Ian Mulvany

February 20, 2022

Weekly reading - weeks 4 through to six



Well, that was a swish of activity over the last few weeks, with an intense session at work, and juggling school half term, so I’ve not read around as much as usual.

Here are some links of interest from the last few weeks.


1. A brief article by the ever amazing Gina Neff (https://twitter.com/ginasue) —
[We need a radical new approach to tackle online misinformation | Fortune](https://fortune.com/2022/01/25/we-need-a-radical-new-approach-to-tackle-scientific-misinformation-online-covid-vaccine-hesitancy-gina-neff/)  - which talks about a recent report by the Royal Society on misinformation. BMJ also covered this report - [Taking down online scientific misinformation isn’t necessary, as most people don’t believe it, says Royal Society | The BMJ](https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o182



2. [Electric Tables V0.1](https://tomcritchlow.com/2022/01/26/electric-tables/) By Tom Critchlaw ([Tom Critchlow. Move. Think. Create.](https://tomcritchlow.com/)) is a fun experiment with local browser storage to help you do better at tracking metadata around what you visit. When I looked it was only working on Chrome, which is no good for me, but the general need to want to be able to better account for how we traverse the web is a need that I’ve been scratching at for many years, and this is an interesting take on that. 



3. https://anildash.com/2012/12/13/the_web_we_lost/ is a blog post looking back at what the web might have been, if we had not fallen in to centralised control of our web activities. It was a future that excited me when I began my career as a technologist, and a future that glimmers sometimes. I think what I take most from Anil’s post is a reflection on how attitudes around what the web is for have changed. We now see massively higher participation, we see much more awareness of the need to think about inclusivity, we have a much better understanding and experience of the harms that the tool has unleashed, but perhaps we have lost a little of the optimism and grounding that it can be a tool for creating a better world. I still believe that it can, but now in much more targeted and focused applications, rather than as a society-wide transformation. 
On this topic, this is the canonical Oatmeal strip - https://twitter.com/Oatmeal/status/923250055540219904?s=20&t=SRW1UV_7uRoUWhMR8pWFmg, and for those with a long enough memory, this is was a book about what it meant to try to build your own social web application - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Building-Social-Web-Applications-Establishing/


4. A friend of mine, John Sack, pops up in this episode from Jon Ronson’s series “Things fall apart” —  https://overcast.fm/+2hsIW5qG4. This episode is about how the norms that define a highly permissive internet came into existence. It seems to match somewhat serendipitously neatly together with the piece above from Anil Dash. This series is great, and I’m learning at lot about a lot. In the case of this episode I don’t agree with the central tenant that this one event defined the future internet culture, it smacks too much of Great Man theory for me, but it is a fascinating insight into what was clearly an important event in the history of the development of the internet nonetheless. 


5.  This essay to James Joyce is simply a delight.[Dear Mr Joyce: an essay by Edna O’Brien | Books | The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/feb/02/dear-mr-joyce-an-essay-by-edna-obrien


6. This preprint looks at a simple, yet powerful, way to detect fraud in peer review — look for duplicate sentence fragments in reviews. While the idea is easy, the paper goes into good detail on how you have to approach this issue carefully.[2202.03310 Exploratory analysis of text duplication in peer-review reveals peer-review fraud and paper mills](https://arxiv.org/abs/2202.03310)


7. To tail off a reading list dominated by nostalgia for paths not taken, this is a great little write up about a particular type of nuclear power plant. [“Nothing like this will be built again”  - Charlie’s Diary](https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/rants/nothing-like-this-will-be-buil.html)