facebook’s algorithm removes politically diverse content from your feed


No need for “yes men” anymore when there’s FB to reinforce our own tendency toward confirmation bias in ourselves.

Originally posted on scatterplot:

Today, three researchers at Facebook released a new study in Science titled “Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook.” The authors summarize their own findings in a companion blog post:

We found that people have friends who claim an opposing political ideology, and that the content in peoples’ News Feeds reflect those diverse views. While News Feed surfaces content that is slightly more aligned with an individual’s own ideology (based on that person’s actions on Facebook), who they friend and what content they click on are more consequential than the News Feed ranking in terms of how much diverse content they encounter.

As several commentators have noted, this framing is a little weird.

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How Long is Now on the BBC World Service


Both mentioned conversations via BBC are absolutely worth listening to.

The Forum: How long is ‘now?’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02q2jt9

BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking: The Age of Earthquakes http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b052029b

Originally posted on Yourheadisthewholeworld:


I’m enjoying the way The Age of Earthquakes is migrating across media. The BBC have, in particular, been generously receptive. So, when I was asked to go onto a World Service program, I’ll admit I got a little bit excited. Because it’s the radio station I listen to every day and admire both from afar and near. It is genuinely worldly. On another level, it’s also the radio station my father and his family listened to in Bangladesh when it was still part of India and then part of Pakistan onto Independence. BBC World Service is an institution that remains largely intact. That’s something to cherish.

Here I am on The Forum. The program is called, ‘How Long is Now?’ Time perception plays a big role in The Age of Earthquakes, and so it was a treat to be able to discuss this with experts from neuroscience (Virginie van Wassenhove) and musicology…

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A cancer survivor made the sympathy cards that would have actually made her feel better


And, sometimes nothing needs to be said, one’s quiet presence can be worth gold.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Greeting cards for long-term illness tend to offer extremely cliché attempts at inspirational messages: “One step at a time,” for example, or “Think positive and have faith.” Cliché is perhaps fine for a birthday card, but for a person dealing with the fear, anxiety, and stress (pdf, pg. 6) of serious illness, one often wants to convey support that goes beyond tired phrases.

That’s why the designer Emily McDowell, herself a cancer survivorcreated “empathy cards,” a set of sometimes hilarious, mostly just frank, cards to give someone dealing with cancer or other serious illness. The cards all convey a commitment to physical presence and emotional support for a person.

Actual promises are good.Ice cream please.

McDowell was not immediately available for comment, but spokeswoman Sara Van der Voort tells Quartz that the response to these cards has been overwhelming. McDowell explained the problems with other cards in a blog post:

“Get well soon” cards don’t make sense when someone might not. Sympathy cards can make people…

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Charts: Baltimore’s health data are a picture of inequality

Originally posted on Quartz:

Baltimore is home to one of the world’s most prestigious health institutions—the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It is also, as Forbes reports, one of the American cities with an African American majority population (64%) that is struggling with poor health.

A 2012 study by Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (pdf) looked at the health disparity in Baltimore—similar to middle-sized cities with a majority African American population like New Orleans, Memphis, or Columbus—the African American population suffers setbacks in most health markers compared to the US average. Twenty percent of Baltimore’s population (600,000) lives below the poverty line.

Baltimore’s African American population suffers the most due to lack of access to good healthcare (pdf, pg. 16): in 2012, 16.5% African American citizens suffered unmet healthcare needs in the 12 previous months. The percentage of uninsured African Americans in Baltimore (14.5%) is comparable to the white population (14.8%), but the city’s socio-economic situation impacts the health of all of its…

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We live in the snow

Originally posted on hovercraftdoggy:

Jeroen Toirkens - Nomad (2)Jeroen Toirkens - Nomad (3)Jeroen Toirkens - Nomad (4)Jeroen Toirkens - Nomad (2011)JJAT_Sami11/06_19_02

From the series ‘NomadsLife’ by Dutch photographer Jeroen Toirkens.

Since 1999 Toirkens has been following the lives of various nomadic tribes in Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and the Arctic region. He discovered that globalisation, poverty and climate change are making it increasingly difficult for them to maintain their traditional way of life. With NomadsLife Toirkens creates a diverse and often poignant picture of nomadism in the 21st century.

In 1999 Jeroen Toirkens became fascinated by the nomad families high in Turkey’s Bolkar Mountains. He encountered the way of life of the Yörük, who were struggling with the pressures of a modernising Turkey. What were originally their nomadic pastures were being bought up by real estate developers, and many of the young people were departing for life in the cities. After that he visited other originally nomadic peoples who were encountering comparable problems. For instance, in 2005 and 2006 he and…

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Why does most communication today feel like being stuck in an episode of Three’s Company?

Three’s Company

It is common–almost cliché–for many of us human beings to blame numerous 21st-century technologies for frequent misunderstandings between people (i.e., general consensus tends to conclude text=bad, phone=good).

Ok. Accepted. So, then why does it seem like even proactively direct conversations via phone or in-person don’t result in increased understanding between people. In fact, to that end, why, today, does it still seem like the majority of in-person, face-to-face communication–while speaking the same language–and with both parties in agreement that they understood each other at the end of a conversation; why–even via this direct-as-you-can-get approach, more often than not, do we still find ourselves drowning in a sea of  misinterpretation, confusion, erroneous assumptions, disputation, mix-ups, illusions, wrangling, clashes, and conflict?

[I don’t know the answer, of course. I just feel the need to ask the question–and–until we all somehow improve this new norm, I find it helpful to seek out comic relief on the subject.

Sources of comic relief to ease the pain of the disintegration of communication today:

Here’s #1 via Comedy Central – Keegan and Jordan misunderstand the tone of each other’s text messages while trying to make plans.  http://youtu.be/naleynXS7yo