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!

 

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URLs of wisdom (14th December)

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

Network analysis

Behaviour

  • We can’t trust Uber – considering data protection in the age of apps: “Codes of conduct developed by companies are a start, but we need information fiduciaries: independent, external bodies that oversee how data is used, backed by laws that ensure that individuals can see, correct and opt out of data collection.”
  • People want safe communications – not usable cryptography “Real-world cryptography isn’t only about cryptography. It’s just as much about product design, and building experiences that work for the user—not requiring work from the user. It’s a cross-discipline problem that requires not only cryptographers but user-experience designers and developers, too.”
  • Creating connection online – Dave White thinks about it in terms of 3 factors: 1) Spaces, 2) Eventedness and 3) Conversation at scale. Really enjoying Dave’s blog.
  • Words matter – thinking about customers as people not “users”. Some interesting examples here.

Academia online 

Social media

  • Implications for institutions of a backlash against Facebook “rather that making decisions on professional use of social media services such as Facebook on business criteria such as the level of use, the audience profiles, the costs of providing the services and the estimated benefits, might there be an argument that organisations and individuals who place a high value on ethical business practices should cease making use of services which infringe users’ privacy and exploit their intellectual property from unfairly using their dominant position in the market place.”
  • To crowdfund research, scientists much build an audience for their work – new paper in PLOS ONE sharing an analysis of the #SciFund challenge “a crowdfunding experiment in which 159 scientists attempted to crowdfund their research. Using data gathered from a survey of participants, internet metrics, and logs of project donations, we find that public engagement is the key to crowdfunding success.”

Communities 

  • 17 ways to measure the value of community in Marketing teams – Marketing has 2 functions: raising awareness, relationship building and helping a customer along the way to a purchase. How can you measure the impact of community activities on these?

Web/social media developments

  • Defining quality in news has to value the user experience – “You could frame the big challenge for the next few years of digital news this way: How can we create a news user experience that’s as easy and friction-free as Facebook — but as good as the best a dedicated news power user could assemble?”
  • News aggregators on mobile devices “Why are we in the publishing business spending so much time doing technology when what we should be doing is what we’re great at, which is finding and packaging truth.” A news company attempting to innovate within tech, he analogized, was akin to CNN deciding to build HD televisions just because it happened to be a television network.”

Just for fun

The things we do for wifi access…

 

URLs of wisdom (mid-September to mid-October)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This is a bumper edition to capture some of the posts while I’ve been away on vacation.

Behaviour

“First, academics respond well to cash incentives. No surprise there, especially as these referees are all economists.

Second, academics respond well to tight deadlines – this may surprise you. One explanation is that many academics overload themselves and find it hard to prioritise. For such an overworked individual, tightening the deadline may do the prioritisation for them.

Third, the threat of public shame also works – especially for better-paid, more senior people with a reputation to protect (and less need to impress journal editors).”

Web/Social media developments

  • There’s something rotten in the state of social media – on the problems with montetization, automation and enforcement.
  • What does ethical social networking software look like? “Social networks are like languages — they are only worthwhile when they are broadly adopted. This makes an incredibly compelling case for user tracking and advertising, since success as a broad network makes the most sense by giving network access away and then selling the people to companies. This is a hard model to escape.”
  • The evolution of your home timeline – Twitter on continuing to experiment with what we see in our feeds
  • You can now listen to a podcast in a tweet – and keep scrolling – new Twitter audio cards
  • Why Twitter should not algorithmically curate the timeline“Twitter’s uncurated feed certainly has some downsides, and I can see some algorithmic improvements that would make it easier for early users to adopt the service, but they’d potentially be chopping off the very—sometimes magical—ability of mature Twitter to surface from the network. And the key to this power isn’t the reverse chronology but rather the fact that the network allows humans to exercise free judgment on the worth of content, without strong algorithmic biases.”
  • Buzzfeed’s forthcoming news app

Academia online 

Communities 

  • Whispering in the Town Square: Can Twitter provide an escape from all its noise? “If the purpose of social networks is finding the people you actually want to talk to, then Twitter needs to not only facilitate the finding, but the talking. Once you have made friends, or by Twitter parlance found people you enjoying following, you want to deepen those connections, not necessarily continue creating new ones. That’s what DMs do that public tweets do not. If a platform doesn’t allow for intimacy once relationships are formed, then its users will inevitably leave it.”

Digital marketing

Resources

Just for fun

Move fast and break things…sometimes

URLs of wisdom (26th July)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology. This is a bumper edition as I’ve been busy organising the Open Knowledge Festival that took place last week!

Social Network Analysis

Behaviour

Thinking about algorithms and user behaviour:

  • Forget the wisdom of crowds: neurobiologists reveal the wisdom of the confident  “In recent years, researchers have spent a significant amount of time and effort teasing apart the factors that make crowds stupid. One important factor turns out to be the way members of a crowd influence each other. It turns out that if a crowd offers a wide range of independent estimates, then it is more likely to be wise. But if members of the crowd are influenced in the same way, for example by each other or by some external factor, then they tend to converge on a biased estimate. In this case, the crowd is likely to be stupid.”
  • The dawn of personalised products “Personalizing software is all about figuring out how to help people develop a sense of identity using the service, and then building features that let them accomplish that naturally.”

Other news

  • Why the grass is always greener on social media “Relationships that exist solely online can skew the perception of community fitness because they’re tailored specifically to us, but it’s hard to look away from something that seems so right.”
  • The politics of science in social media “Current science policy campaigns must fight against increasing ‘petition fatigue’: when social media makes campaigning easier, any single campaign risks getting lost in the noise, and science policy becomes yet another competitor for our attention. In the new attention and expertise economy, scientists must forge ever closer links with celebrity and journalism to get their message across.”

Privacy/Ethics

Web/Social media developments

Digital Marketing

Communities

Just for fun

Feeling really old…?

URLs of wisdom (15th June)

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

Network Analysis

  • (Fake) friends with (real) benefits – what happens when you buy a few thousand extra twitter followers?
  • Understanding types of Twitter users “This research work identifies six broad classes of Twitter users, and employs a supervised machine learning approach which uses a comprehensive set of features to classify users into the identified classes.”
  • Toward a local perspective on online collaboration “a member’s centrality and spanning within his/her local neighborhood is a better predictor of contribution than global centrality and spanning within the whole community.”
  • Gossip: identifying central individuals in a social network “…This suggests that individuals can rank others according to their centrality in the networks even without knowing the network, and that eliciting network centrality of others simply by asking individuals may be an inexpensive research and policy tool.”

Behaviour

  • Why are we sleeping with our phones? Interesting exploration of the notion of home – and the tradeoffs we make in terms of privacy and convenience when we make that home portable:”…convenience comes with a price: connectivity. Staying in touch with your loved ones means that you have to allow them to also stay in touch with you, whether you’re on the sidewalk or in your living room. But we have a sense that this is problematic; our loved ones complain if we don’t respond to a text quickly, so we keep our phones nearby even as loved ones with whom we may share a home complain we spend too much time on our phones. This threatens the idea of Home because now everyone claims to belong there whether or not you expressly invited them.” 
  • Escape from the matrix – getting over the fear of missing out “…people who insist on optimising decisions are ultimately less satisfied with their choices than those who made do with ‘good enough’. Other studies clarify why: the achievements of the former are actually lower than those of the latter, especially when the decision involved weighing possible outcomes.”
  • My life logged – life logging tools let you capture every interaction you make during your days. But is it sometimes better to simply be able to forget?
  • Does making signing up for a site a little bit harder give you more committed users? Case study of Lumosity: “What we found is that sometimes friction can help you acquire customers that really believe in your product, who want to build a long-term relationship with your company,”
  • The novelty effect “A change to our environment can invigorate us, by changing the intellectual furniture of our everyday lives. But as soon as we become habituated to the new, the improvement fades.” 

Privacy 

  • Editorial discretion and private lives On whether editors should refer to private conversations, even if they are publicly visible online: “the Internet is not divided neatly into non-overlapping spheres of public and private. Decisions about how we share information, and with whom, often reflect a complex calculus that relies on “obscurity” — the difficulty with which information can be found — rather than either absolute privacy or absolute publicity. They argue that the law should recognize this reality.”

Web/Social media developments

Resources

  • Feeling better connected: Academics’ use of social media – a report by Digital Sociologist, Deborah Lupton “While the majority of the respondents were very positive about using social media, they also expressed a range of concerns. These included issues of privacy and the blurring of boundaries between personal and professional use, the risk of jeopardising their career through injudicious use of social media, lack of credibility, the quality of the content they posted, time pressures, social media use becoming an obligation, becoming a target of attack, too much self-promotion by others, possible plagiarism of their ideas and the commercialisation of content and copyright issues.”

Just for fun

Daring to dream

 

 

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…?