My Dissertation Now Available

Greetings everyone…My dissertation “Network of Knowledge: Wikipedia as a Sociotechnical System of Intelligence” is now available here on the blog.

It will be permanently downloadable from the About Me page, but I also wanted to put it here on the front page in hopes that it might spur questions and comments.

A huge thanks to all of the bot operators and Wikipedia contributors who participated in the study. I plan to continue this research (once I get the IRB approval at my new institution) and would love to chat with other WP bot operators and people involved in the creation, maintenance, and governance of automated and semi-automated tools. Please email me if you’re interested.

Computer modelling: Brain in a box

Henry Markram wants €1 billion to model the entire human brain. Sceptics don’t think he should get it.

Computer modelling: Brain in a box - Nature

Image: BBP/EPFL

” ‘Brain researchers are generating 60,000 papers per year,’ said Markram as he explained the concept in Bern. ‘They’re all beautiful, fantastic studies — but all focused on their one little corner: this molecule, this brain region, this function, this map.’ The HBP [Human Brain Project] would integrate these discoveries, he said, and create models to explore how neural circuits are organized, and how they give rise to behaviour and cognition — among the deepest mysteries in neuroscience. Ultimately, said Markram, the HBP would even help researchers to grapple with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. ‘If we don’t have an integrated view, we won’t understand these diseases,’ he declared.

As the response at the meeting made clear, however, there is deep unease about Markram’s vision.

Long Distance

Long Distance - RadioLab

Image: melloveschallah/flickr/CC-BY-2.0

In the mid-1950’s, a blind seven-year-old boy named Joe Engressia Jr. made a discovery that changed his own life and many others. While idly dialing information on the family telephone, he heard a high-pitched tone in the background and started whistling along with it. Slowly, he learned to recognize all kinds of tones, pulses, clicks and beeps that the phone system used to talk to itself. And when he got good at decoding those sounds, he became the grandaddy of a whole movement of like-minded obsessives known as “phone phreaks.” (RabioLab)

Twitter Bots Create Surprising New Social Connections

Twitter Bots Create Surprising New Social Connections - Technology Review

Image: Max Nanis and Ian Pearce

“You might have encountered a ‘Twitter bot’ before: an automated program that perhaps retweeted something you wrote because it had particular keywords. Or maybe you received a message from an unfamiliar, seemingly human-controlled account, only to click on an accompanying link and realize you’d been fooled by a spambot.  Now a group of freelance Web researchers has created more sophisticated Twitter bots, dubbed ‘socialbots,’ that can not only fool people into thinking they are real people, but also serve as virtual social connectors, speeding up the natural rate of human-to-human communication.” (Mike Orcutt, technology review)

Cheating Spreads Like Infections in Online Games

Cheating Spreads Like Infections in Online Games - MIT“While this work gives a unique insight into the social behaviour of cheats, Blackburn and co say it also points to a new angle of attack for gaming communities hoping to stamp out cheating.  Their idea is to use the structure of the network to predict the likelihood that a given player will become a cheat in future. In other words, the number of friends who are cheats determine how likely this player is to becoming infected with the ‘cheating virus’ in future, so to speak.” (KFC, Technology Review)

Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

“What matters here isn’t technical capital, it’s social capital. These tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. It isn’t when the shiny new tools show up that their uses start permeating society; it’s when everyone is able to take them for granted.” (Clay Shirky, TED Talks)