers on Facebook change behavior A new study looks at what happens when you remove all the metrics indicators (likes, +1 etc) from Facebook “People realized when the numbers were gone, they had been using them to decide whether to like something,” he tells me. “I certainly didn’t expect these tendencies of people saying, ‘I literally don’t know what to do [without knowing the metrics].”
  • The issue formerly known as privacy “I’m less worried about what people think of me and more concerned about assessments and judgments that are made behind the scenes, processed by algorithms and potentially affecting my experience online.”
  • On passion projects – post by Brooke Borell: “Most importantly, I think, all of us relied heavily on our networks of colleagues and friends to make sure we’d hold ourselves accountable to our projects. There’s nothing worse than telling someone about the big project you’re so excited about, only to have to admit, the next time you see them, that you’ve let it wither from neglect.”

Academia online 

Studies of academics online

  • The last time that Facebook use by the Russell Group universities was analysed was in 2012 – now there’s some more recent data to compare.
  • The quantified anatomy of a paper – intriguing post that looks at how much time is spent on the various aspects of creating a research paper – including disseminating the data.
Breakdown of time spent on producing an academic paper Image credit: Mohammed AlQuraishi http://moalquraishi.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-quantified-anatomy-of-a-paper/

Breakdown of time spent on producing an academic paper Image credit: Mohammed AlQuraishi http://moalquraishi.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-quantified-anatomy-of-a-paper/

 

Twitter

  • Join the Twitter chorus – Jonathan Lawson discusses the use of Twitter at academic conferences “I’ve been to several conferences now, in fields where Twitter has been openly embraced (mainly science communications, outreach and journalism). In these events Twitter adds a much-needed extra dimension to every session and it breaks down many of the perceived social walls that stop people at these events from interacting with one another. Yet, academic conferences (or at least the ones I’ve been to) are still lagging far behind when it comes to using Twitter and an overall online presence.”
  • With Twitter’s poor signal-to-noise ration, should social academia look to less corporate and more localised networks? “Critical pedagogues stress critical use of technology, freedom from corporate decision-making, and the lack of singular “best practices.” If that’s our attitude towards textbooks, curricula, and so-called Learning Management Systems, we shouldn’t be beholden to a corporate network for our scholarly and social discussions.”

Blogging

  •  “The science of science blogging – the complicated task of defining a science blog” – Paige Brown explains what she’s studying for her PhD.
  • Am I a blogger? – Danah Boyd on the challenges of being a blogger “I made a decision to live certain parts of my life in public in order not to hide from myself, in order to be human in a networked age where I am more comfortable behind a keyboard than at a bar. But I also had to contend with the fact that I was visible in ways that were de-humanizing. As a public speaker, I am regularly objectified, just a mouthpiece on stage with no feelings.”

Web and social media developments

  • Net neutrality is so much more than access to “the tubes” – Danah Boyd on other sources of online inequality: “Unlike in China, where the government restricts its own people from accessing many non-Chinese sites, many West (and perhaps East?) Africans are restricted from accessing American sites by the American companies behind those sites. Whole populations are excluded from sending mail through certain webmail services because it’s assumed that they’re all spammers, scammers, phishers, and other “bad” internet users. Websites outright block country-level IP addresses because West Africans aren’t economically viable customers; the advertising ecosystem is not mature enough. Other sites block whole countries because they don’t trust “African fraudsters.”
  • “Dark web” version of Facebook shows a new way to secure the web “If you access Facebook’s .onion address, your Internet service provider or authorities won’t be able to tell that you did so. That could be useful to people trying to share news of protests from inside a country where the Internet is monitored and censored, such as Syria. Once you are logged onto Facebook, the company will log your activity as normal.
  • The challenges of online education – will MOOCs be flukes? MOOC enrollment has soared, but completion rates are abysmal. According to a 2013 study, an average of only five per cent of the students in seventeen Coursera classes offered through the University of Pennsylvania actually finished their classes. Other estimated completion rates hover below thirteen per cent. And not all of the students who completed their courses necessarily passed.”

 Communities 

Resources

Just for fun

xkcd wins the internet again this week for this awesome cartooning of the Philae landing on comet 67P. See the full set of images here.

Landed! Image credit: xkcd - see the entire gallery here: http://xkcd1446.org/#142

Landed! Image credit: xkcd – see the entire gallery here: http://xkcd1446.org/#142

 

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URLs of wisdom (26th October)

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

 Network analysis

Behaviour

  • Survey finds correlation between strength of scientists’ beliefs and social media use for sharing research
  • This study finds that social media use reduces political polarization rather than increasing it – “This is just one paper, but it adds to a growing body of knowledge that shows that the connection between media consumption and political polarization is much more complicated than conventional wisdom has it.”
  • Political polarization and media habits  – Latest Pew Internet Research Survey – “The study also suggests that in America today, it is virtually impossible to live in an ideological bubble. Most Americans rely on an array of outlets – with varying audience profiles – for political news. And many consistent conservatives and liberals hear dissenting political views in their everyday lives.”
  • Seams in the cyborg  – Latest excerpt from Digital Sociology

Academia online 

Digital marketing

Resources

Just for fun

Check out the tweets on the #emojiresearch hashtag as scientists describe their research in pictures.

URLs of wisdom (24th May)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This post covers content since 10th May.

Behaviour

  • You won’t finish this article – When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing. Schwartz’s data suggest that lots of people are tweeting out links to articles they haven’t fully read. If you see someone recommending a story online, you shouldn’t assume that he has read the thing he’s sharing.”
  • Why we favourite tweets  “the “findings highlight that the favoriting feature is currently being over-utilized for a range of motivations, whilst under-supporting many of them….what the diverse range of motivations behind favoriting may show is that despite Twitter’s recent attempts to create an increasingly standardized and top-down user experience, it’s still a platform with a massively diverse user base that uses Twitter for many different reasons. And that if Twitter wants to remain an essential part of the conversation, it will take its cues from the way users want to use their technology, and not the other way around.”

Virality/Popularity

  • Who will RT this?  Development of a machine learning algorithm that picks users who are most likely to retweet on a certain topic.
  • Why that video went viral “If you want to melt the Internet, best to traffic in emotion, researchers have found. The emotional response can be happy or sad, but the more intense it is, the more likely the story is to be passed along.”
  • The ideal length of everything online 

People stuff

  • When Mothers TextI also have come to realize how cellphones can be used to express love. Often it’s not the big, all-consuming love. Instead, it’s love expressed in small ways.”
  • Designing for love – how can better design improve how technology allows us to connect?

Privacy 

Communities

Web/Social media developments

  • Twitter starts rolling out a mute button to silence people you’re following. Mute me argues that this a bad thing: “Now you can’t tell if someone actually wants to follow you, or is merely being courteous, political, or whatever else. The honesty of the follow is gone, and so therefore is some of the honesty that Twitter engenders in us.”
  • What is the outlook for Twitter? “we are increasingly tweeting to the events of our lives (from news events to concerts). Twitter thus fills an important gap in social media that goes beyond information exchange to making entertainment and other events more socially experienced.”
  • “Can there be such a thing as pure democracy online?” Interesting discussion of moderation and community management challenges on reddit.
  • Giants behaving badly  – Google, Facebook and Amazon show us the downside of monopolies and black box algorithms.

Just for fun

Running for President in the age of the Internet

 

URLs of wisdom (10th May)

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

Network Effects

  • Complexity in social networks – Really good read about how 4 different features of the structure of networks affects the user experience. “One way to think about these technology platforms is to think of any complex network as having four fundamental components:
    • Nodes (the objects in the graph, e.g., people, things)
    • Data/content (the thing being shared between the nodes, e.g., tweet)
    • Edges with rules (e.g., bidirectional “friend”, single-directional “follow”)
    • Jumping functions, specifically ways to transmit the data/content from one subgroup of people to another on the same platform, usually based on rules surrounding how the edges are structured (e.g., retweeting / liking / favoriting).”
  • Combatting the rich get richer effect? A bot for tweets that get overlooked.

Behaviour

  • We need online alter egos now more than ever “The key to making pseudonymous participation productive is to inspire people to care about the impression they are making on others. In physical environments, the body anchors identity; online, one’s history of contributions and interactions functions as one’s “body”, but it can be difficult to see.”  

“Face to face, we develop relationships in separate contexts — and the things we talk about, the jokes we make, the secrets we reveal – vary tremendously . You may share, say, your feelings about the difficulties of caring for an aging, fading parent or a special needs child with others in the same situation; you may find things funny in the company of old friends that you would never admit to thinking humorous in front of your family. You present yourself differently to your neighbor, lawyer, teacher, children, grandmother — you use different words and talk about different things. This is not a lack of integrity, but a feature of being an adaptable person in multiple social contexts, understanding the varied mores of the different situations. Pseudonyms allow us to maintain such separate contexts online.”

“negative feedback leads to significant behavioral changes that are detrimental to the community. Not only do authors of negatively-evaluated content contribute more, but also their future posts are of lower quality, and are perceived by the community as such. Moreover, these authors are more likely to subsequently evaluate their fellow users negatively, percolating these effects through the community. In contrast, positive feedback does not carry similar effects, and neither encourages rewarded authors to write more, nor improves the quality of their posts. Interestingly, the authors that receive no feedback are most likely to leave a community.”

  • For the love of being liked – on attention-seeking on social media “While getting lots of likes or retweets feels great, the feeling of rejection from not getting them is often greater. People’s fear of being excluded is so intense…”

Privacy 

Web/Social media developments

Just for fun

What to call that event…?

 

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 (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!).