Recent quotes:

Community, curation, convening

His report identified several factors that signalled the sea change that brought about the resurgence of numbers. First was "community," which bookstores identified has a movement. This was amplified by a massive boom in social media. Around 2010, people stopped talking about bookstore activism and getting bookstores fair pricing from publishers and others, and shifting to talk of 'localism' — or buying local," said Raffaelli. He next identified the emergence of the concept of curation in stores and identified handselling as something the corporate retailers cannot replicate, calling it "pure gold" and the means by which "humans can beat algorithms." Rafaelli's third concept was "convening" — the notion that booksellers have an ability to bring people into their stores for a conversation. He finally landed on the notion of "collective identity," which is the value system that identifies independent bookstores.

The Truth About “Dramatic Action” | China Media Project

And there may be a reason for this. Why? Because there are already concrete examples that deepen their sense of dread. On January 22, Huang Mouhong (黄谋宏), the deputy director of the Hubei Provincial Department of Commerce, was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Before this, there was news that Wang Guangfa, the expert who had flown to Wuhan from Beijing and announced that the disease was “preventable and controllable,” had been confirmed as infected shortly after his return to the capital. In fact, both the provincial and municipal governments have already effectively been shut down, and to a large extent can be said to now be only caretaker governments (看守政府). These cowardly and incompetent governments obviously cannot take on the necessary responsibility of governing in what has already become essentially a state of war. This leaves the public in a state of deep concern and uncertainty. On January 22, Zhang Ouya (张欧亚), a journalist for the official Hubei Daily newspaper, clearly at the end of his rope, fairly shouted online: “Wuhan must immediately change out its commanders” (武汉必须当机立断换帅了). For a brief time, this furious call proliferated online. Another meme was rapidly born, like a mutating virus, across social media. The word “coronavirus”, or guānzhuàng bìngdú (冠状病毒), was replaced with the identical-sounding “official virus” (官状病毒), mocking the cowardice and ineffectiveness of the government and of high-level officials. We may find it hard to suppress a bitter laugh over such an acts of inventive criticism. But such a story cannot have a happy ending in China’s stability-obsessed political environment – where anything can be stopped. Zhang Ouya’s post was quickly expunged. The Party leadership of the Hubei Daily Media Group, Zhang’s employer, wrote a letter of apology to the Municipal Party Committee expressing its “deepest apologies” for Zhang Ouya’s “incorrect remarks.”

The Truth About “Dramatic Action” | China Media Project

China is a society closely monitored by the government, and the shadow of Big Brother is everywhere. Social media in particular are subject to very close surveillance. So when the authorities detected chatter about the re-emergence of SARS, or of a similar unknown outbreak, they took two major steps initially. First, they tried to ensure that this new outbreak remained a secret; second, they put the stability preservation system into effect (启动稳控机制). On December 30, the Wuhan Health Commission (武汉市卫建委) issued an order to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare units strictly prohibiting the release of any information about treatment of this new disease. As late as December 31, the government in Wuhan was still saying publicly that there were no cases of human-to-human transmission, and that no medical personnel had become infected.

Sunsetting Sip: A Post Mortem | Product Hunt

Sip was a single player experience and lacked an engagement loop that would encourage users to invite other users. This point is even more important today as consumers face fatigue and makers face increasing competition as the cost to build continues to drop. Distribution should be considered on day one and built into the product.

Abundance of information narrows our collective attention span - ScienceBlog.com

The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. In addition, they have gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015), and Wikipedia (2012-2017). Rapid exhaustion of attention ressources On this background, they find empirical evidence of ever-steeper gradients and shorter bursts of collective attention given to each cultural item. The paper uses a model for this attention economy to suggest that the accelerating vicissitudes of popular content are driven by increasing production and consumption of content, and therefore are not intrinsic to social media. This results in a more rapid exhaustion of limited attention resources.

What is Media Matters for America? The organization that found Tucker Carlson's tapes. - The Washington Post

“When we did a power mapping of the landscape at the end of 2016, early 2017, what we found was that so much of what used to be dismissed as the fringes was now where power was being organized: 4chan, Daily Stormer comment sections, subreddits,” Carusone said. “These would never have been considered worthy enough or important enough to monitor [before]. But we looked at it, and they were — they were driving a lot of the misinformation and fake news of 2016. They were creating a lot of material that was making it onto Fox News or Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.”

The shifting model in clinical diagnostics: how next-generation sequencing and families are altering the way rare diseases are discovered, studied, and treated | Genetics in Medicine

Until very recently, the fragmented distribution of patients across institutions hindered the discovery of new rare diseases. Clinicians working with a single, isolated patient could steadily eliminate known disorders but do little more. Families would seek clinicians with the longest history and largest clinic volume to increase their chances of finding a second case, but what does a physician do when N = 1 or if the phenotype is inconsistent across patients? These challenges are driving an increase in the use of NGS. Yet this technological advance presents new challenges of its own. Perhaps the most daunting, in our opinion, is the inability to share sequencing data quickly and universally. Standards and bioinformatic tools are needed that allow for a national repository where families or scientists can bring clinical results and NGS data for comparison. This challenge can be circumvented by tools already created for and by the Internet and social media.

Changing Rituals: A Conversation with Nancy Jo Sales | Cody Delistraty

Social media is not some kind of natural space. It’s not like a forest or something or a beach where you go and create things. It’s more like a room in Hawkins Lab [a fictional Hawkins, Indiana-based scientific laboratory that conducts futuristic, largely unethical experiments in the Netflix TV series Stranger Things]. It’s like a room in Hawkins lab and Papa [the alias of the fictional director of the Hawkins National Laboratory] is Mark Zuckerberg. Papa is putting little girls into the rooms in Hawkins lab and exposing them to certain tests and images. But the girls who are coming out of this social media experiment are not powerful with super powers [like in the show]. I’m not saying they’re being stripped of everything, but their power, I think, is being undermined by the fact that Papa is a guy whose whole vision of the world is “hot or not.” Which is why “Facemash” [a precursor to Facebook that Zuckerberg created while an undergraduate at Harvard] wasn’t even an original concept. It’s an insidious concept. Mark Zuckerberg takes that and he bases this whole new social media site [Facebook] on that. I think that that’s the Rosetta Stone of all social media: it’s about “hot or not.” Is your body hot, or is it not? How about your face? How about your whole life? Hot or not? Is it validatable?

How the Mom Internet became a spotless, sponsored void - The Washington Post

The death of the mom blog has something to do with shifts in how people consume and create on the Internet. Blogging on the whole has fizzled as audiences and writers have moved to other platforms. And parents with young children have made the transition along with everyone else — although their hours are somewhat more erratic. In 2016, Facebook (which owns Instagram) reported that new parents are especially active “in the wee hours,” starting their first mobile visits as early as 4 a.m. By 7 a.m., 56 percent of new parents have visited Facebook on their mobile devices.

Free content at Facebook

A neutral observer might wonder if Facebook’s attitude to content creators is sustainable. Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. It’s just that it isn’t too keen on anyone apart from Facebook making any money from that content. Over time, that attitude is profoundly destructive to the creative and media industries. Access to an audience – that unprecedented two billion people – is a wonderful thing, but Facebook isn’t in any hurry to help you make money from it. If the content providers all eventually go broke, well, that might not be too much of a problem. There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users

You're not alone in feeling alone: Believing you have fewer friends than your peers can contribute to unhappiness -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found a greater proportion of students (48 per cent) believed other students had made more close friends than they did. Thirty-one per cent believed the opposite. A second survey tracking 389 students across their first year found students who believed their peers had more friends at the beginning of the year reported lower levels of wellbeing. However, several months later, the same students who thought their peers had moderately more friends than they did at the beginning of the year reported making more friends compared to students who thought their peers had many more friends. "We think students are motivated to make more friends if they think their peers only have one or two more friends than they do," said Whillans. "But if they feel like the gap is too big, it's almost as if they give up and feel it isn't even worth trying."

Foul-mouthed mothers are causing problems for Mumsnet

FEW corners of the internet are more likely to celebrate the news of another royal baby than Mumsnet. Users of the parenting website, founded in 2000, welcomed last week’s announcement with a flurry of excited messages and grinning emoji. But not everyone was happy. One user, named “QuimJongUn”, bemoaned the fact that the same “fuckwits” who “spout their Daily Mail bullshittery” about benefit-claiming mothers are the same “wankwads” who will fawn over the baby when it is born. Other Mumsnetters agreed, in the strongest of terms.

Mommy Blogging jumped the shark

I hosted dozens of giveaways sponsored by brands wanting me to promote their products. I gained hundreds and then thousands of email subscribers, and social media followers, by requiring a follow in exchange for a giveaway entry. I used social media management services to connect with similar bloggers on twitter and instagram, and then unfollow those who didn’t return the follow. I paid a virtual assistant to post my links in round ups all over the internet, for back links and extra traffic. I joined blog directory sites, where asking readers for clicks sends you to the top of the list, and some PR intern googling “mom blogs” then finds you when they want someone to review their product. I sent out my media kit with embellished stats and highlights about my ‘targeted audience of mothers who make purchasing decisions for their household’ and negotiated my rates for free products and paid reviews. I made thousands of dollars during months I was focusing and working hard to dig through box after box of shitty as-seen-on-tv like products and share “my 100% honest opinion” about them, that weren’t at all influenced by the page after page of “key messages” the brand requested that I include in my review. You won’t find most of those posts on this blog today. They aren’t gone forever, and I do plan to revive some of them. But for the most part, they are dead and I want them to stay buried forever. Because, like 90% of the fake nonsense I used to share on the internet as a mommy blogger writing about my fake life and oh-so-happy marriage, they are pure bullshit.

A friend of a friend is ... a dense network | EurekAlert! Science News

In their recent paper published in Physical Review Letters, the researchers constructed a general network evolution in which every new node links to one target node already in the network, as well as to each of the neighbors of the target (that is, friends of friends), with copying probability p. The likelihood of each of these "copying" steps turns out to be the crucial factor in how the network evolves. If copying is unlikely, the network evolves into a sparse, skeleton-like framework. But when the copying probability is greater than 1/2, the network becomes dense, with the number of links growing faster than the network itself. This "densifying" behavior has been observed in real world data, such as research paper citation lists, internet router maps, and other networks.

What is the future of news? Bleak, probably. - Vox

I really think that what we're seeing now with this influx of fake news is the end result of the systemic defunding of media entities for the past 10 years, if not more. We could see this happening in slow motion. We all knew that as trusted media entities began producing less investigative stories, less hard news stories, an information vacuum would emerge into which bullshit and propaganda would drop. This was inevitable.

What I’m Talking About When I Talk About Social Media - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

I like the Internet and I like its potential to connect, energize, and inform people (while also recognizing, of course, its scary potential to misinform and divide on a mass scale). But I’m wary of the small number of services that have conquered our culture by claiming to be synonymous with these goals while in reality plotting to squeeze every last cent of value out of our scarce attention.

Alternate realities

In the old days, a liberal and a conservative (a “dove” and a “hawk,” say) got their data from one of three nightly news programs, a local paper, and a handful of national magazines, and were thus starting with the same basic facts (even if those facts were questionable, limited, or erroneous). Now each of us constructs a custom informational universe, wittingly (we choose to go to the sources that uphold our existing beliefs and thus flatter us) or unwittingly (our app algorithms do the driving for us). The data we get this way, pre-imprinted with spin and mythos, are intensely one-dimensional. (As a proud knight of LeftLand, I was interested to find that, in RightLand, Vince Foster has still been murdered, Dick Morris is a reliable source, kids are brainwashed “way to the left” by going to college, and Obama may yet be Muslim. I expect that my interviewees found some of my core beliefs equally jaw-dropping.)

How many friends can you have?

The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.) From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face.

Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: 'We threw too much money at them' - Digiday

Social team is a bunch of millennials, so we’ll often find someone we like and we’ll throw it into a database with keywords. But usually it’s a CEO or CMO or whoever saying, “Oh, my kid likes this guy.” At this major car brand I worked for, we paid $300,000 for a few photographs because the CEO’s kid liked someone.

There Are Now 2,000 YouTube Channels With At Least One Million Subscribers - Tubefilter

As YouTube analytics site VidStatsx shows, there are now more than 2,000 channels with seven-digit subscriber counts. T[…]on February 23, 2010 — YouTube’s 5th birthday — there were only five channels with at least one million subscribers. Two years later, that number was up to 68; two years after that, 594; and now, two years and five weeks later, there are 2,000 “YouTube millionaires.” In the past year alone, more than 850 new channels have claimed that title.

Some anti-words

The breadth and range of the terms can be astonishing; a lexicography of Boobslang reaches more than 200 pages, with 3,000 entries covering many areas of life. To be “under the thumb” is to be in love, a “double yoker” is an idiot, a “cue ball” is a skinhead and a “goodnight kiss” is a knockout punch. Outside of prison, each type of crime will have its own specialised vocabulary. A 1980s survey of American confidence tricksters, for instance, found a variety of colourful names for their intended victims – they are an “apple”, an “egg”, a “fink”, or, most innocuously sounding, “Mr Bates”.

Specificity and generality in relation to friends and enemies

Describing a person's behavior concretely, using action verbs -- for example, "Sam hit her friend" -- typically signals that the behavior is a one-time occurrence and not necessarily characteristic of that person. Describing someone's behavior using adjectives and nouns, on the other hand -- for example, "Sam is violent" -- comes across as more abstract and suggests that the behavior may reflect a personal trait. Prior research has also demonstrated that we tend to use these linguistic subtleties in a favorable way when we're talking about people who belong to the same group as us: We're likely to use abstract language in discussing their desirable behaviors and concrete language in describing their undesirable behaviors. If we're talking about someone from another group, however, the pattern reverses -- we tend to use concrete language to describe positive behaviors, and abstract language to describe negative ones.

Chitchat, small talk could serve an evolutionary need to bond with others -- ScienceDaily

They found that ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) living in groups primarily call and respond to the individuals with which they have close relationships. While grooming is a common social-bonding experience for lemurs and other primates, the researchers found that lemurs reserved vocal exchanges for the animals that they groomed most frequently. Lemurs vocalize to essentially "groom-at-a-distance" and keep in touch when the group members they're closest with get separated such as when foraging for food, said first author Ipek Kulahci, who received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton.

Text Me? Ping Me? Communications Overload in the Digital Age - The New York Times

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion, and Vows), and Instagram. A version of this article appears in print on December 13, 2015,

Platforms demand difference

The first thing you notice when you spam your content across platforms is that it’s rare, in 2015, for one thing to do extraordinarily well in more than one or two venues without significant modification. The next thing you learn is that the best way to succeed on a given platform is to write/film/record/aggregate with that platform explicitly in mind. The next thing you learn is that doing so makes that content extremely weird when taken out of context, which makes it incompatible with other venues. A Vine video might work on Facebook, if you’re lucky, but a Facebook video probably won’t work on Vine. Quizzes that explode on Facebook seem strange on Twitter. A tweet might seem powerful and informative in the Twitter timeline, but look small and pathetic embedded in a website; a tweeted joke might do decently on Twitter but function better as a screen-cap on Tumblr, if at all. The article or video or object that functions well across all contexts is either transcendently newsworthy or shocking—and therefore rare—or extensively adapted.

A decade of media evolution in two paragraphs

Websites, Vox included, have been able to accumulate enormous audiences with incredible speed by harvesting referrals from social networks. These rapidly convened audiences felt contiguous because they ended up, eventually, on publishers’ websites; they felt […]real because advertising teams could sell web ads against them. Websites plausibly marketed these people as members of their audiences, rather than temporarily diverted members of a platform’s audience. […]The illusion of audience ownership is becoming harder to sustain, and the audiences are getting bigger and bigger. 2013 was the year every major site with a social strategy broke traffic records by a mile;[…]2015, when a single weird or clever native Facebook video can easily out-traffic a week of a site’s web content, is the year it’s becoming clear to everyone who these audiences really belong to, and what it means to borrow them. 2016 is the year we find out what the price of access will be.