July 12, 2016

Nature Facebook experiment boosted USA voter turnout in 2010

Social pressure:

The experiment assigned all US Facebook users who were over 18 and accessed the website on the 2 November 2010 -- the day of the elections -- to one of three groups.

Social science: Poked to vote
Computational social science: Making the links Facebook 'likes' the scientific method

About 611,000 users (1%) received an 'informational message' at the top of their news feeds, which encouraged them to vote, provided a link to information on local polling places and included a clickable 'I voted' button and a counter of Facebook users who had clicked it. About 60 million users (98%) received a 'social message', which included the same elements but also showed the profile pictures of up to six randomly selected Facebook friends who had clicked the 'I voted' button. The remaining 1% of users were assigned to a control group that received no message.

The researchers then compared the groups' online behaviours, and matched 6.3 million users with publicly available voting records to see which group was actually most likely to vote in real life.

The results showed that those who got the informational message voted at the same rate as those who saw no message at all. But those who saw the social message were 2% more likely to click the 'I voted' button and 0.3% more likely to seek information about a polling place than those who received the informational message, and 0.4% more likely to head to the polls than either other group.

The social message, the researchers estimate, directly increased turnout by about 60,000 votes. But a further 280,000 people were indirectly nudged to the polls by seeing messages in their news feeds, for example, telling them that their friends had clicked the 'I voted' button. "The online social network helps to quadruple the effect of the message," says Fowler.

Nature's Facebook experiment boosts US voter turnout.

July 11, 2016

Boris, Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY)

ALEXANDER BORIS DE PFEFFEL JOHNSON is very sad

Boris is very sad.png


Continue reading "Boris, Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY)" »

July 10, 2016

Autodesign, 1980 - 2010, four-door fastback 'coupe'

BMW will sell you an X6 "coupe" which, properly speaking, should be called the X6-11 because it looks exactly like a Citation X-11 with the nose from a Pontiac Grand Am welded on as an afterthought.

In retrospect, it's fairly obvious why somebody would trade in a '79 Granada for an '84 Accord: You got twice the gas mileage and more than twice the longevity at virtually no cost in usable interior room. That's a practical, sensible decision.

It's not nearly as easy to understand why someone would trade a 2011 Accord for a 2016 Pilot or CR-V. There's a substantial price penalty to be paid for the "upgrade" to a crossover or SUV. Fuel economy suffers. Tires and brakes wear out quicker and cost more to replace. The handling of any lifted vehicle is always much, much worse than that of the car from which it's derived. Look at it this way: If you knew with absolute certainty that your morning commute tomorrow would feature a flatbed losing its cargo on the road ahead of you, scattering cars and trucks in every which direction while you tried to steer and brake your way to safety, would you rather be driving a Camry or a Highlander? A BMW 530i or a BMW X5? A Porsche Cayman, or a Cayenne?

To choose a crossover instead of a car is to willingly give back virtually all of the advances that American buyers gained when they went from Granadas to Accords. And what do you get in return? It can't be that customers demand all-wheel-drive; that was offered in everything from the Camry to the Tempo back in the Nineties and very few people stepped up to pay the extra money. Most of the "SUVs" I see on the freeway nowadays have an empty hole where the (optional) rear differential would go anyway.

-- Jack Baruth has won races on four different kinds of bicycles and in seven different kinds of cars. Everything he writes should probably come with a trigger warning.

July 8, 2016

Culture Digitally Facebook trending its made of people but we should-have-already-known-that/

Culturedigitally facebook-trending-its-made-of-people-but-we-should-have-already-known-that/

July 5, 2016

A watch list, which relies on the predictive judgments of anonymous analysts predisposed to err on the side of caution


The threats that the terrorist watch list and no-fly list pose to civil liberties -- indeed, to the very idea of citizenship -- are enormous. Watch lists are designed to circumvent the protections of due process and the separation of powers. They subvert a principle of our free society: Our rights aren't held on loan until a government official labels us suspect, at which point they are easily stripped away; our rights are ours unless and until a court concludes that we have violated the law.

This is not the case with a watch list, which relies on the predictive judgments of anonymous analysts predisposed to err on the side of caution. Their job is to stop something horrible from happening. Why would they be inclined to err the other way? Their decisions require no judicial approval, and their standard for labeling someone a suspected terrorist to be watch-listed is very low, a mere "reasonable suspicion."

As one federal judge noted in a case involving a plaintiff's challenge to being placed on the no-fly list, "an American citizen can find himself labeled a suspected terrorist because of a 'reasonable suspicion' based on a 'reasonable suspicion.' "

Some people who are tempted by watch lists but reluctant to deprive people of rights without due process propose combining them with the procedures used for search warrants or wiretaps. Why not just open up the watch list process to a judge who can assess these determinations? If it's good enough for the Fourth Amendment, isn't it good enough for the Second?

But this analogy doesn't work. The low standards and one-sided nature of warrant requests are only the first step in a longer, public, adversarial process. They satisfy public safety needs to investigate and stop suspected crimes, but this is followed by an opportunity for a trial with a higher burden of proof and a meaningful chance to confront and respond to the state's evidence.


-- Jeffrey Kahn, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, is the author of "Mrs. Shipley's Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists."

July 4, 2016

New nerd glasses ? Low Bridge fit by Warby Parker

Warby Parker's Low Bridge.

Fit for everyone's eyes.

July 2, 2016

Facebook makes the news

According to a statement from Tom Stocky, who is in charge of the trending topics list, Facebook has policies "for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality" of the items that appear in the trending list.

But Facebook declined to discuss whether any editorial guidelines governed its algorithms, including the system that determines what people see in News Feed. Those algorithms could have profound implications for society. For instance, one persistent worry about algorithmic-selected news is that it might reinforce people's previously held points of view. If News Feed shows news that we're each likely to Like, it could trap us into echo chambers and contribute to rising political polarization. In a study last year, Facebook's scientists asserted the echo chamber effect was muted.

But when Facebook changes its algorithm -- which it does routinely -- does it have guidelines to make sure the changes aren't furthering an echo chamber? Or that the changes aren't inadvertently favoring one candidate or ideology over another? In other words, are Facebook's engineering decisions subject to ethical review? Nobody knows.

The other reason to be wary of Facebook's bias has to do with sheer size. Ms. Caplan notes that when studying bias in traditional media, scholars try to make comparisons across different news outlets. To determine if The Times is ignoring a certain story unfairly, look at competitors like The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. If those outlets are covering a story and The Times isn't, there could be something amiss about The Times's news judgment.

Such comparative studies are nearly impossible for Facebook. Facebook is personalized, in that what you see on your News Feed is different from what I see on mine, so the only entity in a position to look for systemic bias across all of Facebook is Facebook itself. Even if you could determine the spread of stories across all of Facebook's readers, what would you compare it to?

"Facebook has achieved saturation," Ms. Caplan said. No other social network is as large, popular, or used in the same way, so there's really no good rival for comparing Facebook's algorithmic output in order to look for bias.

What we're left with is a very powerful black box. In a 2010 study, Facebook's data scientists proved that simply by showing some users that their friends had voted, Facebook could encourage people to go to the polls. That study was randomized -- Facebook wasn't selectively showing messages to supporters of a particular candidate.

Facebook tinkered with users emotions in 2014 news feed experiment

NY Times Technology on Facebook's tinkering with users emotions in 2014 news feed experiment: outcry stirred.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/technology/facebook-tinkers-with-users-emotions-in-news-feed-experiment-stirring-outcry.html.

June 30, 2016

Facebook data-mined objective truth unmolested by the subjective attitudes

Facebook has also acquired a more subtle power to shape the wider news business. Across the industry, reporters, editors and media executives now look to Facebook the same way nesting baby chicks look to their engorged mother -- as the source of all knowledge and nourishment, the model for how to behave in this scary new-media world. Case in point: The New York Times, among others, recently began an initiative to broadcast live video. Why do you suppose that might be? Yup, the F word. The deal includes payments from Facebook to news outlets, including The Times.

Yet few Americans think of Facebook as a powerful media organization, one that can alter events in the real world. When blowhards rant about the mainstream media, they do not usually mean Facebook, the mainstreamiest of all social networks. That's because Facebook operates under a veneer of empiricism. Many people believe that what you see on Facebook represents some kind of data-mined objective truth unmolested by the subjective attitudes of fair-and-balanced human beings.

Continue reading "Facebook data-mined objective truth unmolested by the subjective attitudes" »

June 29, 2016

Economics of News: New Statesman Alan Rusbridger on paywalls and funding schemes

Knives out for the Beeb; is Facebook a threat or opportunity ?

Is there an economic model for serious news? Let's hope so - but the gales blowing through my old industry are now truly frightening. When I stepped down from the Guardian just over a year ago, my Guardian Media Group colleagues were happy to go on the record to emphasise their confidence in increasing digital revenues and a future based on growth. But something profound and alarming has been happening in recent months and all our eyes ought to be on the West Coast giants - especially, but not only, Facebook - that are cleaning up quite extraordinarily.

-- Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian and principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

June 28, 2016

Momentum Rocker $590 in 2016

momentum-566.jpg

Who said fat bikes are just for winter? The huge tires add comfort to rocky trails, and provide excellent stability and traction in foul conditions. Now Momentum, a brand of city bikes from Giant Bicycles, has found a new use: cruising over curbs and plowing over potholes on your daily commute.

The 4-inch-wide tires will roll over almost anything in their way (illegally parked cabbies excluded) and the 1x drivetrain with a single front chainring is easy to maintain. The frame even has a clever integrated cup holder for those days you need a caffeine pick-me-up on your way to work.

Via Bicycling; more in cycling and fatbike.

June 27, 2016

Facebook editorializing

FacebookEditorializingThuneNYT.png

What most people don't realize is that not everything they like or share necessarily gets a prominent place in their friends' newsfeeds: The Facebook algorithm sends it to those it determines will find it most engaging.

For outlets like The Daily Caller, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post or The New York Times -- for whom Facebook's audience is vital to growth -- any algorithmic change can affect how many people see their journalism.

This gives Facebook enormous influence over how newsrooms, almost universally eager for Facebook exposure, make decisions and money. Alan Rusbridger, a former editor of The Guardian, called this a "profound and alarming" development in a column in The New Statesman last week.

For all that sway, Facebook declines to talk in great detail about its algorithms, noting that it does not want to make it easy to game its system. That system, don't forget, is devised to keep people on Facebook by giving them what they want, not necessarily what the politicos or news organizations may want them to see. There can be a mismatch in priorities.

But Facebook's opacity can leave big slippery-slope questions to linger. For instance, if Facebook can tweak its algorithm to reduce click bait, then, "Can they put a campaign out of business?" asked John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media. (Gawker owns Gizmodo, the site that broke the Trending story.)

Throughout the media, a regular guessing game takes place in which editors seek to divine how the Facebook formula may have changed, and what it might mean for them. Facebook will often give general guidance, such as announcing last month that it had adjusted its programming to favor news articles that readers engage with deeply -- rather than shallow quick hits -- or saying that it would give priority to live Facebook Live videos, which it is also paying media companies, including The New York Times, to experiment with.

Continue reading "Facebook editorializing " »

June 26, 2016

PinkPike is like a well designed eBay for bicycles


Bike shop search engines:


PinkBike buysell.

Eriks bike shop fat-bikes/Search;
RideMonkey.BikeMag classifieds;
BikeForums/sale/;

NYC's Bicycle Habitat search for Surly;

Bikes:


Surly

Bike Exchange's Surlys;
Coastkid's 2015 springtime reflections on the Surly Moonlander;
Bikeman's Surly Moonlander
Tonys Bicycles's Surly Krampus Ops;


Momentum

Momentum Rocker;
The Bicycle Planet's Momentum Iride Rocker;
Bike Exchange's Giant-Momentum Rocker

The Fat Bike Hub on budget fat bikes, $500 $1100;

Freewheel Bike's Wheelbike Fat Bike Everything.

June 25, 2016

Bicycle summer in the Canadian Arctic

Fat-Bike.com's Tuesday summer in the Canadian Arctic

June 24, 2016

Bicycle size

Via Rocky Mountain

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June 23, 2016

Le Grand Fat Tour

Growing bicycle niche of all terrain fat-tire bicycles.

Le Grand Fat Tour: Le Grand Fat Tour 2016

Parc Jean Drapeau Ecorecreo Rental fat bike Montreal at Parc Jean Drapeau at Ile Sainte Helene/. (Special, January 16 to February 7, 2016 )


Kingdom Trails Winterbike

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Continue reading "Le Grand Fat Tour " »

June 21, 2016

Fat Bikes Arise


Background:

Bicycling.com's fat bikes explained.

Icebike's Mountain-bikes / fat-bikes.

Monterey Mountain Bike
Fat Bikes for 2015


June 20, 2016

Krugman on Brexit / Remain: the credibility of pro-E.U. experts is so low

You can argue that the problems caused by, say, Romanians using the National Health Service are exaggerated, and that the benefits of immigration greatly outweigh these costs. But that's a hard argument to make to a public frustrated by cuts in public services -- especially when the credibility of pro-E.U. experts is so low.

For that is the most frustrating thing about the E.U.: Nobody ever seems to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. If there's any soul-searching in Brussels or Berlin about Europe's terrible economic performance since 2008, it's very hard to find. And I feel some sympathy with Britons who just don't want to be tied to a system that offers so little accountability, even if leaving is economically costly.

An adviser (Dan Davies) for Frontline Analysts, a global research outsourcing firm, supports Remain.

June 19, 2016

Linkedin + MS Word = Clippy 3.0 ?

Did Mr. Nadella, who has been at Microsoft since 1992, learn nothing from the Clippy disaster? Clippy, the animated anthropomorphic paper clip introduced in 1996, popped up unbidden in Microsoft Office programs to offer advice. "Are you writing a letter?" it would ask annoyingly. Clippy became famous for the ire it provoked and, in 2010, Time magazine included Clippy in a roundup of the 50 worst inventions of all time, along with asbestos, leaded gasoline and pay toilets.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland and author of "Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing," said the move reflected a failure to understand what writers need. "Most of the most innovative writing tools now on the market position themselves precisely as distraction-free platforms," he said.

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