Link blog: probability, community, hardware, video

Visualizing Bayes’ theorem |

Join the Bayesian Conspiracy.
(tags: bayes statistics mathematics bayesian tutorial probability bayes-theorem)

YouTube – John Passmore on Hume: Section 1

A video discussing Hume's ideas on causality, the self and experience.
(tags: philosophy hume enlightenment empiricism video john-passmore david-hume)

python-on-a-chip – Project Hosting on Google Code

"This project's goals are to develop the PyMite virtual machine, device drivers, high-level libraries and other tools to run a significant subset of the Python language on microcontrollers without an OS." Nice.
(tags: python embedded programming hardware microcontrollers avr)

Attacked from Within

"This article attempts to fundamentally rethink what constitutes community and society on the web, and what possibilities exist for their maintenance and reconstruction in the face of scale and malicious users." I've mentioned this one before, but I've seen a couple of things about creating good comments recently, so I thought I'd wheel it out again. Warning: contains links to Encyclopedia Dramatica, which is very much not safe for work.
(tags: community identity social internet moderation reputation kuro5hin)

2 Comments on "Link blog: probability, community, hardware, video"

  1. I like the Kuro5hin article, though it’s very dense. Definitely find appealing the idea of measuring quality of contributions by pairs of productive interactions; if you formalized that too much, I think it would be gamed like anything else, but it’s a novel approach to the problem.

    Actually I think that LJ, purely by accident, has been more successful than almost anything else in the history of the internet at generating high quality conversation. It’s a combination of two effects: first the friends page, which I fully realize was nothing more than a primitive feed reader before systems like RSS really took off. But the way it chanced to be implemented does mean that you’re extremely likely to encounter lots of people who are friends of friends and have common interests and are more or less in your wider circle anyway. And pretty unlikely to encounter people you have nothing in common with unless you deliberately go looking for them.

    Secondly, the expectation of distributed moderation. The set-up with personal journals already discourages a lot of griefing and trolling, because any bad behaviour feels like attacking an individual (often with a face, always with a much more apparent personality than on most internet conversation systems) or invading somebody’s home, both of which are psychologically unappealing for most people. And if there is trolling, there are good tools and a clear social expectation for the journal owner to delete comments, ban people, lock down their journals and generally cease interacting with the nasties.

    Also LJ partly conforms to the ideal that the Kuro5hin article discusses, where people have consistent but anonymous identities. Another factor is the thing which is actually more a bug than anything, but the really poor discoverability of LJ. Most trolls don’t get the satisfaction of being internet famous or even LJ-wide famous for their bad behaviour. The threaded commenting probably helps (as you can just ignore unproductive threads and instead have an interesting conversation with the OP).

    That’s not to say that LJ is completely without drama and flamewars! But the signal-to-noise experienced by any individual is much better than in almost any other part of the internet. Though a downside is that the medium isn’t well suited to robust disagreement; the sense of personal-ness can sometimes make people reluctant to say anything negative or contradictory.


    1. Reading the k5 article again, the author seems to think that the ideal web community is something like 4chan. Perhaps we’ve all been trolled…

      But assuming they’re serious, LJ doesn’t have the *chans’ norm of completely anonymous comments or a culture of disapproval of having a persistent identity for too long, or the dyad moderation thing. We do still have identities attached to comments. jameth is LJ famous, and has done OK with the trolling thing.

      What LJ does have is a way of keeping things at the community rather than society stage, it seems to me: most people commenting are friends or friends of friends, and, as you say, there’s the feeling that a journal belongs to someone. I suppose feeling of being in someone’s personal space is stronger on LJ than on other blogs (which, after all, also belong to someone or someones, unlike, say, a newsgroup), maybe because LJ started off as a diary site. Some people react with surprise if someone they don’t know comments out of the blue, wanting to know who they are and how they found the journal. Comments from passers by are a much less odd thing on an typical blog.


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