Social Contagion, Humanizing Data, and Freemium Wireless Broadband

Although we'd rather count on a predictable path for the spreading (and sticking) of ideas than that of germs, the analogy doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny. Their intangible and nebulous nature makes ideas hard to study.

The commonality is that while you can be exposed to both, the human context dictates a choice in the case of taking in and spreading ideas.

Similarly, there is an unexplored facet of the big data conversation that has opened up over the last few years. And that is thinking about data in a human context.

Access makes spreading ideas and mobile data more ubiquitous than they already are.


Social Contagion, Humanizing Data, and Free Wireless Broadband

The three stories that caught my eye this week are:


1The Economist discusses a new paper containing conflicting ideas on social contagion published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences using an invitation to "sign up for Facebook" as part of their controlled study:

the researchers found that the best predictor of whether someone would join Facebook was a subtly different factor: the number of distinct groups that an individual could link up with through the site.

[…] The more such groups were present on Facebook, the greater the probability that an individual would join.

It is just one study, and, once they had controlled for this effect, the researchers found that, if anything, users became slightly less likely to join as the number of Facebooked kith and kin rose.


2Jer Thorp talks about the weight of data at TEDxVancouver. He frames his talk on thinking about data in a human context. As his cover post says:

[…] mention my history with HyperCard, rattle over a series of data-based projects, and end with a call-to-arms for artists, poets, writers and other creatives to join the discourse around data.

You can also see the comments and discussion on his talk on Google+.


3Technology Review reports on a startup backed by a Skype cofounder plans to offer "freemium" broadband to the masses. Supported by ads and social features:

[…] the service will give users roughly a gigabyte of free high-speed mobile Internet access per month on Clearwire's WiMAX network and forthcoming LTE network. It will offer other low-cost prepaid plans that provide access to more data.

[…] "In our minds, the access piece is already a commodity we're looking to further commoditize, in the same way Skype did with voice"

Along with freemium model, there will be a data-share option. Someone actually did the math in the comments to the post. The service is expected to roll out in the U.S. sometime between July and September and to eventually branch out to other countries


Access and attention are the name of this week's conversation.



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