Random links

The Effect of Information Behavior in Media on Perceived and Actual Knowledge about the COVID-19 Pandemic:
" individuals who felt more threatened by COVID-19 used media more often to inform themselves (i.e., media volume), but focused on less different media channels (i.e., media breadth). Higher media volume was associated with higher perceived knowledge, but not with higher actual knowledge about COVID-19. Further, exploratory analyses revealed that perceived threat was linked to perceived knowledge, but not to actual knowledge. The association of perceived threat and perceived knowledge was mediated by increased media volume. Finally, a smaller media breadth was linked to higher perceived and actual knowledge."
‘Extraordinarily nasty’: Trump hurls one of his favorite insults at a new target in Kamala Harris
"The insult is one Trump has levied roughly equally against men and women alike since becoming president, according to Factba.se, a data analytics company that tracks all of Trump’s public utterances. ... But the resonance of the adjective — the way the attack lands, the nuances in connotation — is often different when the recipient is a woman" Perhaps instead of criticizing Trump's misogyny they should instead be applauding his gender equality?
Self-Citation, Cumulative Advantage, and Gender Inequality in Science
"With comprehensive, longitudinal data, we find no evidence whatsoever of a gender gap in self-citation practices or returns." Relevant figure here.

What you shouldn't learn from Europe

This tweet seems to about sum up my view on the article What can America learn from Europe about regulating Big Tech:

Less than two weeks after the article above what do you find? The US tech sector is now worth more than the entire European stock market, Bank of America says. I don't think the two are unrelated. I tend to look at Europe as a continent in a comfortable stagnation, dealing with things as they wish they'd be rather than things as they are, a policy that I expect will backfire in the end.

EDIT: Just stumbled back across this older link on the impacts of the EU's GDPR regulation. Worth reading, on the astronomical compliance costs with it, as well as, e.g., "venture capital invested in EU startups fell by as much as 50 percent due to GDPR implementation".

Wole Soyinka on the wasting of time

I've been thinking back to this quote from time to time recently. The person who uttered it is the first Sub-Saharan African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature:

We wasted a lot of creative energy in that immediate post colonial era, when there was a struggle between, you know, the Cold War between the capitalism and communism. Many writers just wasted their energy and their talent because they want to be ideologically correct and of course all they produced was propaganda. - Wole Soyinka

I think that a lot of contemporary activists who claim to be "anti-racist" would have to significantly improve in order for me to upgrade my view of them from mostly-a-disaster to a-waste-of-time-and-money.

Soyinka seems to regularly get described as concerned with "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it." Not exactly the most popular perspective in a lot of circles these days.

On shooting the messenger

I've been keeping an eye on Zeynep Tufekci's work from around the time her book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest1 came out in 2017 and she's definitely been one of the more interesting people to follow in the COVID era. Here now it seems that the latest US intelligence has concluded basically the same thing she said in February - i.e. the news didn't make it upstream as quickly as it might have in a more open system.

Here's a tweet of hers' from back in February:

It's been kind of interesting to see the sorts of influence that she's managed to have. e.g. this bit from a profile of her that the New York Times recently did on how the CDC wound up shifting it's advice on mask-wearing:

And again, this is the sort of personality you're looking for when it comes to making critical decisions - i.e. in her words:

I feel charmed that I get to do this: do my best to call things as I see it regardless of considerations of popularity

It's definitely not a zero-risk environment, as I recall her tweeting about how she'd expected her New York Times op-ed advocating for mask to kind of bring an end to her public relevance.


  1. There's a free digital version of Tufekci's book on the book's official website. ↩︎

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