Social networks as evolutionary game theory


in the Financial Times: “FT Alphaville has been taking a closer look at the collaborative economy, and noting the stellar growth this mysterious sector has been experiencing of late.
An important question to consider, however, is to what degree is this growth being driven by a genuine rise in reciprocity and altruism in the economy — or to what degree is this just the result of natural opportunism…
Which begs the question why should anyone put a free good out there for the taking anyway? And why is it that in most collaborative models there are very few examples of people abusing the system?
With respects to the free issue, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier believes this is because there isn’t really any such thing as free at all. What appears free is usually a veiled reciprocity or exploitation in disguise….
Lanier controversially believes users should be paid for that contribution. But in doing so we would argue that he forgets that the relationship Facebook has with its users is in fact much more reciprocal than exploitative. Users get a free platform, Facebook gets their data.
What’s more, as the BBC’s tech expert Bill Thompson has commented before, user content doesn’t really have much value on its own. It is only when that data is pooled together on a massive scale which allows the economies of scale to make sense. At least in a way that “the system” feels keen to reward. It is not independent data that has value, it is networked data that the system is demanding. Consequently, there is possibly some form of social benefit associated with contributing data to the platform, which is yet to be recognised….
A rise in collaboration, however, suggests there is more chance of personal survival if everyone collaborates together (and does not cheat the system). There is less incentive to cheat the system. In the current human economy context then, has collaboration ended up being the best pay-off for all ?
And in that context has social media, big data and the rise of networked communities simply encouraged participants in the universal survival game of prisoner’s dilemma to take the option that’s best for all?
We obviously have no idea if that’s the case, but it seems a useful thought experiment for us all to run through.”
 

Is Social Media Changing How We Understand Political Engagement?


New Paper (By Juliet E. Carlisle and Robert C. Patton) analyzing Facebook and the 2008 Presidential Election in Political Research Quaterly: “This research conceptualizes political engagement in Facebook and examines the political activity of Facebook users during the 2008 presidential primary (T1) and general election (T2). Using a resource model, we test whether factors helpful in understanding offline political participation also explain political participation in Facebook. We consider resources (socioeconomic status [SES]) and political interest and also test whether network size works to increase political activity. We find that individual political activity in Facebook is not as extensive as popular accounts suggest. Moreover, the predictors associated with the resource model and Putnam’s theory of social capital do not hold true in Facebook.”

Bringing the deep, dark world of public data to light


public_img03Venturebeat: “The realm of public data is like a vast cave. It is technically open to all, but it contains many secrets and obstacles within its walls.
Enigma launched out of beta today to shed light on this hidden world. This “big data” startup focuses on data in the public domain, such as those published by governments, NGOs, and the media….
The company describes itself as “Google for public data.” Using a combination of automated web crawlers and directly reaching out to government agencies, Engima’s database contains billions of public records across more than 100,000 datasets. Pulling them all together breaks down the barriers that exist between various local, state, federal, and institutional search portals. On top of this information is an “entity graph” which searches through the data to discover relevant results. Furthermore, once the information is broken out of the silos, users can filter, reshape, and connect various datasets to find correlations….
The technology has a wide range of applications, including professional services, finance, news media, big data, and academia. Engima has formed strategic partnerships in each of these verticals with Deloitte, Gerson Lehrman Group, The New York Times, S&P Capital IQ, and Harvard Business School, respectively.”

Personal Information Is the Currency of the 21st Century


Tom Cochran (CTO at Atlantic Media) in All Things D: “The currency of the 21st century digital economy is your personal information. It has no transaction costs and does not decrease in value when the supply increases. Contrary to the laws of economics, it may even increase in value with greater supply. The more information you provide to companies, the more value they can extract from it….
Conversely, we tend to ignore this process because the most magnificent, technologically advanced and socially connected digital city is being built from it.
You are living in this growing digital city, and I’m guessing that you really like it here. Unfortunately, you can’t live in this city for free. Your rent is due in the form of your personal information, and you have to accept a certain loss of your privacy….
As a society, we need to define the rules under which our personal information can be mined. Our collective unease is largely the result of not having clear parameters to create an equilibrium between privacy and personalization.
These parameters will help shift our focus from the negatives to the positives, because in return for your personal information, you realize a net benefit with tremendous value.”

Cybersecurity Issues in Social Media and Crowdsourcing


trustworthy_thumbWilson Center: ” The Commons Lab today released a new policy memo exploring the vulnerabilities facing the widespread use and acceptance of social media and crowdsourcing. This is the second publication in the project’s policy memo series.
Using real-world examples, security expert George Chamales describes the most-pressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in this space and calls for the development of best practices to address these vulnerabilities, ultimately concluding that it is possible for institutions to develop trust in the emerging technologies. From the memo’s executive summary:
Individuals and organizations interested in using social media and crowdsourcing currently lack two key sets of information: a systematic assessment of the vulnerabilities in these technologies and a comprehensive set of best practices describing how to address those vulnerabilities. Identifying those vulnerabilities and developing those best practices are necessary to address a growing number of incidents ranging from innocent mistakes to targeted attacks that have claimed lives and cost millions of dollars.
Click here to read the full memo on Scribd.

Analyzing social media use can help predict, track and map obesity rates


Statement from the Boston Children’s Hospital: “The higher the percentage of people in a city, town or neighborhood with Facebook interests suggesting a healthy, active lifestyle, the lower that area’s obesity rate. At the same time, areas with a large percentage of Facebook users with television-related interests tend to have higher rates of obesity. Such are the conclusions of a study by Boston Children’s Hospital researchers comparing geotagged Facebook user data with data from national and New York City-focused health surveys.
journal.pone.0061373.g002
Together, the conclusions suggest that knowledge of people’s online interests within geographic areas may help public health researchers predict, track and map obesity rates down to the neighborhood level, while offering an opportunity to design geotargeted online interventions aimed at reducing obesity rates.
The study team, led by Rumi Chunara, PhD, and John Brownstein, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Informatics Program (CHIP), published their findings on April 24 in PLOS ONE. The amount of data available from social networks like Facebook makes it possible to efficiently carry out research in cohorts of a size that has until now been impractical.”
 

Primer on Crowdfunding


crowdfundingPrimer by ValuationApp: “Crowdfunding can be defined as raising funds from the general public usually through internet platforms in order to support a project started by an individual or an organization….Crowdfunding is essentially a subset of Crowdsourcing; a process where organizations reach out to their customers and the general public, and outsource some of their functions to the public in order to get feedback, ideas and solutions. In crowdsourcing, the participants either work for free or for a very small amount…the first historically documented crowdfunding event was the completion of the Statue of Liberty in 1885, where the city reached out to the crowd through newspapers and part of the money required to build the statue was contributed by the citizens…
Several benefits of crowdfunding have been discussed in the previous sections, so in this section let’s cut right to the chase and present points in the most compact form. Through crowdfunding, individuals and organizations can:

  1. Reach out to a wide range of people all over the world.
  2. Raise large amounts of funds while simultaneously creating their own brand identity.
  3. Gain valuable feedback on the product/service/project they are raising the funds for.
  4. Turn funders into future customers.
  5. Stop depending on large investment from investors and thus enjoy minimum interference from the investors.
  6. Increase public awareness about their products and gain free word of mouth marketing on social media.”

The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism


Paper by NetLab (Toronto University) scholars in the latest issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication: “We review the evidence from a number of surveys in which our NetLab has been involved about the extent to which the Internet is transforming or enhancing community. The studies show that the Internet is used for connectivity locally as well as globally, although the nature of its use varies in different countries. Internet use is adding on to other forms of communication, rather than replacing them. Internet use is reinforcing the pre-existing turn to societies in the developed world that are organized around networked individualism rather than group or local solidarities. The result has important implications for civic involvement.”

How to Clean Up Social News


verilyDavid Talbot in MIT Technology Review: ” New platforms for fact-checking and reputation scoring aim to better channel social media’s power in the wake of a disaster…Researchers from the Masdar Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computer Research Institute plan to launch Verily, a platform that aims to verify social media information, in a beta version this summer. Verily aims to enlist people in collecting and analyzing evidence to confirm or debunk reports. As an incentive, it will award reputation points—or dings—to its contributors.
Verily will join services like Storyful that use various manual and technical means to fact-check viral information, and apps such as Swift River that, among other things, let people set up filters on social media to provide more weight to trusted users in the torrent of posts following major events…Reputation scoring has worked well for e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon and could help to clean up social media reports in some situations.

Investigating Terror in the Age of Twitter


Michael Chertoff and Dallas Lawrence in WSJ: “A dozen years ago when the terrorists struck on 9/11, there was no Facebook or Twitter or i-anything on the market. Cellphones were relatively common, but when cell networks collapsed in 2001, many people were left disconnected and wanting for immediate answers. Last week in Boston, when mobile networks became overloaded following the bombings, the social-media-savvy Boston Police Department turned to Twitter, using the platform as a makeshift newsroom to alert media and concerned citizens to breaking news.
Law-enforcement agencies around the world will note how social media played a prominent role both in telling the story and writing its eventual conclusion. Some key lessons have emerged.”