Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Self-reflection on privacy research in social networking sites

Ralf De Wolf (Vrije Universiteit, Brussel, Belgium; Ghent University, Belgium), Ellen Vanderhoven and Tammy Schellens (Ghent University, Belgium), Bettina Berendt (KU Leuven, Herverlee, Belgium) and Jo Pierson (Vrije Universiteit, Brussel) published in Behaviour & Information Technology Volume 36 Issue 5 (2017)


The increasing popularity of social networking sites has been a source of many privacy concerns. To mitigate these concerns and empower users, different forms of educational and technological solutions have been developed.

Developing and evaluating such solutions, however, cannot be considered a neutral process. Instead, it is socially bound and interwoven with norms and values of the researchers.

In this contribution, we aim to make the research process and development of privacy solutions more transparent by highlighting questions that should be considered.
(1) Which actors are involved in formulating the privacy problem?
(2) Is privacy perceived as a human right or as a property right on one’s data?
(3) Is informing users of privacy dangers always a good thing?
(4) Do we want to influence users’ attitudes and behaviours?
(5) Who is the target audience?

We argue that these questions can help researchers to better comprehend their own perspective on privacy, that of others, and the influence of the solutions they are developing. In the discussion, we propose a procedure called ‘tool clinics’ for further practical implementations.

Information need as trigger and driver of information seeking: a conceptual analysis

an article by Reijo Savolainen (University of Tampere, Finland) published in Aslib Journal of Information Management Volume 69 Issue 1 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of the motivators for information behaviour by examining the nature of information need as a trigger and driver of information seeking.

A conceptual analysis was made by focussing on the ways in which researchers have conceptualised information need in models for human information behaviour (HIB). The study draws on conceptual analysis of 26 key studies focussing on the above topic.

Researchers have employed two main approaches to conceptualise information needs in the HIB models. First, information need is approached as a root factor which motivates people to identify and access information sources. Second, information need is approached as a secondary trigger or driver determined by more fundamental factors, for example, the information requirements of task performance. The former approach conceptualises information need as a trigger providing an initial impetus to information seeking, while the latter approach also depicts information need as a driver that keeps the information-seeking process in motion. The latter approach is particularly characteristic of models depicting information seeking as a cyclic process.

Research limitations/implications
As the study focuses on information need, no attention is devoted to related constructs such as anomalous state of knowledge and uncertainty.

The study pioneers by providing an in-depth analysis of the nature of information need as a trigger and driver of information seeking. The findings refine the picture of motivators for information behaviour.

10 more interesting things from my "saved for later use" file

How Europe became so rich
In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?
via Arts & Letters Daily: Joel Mokyr in aeon

Dam Square with the New Town Hall under Construction (1656) by Johannes Lingelbach.Photo courtesy The Amsterdam Museum/Wikipedia
How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin? Learned tomes by historians, economists, political scientists and other scholars fill many bookshelves with explanations of how and why the process of modern economic growth or ‘the Great Enrichment’ exploded in western Europe in the 18th century. One of the oldest and most persuasive explanations is the long political fragmentation of Europe. For centuries, no ruler had ever been able to unite Europe the way the Mongols and the Mings had united China.
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How nature created consciousness – and our brains became minds
via The New Statesman by Steven Poole
In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C Dennett investigates the evolution of consciousness.
In the preface to his new book, the ­philosopher Daniel Dennett announces proudly that what we are about to read is “the sketch, the backbone, of the best scientific theory to date of how our minds came into existence”. By the end, the reader may consider it more scribble than spine – at least as far as an account of the origins of human consciousness goes. But this is still a superb book about evolution, engineering, information and design. It ranges from neuroscience to nesting birds, from computing theory to jazz, and there is something fascinating on every page.
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Serial Killers Should Fear This Algorithm
via 3 Quarks Daily: Robert Kolker at Bloomberg
On Aug. 18, 2010, a police lieutenant in Gary, Ind., received an e-mail, the subject line of which would be right at home in the first few scenes of a David Fincher movie: “Could there be a serial killer active in the Gary area?”
It isn’t clear what the lieutenant did with that e-mail; it would be understandable if he waved it off as a prank. But the author could not have been more serious. He’d attached source material – spreadsheets created from FBI files showing that over several years the city of Gary had recorded 14 unsolved murders of women between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause of each death was the same: strangulation. Compared with statistics from around the country, he wrote, the number of similar killings in Gary was far greater than the norm. So many people dying the same way in the same city – wouldn’t that suggest that at least a few of them, maybe more, might be connected? And that the killer might still be at large?
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Ten facts about the accordion
via OUP Blog by Berit Henrickson

“Accordion playing boy in Rome” by Per Palmkvist Knudsen. CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Whether you dub accordion music annoying or enticing, you cannot deny the instrument’s persistence. The earliest version of the accordion emerged in the early 1800’s and one can still find it on many street corners today. Certain universities, museums, and soloists have assisted in the accordion’s longevity. We’ve assembled 10 facts about the instrument that may satisfy our enduring curiosity about the instrument.
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Did Darwin’s theory of evolution encourage abolition of slavery?
via Arts & Letters Daily: Jerry A. Coyne in The Washington Post

An original copy of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” published in 1859. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
On New Year’s Day, 1860, four men sat around a dinner table in Concord, Mass., contemplating a hefty green book that had just arrived in America. Published in England barely a month before, Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” was sent by the author himself to Asa Gray, a Harvard botanist who would become one of Darwin’s staunchest defenders. Gray gave his heavily annotated copy to his wife’s cousin, child-welfare activist Charles Loring Brace, who, lecturing in Concord, brought it to the home of politician Franklin Sanborn. Besides Sanborn and Brace, the distinguished company included the philosopher Bronson Alcott and the author/naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
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Guy visits the least used train stations in the UK
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Geoff Marshall is making entertaining videos of his visits to the least used rail station in each county of the UK. In this episode, Geoff takes a ride in a cute little old old heritage train at Little Kimble - the least used station in Buckinghamshire.
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Crimes without criminals
via OUP Blog by Vincenzo Ruggiero
‘business-stock-finance-market’ by 3112014. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.
There are crimes without victims and crimes without criminals. Financial crime belongs to the second type, as responsibilities for crises, crashes, bubbles, misconduct, or even fraud, are difficult to establish. The historical process that led to the disappearance of offenders from the financial sphere is fascinating.
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Lesney toys: they fit inside a matchbox
via The National Archives blog by David Gill
Selection of Matchbox toysmanufactured by Lesney between the 1960s and the 1970s
The motto goes that that the best things come in small packages. If this is true then it must surely be applicable to Lesney Toys, the original manufacturer of Matchbox model cars. After looking at the history of the Mettoy company (the creators of Corgi Toys), it would be unfair of me not to give the same treatment to Lesney, their distinguished rivals.
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Lost in space? A brief guide to the ‘holographic principle’ of the universe
via the Guardian by Stuart Clark
The Cone nebula, or NGC 2264
Do the maths: another step on the way to unlocking the secrets of the universe.
Photograph: Alamy

The universe is a “vast and complex” hologram, according to scientists from the University of Southampton and colleagues in Canada and Italy. But fear not. It does not mean that we are all figments of an alien overlord’s dabbling with a mega-Imax projection system.
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After a century of failing to crack an ancient script, linguists turn to machines
via 3 Quarks Daily: Mallory Locklear in The Verge

Steatite seal with humped bull, Indus Valley, Mohenjo-Daro, 2500–2000 BC.
 Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images
In 1872 a British general named Alexander Cunningham, excavating an area in what was then British-controlled northern India, came across something peculiar. Buried in some ruins, he uncovered a small, one inch by one inch square piece of what he described as smooth, black, unpolished stone engraved with strange symbols — lines, interlocking ovals, something resembling a fish — and what looked like a bull etched underneath. The general, not recognizing the symbols and finding the bull to be unlike other Indian animals, assumed the artifact wasn’t Indian at all but some misplaced foreign token. The stone, along with similar ones found over the next few years, ended up in the British Museum. In the 1920s many more of these artifacts, by then known as seals, were found and identified as evidence of a 4,000-year-old culture now known as the Indus Valley Civilization, the oldest known Indian civilization to date.
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Stunning 23-foot wall chart of human history from 1881
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

Sebastian C. Adams's Synchronological Chart from the late 19th century presents 5,885 years of history (4004 BCE - 1881 AD) on a magnificent 27 inch x 23 foot illustrated and annotated timeline. What a stunner. You can zoom and pan through the whole thing at the David Rumsey Map Collection or order a scaled-down print.
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Private schooling and labour market outcomes

an article by Francis Green and Golo Henseke (University College London, UK) and Anna Vignoles (University of Cambridge, UK) published in British Educational Research Journal Volume 43 Number 1 (February 2017)


Though a relative small part of the school sector, private schools have an important role in British society, and there are policy concerns about their negative effect on social mobility. Other studies show that individuals who have attended a private school go on to have higher levels of educational achievement, are more likely to secure a high-status occupation and also have higher wages.

In this article we contribute new evidence on the magnitude of the wage premium, and address a puzzle found in previous studies: how to explain the direct pay premium whereby privately educated male workers have higher wages even than their similarly educated peers. It is commonly conjectured that the broader curriculum that private schools are able to deliver, coupled with the peer pressures of a partially segregated section of society, help to inculcate cultural capital, including some key ‘non-cognitive’ attributes.

We focus here on leadership, organisational participation and an acceptance of hard work. We find that privately educated workers are in jobs that require significantly greater leadership skills, offer greater organisational participation and require greater work intensity. These associations are partially mediated by educational achievement.

Collectively these factors contribute little, however, to explaining the direct pay premium. Rather, a more promising account arises from the finding that inclusion of a variable for industry reduces the private school premium to an insignificant amount, which is consistent with selective sorting of privately educated workers into high-paying industries.

Full text (PDF)

New report shows digital skills are required in all types of jobs

via Val Skelton (InformationToday Europe)

The European Commission has just published the final report of the study “ICT for Work: Digital Skills in the Workplace” on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the transformation of jobs and skills. The evidence shows that digital technologies are used in all types of jobs, also in economic sectors not traditionally related to digitisation e.g. farming, health care, vocational training and construction.

The digital economy is transforming the way people work and the skills they need at work. This represents a major challenge for employers, workers and public authorities. The study presents data and policy recommendations that could support the transformation of the labour market into opportunities for all.

Main findings
  • Digital technologies are widely used in workplaces in the European Union. 93% of European workplaces use desktop computers, 94% use broadband technology to access the internet, 75% use portable computers and 63% other portable devices. 22% use intranet platform, 8% automated machine or tools or 5% programmable robots. Larger workplaces report a higher use of digital technologies than smaller ones.
  • Most jobs require basic digital skills. Basic digital skills include being able to communicate via email or social media, to create and edit documents digital documents and to search for information, or to protect personal information online. 98% of workplaces require managers and 90% that professionals (e.g. engineers, doctors and nurses, teachers, accountants, software developers, lawyers and journalists), technicians, clerical workers or skilled agricultural workers should have at least basic digital skills. 80% of workplaces require basic digital skills for sales workers. Workplaces also often require basic digital skills for building workers (50% of workplaces), plant machine operators (34%) and even employees in elementary occupations (27%). However, there are still some workplaces that do not consider digital skills to be important for some occupations e.g. craft workers, waiters and cooks.
  • Technicians, professionals (both 50%) and managers (30%) are required to have specialist digital skills, especially in larger workplaces.
  • The use of ICT has increased significantly in the last five years in more than 90% of workplaces. Micro-sized workplaces are more likely to report limited increase compared to bigger ones.
  • Over the last five years, investments in ICT to improve efficiency or business volume increased These investments are more frequent in sectors with traditionally low levels of digital intensity, e.g. agriculture, manufacturing or construction.
  • 38% of workplaces report that the lack of digital skills has an impact on their performance. Loss of productivity (46%) and decrease in the number of customers (43%) are the main negative impacts.
  • 15% of workplaces report employees lack digital skills. Digital skills gaps are more likely to be found in high- and medium skilled than in low-skilled jobs.
  • 88% of workplaces have not taken any action to tackle the lack of digital skills of their employees. Training is the most common action undertaken. High costs seem to be the main barrier encountered when undertaking actions to deal with digital skills gaps.

Apart from analysing digital skills in the workplace the study lists a number of recommendations that have been formulated in consultation with experts and stakeholders.
  1. Raise awareness on digital technologies and the need for digital skills to support and improve business performance, productivity and internal organisation, and of the need for digital skills in relation to new digital technologies.
  2. Promote access to digital technologies, particularly for micro and small sized companies. Loans, grants and other mechanisms should be used to enhance and support access to digital technologies.
  3. Expand the availability of digital skills through the education and training system. Programmes at all levels and sectors of education should be updated and digital skills should be part of the core competences required at every level.
  4. Promote access to training to employers through their professional or sectoral organisations and associations, or through governmental channels.
  5. Build multi-stakeholder partnerships and agree on a digital skills strategy.
  6. Consider diversity and avoid the ‘one-size fits all’ approach in the strategy
  7. Include digital skills in a wider skills strategy in which other transversal skills relevant to employers such as soft skills and communication skills are included.
  8. Provide access to funding for digital technologies and digital skills development
  9. Reduce the digital divide, focusing in particular on the categories of individuals who do not possess digital skills and are consequently at risk of marginalisation not only in the labour market, but also in day-to-day life, which can contribute to social and economic exclusion.

This final report complements the intermediate report of this study “The impact of ICT on job quality: evidence from 12 job profiles” published last year, and presents mostly findings from the ‘European Digital Skills Survey’, carried out among a representative sample of 7,800 workplaces which are statistically representative of 13,803,113 workplaces in the whole European Union (EU28) in 12 economic sectors with different levels of digital intensity. These workplaces employ a total of 150,563,540 employees in different job roles.

Further information

ICT for work: Digital skills in the workplace

Intermediate report “The impact of ICT on job quality: evidence from 12 job profiles”

10 further items which do not fit into a "work" or "lifestyle" category

Gagauzia: A Country That’s Just 3 Towns in Size?
via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
Article Image
If the saying is true that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, then landlocked, frigate-less Moldova is only halfway there. The Eastern European republic, celebrated for its obscurity, has struggled with its national identity ever since breaking free of the Soviet bear-hug in the early 1990s.
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How does our brain process fear? Study investigates
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ana Sandoiu in Medical News Today
From an evolutionary perspective, fear and anxiety are quite useful. These deeply ingrained emotions used to protect our ancestors from predators, and in our times the “fight-or-flight” response is still a healthy reaction to dangerous situations.
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Iceland’s unruly terrain and hidden inhabitants
via OUP Blog by Corinne G Dempsey

The “northern capital” of Akureyri in winter. Photo by Svavar Alfreð Jónsson. Used with permission.[in the blog]
When people first learn about my travels to Iceland, the response I most often hear goes something like: “Iceland! That’s on my bucket list.” I understand. It’s hard to resist an arctic wonderland littered with flaming volcanoes and thundering waterfalls, where for months on end the sun barely sets on moss-crazed mountains and whale-infested waters. Maybe you’ve already been there, adding your own drop to a rising sea of tourists, estimated at nearly two million in 2016, a veritable flood for an island whose population hovers around 330,000.
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‘Extraordinary’ levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench
via the Guardian by Damian Carrington
A container of Spam, seen resting at 4,947 meters on the slopes of a canyon leading to the Sirena Deep. 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition
Scientists have discovered “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution in the most remote and inaccessible place on the planet – the 10km deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.
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The creation story of the atomic bomb told through a powerful and moving picture book
via Boing Boing by Marykate Smith Despres

When asked if I was interested in reviewing a picture book about the making of the atomic bomb, I told the publicist that a lot was going to depend on how the book ended. I had seen some of the interior art and text at that point, and I was intrigued by the way the tone of both Jeanette Winter’s illustrations and her son Jonah Winter’s text so thoroughly conveyed the almost frenzied, kinetic energy of the inventors and the eerily quiet secrecy of the The Secret Project. After reading the book, I realized that I had greatly underestimated the importance of the telling in its entirety, which is done so masterfully by the Winters.
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The Alley Cats of Istanbul
via 3 Quarks Daily: Darrell Hartman at The Paris Review

If you love something, you let it go. Cat people understand this intuitively. You never quite possess a cat, and the sooner you acknowledge that, the better. Cats will chase the tinfoil ball, if they are in the mood, but they will almost certainly not bring it back. We forgive them for this because there is no other option.
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What happens if all Earth’s coral dies
via Boing Boing by Caroline Siede
The YouTube channel Life Noggin digs into this terrifying question and sings the praises of coral along the way.
Check it out here

The saltmarsh has its own rich tang of whisky, earth and algae
via the Guardian by Matt Shardlow
Patterns in the mud, Old Hall Marshes, Essex
Patterns in the mud, Old Hall Marshes, Essex. Photograph: Matt Shardlow
A tongue of land borrowed from the mouth of the Blackwater estuary. Inside the mile-long V of grassy banks that exclude the sea the tamed land is riven by the contorted veins of once-tidal channels, now filled with freshwater. Today they are frozen into wide, snaking sheets of white. The khaki reeds that fringe the ice blend into fields of dead grass dotted with the greener humps of ancient yellow meadow ant hills.
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This enormous whirlpool fountain is hypnotic
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has lots of cool features, but this whirlpool fountain outisde their shopping area could keep some visitors transfixed all day.
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Foundations of three Roman houses found under Chichester park
via the Guardian by Maev Kennedy
Archaeologists digging in Priory Park in Chichester, West Sussex, where the remains of three near-complete Roman buildings were discovered.
Archaeologists digging in Priory Park in Chichester, West Sussex, where the remains of three near-complete Roman buildings were discovered. Photograph: Chichester district council/PA
Large properties just inside city walls, identified using radar, would have been equivalent to homes worth millions today
Foundations of three large Roman houses preserved for almost 2,000 years have been discovered in a park in the centre of Chichester.
James Kenny, an archaeologist at Chichester district council, believes that when fully excavated they will prove to be some of the best Roman houses found in a city centre in Britain.
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Maslow's Hierarchy through to telephone use via menstruation -- as varied as usual

The Missing Apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy Could Save Us All
via Big Think by Robby Berman
new pyramid
Maslow's revised Hierarchy of Human Needs
When psychologist Abraham Maslow died, he wasn’t quite finished with his famous hierarchy of human needs.
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The eternal Cheshire cat
via OUP Blog by Anatoly Liberman

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by John Tenniel, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Unlike Alice, who was advised to begin at the beginning and stop only when she came to an end, I’d rather begin at the end. The English-speaking world is interested in the Cheshire cat only because Lewis Carroll mentioned it. The origin of the proverbial grin has never been explained, so that, if you hope to receive an enlightening answer from this post, you can very well stop here. Moreover, no one knows the answer even in Cheshire, though some things are beyond dispute: Lewis Carroll did grow up in Cheshire, and it was not he who coined the idiom, though something he heard or remembered about Cheshire cats might have suggested the image of a grinning feline to him. Most of what I’ll say about the subject can be found elsewhere, but a few details will, I hope, pique our readers’ curiosity.
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If the body isn't sacred, nothing is: why menstrual taboos matter
Menstrual seclusion was once about giving women a safe space – hunter gatherer cultures can teach us how women’s blood is potent, not polluting
via the Guardian by Dr Camilla Power
Indian Hindu sadhvis
Indian Hindu sadhvis (holy women) take part in a religious procession on the eve of the annual Ambubachi festival at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati
Photograph: Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images

These days we tend to assume that menstrual seclusion, menstrual taboos, menstrual huts and pollution beliefs, which are prevalent in some developing countries, are all examples of sexist practices that undermine women’s rights and freedoms.
But what if seclusion once gave women a safe space, where they could find solidarity with other women? Suppose those taboos were first invented by women for reasons of their own?
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Bouquets of flowers made from kitchen utensils
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Sculptor Ann Carrington's 2016 Pop Goes the Weasel show at the Royal College of Art included her "Bouquets and Butterflies", an amazing series of floral arrangements made from kitchen utensils. (via Colossal)
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Germ warfare: the battle for the key to modern vaccines
In the late 1960s the scientist behind the world’s most successful antiviral vaccines took on his employer and the US government in a fight for custody of the cells that he called his ‘children’
via the Guardian by Meredith Wadman

On 9 October 1964, a baby girl was born at Philadelphia general hospital. She arrived early, when her mother was about 32 weeks pregnant. The baby weighed 3.2lb and was noted to be blue, floppy and not breathing. The only sign of life was her slow heartbeat. Nonetheless, she clung on, and her 17-year-old mother named her.
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What cats can teach us about how to live
via The New Statesman by John Gray
We should celebrate the solitary hunters among us.
A philosopher once assured me, many years ago, that he had converted his cat to veganism. Believing he was joking, I asked how he had achieved this feat. Had he supplied the cat with mouse-flavoured vegan food? Had he presented his cat with other cats, already practising veganism, as feline role models? Or had he argued with the cat and convinced it that eating meat is wrong? My interlocutor wasn’t amused, and I realised that he really believed the cat had opted for a meat-free diet. So I ended our exchange with a simple question: did the cat go out? It did, he told me. That solved the mystery. Plainly, the cat was supplementing its diet by covert hunting. If it ever brought home any of the carcasses – a practice to which ethically undeveloped cats are sadly prone – the virtuous philosopher had managed not to notice them.
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Charterhouse in London opens to public for first time in 400 years
via the Guardian by Maev Kennedy
Charterhouse in central London.
Charterhouse in central London. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
London’s Charterhouse, a former 14th-century Carthusian monastery and burial ground for victims of the Black Death, will open its doors to the public for the first time in 400 years on Friday.
Visitors will be able to walk across the graves of thousands of Londoners, and enter the secret world of the medieval charity that is still operating in the heart of the capital. A new museum and the chapel, which holds the founder’s grand tomb, will welcome the public in six days a week.
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An Irish cavalryman spent most of World War I living in this cupboard
via Boing Boing by Futility Closet

In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell two stories about people who spent years confined in miserably small spaces. North Carolina slave Harriet Jacobs spent seven years hiding in a narrow space under her grandmother's roof, evading her abusive owner, and Irishman Patrick Fowler spent most of World War I hiding in the cabinet of a sympathetic family in German-occupied France.
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Gene-Modified Ants Shed Light on How Societies Are Organized
via 3 Quarks Daily: Natalie Angier in The New York Times

Dr. Daniel Kronauer, shown in a double exposure, above, studies ants with altered DNA in order to understand complex biological systems.CreditBéatrice de Géa for The New York Times
Among clonal raider ants, there are no permanently designated workers and queens. Instead, all the ants in a colony switch back and forth from one role to the other. About half the time, they behave like workers, gathering food for their young – generally, by raiding the nests of other ants and stealing their larvae. The rest of the time, they go into queen mode and all colony members lay eggs together.
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How to use a telephone
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

In ye olden days, a telephone user had to ask the operator to call the desired party and make the connection. Then the dial telephone empowered us all to, er, reach out and touch someone. This 1927 instructional film from the telephone company explains the basics: “The ringing signal is an intermittent burring sound telling you the bell of the called telephone is ringing”.
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