Dutch Society Committee Dinner
It keeps surprising me how much happens in an Oxford year. So many experiences, both great, ...read more
Sociologist-créateur of the brave new web/world
Oxford Union committee Hilary Term 2014 (spring)
Another year in Oxford, and one that felt like it lasted a lifetime! To begin, I passed my transfer. Which is the first of 3 milestones of the Oxford PhD. It consists of a detailed research proposal + a defence of the methodology & approach. For those interested, it can be found here. ...read more
This September I will be going back to Oxford to do a DPhil. I will study the appearance of critical mass in budding on-line political communities.
Online communities can greatly impact society, as the recent events in the Middle East, and the rise of global online social movements such as Occupy Wallstreet, suggest. But in order to thrive, and become a community at all, online communities have to attain a critical mass of initial users. The central problem of which is that until a certain number of participants are present, joining the community is not going to affect outcomes, or be socially rewarding to newcomers.
Also, more in general, the exact factors that determine growth in the early stages of online communities, are still ill understood. Even internet giant Google has failed to attain critical mass for some of its platforms, such as Google Wave. ...read more
While still working on my MSc thesis, I went to San Francisco this summer. I first attended the Digital Humanities 2011 conference at Stanford University. It was great to see many known faces there again, and the talks and posters were ‘not bad’ either. Especially impressive was the keynote on Culturomics, the quantitative analysis of culture using millions of digitized books.
Then I started work at Academia.edu, a well-funded startup which now has over a million users. Academia.edu is a social network for scholars, which – besides the usual social network-features – organizes people by their department and research-interests, and enables scholars to present their publications in a beautiful way. Not only does it allow direct subscription to the news-feed of individual researchers (as in a personalized journal), but it also makes uploaded papers more widely available, as user-pages are indexed by Google, and thus easy to find by researchers and other interested parties. ...read more
Trinity term (the 3rd) has just started in Oxford, and I (Wybo) have just handed in two 5000-word papers.
The first paper is about circadian (24-hour scale) time-effects on Hacker News. Its main hypothesis is that the time at which people arrive on the site (greatly) impacts whom they are most likely to interact with. This because replies that make very similar points as previous replies to the same post, are generally not appreciated very much, and visitors thus can only (productively) reply to relatively new posts (not older than 2 hours). ...read more
As of the summer I (Wybo) will be working for Academia.edu, based in downtown San Francisco, California.
Academia.edu is a Facebook/LinkedIn for academics, and one that might very well change the way scholars communicate and work. Besides social networking functionality, it also offers features specific to the academic world, such as commenting on papers, following research-interests, and it has more in ...read more
Life in Oxford, at the Oxford Internet Institute, is amazing: Lively and interesting seminars, presentations and talks by world famous academics every week (also across the university), motivated fellow students, delightful dinners, and all this amidst architectural splendor and centuries of tradition. There is one downside though; time.
With so much to do, so much to read, and so many interesting people around, time becomes ...read more
Other essays I completed during the second half of my time at King’s are (from 1st halve are here): Keywords in context (a mixed bag, on concordance analysis of Hannah Arend’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, the process of concordancing, and collective responsibility), and Critical mass in collaborative hypertext environments (on critical mass in hypertext environments in general). This latter essay is available on LogiLogi
A poster on LogiLogi, and it’s “Quest for Critical Mass”, was presented at Digital Humanities 2010. And we won an European Science Foundation bursary for it. On our poster we report on recent improvements of LogiLogi, provide some background theory about critical mass, and identify factors that can be of influence on attainment.
The conference has just ended, and it was a great event, featuring topics as diverse as literary ...read more
I (Wybo) have just been admitted to the MSc in Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute. For my masters thesis there I hope to do empirical research into the appearance of critical mass in hypertext-related web-applications.
There are a lot of conceptualizations of critical mass, but the simplest one is the minimum number of active users that a web-application needs to provide sufficient network-effects ...read more
LogiLogi, and it’s Quest for Critical Mass will be presented (as a poster) at the Digital Humanities 2010 conference in London, this June. First of all we will analyze the concept of critical mass, as it applies to collaborative (hypertext Digital Humanities) web-applications, and at all the factors that come into it, such as network-effects, and bifurcation points.
Surprisingly little has been written ...read more