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Posts Tagged ‘web design

PositionDial is anonymous – if you want it to be.

Last night I attended an excellent event hosted by Involve at the University of Westminster – entitled ‘Technology and Democratic Participation – friend or foe.’

Involve

A point well made by Catherine Howe was on paying attention to the architectural layer, not just the application layer. And the ‘why.’ Including the choices we make about identity as we build opportunities to participate online.

I have spoken and written on the importance of anonymity and flexible identities online many times, and this is very much built into PositionDial‘s architecture.

PositionDial helps you work out where you stand, see who matches you, and explore the issues you care about. We have several levels of identity on site (and are at this moment building an even more super-secure identity system for y’all):

  • Anonymous – you can use PositionDial, and get your PositionDial, without registering with us or logging in. We use cookies to remember you and help you build your dial as you browse from page to page. But we don’t store your IP address. So there’s no way of us storing your activity or your PositionDial with your location or identity once you close your browser window.
  • Pseudonymous – You can register with any username you like / or Twitter – we don’t force you to use your full, real name
  • Full name – but if you don’t mind, we’d love you to know your real name. We’ll only use it for keeping in touch and making  PositionDial better for you.

Transparency is the only way

There’s a lot of valid, and invalid concern about data sharing and privacy on social media and discovery sites. Transparency is of course the best and the only way to handle this.

For our part, PositionDial offers agencies, charities, businesses and others analytics and insight into where their target customers, stakeholders and partners stand on important issues (we strongly believe this is win:win, if ‘they’ know better, they can do better for all of us). These analytics are based on aggregated, anonymised social PositionDials, and aggregated action PositionDials (from data about MP voting and companies etc. which is already public).

In other words, we would never, and have no reason to, share any personally identifiable data about you.

Furthermore, as stipulated in our privacy policy, we would, as Twitter and others have done before, closely interrogate and strenuously resist outside requests to access your data.

You also have the right to be forgotten (by us). That is, seriously, even if you’ve signed up and got your PositionDial and it’s all saved nice and neatly in our system. If you want out, we’ll delete you. Simples.

Image credit: Triple Pundit

Reposted from PositionDial’s blog

In a recent post Haowen Chan and Robin Morris warn “the last thing you want to do is implement a [big data] system that develops and propagates data, only to learn it’s hopelessly biased.” All research and analysis has bias built in by the very nature of human involvement. However Chan and Morris provide four useful bias-quelling tactics that can be used to improve the big data science process:

  • Employ domain experts Rely on them to help select relevant data and explore which features, inputs and outputs produce the best results. If heuristics are used to gain insights into smaller data sets, the data scientist will work with the domain expert to test the heuristics and ensure they actually produce better results. Like a pitcher and catcher in a baseball game, they are on the same team, with the same goal, but each brings different skill sets to complementary roles.
  • Look for white spaces  Data scientists who work with one data set for periods of time risk complacency, making it easier to introduce bias that reinforces preconceived notions. Don’t settle for what you have; instead, look for the “white spaces” in your data sets and search for alternate sources to supplement “sparse data.”
  • Open a feedback loop This will help data scientists react to changing business requirements with modified models that can be accurately applied to the new business conditions. Applying Lean Startup like continuous delivery methodologies to your big data approach will help you keep your model fresh.
  • Encourage your data scientists to explore.  If you can afford your own team of data scientists, be sure they have the space and autonomy to explore freely. Some equate big data to the solar system, so get out there and explore this uncharted universe!

We can also consider what bias we are encouraging when we develop systems – from social media plugins to smart objects – which collect ‘big data,’ or data which could be aggregated into big data analysis. Might we be unfairly representing a picture from our data subjects, either by representation or omission? Collection, processing and analysis are all crucial to consider in the quest for useful and accurate big data outcomes.

Image of what the Internet looks like via Flowing Data – the work of Peer 1 Hosting & team

Neat way of showcasing top tweets using a picture gallery on the Capital FM website – as you scroll through each tweet associated commentary appears on the right hand side:

Jessie Picture Galleries Capital FM

 

Business Insider has shared a fascinating look at what helped the Obama campaign raise so much money during his recent successful presidential bid. The key was a highly successful combination of science and creativity – with what has been described as “strange, incessant, and weirdly over familiar” email subject lines and content.

A/B testing is a technique popular with web designers. It involves showing two different versions of a page to users – and measuring which gets the best response (this could be in terms of time spent on page, or the completion of a desired goal – i.e.  purchase or successful registration). The Obama campaign triumphed by being brave, cheeky, and optimising subject lines, content and formatting (with often as many as 18 variations) incessantly to find out what achieved the best results for its fundraising emails. In the end, the ‘winning’ email subject line was ‘I will be outspent’ – a rather passive aggressive line that obviously shook Obama supporters with their worst fear: that his opponent would spend more, and win the election on that basis.

This provides a strong reminder of how valuable access to data is, in running successful communications activity. Even if you are working agency-side, and somewhat removed from your client’s analytics – it is imperative to know what is working by getting access to as much data like this as possible from across their channels.

Just noticed this new detail on a Linkedin profile I was checking out – it’s part of Linkedin’s new style layouts. I really like the way it visualises how you are connected to others: as you roll over the little circles (g+ inspired?) you can see all of the companies associated with a person, and those you share in common.

You can also select network types from the drop-down menu: industry, school and location, e.g.:

This web design detail on Dezeen encourages and champions online engagement neatly – highlighting ‘reader* comments’ prominently alongside editor picks.

*I wonder how long publishers will keep calling active online participants ‘readers’ for.. always seems too passive 

Some of Darwin’s statements to others also cast doubt on his mental stability. For example, in 1875 he wrote the following words to fellow scientist Robert Hooker:

You ask about my book, & all that I can say is that I am ready to commit suicide: I thought it was decently written, but find so much wants rewriting. . . . I begin to think that every one who publishes a book is a fool (quoted in Colp, 1977, p. 228).

Jerry Bergman

While Darwin may well have been mentally disturbed quite severely and frequently during his quite brilliant life… this particular quote I find hilarious.. and totally lucid. The capability to edit our work after publishing, especially for those of us that agonise over what they have written on looking back, is a tremendous gift from the web to us all.

BRANCH_FEATURE

In this vein perhaps Branch should reconsider its unfortunate design ‘feature’ … I’m sure it will do the service, and its users, no favours..

There’s no edit button and no delete button. If you make a mistake, just keep going. It’s a little unsettling, but Miller wants to force a little more thoughtfulness in online dialog.

Andrew Phelps


This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

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