Miscellaneous

Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 13:00


Charlie Warzel, Buzzfeed News, Aug 15, 2016

Ironically  posted on Buzzfeed, this article asserts that "for nearly its entire existence, Twitter has not just tolerated abuse and hate speech, it’ s virtually been optimized to accommodate it." Now, writes Charlie Warzel, "With public backlash at an all-time high and growth stagnating, what is the platform that declared itself 'the free speech wing of the free speech party' to do?" It's a good question. Though described as a social networking platform, Twitter is in reality a publishing platform (albeit of very short articles). Moreover, there's no real distinction between 'friend' and 'abusive stranger' on Twitter, which means your harassers can target both you and all your followers. “ The original sin is a homogenous leadership,” one former senior employee told BuzzFeed News. “ This is part of what exacerbated the abuse problem for sure." Language warning, because Buzzfeed.

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Hey, Snapchat, enough is enough

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 10:00


Nicole Lee, Engadget, Aug 15, 2016

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem. How else to explain the distribution of Pokemon locations? How else to explain how Snapchat came out with what is essentially a racist photo filter? "Snapchat recently released a new selfie lens that it says was 'anime-inspired.' But it made your eyes look squinty and slanted. And if you had your mouth open, it would also appear as if you had buck teeth. In short, it turned you into a racist Asian caricature... (yet) Anime is generally known for large, soulful eyes and tiny mouths, not slanted eyes and enlarged teeth." This isn't an isolated instance, either; witness the recently released 'nerd filter' (illustrated).

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The lost infrastructure of social media

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 10:00


Anil Dash, Medium, Aug 15, 2016

The most striking feature of this article is a list, side-by-side, of the sharing and network features that existed in the early days of the blogosphere and those that are available today. In far too many categories, today's listing is "n/a" - in other words, nothing. We've lost blog search, responses, favourites, updates, friend lists, and more. Some of these have just be slurped into the closed social media sites, while others are just gone. "I think most of these ideas were good ideas the first time around and will remain good ideas in whatever modern incarnation revives them for a new generation," writes Dash. "I have no doubt there’ s a billion-dollar company waiting to be founded based on revisiting one of the concepts outlined here." Via  D'Arcy Norman (listed only as 'dnorman' in his author metadata).

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Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 10:00


Maksym Gabielkov, Arthi Ramachandran, Augustin Chaintreau, Arnaud Legout, HAL, Aug 15, 2016

This excellent paper has been the subject of some recent social media pranks, the point of which are to show that people rarely read the posts they share on Twitter or Facebook. You can read a Washington Post  article about it from mid-June. “ People are more willing to share an article than read it,” study co-author Arnaud Legout said in a statement. “ This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.” The study does go deeper, and in a way that will be of significant interest to analysts; in addition to providing the analysis, it proposes a new metric to measure the influence of a URL. "Ideally," write the authors, "we would like to create a similar metric to quantify the influence of a user," which in the end is suggested via an indirect statistical mechanism.

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Ascent From Social Media

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 23:00

I think it's time to move on from Facebook. Not to try to replace it, but to rather ascend from it, to get away from the bottom-feeders and think about new ways to connect with family and friends, new ways to cooperate with colleagues around the world.

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Management and Organization at Medium

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 23:00


Andy Doyle, Medium, Aug 14, 2016

Medium, which started out as a company run as a holocracy, is moving on from that model. The reasoning is illustrative. "So we’ re off Holacracy. Not because it didn’ t work, or because it’ s 'wacky' or 'fringe.' We are a little wacky and fringe, and we’ re okay with that. We are moving beyond it because we as a company have change.... Beyond that, the system had begun to exert a small but persistent tax on both our effectiveness, and our sense of connection to each other." Governance is hard, which is why so many management gurus have so many quick-fix solutions.

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An open listicle to startup founders

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 23:00


Ben Werdmuller, Open Words, Aug 14, 2016

Some fun from Ben Werdmuller. And good advice (and well-times as I seek to move beyond Facebook, somehow). A lot of what he says falls under of the heading "it's been done, it didn't work, move on." The whole point of creating something new is that it has to be new, not just a clone of something else. (We were actually given manuals saying we should describe our innovation as "the X of Y" where X was a well-known concept and Y was a new market. As if.)

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Treemonisha

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 20:00


Wikipedia, Aug 14, 2016

Because it's summer and we should be thinking of more than just work, here are the three acts of Scott Joplin's oft-overlooked opera Treemonisha, performed The Houston Grand Opera in 1982: Treemonisha (part 1), Treemonisha (part 2) ,Treemonisha (part 3). Enjoy.

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Skill in Epistemology

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 20:00


Carlotta Pavese, PhilPapers, Aug 14, 2016

Carlotta Pavese has authored a couple of decent papers on the notion of knowing as a skill (Skill and Knowledge, Skill and Know-How) forthcoming in Philosophy Compass and located in PhilPapers. They won't transform your understanding of knowledge, but they raise questions around what might be called the 'intellectualization' of a skill. For example, we say Robin Hood (a good archer) hit the target because he did the proper things,  while the Sheriff of Nottingham (a poor archer) hit the target only because of luck. The enumeration of 'the proper things' is an 'intellectualization', and may or may not actually explain why Robin Hood hit the target. There are many ways to acquire and instantiate a skill, and indeed, there are skills where we could not possibly 'know how' - perceptual skills, for example. So if knowing is a skill, what does this tell us about knowing? Image: from Google Images, derived and corrupted from here.

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By Votes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 17:00


Various authors, hack.ether.camp, Aug 14, 2016

This is a four-week long hackathon, and so probably not really accessible for most of us. Having said that, this project to develop and build ideas using Etherium is a fountain of creativity. On this page you'll see the projects being considered - from software verification, academic publishing (three of the top five ideas!), internet service providers, voting, identity, land registry, and more. The list seems endless (as you'll see when you scroll and scroll and scroll). Last year they came up with a  reputation index, quadratic voting, and  micropayments for a telephony exchange.

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FacePhi: ‘Selfie’ verification spreads across banks in Latin America

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 17:00


Kathryn Cave, IDG, Aug 14, 2016

Based in Alicante,  FacePhi has been making inroads in Latin America employing digital recognition technologies to provide identity verification at banks. "Customers can buy the technology and use the algorithm in any way they want,” Mira tells me. This can be used to verify a person’ s face through any form of camera – such as CCTV – but Mira explains two clear use cases have emerged as mobile and web recognition." So I imagine we may be seeing it more and more on the web. FacePhi is not alone in the facial recognition business, of course. But the different companies compliment each other.

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Just when you thought your browser couldn’t do any more …

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 17:00


Doug Peterson, doug – off the record, Aug 14, 2016

I'm giving a couple new  Firefox experiments a test run:

  • No More 404  - uses the Wayback Machine to find copies of pages that have disappeared from the internet, but still have links
  • Activity stream  - "A rich visual history feed and a reimagined home page..."
  • Tab Center  - "moves your tabs to the side of your browser window"

Firefox is often the browser where new web features are tested and copied by other browsers later. It's one of the reasons I continue to use it.

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Are internet populists ruining democracy for the rest of us?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/14/2016 - 11:00


Vyacheslav W. Polonski, The Conversation, Aug 14, 2016

By "ruining democracy for the rest of us" I can only presume that the author means "ruining democracy for the minority" since the whole concept depends on the populists winning majority support. But that aside, it seems to me hypocritical to complain that a media and advertising system  designed for persuasion is being used for persuasion (albeit by the wrong people). And make no mistake - it is traditional media driving what this article calls populism. I think it's the inevitable result of the traditional media platform, partiularly when augmented by mass social networks. In  That Group Feeling I warned against it. In  Groups vs Networks I described how we should reorganize ourselves to respond. But the existing establishment (aka 'the rest of us') depend on mass media and persuasion in order to govern. So there's no interest in reform. They'll just tough it out as through the system works. Until it doesn't.

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Opening up Education: A Support Framework for Higher Education Institutions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 20:00


Andreia Inamorato dos Santos;Yves Punie;Jonatan Castaño Muñoz, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Aug 13, 2016

This publication (78 page PDF) is the "final outcome of the OpenEdu project".  The document rolls up results from a number of studies, including MOOCknowledge, OpenCred, and OpenSurvey. The framework "identifies 10 dimensions of open education, giving a rationale and descriptors for each. Here's the list: access, content, pedagogy, recognition, collaboration, research, strategy, technology, quality and leadership. The first six are "core" dimensions, focusing on the 'what', while the latter four are "transversal" dimensions and focus on the 'how'. Each dimension can be refined firther; for example, "Quality in open education refers to the convergence of the 5 concepts of quality (efficacy, impact, availability, accuracy and excellence) with an institution's open education offer and opportunities." That said, the report (widely) does not offer a strategic plan for openness. "There is no consensus on what opening up education means and hence little common ground on which to build collaboration," write the authors.

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Investigating the Potential of Blockchains

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 17:00


Open University, Aug 13, 2016

This is a very clearly written description of blockchain technology and how it can be used in education. It mostly quotes from John Domingue, director of the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute. See also this  position paper from Domingue and three other authors and an article by Robert Herian on  trusteeship in a post-trust world, and a webcast by Hugh Halford-Thompson on how blockchain technologies will change industries. But of course the best proof is in the demo, and the web page has a number of videos illustrating what the blockchain running on  Etherium could enable, including conference registrations, reputation systems, and open badges. It's easy to become enthusiastic about blockchains, but it should be kept in mind that a blockchain is nothing more than a ledger; the actual work takes place outside the blockchain environment. And we should be careful not to overvalue things that can be represented in blockchains, and to question whether we actually need the representation. Do students need badges, or job offers? Do contractors need reputation points, or trust?

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With $3.2M Series A, Viridis Aims to Connect Community College Students and Employers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 14:00


Tony Wan, EdSurge, Aug 13, 2016

I've been talking for a while now about how future students will receive jobs offers or contracts as recognition for their learning, as opposed to badges or certificates. The LPSS program was looking at this last year. Now it looks like the commercial opportunity has been seized. "Students will see a list of relevant programs available from local community colleges. Viridis’ 'Skills Passport' will reflect students’ completed coursework and allow employers to review it. 'Through this passport, we’ re able to validate students’ skills and become a sort of ‘ Equifax for employment’ ,' Ortiz tells EdSurge." There's probably still room in this marketplace, and I think there's a lot more potential in portable (and usable) personal learning records than there is in analytics. But you have to build it first.

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How to (seriously) read a scientific paper

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 11:00


Elisabeth Pain, Science, Aug 13, 2016

This is not a how-to article as the title suggests but rather a collection of dozens of short comments describing how various people - ranging from students to professors to editors - read scientific papers. There's a lot in common across the different accounts. They typically start with the title and abstract, jump to the conclusion, and look at the figures. From there the methodology varies a lot. I read scientific papers every day as a part of my job. My method is similar. I will focus more on methdology because it helps me weed out the trivial (eg., studies where n=6). I skim the literature view (which is almost always a list of cites in prose form, and rarely an actual summation). I focus on the discussion. The conclusion is less interesting than you might think; researchers often 'bury the lede' - the most important point may be something they observe in passing rather than in the statement of outcomes.

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National Student Survey 2016: overall satisfaction results

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 11:00


Carly Minsky, Times Higher Education, Aug 13, 2016

Why would an agency spend so much money on a flawed survey? Here's the gist: "about 312,000 final-year students from 155 institutions responded to the survey." All very nice, but basically it's a survey of students who, after four years, are still there. Gone are the drop-outs, the failures, the unsuccessful. Ignore this survey.

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In the Only Surviving Recording of Her Voice, Virginia Woolf Explains Why Writing Isn’t a “Craft” (1937)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 00:00


Dan Colman, Open Culture, Aug 12, 2016

Compare what we say about information today with what Virginia Woolf says about words in this the only surviving recording of her voice: "(words) hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is in their nature to change." What a world we live in, where we can hear the living words of great people now long since passed on. I am inclined to agree with Woolf here; I have never thought of writing as a 'craft'. But I don't think of it as an art either. It is something else.

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Facebook Cripples Ad Blockers on Its Site, Gives Consumers New Control Over Ads

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 00:00


Garett Sloane, Advertising Age, Aug 12, 2016

I love how removing my control over ads is now called "new control over ads". At least I have an explanation of why Facebook has been loading so slowly recently. My own browser still doesn't show ads on Facebook, so maybe the battle over ads on Facebook is still raging. If the advertisers win, I will not be using Facebook in the future. More on Engadget.

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