URLs of wisdom (mid February – early March 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 mid-February to early March as I’ve been busy with work-related travel.

Social network analysis

Behaviour

  • Is there joy in missing out? – “We’ve focused mainly on how seeing the accomplishments of others can make us feel—the pressure to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, the sense that everyone is hitting the typically accepted life milestones—but we aren’t really talking about how other’s downfalls may make us feel.”

Academia online 

Social media/networks/data sharing

  • Principles for open scholarly infrastructures – “What should a shared infrastructure look like? Infrastructure at its best is invisible. We tend to only notice it when it fails. If successful, it is stable and sustainable. Above all, it is trusted and relied on by the broad community it serves. Trust must run strongly across each of the following areas: running the infrastructure (governance), funding it (sustainability), and preserving community ownership of it (insurance). In this spirit, we have drafted a set of design principles we think could support the creation of successful shared infrastructures.”
  • Why is open data a public good? – “a public good is something that you can’t stop anyone using, and that doesn’t get used up. The examples of public goods that people tend to use are “clean air”, “lighthouses” or “public parks”. Open data also fits this economic definition.”
  • Article sharing on scholarly collaboration networks – draft STM guidelines and a consultation “…there’s no doubt that SCNs are here to stay; so, in hopes of finding a collaborative solution to the challenges and opportunities they present, the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM) has recently issued a set of voluntary principles that aim to facilitate article sharing on SCNs.”

Outreach

  • The Communicating Science seminars from the AAAS annual meeting were live-streamed and video archives are available online.
  • Storifys from the Investing in Science Communication funding conversations at the AAAS meeting – part 1 and part 2.
  • What do we know about our investment in science communication? – asks Brooke Smith in reflection on the panel she co-organised at the AAAS meeting. “Last year, the United States invested $465 billion (from public and private sources) in scientific research.  Our panelists explored what percentage of this amount we invest in scientists communicating and engaging. But the truth is, no one knows. Turns out it’s a very hard thing to measure. Communications and engagement is not a line item in budgets that we can pull out and add up.”

Communities 

  • Seth Godin’s daily thoughts on his blog are one of my favourite reads. This on the difference between connecting to and connecting particularly nails the difference between treating users as customers or a community.(This is also good on ways not to make customers feel stupid).
  • Jono Bacon on building engagement within an organisation“So, if you want to have a culture of engagement, take the time to actually follow up and make sure people can actually do something. Accepting great ideas, agreeing to them, and not following up will merely spark frustration for those who take the initiative to think holistically about the organization.”
  • 7 questions to ask before attempting to launch another online community – “It’s not a case of build it and they will come. It’s build the community, cultivate a ton of relationships and promote it heavily, then they might come. This takes a lot of hard work and time to get the community up and running. That’s in the early community days. If your community takes off, you then need to consider scaling and moderation concerns.”

Social media developments

  • Twitter updates user safety features and explains why it faves Net Neutrality “Openness promotes free and fair competition and fosters ongoing investment and innovation. We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter.”
  • What blogging has become – reflections on changes to Medium “But you can only flirt with being a platform for so long before you just become one. The description of Medium that’s most stuck with me is from Josh Benton again, this time on Twitter: Medium is now “YouTube for prose,” he said. In other words, it’s a platform. And I think with these product changes, it’s embracing that. It feels like a social network now.

    The YouTube model is revealing, too, because it sets up two kinds of Medium readers. Some people go to YouTube to watch a one-off viral video. (Read: an especially popular essay.) But many of them go to watch their favorite YouTube stars, video bloggers with whom they’ve developed long, intimate relationships over time. To run a YouTube, you need well-recognized authors, working over time, with audiences all their own. You need bloggers.”

  • The unbearable lightness of tweeting – “Every good media organization knows that the road to traffic leads through Facebook rather than Twitter. Even so, I thought the sharing economy of the Internet shared a bit more than this.”

Resources

Just for fun

So what colour was that dress?

And what about the Amazon reviews of it…?

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URLs of wisdom (January 31st 2015)

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

Self-promotion

Behaviour

  • Why apps for messaging are trending “The most popular apps that sustain themselves day after day, month after month, at the top of the leader board, are messengers…That’s a reflection of what people do on their phones.”
  • The cultural specificity of health technologies “App designers and those who develop many other digital technologies for medical and health-related purposes often fail to recognise the social and cultural differences that may influence how people interact with them. Just as cultural beliefs about health and illness vary from culture to culture, so too do responses to the cultural artefacts that are digital health technologies.”

Academia online 

Social media/networks

  • When is a feature a product and a product a business? Interesting read about scholarly publishing and new technologies “Get three publishers into a conference room together or, more productively, at a bar and wait for the conversation to turn to something like this:  “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could [insert your feature here]?” And it would be cool. Conversations like these mostly focus on new things that would be appreciated by end-users–because we are all, at certain moments, end-users ourselves. This creative process is valuable, but it ultimately has to be married to how the new capability will be expressed in an economic context. Hence the defining question of the age: What is the business model?”
  • Reaching 4000 Twitter followers – Paige Brown reflects on what Twitter means to her: “It’s not about the followers, it’s about the friendships”
  • Facebook use and academic performance“the relationship between Facebook and grades provides a way of capturing self-regulation skills in freshmen. In other words, the pattern of Facebook use helps us see something about self-regulation we might not otherwise be able to measure. This is also evidenced by how regular use of Facebook for students at other class ranks is not related to academic performance.”
  • Not strictly “online” – new PeerJ pre-print asking what the optimal size for a research group is – “We show that the number of publications increases linearly with group size…[further examination of the data] suggests that PIs contribute on average 5-times more productivity than an average group member and using multiple regression we estimate that post-doctoral researchers are approximately 3–times more productive than PhD students.”

Outreach

  • The latest Pew Research Center survey looks at public and scientists’ views on science and society and “marks a more formal commitment [by the Center] to studying the intersection of science with all aspects of society – from public opinion, to politics and policymaking, to religious and ethical considerations, to education and the economy.”
  • And some responses to the survey results – from Matt Shipman – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: to protect public funding for research at the state and federal level – much less increase that funding – you need to have broad public support. And thekeys to building that public support lie, in part, in science communication. Now, do I have the answers? No. We know that the deficit model – the longstanding idea that folks would support science-based decision-making if they just knew more about science – isn’t all that effective. But we haven’t come up with anything to replace it. Yet. I think a lot of folks agree that we need to incorporate cultural mores and beliefs into our science communication efforts, and that science communication shouldn’t be confrontational. We shouldn’t start out by saying “What you believe is wrong, and here’s why.” But how do we do those things? I have no idea.”
  • …and John Besley at The Conversation: “The main thing that seems potentially troubling about the research results is the small decline in positive views about science. Such results echo through the report’s comparisons of the 2014 figures against a similar study from 2009. For example, whereas 79% of Americans thought science made life better in 2014, 83% held this view in 2009.”

Communities 

  • The Community Roundtable have opened their annual survey on the State of Community Management. It should take about 20 minutes to complete.

Social media developments

  • With the news that Andrew Sullivan, a blogger of 15 years, has decided to stop blogging, Matthew Ingram responds: “Blogging is still very much alive, we just call it something else now” –“When blogs first showed up, there was no other economical way to write and share your thoughts and hear from other writers or readers, but now they are everywhere. We can tweet and Snapchat and Instagram, and post things to Facebook or Google+ or Medium or dozens of other places.”

Resources

  • Buzzfeed shares its ethics guide “a first attempt at articulating the goal of merging the best of traditional media’s values with a true openness to the deep shifts in the forms of media and communication.”

Just for fun

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

 

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 (6th September)

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

Behaviour

  • We can’t let giants like Facebook and Twitter control our news values – Emily Bell in the Guardian: “This was a significant moment. For the first time, Twitter acknowledged it was a platform that exercises editorial judgment. It was not controversial somehow for news organisations to censor the images. Yet the debate raged for days about whether executives in software companies could decide what we see. Inside a newsroom, these decisions are called editorial judgments; outside, they are labelled censorship. The truth is both are forms of censorship, and equally both could be argued to be editing.”
  • The end of big Twitter“I don’t like this change. I made friends — real friends — on Twitter when it was a place for conversation. I reconnected with people I had lost touch with. Whole new realms of knowledge were opened to me. I don’t want to foreclose on the possibility of further discovery, but the signal-to-noise ration is so bad now that I don’t think I could pick out the constructive and interesting voices from all the mean-spiritedness and incomprehension; and so few smart people now dare to use Twitter in the old open way.”
  • Digital data and technologies as sociomaterial objects – another excerpt from Deborah Lupton’s forthcoming book, Digital Sociology: “Whereas many commentators in the popular media, government and business world view digital data as the ultimate forms of truth and accurate knowledge, sociologists and other social theorists have emphasised that these forms of information, like any other type, are socially created and have a social life, a vitality, of their own. Digital data objects structure our concepts of identity, embodiment, relationships, our choices and preferences and even our access to services or spaces.”
  • How will today’s technology change our concept of work?

Web/Social media developments

Academia online 

  • Data carpentry as a vital role in data science “I don’t know as much as I’d like about woodworking, but my impression is that it is not so much a single discipline as a vast array of specific skills. None of these are particularly difficult by themselves, but knowing which tool or method to use at each stage and carrying out each one cleanly and efficiently takes years of practice. Data carpentry, which I’ve been practicing in one way or another for about 15 years (though never as my official responsibility), is likewise not a single process but a thousand little skills and techniques.’
  • Choosing between blog posts and news releases – Matt Shipman discusses the benefits of each from a PIO’s perspective for communicating scientific research.
  • How to tame the flood of literature – a review of some of the tools for keeping track of scientific publications

Communities 

Resources