Today my news feeds are marked by a new Gillette ad on ‘toxic masculinity‘, the #BrexitVote in the House of Commons, and a new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Among these equally significant topics, one that has created most buzz, at least in my little social media bubbles, is the so-called KonMari method. We don’t have Netflilx at home, but I gather that her approach to books does not bode well with my friends and colleagues. Apparently she has said that books are first to go when decluttering the house and that the ideal number of books to own is less than 30. Hmmm. What is this familiar feeling? Right, this feels almost like the time when I was shown a picture of books arranged by the colours of their covers.
Konmari or tsundoku? The unbearable lightness of getting rid of books (Sue Carter, The Star, 11 January 2019)
Then once again the answer was right under my nose.
35 years ago, Isaac Asimov was asked by the Star to predict the world of 2019. Here is what he wrote (The Star, 27 December 2018)
If we look into the world as it may be at the end of another generation, let’s say 2019 […], three considerations must dominate our thoughts: 1. Nuclear war. 2. Computerization. 3. Space utilization.
Interesting to read this in conjunction with the news about China’s successful landing on the “far side of the Moon” today (and their potato-growing mission).
In the meantime, here’s another one. Let it sink in.
I have come across these two threads separately, but in my mind they make a perfect pair. *chef’s kiss*
They also remind me of the “3d printed save icon” and “a computer that prints while you type and you don’t have to plug in” jokes, as well as the Onion’s “ruins of ‘Friendster’ civilisation” video and David Macaulay’s illustrated book Motel of the Mysteries (1979).
And another one. I am on listing fire!
# On data linkage: interview with Joseph Sakshaug (Alexandru Cernat, 21 January 2019)
# How accurate are survey responses on social media and politics? (Guess, A. et al., Political Communication, 2018)
# Facebook digital traces for survey research: Assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of a Facebook Ad–based procedure for recruiting online survey respondents in niche and difficult-to-reach populations (Iannelli, L. et al., Social Science Computer Review, 2018)
# How to sample networks using social media APIs (Coscia, M., 11 December 2018)
# Missing the target? Using surveys to validate social media ad targeting (Sances, Political Science Research and Methods, 2019)
A little new collection for an upcoming module. 🤓
# Using hierarchical categories in qualitative data analysis (Richards, T. & Richards, L., in Kelle, U. (ed.), Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis: Theory, Methods and Practice, 1995)
# The Social Life of Numbers: A Quechua Ontology of Numbers and Philosophy of Arithmetic (Urton, G., 1997; see also The Social Life of Things, Appadurai, A., 1988; The Inbetweenness of Things, Basu, P., 2017)
# Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You’re Doing It (Beck, H. S., 1998)
# Where Mathematics Come From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being (Lakoff, G. & Nunez, R., 2001)
# Standards and Their Stories: How Quantifying, Classifying, and Formalizing Practices Shape Everyday Life (Lampland, M. & Star, S. L., 2008)
# What is SNA using qualitative methods? (Crossley, N. & Edwards, G., methods@manchester, 3 January 2012)
# Data not seen: The uses and shortcomings of social media metrics (Baym, N. K., First Monday 18(1), 2013)
# Oh Ordinal data, what do we do with you? (Petty, N. [Dr Nic], Creative Maths, 8 July 2013)
# The Tyranny of Numbers: Why Counting Can’t Make Us Happy (Boyle, D., 2014)
# Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World (Alexander, A., 2014)
# Most psychology papers can’t be reproduced (IFLScience, 28 August 2015; crossposted 29 August 2015)
# Measurement: A Very Short Introduction (Hand, D. J., 2016)
# The Quantified Self (Lupton, D., 2016; see also Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, Rettberg, J. W., 2014; Self-Tracking, Neff, G., 2015; The Qualified Self, Humphreys, L., 2018)
# Surveying immigrants without sampling frames — evaluating the success of alternative field methods (Reichel, D. & Morales, L., Comparative Migration Studies 5(1), 2017)
# Computer says so. ([yawningtree], 7 February 2017)
# List Cultures: Knowledge and Poetics from Mesopotamia to BuzzFeed (Liam Young, 2017, crossposted 1 September 2017)
# Addressing the challenges related to transforming qualitative Into quantitative data in qualitative comparative analysis (de Block, D. & Vis, B., Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 2018)
# How to sample networks using social media APIs (Coscia, M., 11 December 2018)
Everybody in my social media timelines seems to be doing a year-end round-up. I also did one in 2016, but this year I am just glad that there are still a couple more days left before the new term begins. As also mentioned below, I was really looking forward to the winter break this time around. A bit like this illustration that was posted on the Communication Research Methods page last week with no additional caption. Well, no caption was necessary.
Then the first comment that immediately followed was: “It’s a mirage! Save yourselves!” I am not sure if the artist intended it, but upon reading the comment it struck me that I was being all business-as-usual. At least one piece of writing that I have been wrestling with for long is kind of out of the way now. Yay. 🎉
Have been having a challenging couple of months. A bit of a work-life balance crisis, if you like – because there has been no life!!! Exaggeration aside, all in all, it feels like September 2004 has been toppled.
While barely bumping through this autumn term, I must admit there have been a few high points too. One definite one was an anonymous comment in a student survey report circulated in-house recently. It said: “[…] She is also extremely professional when expressing concerns or having to remark a downside of a paper. […]”
I have had one-to-one meetings with hundreds of students since I joined the School, so I would never know who this respondent was. There were also other equally nice comments in the report. Nevertheless, I think this particular sentence just struck me because it was about something that I happen to care about and want to do well.
I once saw a tweet that summarised my stance on this topic in a way I couldn’t better, so let me simply pin that one here.
RT @seankross Strive to create a world where peer review feedback sounds like you’re trying to help your peer improve their work and less like you’re writing a product review for a blender. (21 December 2017)
I really am an omnivore when it comes to conferences. I attend ones on political communications, ones on research methods, ones on doctoral education, and ones on digital sociology. Among all these and more, I must admit that I find myself feeling most comfortable at events for “internet researchers“. Probably I identify with that label most closely.
In that circle, if your work is described as being technologically determinist, that’s never a compliment. “The internet is like a knife”, people used to howl. Or you can replace the word internet with whatever the next new thing is. Twitter, smartphones, blockchain, you name it.
If it were a binary opposition and I had to pick one over the other, I would also be on Team Social Constructivists. However, it is in fact never a binary opposition, is it? I am glad that even in my naïve years I appreciated that a real-life situation would always be somewhere in-between.
It feels like the field itself seems to be sliding back and forth too, depending on the characteristics of a given epoch. What I am hearing more and more these days is that there has been some fundamental change to our ways of being, and that change is as much from technology itself as from the social.
On a related note, here are some interesting reads for my own reference.
— It’s the (democracy-poisoning) golden age of free speech (Zeynep Tufekci, Wired, 16 January 2018)
— YouTube, the great radicalizer (Zeynep Tufekci, The New York Times, 10 March 2018)
— RT @JamieJBartlett One of the overlooked, but discombobulating, things about social media is the way delightful stories appear directly next to tragic, or trivial, or infuriating ones. With no time to process the emotion, we bounce directly from delighted to outraged, totally rudderless. (12 August 2018)
— How social media makes fascists of us all (Jamie Bartlett, UnHerd, 28 August 2018)
— Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound. (Maryanne Wolf, The Guardian, 25 August 2018)
— RT @davies_will Something like the People’s March is an example of the post-representational politics that now dominates. Not direct democracy but not representational democracy either. I discuss in Nervous States here:
When politics becomes infused by the logic of crowds, it becomes less about peaceful political representation, and more about mobilisation. Whether on the street or online, crowds are not a proxy for something else, as, for example, a parliament is meant to be a proxy for its electorate or a judge is the face of the justice system. They don’t purport to <i>represent</i> society as a whole, in a way that a ‘representative sample’ is treated by an opinion pollster as a means of discovering what the whole nation thinks. If crowds matter at all, it is because of the depth of feeling that brought so many people into one place at one time. As in the wars that dominate the nationalist imagination, crowds allow every individual to become (and feel) part of something much larger than themselves. This needn’t be a bad thing, but it carries risks and plays on our nerves. […] The critical political question is who or what has the power to mobilise people. […]
— [cont’d] One word for it is ‘presentational democracy’: the people are just presented, but without that being a way of settling an argument. Big data suffers the identical problem, and it’s the entangling of those two things that accounts for where we are right now.
— [cont’d] Another thing to add on this: ‘presentational democracy’ does not look good when it is led by professional *representatives*. Remain urgently needs political outsiders. (21 October 2018)
— Town hall? 120 people. Live-streamed chicken dinner? 257,000 views on Facebook (Michael Scherer, The Washington Post, 10 December 2018); as summarised by @declan_djmn1, we are witnessing a move to a new ground [‘private’ platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram] and a politics of intimacy.
— How much of the internet is fake? Turns out, a lot of it, actually. (Max Read, Intelligencer, 26 December 2018).
Not only do we have bots masquerading as humans and humans masquerading as other humans, but also sometimes humans masquerading as bots […].
I believe the title says all.
This is something I always mention when I do a session on literature review, but now my collection has grown too big to fit within one single slide, so here we are.
- The Cyril Burt affair in the 1970s
- The Sokal hoax in 1996
- Read before you cite! (Simkin & Roychowdhury, 2002, crossposted 19 November 2017)
- The nonsense math effect (Eriksson, 2012, Judgment and Decision Making 7(6): 746-749)
- Does high public debt consistently stifle economic growth? A critique of Reinhart and Rogoff (Herndon et al., Cambridge Journal of Economics 38(2): 257-279)
- Academic urban legends (Rekdal, 2014, Social Studies of Science 44(4): 638-654, via @qui_oui)
- Most psychology papers can’t be reproduced (IFLScience, 28 August 2015, crossposted 29 August 2015)
- Mushrooming of “predatory journals” and academic book mills
- The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations (Retraction Watch, 14 November 2017, via @qui_oui)
- Criticisms around the “grievance studies” stunt: e.g. Keenan, 4 October 2018; @zeynep, 5 October 2018; Engber, 5 October 2018)