URLs of wisdom (February 14th 2015)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This instalment covers a fortnight as I’ve been busy with work-related travel.

Social network analysis

Behaviour

  • How news outlets help to spread or debunk false stories online –“outlets will start a chain of linking to and citing others who have already reported the rumor. “The story’s point of origin, once traced back through the chain of links, is often something posted on social media or a thinly sourced claim from a person or entity.”
  • A time for fewer, better friends – One study shows that as people reach their 30s they prune their social group: “Time is the key. When it is perceived as limited—either because of pressing family and work demands or because the future literally shrinks as people age—people spend it with those dearest. “We may have fewer friends, but are closer to them”
  • The changing definition of friendship –“while Facebook probably slows a relationship’s “rate of decay” when you no longer meet in person, …social media won’t stop a more intimate friend (say, in the 15 or 50 category) from moving into a further-out ring if there’s no longer any face-to-face contact.”

Academia online 

  • Interesting read on the digital humanities and what it means to use digital tools for research“some people feel excluded from the Digital Humanities as a discipline, but also sometimes feel excluded from their stated disciplines because of their digital work. These feelings were echoed by a number of participants, not just postgraduates but also early career and established researchers.”

Social media/networks

  • In STEM courses, a gender gap in online class discussions – “The study tracked 420,389 undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in STEM classes in the United States and Canada during four nonconsecutive semesters from the spring of 2012 to the fall of 2014. The study found that, on average, women in computer-science classes asked 2.20 questions and men asked 1.75. In contrast, women answered 0.70 questions and men answered 1.20 questions.”
  • New Ciencia Yale initiative -“The Yale Ciencia Initiative will establish programs based at Yale to enhance the scientific training and professional development of students across the nation and to develop culturally responsive strategies for the engagement of diverse audiences with science,” said Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, executive director of Ciencia Puerto Rico and associate research scientist in the Center for Teaching and Learning. “Research and scholarship about how these types of science networks can be applied for these purposes will also be a big part of the initiative.”

Outreach

  • How science communication can fuel modern sexism – and the role for new media – “the analysis also illustrated the importance of new media in diversifying public discussion of science. Blogs and comments allow people to articulate their more personalised, spontaneous responses to scientific messages. This can mean, as in the case of the readers’ comments discussed above, the circulation of pejorative or reactionary statements that would not satisfy the editorial restrictions of more formal media outlets. However, in our study blogs and comments also offered a platform for objecting to the socially conservative interpretations of the research that dominated the traditional press. These online spaces were critical in facilitating more nuanced debate about the social implications of the research, and its potential to perpetuate gender stereotypes and inequalities. The new media bring a vastly increased variety of voices to science communication, which can open up more inclusive and dynamic debates about what emerging scientific findings mean for the local realities of individuals and communities.”

Communities 

Social media developments

Resources

Just for fun

The creepiest things you can do on Facebook…

 

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.

Behaviour

  • 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 

Blogging

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?”

Communities 

  • 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.”

Resources

Just for fun

New emoticons for 2015!

 

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