Katina Michael: Bots without borders: how anonymous accounts hijack political debate

A bot (short for robot) performs highly repetitive tasks by automatically gathering or posting information based on a set of algorithms. They can create new content and interact with other users like any human would. But the power is always with the individuals or organisations unleashing the bot. Politicalbots.org reported that approximately 19 million bot accounts were tweeting in support of either Donald Trump… Read more
bots, social media, social science

Elaine Campbell – Twitter trolls: time for academics to fight back?

I love Twitter. On logging in, I am instantly transported to a digital common room full of researchers. I get to exchange ideas, build networks and lurk in the background soaking up the conversation. Want to know what other academics are thinking about mixed methods right now? Go to Twitter, type “mixed methods” into the search bar, and within seconds you’ll be scrolling through a plethora of comments and… Read more

John Willinsky: Sci-Hub: research piracy and the public good

It looks like the scholarly publishing community has been hit by its own version of Napster. Over the past year, some 47 million research articles have been made freely available through a site called Sci-Hub. The publishing giant Elsevier, aghast at finding many of its articles being given away, wasted little time in suing the site in federal court for irreparable damages and copyright infringement “of up to $150,000… Read more

Research Resilience: Why academics and funders alike should care about #RIPTwitter

Twitter is under close scrutiny these days with news that its timeline could be subject to further algorithmic control. Farida Vis looks at what such dramatic changes could mean for research. There is a great need for both funding councils and researchers to better understand the potential impact of these data and platform politics. Strategies must be developed to encourage lesser reliance on a single social… Read more

Blair Stewart: Privacy proposals for the digital age

The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 at much the same time that final drafting touches were being made to a privacy bill to be introduced to New Zealand’s Parliament. By 1993, when the Privacy Act was finally enacted, there were – wait for it – an estimated 15 million users of the Internet worldwide. That same year, according to Down to the Wire, Nat Torkington created New Zealand’s first ‘real web site’.… Read more

Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders? Howard University fights to join the tech boom.

In the fall of 2013 a young software engineer named Charles Pratt arrived on Howard University’s campus in Washington. His employer, Google, had sent him there to cultivate future Silicon Valley programmers. It represented a warming of the Valley’s attitude toward Howard, where more than 8 out of 10 students are black. The chair of the computer science department, Legand Burge, had spent almost a decade inviting… Read more

Media use as social action: how the meaning of activism is changing in a digital world

Traditionally the relationship between the use of media and its social consequences has been conceived as an instrumental one: media communications were seen as a vertical, one-way process to achieve specific social goals through predictable and intentional effects on populations. This is what we term media for social action. However, in recent years theory has become more nuanced in reaction to two interlinked… Read more

An antidote to futility: Why academics (and students) should take blogging / social media seriously

Before I started teaching at LSE in January, I had the impression that the academics and researchers around the school were totally social media savvy – prolific tweeters like Charlie Beckett and top blogs like LSE Impact are high up on my follow list. It turned out the impression was, ahem, a little misleading. A good proportion of the people I have come across may be brilliant in their field, but when it comes to using… Read more

101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication: How researchers are getting to grip with the myriad of new tools.

Are we witnessing a major overhaul of scholarly communication rules and tools? In the last six months alone, this blog has featured posts on all phases of the research cycle. From Wikipedia (discovery) to replication (analysis), Chrome extensions for reference management (writing), the Open Library of Humanities and RIO Journal (publishing), Twitter & blogging (outreach), altmetrics, R-index and PublonsRead more

What does Academia_edu’s success mean for Open Access? The data-driven world of search engines and social networking

At the Radical Open Access conference at Coventry University in June, I spoke briefly about Academia.edu as part of a session with Stuart Lawson and David Harvie on Radical Accountability. A number of people asked afterwards if I would be publishing a written-up version of those comments.  Then, at The Sociality of Sharing event at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Warwick, in September, some… Read more