Social Network Mapping: Sourcing For Paul Revere
Over the last few months, I’ve become increasingly interested in learning how to analyze social networks to find new sources and the connections that exist between them. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about social networking analysis. So I decided to start teaching myself some basics.
Why bother with this? Put simply: you may not realize you have a goldmine of new sources hiding in plain sight among the sources you already know about.
For example, read Kieran Healy’s Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere. By cross-referencing data of colonial Bostonians and their memberships to 18th century social clubs, he showed how the British could have found Paul Revere without knowing he even existed. He wasn’t well known to them, but he seemed to know everyone else involved at the start of the revolution, smack in the middle of the entire network.
I thought I’d start by experimenting with my own Facebook account, which currently has just under 1,800 friends. I was sure a lot of these folks knew each other, but would they fall into distinct groups? Do any of them serve as “bridge builders” between them, in a way that Paul Revere did?
To do this, I used two tools: Netvizz and Gephi. Netvizz is a Facebook app that looks at all of your FB friends and checks to see if any of them are friends with each other. It then saves the results in a file that can be imported into the open-source network analysis tool known as Gephi. You can download it and some basic tutorials at Gephi.org.
After a bit of tinkering, I came up with this map, representing 1,785 FB friends and more than 37,000 connections between each other. It turns out they form their own distinct network clusters.
Here’s a breakdown of the main clusters and the “Paul Reveres” among them.
"One thing that seems poorly understood, or at least under-discussed, is that the character of web services is profoundly shaped by the business model that supports them. In the large majority of cases, web services are “free,” which means they are supported by advertising. They survive by harvesting as much as possible of your time and information. The more you click, the more you share, the more they have to sell to advertisers. In this economic context, the fact that web services are distracting and addictive is not an accidental side effect — it’s the whole point."
Today is #InternetSlowdown Day — please share!
All across the Internet, websites and services are staging a mass denial of service attack on themselves, to show the world what the world would look like if Big Cable and AT&T solicit bribes to decide which websites you can reach quickly, and which ones are going to go in the Internet slow-lane.
"The Drone Primer: A Compendium of the Key Issues is a free, one-stop, handbook addressing the basic and fundamental questions around drones in all their contexts, from foreign theaters of war to domestic civilian use. This basic report covers technology, history, strategy, law, and culture, and includes a portfolio of drone art. It addresses what we saw as a serious problem: the lack of any single, well-written, comprehensive introduction to drones that was not driven by a political, moral or commercial agenda. Written for a general audience, The Drone Primer explains how drones work, their history, how they are used, the concerns that they have raised, their practical benefits, and the debate that they have sparked."
As a woman, I’ve slowly been written out of the phone world and the phone market. That extra “.2” inches of screen size on each upgrade simply means that I can no longer do what I enviously observe men do every day: Check messages one-handed while carrying groceries or a bag; type a quick note while on a moving bus or a train where I have to hold on not to fall.
I must put down everything in my hands and use my phone with both hands for everything.
There is no rule that says the screen size must get bigger with each upgrade in memory or capabilities, and yet it does. For most men, it’s just one small, added benefit. For many women, though it’s a reminder that the tech industry doesn’t always remember or count your existence.
Just so we are clear: I don’t want a pink phone, I don’t want “women’s applications” and I don’t want ruffles or hello kitty on my phone.
I merely want a design that acknowledges that women exist, and women often have smaller hands than men."
(via A New Media Artist Looks to Iranian Spam) EDP MFA Alum, Morehshin Allahyari, profiled in HyperAllergic!
Stick-figure AES: crypto explanations for the rest of us 
Jeff Moser’s “A Stick Figure Guide to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)" beautifully presents the history, context, and workings of one of the most important pieces of math in the modern world. AES is at the core of virtually every privacy technology you use, and it holds the promise of building an NSA-proof, unsnoopable Internet.
"What’s emerging from these studies isn’t just a theory of language or of metaphor. It’s a nascent theory of consciousness. Any algorithmic system faces the problem of bootstrapping itself from computing to knowing, from bit-shuffling to caring. Igniting previously stored memories of bodily experiences seems to be one way of getting there. And so may be the ability to create asymmetric neural linkages that say this is like (but not identical to) that. In an age of brain scanning as well as poetry, that’s where metaphor gets you."