URLs of wisdom (2nd August)

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

Social Network Analysis


Algorithms and user behaviour:

  • The problem with OKCupid is the problem with the social web “So this is the problem I see not just with Facebook and OKCupid’s experiments, but with most of the arguments about them. They’re all too quick to accept that users of these sites are readers who’ve agreed to let these sites show them things. They don’t recognize or respect that the users are also the ones who’ve made almost everything that those sites show. They only treat you as a customer, never a client.”


  • What privacy settings tell you about the profound difference between Google and Apple – a look at changes to how smartphones by the two companies are changing how they handle your data “… both Apple and Google are making big changes to the nuts and bolts of how permissions work, and they’re moving in opposite directions: While Apple is making it harder for apps to get access to your data, Google is making it easier.”

Other news

  • War reporting in the age of social media“Bearing witness is the oldest and perhaps most valuable tool in the journalist’s arsenal, but it becomes something different delivered in the crucible of real time, without pause for reflection.”
  • Beyond the quantified self – the reflexive monitoring self  “Self-tracking is not simply about quantified (or quantifiable) information. Many self-trackers record non-quantifiable data as part of their practice, including journaling accounts of their daily activities, emotional states and relationships, collecting audio data or visual images and producing visualisations that centre on their aesthetic or explanatory properties rather than their representation of numbers…the information that self-trackers collect on themselves is not simply about self-knowledge but also about presentations and narratives of selfhood – or what might also be glossed as performing selfhood.”
  • On the importance of forgetting – second half of this raises some interesting points “the personal information of private individuals that’s stored and made searchable on big dominant platforms like search engines and social networks should be required to have an expiry date, or made intentionally and exponentially more difficult to locate as time goes on.”


  • Why haven’t social networks for scientists really worked so far? Cameron Neylon reconsiders the reasons after reading danah boyd’s “It’s complicated”. “My view has been that “Facebooks for Science” fail because researchers have no desire to be social as researchers in the same way the do as people – but that they socialize through research objects. What Boyd’s book leads me to wonder is whether in fact the issue is more that the existing tools do little to help researchers negotiate the “networked publics” of research.”
  • The OKFestival community summit – round-up of some of the topics discussed at the community summit, relevant to anyone managing a global, online community.

Web/Social media developments

Academia online


URLs of wisdom (January 19th 2014)

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

Network analysis

Your friends are probably richer and happier than you  – A study of two different co-authorship networks of scientists, conducted by researchers in France and Finland. They examined the generalised friendship paradox – why it is that your friends have more friends than you. In this case, the paradox means that most scientists are connected to co-authors who have more additional co-authors, more citations and more publications than they do. Original arXiv paper here.

Using network analysis to find innovators – Update on a collaboration between NESTA and Mastodon C to use network analysis to identify innovative technologists in the UK. Data is being analysed from Github, StackOverflow, Twitter and OpenCorporates.

A sociologist at Facebook – A careers post about working at FB with a background in social sciences: “My own team (Growth Research) is made up of two sociologists and a manager trained in communications with a sociologist as an advisor. Many of the teams are doing social science though not always with the benefit and baggage of the formal social-science literature.”


Technology is not driving us apart after all – Cool study looking at the use of public spaces in major US cities, painstakingly comparing archive footage with more recent data to discuss how people use mobile phones when in group situations versus when alone.

Time zones – A reflection on working from different time zones and trying to connect with others around the globe that really resonated.

Is the unlogged life worth living?  – A collection of articles from New Scientist about life-logging, the process of recording data about your everyday activities  from amount of time spent emailing to daily photo diaries. Just how useful is all that information? Compare with “The Academic Quantified self” article below.

Why audio never goes viral – “Audio usage takes place while you’re doing something else.” and “You can’t skim sound. An instant of video is a still, a window into the action that you can drag through time at will. An instant of audio, on the other hand, is nothing. ”

Academia Online

Research on academic blogging – what does it reveal? – Sociologist, Deborah Lupton’s summary of her research for a chapter on what we know about academic blogging – how it’s perceived, what the pitfalls may be.

The academic quantified self – Another post by Deborah Lupton, this time on the LSE Impact blog, asking whether quantifying outputs of academic researchers is limiting academic freedom while also acknowledging “it is also important to consider the undeniable positive dimensions of participating in digital public engagement and thereby reaching a wider audience”.

Ethics and social media research: – Storify of tweets from the #SRAconf discussion about the ethics of using social media in research (Old post – the conference was in June, but interesting topic).

Moneyball for academics: network analysis methods for predicting the future success of papers and researchers – how can looking at network analysis of researchers’ citation networks and social networks be used to predict key papers?

“We analyzed the combination of the publications network (i.e. citation network), the authors’ social network (i.e. co-authorship network) and the links that connect the 2 networks which generate a dual-network structure (see figure 1). Using data from Thomson-Reuters Web of Knowledge, we created a set of yearly snapshots of the papers-authors dual-networks from 1975 to 2012 on over 700,000 papers published in management, information systems and operations research journals. For each network snapshot we computed common centrality measures (see figure 2) of it nodes as part of the variables in our models…..Our findings show that successful papers, i.e. the highly cited papers, have different centrality measures even as early as the first day of publication. “

Web/Social media developments

Trending topics on Facebook  – Facebook introduces trending topics. See this week’s Social in Silico post about cumulative advantage effects which are what trending topics amplify.

NYT website redesign – Thoughts on the NYT website redesign and whether it’s sadly missing key community elements.