"social media" entries

Mediating the relationship between society and technology

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Suw Charman-Anderson on Ada Lovelace Day, STEM, and the state of social media.

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In this week’s episode, O’Reilly’s Mac Slocum chats with Suw Charman-Anderson, journalist, consultant, and founder of Ada Lovelace Day. Their wide-ranging conversation touches on why Charman-Anderson founded Ada Lovelace Day and why it has been so successful. She also talks about the state of social media, and the past, present, and future of blogging.

Here are a few highlights from their chat:

The first Ada Lovelace Day was a day of blogging about women in tech. It was the 24th of March in 2009, which was a completely random date I had picked because I was impatient and I wanted it to happen soon. It just really took off immediately. I was quite astonished, actually. I thought it would be me and a couple of mates and we’d have a little blog thing going and that would be that. In the end, it was huge. … I think it really hit a nerve. I think there were a lot of women who were angry about the state of play and about the issues around conferences.

The main problem, not just for me but for other organizations dealing with women in STEM, is funding.

I’m a big fan of cross-pollination between different disciplines. I think there are lessons there as well for technology. Technology moves very fast, but we need to think long term about the impacts on society. We all need to be a part of that debate. That doesn’t happen enough. We tend to be very focused on who’s just done an IPO, and who’s just launched, what the new Apple device is, and all the rest of it. We need to, as a broad community, also be thinking about the long-term impacts societally, in terms of how we are bringing in different points of view. This is where diversity becomes important because different people have different experiences of the world. That should inform a longer debate on how we want to mediate the relationship between society and technology. Read more…

Comment: 1
Four short links: 22 September 2014

Four short links: 22 September 2014

OS X Javascript, Social Key Party, E-Fail, and Microservices Testing

  1. Significance of Javascript For OS X Scripting — not just for shell scripting-type automation, now you can build Cocoa applications with Javascript. This is huge.
  2. keybase.io — social media as trust vector.
  3. I Banned E-Mail At My CompanyEmail should not be used to share information. Especially if that information is a resource that might be useful again in the future.
  4. Building Microservices at KarmaThe biggest challenge with microservices is testing. With a regular web application, an end-to-end test is easy: just click somewhere on the website, and see what changes in the database. But in our case, actions and eventual results are so far from another that it’s difficult to see exact cause and effect. A problem might bubble up from a chain, but where in the chain did it go wrong? It’s something we still haven’t solved.

Tweets loud and quiet

Twitter’s long, long, long tail suggests the service is less democratic than it seems.

Writers who cover Twitter find the grandiose irresistible: nearly every article about the service’s IPO this fall mentioned the heroes of the Arab Spring who toppled dictators with 140-character stabs, or the size of Lady Gaga’s readership, which is larger than the population of Argentina.

But the bulk of the service is decidedly smaller-scale–a low murmur with an occasional celebrity shouting on top of it. In comparative terms, almost nobody on Twitter is somebody: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Among the much smaller subset of accounts that have posted in the last 30 days, the median account has just 61 followers. If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users. (I write “active users” to refer to publicly-viewable accounts that have posted at least once in the last 30 days; Twitter uses a more generous definition of that term, including anyone who has logged into the service.)

You're a bigger deal on Twitter than you think

This is a histogram of Twitter accounts by number of followers. Only accounts that have posted in the last 30 days are included. Read more…

Comments: 15

Investigating the Twitter Interest Graph

Why Is Twitter All the Rage?

I’m presenting a short webcast entitled Why Twitter Is All the Rage: A Data Miner’s Perspective that is loosely adapted from material that appears early in Mining the Social Web (2nd Ed). I wanted to share out the content that inspired the topic. The remainder of this post is a slightly abridged reproduction of a section that appears early in Chapter 1. If you enjoy it, you can download all of Chapter 1 as a free PDF to learn more about mining Twitter data.
Read more…


Passionate Programmers, Bitcoin APIs, WebOps Risk Management, and @WarrenBuffet

Weekly highlights and insights: May 27-31

A Commencement Speech for 2013 CS Majors: Being passionate about software is critical to success.

Bitcoin as a money platform: Andreas Antonopoulos outlines Bitcoin network’s three distinct APIs.

What Is the Risk That Amazon Will Go Down (Again)?: Johan Bergström explores WebOps risk management.

Where’s @WarrenBuffet?: Social media pull does not equate to a sound investment strategy.


These are the top 20 investors to follow on Twitter? Really?

Finding the right people to follow for investment advice has very little to do with the extent of their social media following.

Business Insider really jumped the shark with their recent post entitled These Are The Top 20 Tech Investors You Should Follow On Twitter. It was clearly linkbait for social media rather than real advice for those looking for investment wisdom.  Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) as the top investor to follow on Twitter?  Really?  When the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett), is also on Twitter?  Sure, Warren is new to Twitter and has only posted one link (to a fascinating article about why women are key to America’s prosperity), but when millions of investors hang on his every word, you’d think he’d get a mention. Ashton is great, but is he a better investor to pay attention to just because he has more “social media pull”?

This kind of story illustrates the vapidity of so much social media reporting.  What does someone’s social media following have to do with whether or not they are worth following for investment advice?

I’d prefer to follow investors who are good investors and who share their investment strategy!  That’s why I’d probably put Fred Wilson (@FredWilson) of Union Square Ventures (who was at an inexplicable number 19 on the Business Insider List) and his partners Brad Burnham (@BradUSV) and Alfred Wenger (@AlbertWenger) at the top.  Not only are they among the most successful tech investors active today (Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, Foursquare, Etsy, Kickstarter, to name only a few of their investments), but they clearly explain their rationale for investing, their criteria, and their interests. Read more…

Comments: 8

Social media’s 2.0 moment: Responsiveness beats planning

The social web is pressuring organizations to accelerate all forms of communications.

In 2004, O’Reilly Media delivered a counter-cultural (at the time) message: The dot-com bubble had burst, but the web was here to stay as an economic and social force. The meme they coined was Web 2.0, and their manifesto was captured in a seminal blog post by Tim O’Reilly. Web 2.0 was not meant to indicate a version number, but to point out the deep, persistent patterns of the web that were rewiring business and society.

I led the consulting practice at O’Reilly Media after we coined the term Web 2.0, and I think we now find ourselves at a similar (though softer) inflection point. There are a lot of valid questions regarding the business models in social: Is Facebook not a scalable vehicle for advertising and thus overvalued? Is Groupon bad for merchants and thus doomed to fail? Was social gaming (and Zynga) overhyped?

Taking a cue from Web 2.0, I believe we need to look beyond specific applications of social media — even, God forbid, specific platforms like Facebook — in order to sort out the underlying design patterns that will endure and continue to disrupt marketing and communications.

So what are those design patterns? Here are four: Read more…


Privacy vs. speech

Does your right to be forgotten (or forgettable) trump free speech?

A week or so ago this link made its way through my tweet stream: “Privacy and the right to be forgotten.” Honestly I didn’t really even read it. I just retweeted it with a +1 or some other sign of approval because the notion that my flippant throwaway comments on the interwebs would be searchable forever has always left me a bit unsettled. Many times I’ve thought “Thank God the Internet wasn’t around when I was 20, because the things I would have said then online would have been order of magnitudes stupider than the stupidest things I say now.” I haven’t gotten any smarter, but I am a little bit better at filtering, and I rarely drink these days.

But today I read this piece from Stanford Law Review on the subject. And it’s smart. As is this simpler summary on NPR.

In so many domains the Internet creates these dichotomous tensions. There are two things we want and the Internet enables either, or neither, but not both.

I personally don’t think we need this kind of law. However, eventually it will become obvious that the cost of storing every damned thing I’ve ever uttered online exceeds any conceivable or achievable ROI from mining it. Hopefully, as companies realize this, they’ll offer a “feature” to solve this problem by letting me, and people like me, establish preferences for time to live and/or time to keep. For example, I’d be perfectly happy if Twitter enabled a one week time to live on every tweet I posted. They are meant to be ephemeral and it would be more than fine with me if their lifespans matched the level of thought I put into them.