Twitter, Reddit, and Exploitation

Reddit is a collective of very bright and often witty people who either don’t want to or don’t have the desire to market themselves, so they let other people do it for them and lose all of the revenue in the process.

I can’t really blame the sites (like Buzzfeed) that aggregate that content. It’s a gold mine just sitting there waiting to be exploited.

There might just be a business model revolving around finding great people on Reddit and working with them on developing creative media careers for themselves. If I was a media agent, Reddit is a place where I would look for new clients.

@ExMediaMan on Twitter


Quantum Levitation

Wow. From the description:

Suspending a superconducting disc above or below a set of permanent magnets. The magnetic field is locked inside the superconductor; a phenomenon called ‘Quantum Trapping’.

The video goes on to give a great explanation of how it works. You can’t help but wonder if there are practical applications of things like this.


Sniffing Out Cancer with Electronic Noses

Here’s a great article from the BBC about how sensitive external readers can detect diseases in the molecules our body gives off.

The truly fascinating part:

A long-term goal for the sector is to get easy-to-use diagnostic tools into the home… and into our pockets. With the ever-growing sophistication of mobile phones – some of the latest models have temperature and humidity sensors – the idea of routinely breathing on to your phone to check for disease is not science fiction. The chip already exists, and getting it into a phone is straightforward engineering or electronics.

Early disease detection? There will soon be an app for that.

Sniffing out cancer with electronic noses @ BBC


Cleaning the News Filters

Matthew Ingram has a great article discussing some of the problems that Reddit is having separating news from other types of content:

I’m not sure if it qualifies as ironic or not, but just a day after I wrote a post about how Reddit’s new “live reporting” feature could contribute to the opening up or crowdsourcing of journalism, news started to filter out about moderators on one of Reddit’s topic threads repeatedly deleting a news story from Glenn Greenwald of First Look Media about the British government’s spy program. This kind of “censorship,” some have argued, is one of the reasons why Reddit can’t be trusted with anything approaching actual journalism.

He goes on to defend Reddit:

I think the fundamental difference with Reddit (and Twitter for that matter) is that they are far more transparent than any traditional media outlet has ever been, and likely ever will be, when it comes to the editorial process — in other words, deciding which stories run on the front page and which don’t appear at all. Greenwald compared the Reddit ban to the New York Times refusing to run a story at the request of the U.S. government, but that took over a year and a half before everyone knew the full story behind the story.

The real problem is that we receive virtually no unfiltered information. No matter the source, our information has been filtered for us in a number of ways with a number of motivations behind that filtering. The best we can hope for is a better understanding of those filters. We have to know the motivations of the editors and journalists and, over time, develop some level of trust of those editors and journalists. We’re taking baby steps along that path.

Reddit is having the same problem as traditional media: Defining what the news is @ GigaOM


Set Your DVRs: Cosmos

The original Cosmos had a profound impact on my life. I remember watching it during a PBS replay in 1984 or 1985 and it spawned an incredible passion for astronomy and physics. Eventually, that seed grew into a discovery of many other sciences, leading me to eventually obtain degrees in both biology and computer science. Here’s the first episode of the original Cosmos series, starring Carl Sagan:

I have an eight year old and a six year old at home, and I estimate that I was seven when I first watched Cosmos. I simply cannot wait to watch this new series with them. My DVR is already set to record the entire series.

It starts on Sunday, March 9th. If you have curious children at home – or have a curious mind yourself – record and watch this one. If it’s even slightly as impactful as the original, you’ll be glad you did.

Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey


Faking It

This talk by Amy Cuddy mostly expands upon this paper, which appeared in 2010 in Psychological Science and is very much worth a read. From the abstract:

Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures. But can these postures actually cause power? The results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.

In the conclusion:

By simply changing physical posture, an individual prepares his or her mental and physiological systems to endure difficult and stressful situations, and perhaps to actually improve confidence and performance in situations such as interviewing for jobs, speaking in public, disagreeing with a boss, or taking potentially profitable risks. These findings suggest that, in some situations requiring power, people have the ability to “fake it ’til they make it.

The connections between behavior and biochemical response are just fascinating.

Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance @ psychological science


A Visual Guide to Whole Grains

Even for those of us fine with eating gluten, there are lots of potential options for whole grains. I use quinoa in a lot of things, from soups to enchiladas, and barley soup is a frequent winter meal. I also recently had an out-of-this-world citrusy amaranth salad that I would share the recipe for if I had the vaguest idea of how it was made.

The Serious Eats Guide to Whole Grains @ Serious Eats


Climate Change: Where Did the Heat Go?

I’ve lived in central Iowa for almost two decades now and I have never experienced a winter where the temperature regularly brushed against -20 F. Global warming seems to be on hiatus. Why?

For several years, scientists wrote off the stall as noise in the climate system: the natural variations in the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere that drive warm or cool spells around the globe. But the pause has persisted, sparking a minor crisis of confidence in the field. Although there have been jumps and dips, average atmospheric temperatures have risen little since 1998, in seeming defiance of projections of climate models and the ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. Climate sceptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt. Climate scientists, meanwhile, know that heat must still be building up somewhere in the climate system, but they have struggled to explain where it is going, if not into the atmosphere. Some have begun to wonder whether there is something amiss in their models.

Now, as the global-warming hiatus enters its sixteenth year, scientists are at last making headway in the case of the missing heat. Some have pointed to the Sun, volcanoes and even pollution from China as potential culprits, but recent studies suggest that the oceans are key to explaining the anomaly. The latest suspect is the El Niño of 1997–98, which pumped prodigious quantities of heat out of the oceans and into the atmosphere — perhaps enough to tip the equatorial Pacific into a prolonged cold state that has suppressed global temperatures ever since.

In other words, climate is cyclical and we’re in a down cycle at the moment. The full article goes into much more detail.

Climate change: The case of the missing heat @ nature