Phil 7.10.17

7:00 – 8:00

  • Social Media and News Sources during the 2017 UK General Election
    • Platforms like Twitter and sources like Wikipedia are important parts of the information diet for many citizens. In this data memo, we analyse Twitter data on bot activity and junk news for a week in the final stages of campaigning of the 2017 UK General Election and also present data on Wikipedia page consultations about those parties and leaders. (1) Content about the Labour Party strongly dominated Twitter traffic in this period. (2) Social media users in the UK shared five links to professional news and information for every one link to junk news. (3) Wikipedia queries have gone from being mostly about the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Theresa May to being mostly about the Labour Party and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. (4) In comparison to the first week of the campaign period, we find that users are sharing slightly better quality news content, that automated accounts are generating more traffic about the election, and that more of the automation uses Labour-related hashtags (though may not be from the Labour Party itself). (5) In comparison to trends in other countries, we find that UK users shared better quality information than that which many US users shared during the 2016 US election, but worse quality news and information than was shared during the French 2017 election.
  • Recognizing safety and liveness
    • Informally, a safety property stipulates that “bad things” do not happen during execution of a program and a liveness property stipulates that “good things” do happen (eventually) (Lamport 1977). Distinguishing between safety and liveness properties is useful because proving that a program satisfies a safety property involves an invariance argument while proving that a program satisfies a liveness property involves a well-foundedness argument. Thus, knowing whether a property is safety or liveness helps when deciding how to prove that the property holds.
      • Read about this in this month’s Communications of the ACM. I wonder if it could be applied to the types of social models I’m building and trying to trace in user data.
  • Continuing C&C
    • In contrast to the consensual form, we can understand that the normalized form, which gives only a subordinate role to some members of the group, creates a certain distance, causing the group not to loom so large in the life and consciousness of individuals, so that in the end it appears strange and abstract. Immediately the participants become detached from one another, and instead of being actors become mere spectators in the discussions. [p 62]
    • Since controversy is in proportion to the participation of members, few conflicts are observed, unless it be in the ranks of the leaders. It is as if individuals tended to minimize their ‘investment’ and their attachment to the collectivity, remaining aloof from intrigues, and, so far as possible, conforming to the opinions and actions that were suggested to them. [p 62]
      • Is this what happens on forums and low-participation social systems like comments?
    • Although the one satisfies the need to participate in a more intense way, and one of which people cannot be deprived for long, the other at least provides a substitute for it. [p 62]
      • This could be another affordance of the system. Some way to grade participation and discussion as a threshold of entering?
    • There can scarcely be any doubt that, by meeting and talking together, a group’s members bring out the values predominant among them, ones to which they are attached. In some way their substance is given shape, so that what we hold in common, but is concealed, becomes manifest. [p 65]
    • …consensual participation probably has the effect of raising the level of collective involvement, whereas normative participation lowers it. One may conclude that the former polarizes the decisions leading to consensus, whereas the latter modifies them. The former causes the members of the group to converge on the pole of values already shared by them before they took part in the decision, and the latter towards the just mean. [p 65]

8:30 – 4:30 BRC