The Internet as Quantitative Social Science Platform

With the large-scale penetration of the internet, for the first time, humanity has become linked by a single, open, communications platform. Harnessing this fact, we report insights arising from a unified internet activity and location dataset of an unparalleled scope and accuracy drawn from over a trillion (1.5×1012) observations of end-user internet connections, with temporal resolution of just 15min over 2006-2012. We first apply this dataset to the expansion of the internet itself over 1,647 urban agglomerations globally. We find that unique IP per capita counts reach saturation at approximately one IP per three people, and take, on average, 16.1 years to achieve; eclipsing the estimated 100- and 60- year saturation times for steam-power and electrification respectively. Next, we use intra-diurnal internet activity features to up-scale traditional over-night sleep observations, producing the first global estimate of over-night sleep duration in 645 cities over 7 years. We find statistically significant variation between continental, national and regional sleep durations including some evidence of global sleep duration convergence. Finally, we estimate the relationship between internet concentration and economic outcomes in 411 OECD regions and find that the internet’s expansion is associated with negative or positive productivity gains, depending strongly on sectoral considerations. To our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind to use online/offline activity of the entire internet to infer social science insights, demonstrating the unparalleled potential of the internet as a social data-science platform.

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Posted in Internet, Social sciences | Tagged ,

From remote-controlled to Self-controlled Citizens

The digital revolution will make data abundant and cheap. Moving from a time of darkness into a digital age with information overload, we will need suitable filters. However, those who build these filters will determine what we see. This creates possibilities to influence people’s decisions such that they become remotely controlled rather than make their decisions on their own. Since omnibenevolent rule cannot be supposed and top-down control is flawed for several reasons, another approach is needed. It can be found with distributed control, collective intelligence and participation. “Nervousnet” will be presented as a feasible specimen of a Citizen Web.

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Posted in Citizens, Collective intelligence, Distributed computing, Distributed control | Tagged , , ,

Using online Technology to beat Hate

Hate is brewing in society, and its expression through online speech is real and corrosive. Internet companies and NGOs are now working with the EU to fight back. We all know people who are the victims of hate crimes and hate speech. They are people of colour. Perhaps from another country or ethnicity. Or with a distinctive religion. Maybe they are disabled people, or people who are gay or lesbian. Whoever they are, they are blameless people attacked for just being different. It is easy to assume that as time goes by we become smarter, kinder, and more decent to one another, but evidence around us today suggests otherwise. Hate is still a powerful political force, and sometimes even a winning one.

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Read also: Facing Facts

Posted in Crime, Hate, Online technology | Tagged , ,

Activism on the Web: Everyday Struggles against Digital Capitalism

Activism on the Web examines the everyday tensions that political activists face as they come to terms with the increasingly commercialized nature of web technologies and sheds light on an important, yet under-investigated, dimension of the relationship between contemporary forms of social protest and internet technologies. Drawing on anthropological and ethnographic research amongst three very different political groups in the UK, Italy and Spain, the book argues that activists’ everyday internet uses are largely defined by processes of negotiation with digital capitalism. These processes of negotiation are giving rise to a series of collective experiences, which are defined by the tension between activists’ democratic needs on one side and the cultural processes reinforced by digital capitalism on the other. In looking at the encounter between activist cultures and digital capitalism, the book focuses in particular on the tension created by self-centered communication processes and networked-individualism, by corporate surveillance and data-mining, and by fast-capitalism and the temporality of immediacy. Activism on the Web suggests that if we want to understand how new technologies are affecting political participation and democratic processes, we should not focus on disruption and novelty, but we should instead explore the complex dialectics between digital discourses and digital practices; between the technical and the social; between the political economy of the web and its lived critique.

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Posted in Activism, Digital capitalism, Web 2.0 | Tagged , ,

Searching for Lost Knowledge in the Age of Intelligent Machines

As search engines are radically reinvented, computers and people are becoming partners in exploration. “I’m absolutely convinced that knowledge is a big chain starting from … the neolithic times, even earlier, and reaching our times.”

Scholars have long wrestled with “undiscovered public knowledge,” a problem that occurs when researchers arrive at conclusions independently from one another, creating fragments of understanding that are “logically related but never retrieved, brought together, [or] interpreted,” as Don Swanson wrote in an influential 1986 essay introducing the concept. “That is,” he wrote, “not only do we seek what we do not understand, we often do not even know at what level an understanding might be achieved.” In other words, on top of everything we don’t know, there’s everything we don’t know that we already know.

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Posted in Intelligence, Internet, Knowledge, Machine learning, Search | Tagged , , , ,

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement

Videos are a widely-used kind of resource for online learning. This paper presents an empirical study of how video production decisions affect student engagement in online educational videos. To our knowledge, ours is the largest-scale study of video engagement to date, using data from 6.9 million video watching sessions across four courses on the edX MOOC platform. We measure engagement by how long students are watching each video, and whether they attempt to answer post-video assessment problems. Our main findings are that shorter videos are much more engaging, that informal talking-head videos are more engaging, that Khan-style tablet drawings are more engaging, that even high-quality pre-recorded classroom lectures might not make for engaging online videos, and that students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos. Based upon these quantitative findings and qualitative insights from interviews with edX staff, we developed a set of recommendations to help instructors and video producers take better advantage of the online video format.

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Posted in Engagement, MOOC, Online learning, Students, Videos | Tagged , , , ,

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

A wake-up call from a cyber-expert: our use of technology is fueling disturbing levels of isolation, leaving us incapable of distinguishing between true human connection and digital communication.

I am a psychoanalytically trained psychologist. Both by temperament and profession, I place high value on relationships of intimacy and authenticity. Granting that an AI might develop its own origami of lovemaking positions, I am troubled by the idea of seeking intimacy with a machine that has no feelings, can have no feelings, and is really just a clever collection of “as if ” performances, behaving as if it cared, as if it understood us. Authenticity, for me, follows from the ability to put oneself in the place of another, to relate to the other because of a shared store of human experiences: we are born, have families, and know loss and the reality of death.7 A robot, however sophisticated, is patently out of this loop.

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Posted in Humans, ICT, Relationship, Technology | Tagged , , ,

Who Pays for Open Access?

The theory of Open Access (OA) predates the Internet, but the web has made it a full-fledged phenomenon for scientific and medical journals. Driven in large part by mandates from government and institutional funding entities, OA theoretically lowers the subscription cost barrier for peer-reviewed content. Academic libraries and their constituents—especially researchers—are the prime beneficiaries, but so also are general public libraries and “citizen scientists” who simply have Internet access.

Like a politician’s promise, however, the benefits of OA have to be paid for—typically through an Article Processing Charge (APC) charged to the author or, more commonly, the author’s employer. These can average between $2,000 and $3,000 per article. “These are increasingly a line item in research grant funding proposals,” she said, pointing out that funding entities are themselves often proponents of Open Access. The financial shift from subscribers to authors will have long term and potentially positive effects on peer-reviewed scientific and medical reporting.

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Posted in Open access | Tagged

Technology Enhanced Learning: A-Z of apps

Here are some apps and online tools we think you might find useful in your teaching and/or learning. We have included information about availability on iOS, Android, and the web, however, some apps are also available on additional platforms. All apps listed here are free unless stated otherwise, with most giving you the opportunity to upgrade to a paid version. If you have any suggestions for apps you would like us to add or would like to discuss how you might use mobile devices and apps in your teaching and learning please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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Read also: Working together online

 

Posted in Collaboration, ICT, Learning, Online, Uncategorized, Work | Tagged , , , ,

Intelligence and Technology: the impact of Tools on the Nature and Development of Human Abilities

In this volume, Robert J. Sternberg and David D. Preiss bring together different perspectives on understanding the impact of various technologies on human abilities, competencies, and expertise. The inclusive range of historical, comparative, sociocultural, cognitive, educational, industrial/organizational, and human factors approaches will stimulate international multi-disciplinary discussion. Major questions that are addressed include:

*What is the impact of different technologies on human abilities?
*How does technology enhance or limit human intellectual functioning?
*What is the cognitive impact of complex technologies?
*What is the cognitive impact of the transfer of technologies?
*How can we design technologies that foster intellectual growth?
*How does technology mediate the impact of cultural variables on human intellectual functioning?

Part I addresses the history of cognitive technologies and how they have evolved with culture, but at the same time helped culture evolve. Part II focuses on how educational technologies affect the ways in which students and others think. The topic of Part III is technology in the world of work. Part IV deals with the interface between intelligence and technology. The diversity and richness of technology relates to different forms of abilities, competencies, and expertise. In consequence, many psychologists, educators, and others are interested in exploring the ways in which technology and human abilities interact, but lack a handy source of information to satisfy their interest. This book provides researchers and students in these areas with relevant perspectives and information.

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Posted in Abilities, Humans, Intelligence, Technology | Tagged , , ,