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Using Wikipedia as PR is a problem, but our lack of a critical eye is worse

Using Wikipedia as PR is a problem, but our lack of a critical eye is worse

That Wikipedia is used for less-than scrupulously neutral purposes shouldn’t surprise us – our lack of critical eye that’s the real problem. Reposted from The Conversation.   If you heard that a group of people were creating, editing, and maintaining Wikipedia articles related to brands, firms and individuals, you could point out, correctly, that this […]

Current alternatives won’t light up Britain’s broadband blackspots

Satellites, microwaves, radio towers – how many more options must be tried before the government just shells out for fibre to the home? Reposted from The Conversation.   Despite the British government’s boasts of the steady roll-out of superfast broadband to more than four out of five homes and businesses, you needn’t be a statistician to […]

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After dinner: the best time to create 1.5 million dollars of ground-breaking science

Citizen science refers to collaborative research undertaken by professional scientists and the public. Since it first launched (as ‘Galaxy Zoo’) in 2007, the Zooniverse has grown into the world’s largest citizen science platform, with more than 25 science projects and over a million volunteer citizen scientists. The OII’s Khairunnisa Haji Ibrahim, Taha Yasseri, and Samuel Khodursky (Oxford Dept Physics) discuss initial findings from a project on the taxonomy and ecology of contributions to the Zooniverse, which examines the geographical, gender and temporal patterns of contributions and contributors to 17 Zooniverse projects.

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A promised ‘right’ to fast internet rings hollow for millions stuck with 20th-century speeds

Tell those living in the countryside about the government’s promised “right to fast internet” and they’ll show you 10 years of similar, unmet promises. Reposted from The Conversation.    In response to the government’s recent declarations that internet speeds of 100Mb/s should be available to “nearly all homes” in the UK, a great many might suggest that […]

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Outside the cities and towns, rural Britain’s internet is firmly stuck in the 20th century

The quality of rural internet access in the UK, or lack of it, has long been a bone of contention. Reposted from The Conversation.   The quality of rural internet access in the UK, or lack of it, has long been a bone of contention. The government says “fast, reliable broadband” is essential, but the disparity […]

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Young people are the most likely to take action to protect their privacy on social networking sites

There is a widespread impression that younger people are less concerned with privacy than older people; indeed, that “privacy is no longer a social norm”. Is this really true? OII Research Fellow Grant Blank discusses results from a representative sample from Britain to find that (contrary to conventional wisdom) young people are actually more likely to have taken action to protect their privacy than older people. A full discussion can be found in his paper (with G.Bolsover and E.Dubois): A New Privacy Paradox: Young people and privacy on social network sites.

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Facebook and the Brave New World of Social Research using Big Data

The recent study on emotional contagion in Facebook has caused much debate. OII Professor Ralph Schroeder argues that we need to be thinking about regulation when access to big data on a new scale enables research that affects many people without their knowledge. Recent scandals about privacy and social media have focused on the Orwellian or surveillance dimension. Here, the implications may rather accord with Huxley’s Brave New World, whereby users don’t know that they are being manipulated, and may come to enjoy how their online experiences are conditioning them, with worrisome implications.

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The social economies of networked cultural production (or, how to make a movie with complete strangers)

There’s been a lot of talk about the disruptive and transformative powers of networked technologies, with Wikipedia and open source software commonly highlighted as examples of new production models. However, the economies (whether monetary, social or political) of networked cultural production are under-theorised, and the motivations (including understandings of social capital) of participants producing crowdsourced cultural goods are still little understood. OII Researcher Isis Hjorth discusses her recently completed doctoral research on crowdsourced film-making in the wreckamovie community.

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Verification of crowd-sourced information: is this ‘crowd wisdom’ or machine wisdom?

Automated verification practices are becoming an important feature of crowdsourced content environments as a way of coping with the deluge of data. Heather Ford (OII) explains that while these processes can scale up contributions, it is important to understand how they can also be used to restrict the content to that deemed ‘important’ or ‘trustworthy’ enough by organisations — in a process that may be invisible to those contributing or making use of the information.

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Harnessing ‘generative friction’: can conflict actually improve quality in open systems?

Is conflict always bad? Or can conflict in open systems actually be productive, leading to innovative solutions to the problems encountered? In her paper “The role of conflict in determining consensus on quality in Wikipedia articles”, Kim Osman (QUT) finds that differences of opinion in Wikipedia actually spur the improvement of articles and that conflict, in contrast to earlier findings, can play a positive role in encyclopedic quality. Kim discusses her findings and what they mean for the design and governance of open, online systems.

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