American regions with high immigration enjoy persistent, long-term higher incomes and lower unemployment

If you're an American who's lucky enough to live somewhere that received large influxes of immigrants during the "Age of Mass Migration" (1860 to 1920), congratulations! The immigrants who came to your territory brought along higher incomes, lower unemployment, higher levels of educational attainment -- and no reduction in social cohesion! Read the rest

Leaked tax-haven data shows that the super rich are way, way richer than suspected

When Thomas Piketty and his team undertook their landmark study of wealth inequality in the world, they had to rely on the self-reported income of the super rich to see just how income was distributed -- by definition, they couldn't directly measure the unreported income hidden in tax havens (though they did estimate it, with what was eventually shown to be pretty good precision). Read the rest

Journalism After Snowden: essays about a free press in a surveillance state

Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State is a new essay collection from Columbia Journalism Review Books with contributions from Ed Snowden, Alan Rusbridger (former editor-in-chief of The Guardian); Jill Abramson (former New York Times executive editor; Glenn Greenwald, Steve Coll (Dean of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism), Clay Shirky, Cass Sunstein, and Julia Angwin. Read the rest

Fundraising for Diego Gómez, grad student who faced criminal charges for sharing a scientific paper

Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "A few weeks ago Diego Gómez, the former Colombian student who's been prosecuted for sharing a research paper online, was acquitted of criminal charges.

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A comic that profiles Columbia University's first-ever comics curator

Nick Sousanis is the comics creator who broke ground in 2015 by being the first doctoral candidate to submit a dissertation in comics form and ever since, he's been doing wonderful nonfiction work in the form, on subjects ranging from entropy to climate change to elections. Read the rest

Stanford Libraries post digital archive of drafts of Allen Ginsberg's HOWL

Ginsberg's HOWL isn't merely a masterwork of poetry, nor is it merely a classic; it is also an indelible part of American free speech jurisprudence: when US Customs seized copies of the poem on their way into New York from the British printer's presses, the resulting obscenity trial made history. Read the rest

Wardriving for Stingrays with rideshare cars

Well, there's a second-decade-of-the-21st-century headline for you! Read the rest

Algorithmic decision-making: an arms-race between entropy, programmers and referees

Nesta's Juan Mateos-Garcia proposes that "entropic forces" make algorithmic decision-making tools worse over time, requiring that they be continuously maintained and improved (this is also a key idea from Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction: a machine-learning system is only honest if someone is continuously matching its predictions to reality and refining its model based on the mistakes it makes). Read the rest

Wildlife tourists who mistake aggression for kissy-faces in danger of monkey-bites

A University of Lincoln researcher on holiday in Morocco noticed that wildlife tourists were mistaking macaques' aggressive facial expressions for kissy faces and responding "by imitating the monkey's facial expression, which generally ended by either aggression by the monkey towards the tourists or the monkey leaving the interaction" -- which leads to monkey bites. Read the rest

A taxonomy of algorithmic accountability

Eminent computer scientist Ed Felten has posted a short, extremely useful taxonomy of four ways that an algorithm can fail to be accountable to the people whose lives it affects: it can be protected by claims of confidentiality ("how it works is a trade secret"); by complexity ("you wouldn't understand how it works"); unreasonableness ("we consider factors supported by data, even when you there's no obvious correlation"); and injustice ("it seems impossible to explain how the algorithm is consistent with law or ethics"). Read the rest

Why don't people use secure internet tools?

A group of scholars and practicioners from the US, Germany and the UK conducted a qualitative study on the "obstacles to adoption of secure communications tools," which was presented to the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Read the rest

Thinking of the history of life on Earth in terms of "energy epochs"

Olivia P. Judson's paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. Read the rest

Gastric bypass surgery radically improves subjects' gut biomes

Gastric bypass surgery is remarkably effective at promoting weight-loss (it cuts the long-term risk of early death from morbid obesity by 40%), and it's long been presumed that the major action by which it worked was that, by bypassing the parts of the gut where most food absorbtion takes place, it limited the calories that subjects' bodies could harvest from the food they ate. Read the rest

A university librarian explains why her zine collection's catalog is open access

Marta Chudolinska is Learning Zone Librarian at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, which hosts a huge zine collection founded in 2007 Alicia Nauta, then a student. Read the rest

Ranking authors by their adverb use

The famously spare Hemingway used 80 words ending in -ly per 10,000 words of prose; JK Rowling uses 140 adverbs per 10,000 words, and EL James uses 155. Read the rest

Report on media manipulation "from radicalized groups that emerged from internet subcultures"

Danah Boyd from Data & Society writes, "The report examines why the media was vulnerable to manipulation from radicalized groups that have emerged from a variety of internet subcultures. We're seeing an intentional and systematic attack on institutions and information intermediaries and most folks are unaware of the degree to which they are a pawn in others' gameplay. As a result, we are watching good intentions get twisted around and used to harm people, organizations, and democracy." Read the rest

Wrapping up the Crooked Timber seminar on Walkaway: Coase's Spectre

Two weeks ago, the excellent Crooked Timbre groupblog kicked off a symposium on my novel Walkaway, inviting ten scholars, practitioners, activists and thinkers to weigh in on the novel with thoughtful, sometimes sharply critical essays. Read the rest

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