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The Mathematical Universe

I explore physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. I argue that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. I discuss various implications of the ERH and MUH, ranging from standard physics topics like symmetries, irreducible representations, units, free parameters, randomness and initial conditions to broader issues like consciousness, parallel universes and Godel incompleteness. I hypothesize that only computable and decidable (in Godel's sense) structures exist, which alleviates the cosmological measure problem and help explain why our physical laws appear so simple. I also comment on the intimate relation between mathematical structures, computations, simulations and physical systems.

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Dynamics of Social Interaction
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Exact solution for a metapopulation version of Schelling’s model

Exact solution for a metapopulation version of Schelling’s model | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
More than 40 y ago, Schelling introduced one of the first agent-based models in the social sciences. The model showed that even if people only have a mild preference for living with neighbors of the same color, complete segregation will occur. This model has been much discussed by social scientists and analyzed by physicists using analogies with spin-1 Ising models and other systems. Here, we study the metapopulation version of the model, which mimics the division of a city into neighborhoods, and we present the first analysis to our knowledge that gives detailed information about the structure of equilibria and explicit formulas for their densities.
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Nicholas Christakis: The #Sociological Science Behind Social #Networks and Social #Influence | #SNA

If You're So Free, Why Do You Follow Others? The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence. Nicholas Christakis, Professor of Medical ...


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luiy's curator insight, September 28, 7:44 PM

If you think you're in complete control of your destiny or even your own actions, you're wrong. Every choice you make, every behavior you exhibit, and even every desire you have finds its roots in the social universe. Nicholas Christakis explains why individual actions are inextricably linked to sociological pressures; whether you're absorbing altruism performed by someone you'll never meet or deciding to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, collective phenomena affect every aspect of your life. By the end of the lecture Christakis has revealed a startling new way

Bill Aukett's curator insight, September 29, 8:34 PM

Human networks as complex systems?

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The Psychology of Cryptomnesia: How Unconscious Plagiarism Works

The Psychology of Cryptomnesia: How Unconscious Plagiarism Works | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
“Any experience the writer has ever suffered,” William Faulkner told a university audience in 1958, “is going to influence what he does, and that is not only what he’s read, but the music he’s heard, the pictures he’s seen.” This notion — that “our” ideas are the combinatorial product of all kinds of existing ideas we’ve absorbed in the course of being alive and awake to the world — is something many creators have articulated, perhaps none more succinctly than Paula Scher. This fusion of existing bits into new combinations is a largely unconscious process, and for all its miraculous machinery, one serious downside is that it often obliterates the traces of the original sources we unconsciously fold into our “new” ideas. Helen Keller experienced the repercussions of this phenomenon when she was accused of plagiarism, Henry Miller questioned it when he wrote “And your way, is it really your way?” and Coleridge often tripped over the fine line between unconscious borrowing and deliberate theft.
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An Information-Theoretic Formalism for Multiscale Structure in Complex Systems

We develop a general formalism for representing and understanding structure in complex systems. In our view, structure is the totality of relationships among a system's components, and these relationships can be quantified using information theory. In the interest of flexibility we allow information to be quantified using any function, including Shannon entropy and Kolmogorov complexity, that satisfies certain fundamental axioms. Using these axioms, we formalize the notion of a dependency among components, and show how a system's structure is revealed in the amount of information assigned to each dependency. We explore quantitative indices that summarize system structure, providing a new formal basis for the complexity profile and introducing a new index, the "marginal utility of information". Using simple examples, we show how these indices capture intuitive ideas about structure in a quantitative way. Our formalism also sheds light on a longstanding mystery: that the mutual information of three or more variables can be negative. We discuss applications to complex networks, gene regulation, the kinetic theory of fluids and multiscale cybernetic thermodynamics.

 

An Information-Theoretic Formalism for Multiscale Structure in Complex Systems
Benjamin Allen, Blake C. Stacey, Yaneer Bar-Yam

http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.4708


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Toward in vitro models of brain structure and function

The development of effective tissue-engineered models of the brain remains an elusive challenge because of its inherent complexity. Such models would be extremely important to understanding brain development, and for exploring therapeutic options for disorders of the CNS, including the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and related damage to the brain. One million, seven hundred thousand TBIs occur in the United States annually (1). These in vitro models would also be invaluable test beds for drug-discovery investigations and in toxicology evaluations. In PNAS, Tang-Schomer et al. (2) describe a promising model of a cortical tissue mimic and demonstrate its applications to a better understanding of response to TBI.

Several classes of in vitro models of the brain have been described (3), including acute preparations (or explants of CNS tissues), organotypic cultures or thin slices of CNS maintained for greater than 7 d, cerebral organoids (which can be formed from the self-organization of human pluripotent stem cells in 3D cultures) (3), and tissue-engineered constructs (2, 4, 5). Here we focus on the cell-based techniques for organoids and tissue-engineered constructs.

In organoids, the formation of cortex-like structures that are reminiscent of the human developing cerebral cortex have been observed (6). These structures promise to be useful models for brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders. Using human patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), Lancaster et al. (6) were able to model microcephaly through observations of premature neuronal differentiation. The authors used a spinning bioreactor to grow organoids up to 4 mm in diameter that could be maintained for up to 10 mo. Although this technology is truly impressive, there are key limitations to these models. Currently, adult neuronal behavior is difficult to mimic with iPSC technology and
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There’s a new way to quantify structure and complexity

There’s a new way to quantify structure and complexity | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

In searching for sense in the complexities of nature, science has often found success by identifying common aspects of diverse phenomena.

 

When one principle explains how different things behave, nature becomes more comprehensible, and more manageable. Modern science took flight when Newton showed how one idea – universal gravitation – explained both the motions of celestial bodies and apples falling on Earth. Most important, it didn’t matter whether the apple was red or green, or even if it was an apple. Newton’s law described how everything else fell, from bricks to bullets.

 

But Newton’s gravity, and his laws of motion, and the rest of science built on that foundation had limits. Newton’s science couldn’t cope with really strong gravity, extremely fast motion or supertiny particles. Relativity theory and quantum physics helped with that. But there remains a realm where standard science has struggled to find unifying principles among different behaviors. That would be the kingdom of complexity, the universe of systems that defy simplification.

 

Such complex systems are everywhere, of course. Some are physical — the electric power grid, for instance. Many are biological — brains, bodies, ecosystems. And others are social — financial markets, interlocking corporate directorates, and yes, for God’s sake, Twitter.

 
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Inducing Task-Relevant Responses to Speech in the Sleeping Brain

Inducing Task-Relevant Responses to Speech in the Sleeping Brain | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Falling asleep leads to a loss of sensory awareness and to the inability to interact with the environment [ 1 ]. While this was traditionally thought as a consequence of the brain shutting down to external inputs, it is now acknowledged that incoming stimuli can still be processed, at least to some extent, during sleep [ 2 ]. For instance, sleeping participants can create novel sensory associations between tones and odors [ 3 ] or reactivate existing semantic associations, as evidenced by event-related potentials [ 4–7 ]. Yet, the extent to which the brain continues to process external stimuli remains largely unknown. In particular, it remains unclear whether sensory information can be processed in a flexible and task-dependent manner by the sleeping brain, all the way up to the preparation of relevant actions. Here, using semantic categorization and lexical decision tasks, we studied task-relevant responses triggered by spoken stimuli in the sleeping brain. Awake participants classified words as either animals or objects (experiment 1) or as either words or pseudowords (experiment 2) by pressing a button with their right or left hand, while transitioning toward sleep. The lateralized readiness potential (LRP), an electrophysiological index of response preparation, revealed that task-specific preparatory responses are preserved during sleep. These findings demonstrate that despite the absence of awareness and behavioral responsiveness, sleepers can still extract task-relevant information from external stimuli and covertly prepare for appropriate motor responses.
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The Traveling Salesman with Simulated Annealing, R, and Shiny

The Traveling Salesman with Simulated Annealing, R, and Shiny | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
I built an interactive Shiny application that uses simulated annealing to solve the famous traveling salesman problem. You can play around with it to create and solve your own tours at the bottom of this post. Here's an animation of the annealing process finding the shortest path through the 48 state capitals of the contiguous United States
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Eagle's Wings Inspire More Fuel Efficient Planes

Eagle's Wings Inspire More Fuel Efficient Planes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

"[...] The wing tips of steppe eagles are an ideal shape to maximize lift with a minimal wingspan. The curvature at the end of the wing reduces drag. Engineers designing the A380 copied that design, resulting in fuel savings of up to 3%, depending on if it is a long or short distance flight."


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Not too fast, but not too slow: searching strategies to beat a majority group of interacting walkers

We introduce a model of interacting random walkers on a finite one-dimensional chain with absorbing boundaries or targets at the ends. Walkers are of two types: informed particles that move ballistically towards a given target, and diffusing uniformed particles that are biased towards close informed particles. This model mimics the dynamics of animals searching for food, where an informed individual knows the location of a food target and tries to persuade close-by uninformed conspecifics to go to that target. We characterize the success of this persuasion by the first-passage probability of the uniformed particle to the target, and we interpret the speed of the informed particle as a strategic parameter that the particle tunes to maximize its success. We find that the success probability is non-monotonic, reaching its maximum at an intermediate speed that increases with the diffusing rate of the uniformed particle. When two different groups of informed particles traveling in opposite directions compete, usually the largest group is the most successful. However, the minority can reverse this situation and become the most probable winner by following two different strategies: increasing its attraction strength and adjusting its speed to an optimal value relative to the majority's speed.
  
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Exact solution for a metapopulation version of Schelling’s model

In 1971, Schelling introduced a model in which families move if they have too many neighbors of the opposite type. In this paper, we will consider a metapopulation version of the model in which a city is divided into Nneighborhoods, each of which has L houses. There are ρNL red families and ρNL blue families for some ρ < 1/2. Families are happy if there are ≤ρcL families of the opposite type in their neighborhood and unhappy otherwise. Each family moves to each vacant house at rates that depend on their happiness at their current location and that of their destination. Our main result is that if neighborhoods are large, then there are critical values ρb < ρd < ρc, so that for ρ < ρb, the two types are distributed randomly in equilibrium. When ρ > ρb, a new segregated equilibrium appears; for ρb < ρ < ρd, there is bistability, but when ρ increases past ρd the random state is no longer stable. When ρc is small enough, the random state will again be the stationary distribution when ρ is close to 1/2. If so, this is preceded by a region of bistability.

 
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How structurally stable are global socioeconomic systems?

The stability analysis of socioeconomic systems has been centred on answering whether small perturbations when a system is in a given quantitative state will push the system permanently to a different quantitative state. However, typically the quantitative state of socioeconomic systems is subject to constant change. Therefore, a key stability question that has been under-investigated is how strongly the conditions of a system itself can change before the system moves to a qualitatively different behaviour, i.e. how structurally stable the systems is. Here, we introduce a framework to investigate the structural stability of socioeconomic systems formed by a network of interactions among agents competing for resources. We measure the structural stability of the system as the range of conditions in the distribution and availability of resources compatible with the qualitative behaviour in which all the constituent agents can be self-sustained across time. To illustrate our framework, we study an empirical representation of the global socioeconomic system formed by countries sharing and competing for multinational companies used as proxy for resources. We demonstrate that the structural stability of the system is inversely associated with the level of competition and the level of heterogeneity in the distribution of resources. Importantly, we show that the qualitative behaviour of the observed global socioeconomic system is highly sensitive to changes in the distribution of resources. We believe that this work provides a methodological basis to develop sustainable strategies for socioeconomic systems subject to constantly changing conditions.

 

How structurally stable are global socioeconomic systems?
Serguei Saavedra, Rudolf P. Rohr, Luis J. Gilarranz, Jordi Bascompte

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/ rsif.2014.0693
J. R. Soc. Interface 6 November 2014 vol. 11 no. 100 20140693


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Eli Levine's curator insight, September 14, 5:18 PM

There are most likely a plurality of stable socio-economic systems with different dynamics and levels of short term system stability.  It's likely that, even if there are periods of short term instability, that long term stability will hold, even if instability is a stable feature. 

 

Very interesting points here. 

 

Enjoy! 

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Modeling the evolution of programming languages

Modeling the evolution of programming languages | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Darwin’s notion of natural selection is undoubtedly one of the most important ideas in the history of science. Powerful as it is, explaining a great deal of the complexities intrinsic to biology, many wonder if the same or some similarly elegant idea could be used to explain cultural change as well. Darwin himself was interested in the relation between natural and human-driven change. Although many ideas from evolutionary biology have been applied in studying cultural change, there’s still a lot of debate as to whether natural and cultural phenomena evolve similarly. One of the reasons why the debate persists is that it is not easy to compare and tell definitely where and how the two differ, because cultural evolution and technological innovation have not been modelled as extensively as biological change. This is mainly because cultural phenomena lack a “genome” that would serve as a change measure, with the exception of natural language for which researchers in formal linguistics have devised more than several metrics accounting for grammatical, pragmatic, phonetic, orthographic and semantic changes. Other cultural phenomena, such as technological innovation, are much more difficult to quantify and measure adequately. That is why Sergi Valverde and Ricard Solé of Santa
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Upgrade to LTE Will Let Phones Talk without Cell Towers, Allowing New Forms of Social Apps and Advertising

Upgrade to LTE Will Let Phones Talk without Cell Towers, Allowing New Forms of Social Apps and Advertising | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Qualcomm, Facebook, and other tech companies are experimenting with technology that lets smartphones use their LTE radio to connect directly to other devices up to 500 meters away.

 

A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

 

Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015.

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Rick Frank's curator insight, Today, 5:58 AM

This sounds like a good idea, peer to peer mobile phones (provided they address the security issues inherent in this)

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With Spinal Implant, Paralyzed Rats Can Walk Again

With Spinal Implant, Paralyzed Rats Can Walk Again | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
It’s a strange sight: a paralyzed rat walking on its hind legs in a precise cadence, all controlled by a computer.

“It is a little bit Frankenstein,” says Gregoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, who in a paper published yesterday in Science Translational Medicine describes his efforts to use electronics to restore fluid, realistic movements to paralyzed animals. 

The study is part of a wider effort to help paralyzed people walk again by zapping their spinal cords with electrical pulses. These signals can replace commands normally sent out by the brain, but which are interrupted when the spinal cord is injured.
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Information Adaptation: The Interplay Between Shannon Information and Semantic Information in Cognition: Hermann Haken, Juval Portugali

This monograph demonstrates the interplay between Shannon information and semantic information in cognition. It shows that Shannon’s information acts as driving force for the formation of semantic information; and vice versa, namely, that semantic information participates in the formation of Shannonian information. The authors show that in cognition, Shannonian and semantic information are interrelated as two aspects of a cognitive process termed as information adaptation. In the latter the mind/brain adapts to the environment by the deflating and/or inflating of the information conveyed by the environment. In the process of information adaptation, quantitative variations in Shannon’s information entail different meanings while different meanings affect the quantity of information. The book illustrates the above conceptually and mathematically by reference to three cognitive processes: pattern recognition, face learning and the recognition of a moving object.

 

Haken, H. and Portugali, J. (2015). Information Adaptation: The Interplay Between Shannon Information and Semantic Information in Cognition. SpringerBriefs in Complexity, vol. XII. Springer.


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The Psychology of Writing and the Cognitive Science of the Perfect Daily Routine

The Psychology of Writing and the Cognitive Science of the Perfect Daily Routine | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Reflecting on the ritualization of creativity, Bukowski famously scoffed that “air and light and time and space have nothing to do with.” Samuel Johnson similarly contended that “a man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.” And yet some of history’s most successful and prolific writers were women and men of religious daily routines and odd creative rituals. (Even Buk himself ended up sticking to a peculiar daily routine.)

Such strategies, it turns out, may be psychologically sound and cognitively fruitful. In the altogether illuminating 1994 volume The Psychology of Writing (public library), cognitive psychologist Ronald T. Kellogg explores how work schedules, behavioral rituals, and writing environments affect the amount of time invested in trying to write and the degree to which that time is spent in a state of boredom, anxiety, or creative flow.
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Culturegraphy: the Cultural Influences and References between Movies | #DH #influence #dataviz

Culturegraphy: the Cultural Influences and References between Movies | #DH #influence #dataviz | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

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luiy's curator insight, September 23, 6:07 AM

Culturegraphy [culturegraphy.com], developed by "Information Model Maker" Kim Albrecht reveals represent complex relationships of over 100 years of movie references.

 

Movies are shown as unique nodes, while their influences are depicted as directed edges. The color gradients from blue to red that originate in the1980s denote the era of postmodern cinema, the era in which movies tend to adapt and combine references from other movies.

 

Although the visualizations look rather minimalistic at first sight, their interactive features are quite sophisticated and the resulting insights are naturally interesting. Therefore, do not miss out the explanatory movie below.

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How Information Theory Could Hold the Key to Quantifying Nature

How Information Theory Could Hold the Key to Quantifying Nature | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The Western Ghats in India rise like a wall between the Arabian Sea and the heart of the subcontinent to the east. The 1,000-mile-long chain of coastal mountains is dense with lush rainforest and grasslands, and each year, clouds bearing monsoon rains blow in from the southwest and break against the mountains’ flanks, unloading water that helps make them hospitable to numerous spectacular and endangered species. The Western Ghats are one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. They were also the first testing ground of an unusual new theory in ecology that applies insights from physics to the study of the environment.

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Gary Bamford's curator insight, September 27, 3:04 AM

MaxEnt - physics meets ecology.

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How Repetition Enchants the Brain and the Psychology of Why We Love It in Music

“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism,” Haruki Murakami reflected on the power of a daily routine. “Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue,” Mary Oliver wrote about the secret of great poetry, adding: “When it does, it grows sweeter.” But nowhere does rhythmic repetition mesmerize us more powerfully than in music, with its singular way of enchanting the brain.
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Geometry Shapes Evolution of Early Multicellularity

Geometry Shapes Evolution of Early Multicellularity | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Organisms have increased in complexity through a series of major evolutionary transitions, in which formerly autonomous entities become parts of a novel higher-level entity. One intriguing feature of the higher-level entity after some major transitions is a division of reproductive labor among its lower-level units in which reproduction is the sole responsibility of a subset of units. Although it can have clear benefits once established, it is unknown how such reproductive division of labor originates. We consider a recent evolution experiment on the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a unique platform to address the issue of reproductive differentiation during an evolutionary transition in individuality. In the experiment, independent yeast lineages evolved a multicellular “snowflake-like” cluster formed in response to gravity selection. Shortly after the evolution of clusters, the yeast evolved higher rates of cell death. While cell death enables clusters to split apart and form new groups, it also reduces their performance in the face of gravity selection. To understand the selective value of increased cell death, we create a mathematical model of the cellular arrangement within snowflake yeast clusters. The model reveals that the mechanism of cell death and the geometry of the snowflake interact in complex, evolutionarily important ways. We find that the organization of snowflake yeast imposes powerful limitations on the available space for new cell growth. By dying more frequently, cells in clusters avoid encountering space limitations, and, paradoxically, reach higher numbers. In addition, selection for particular group sizes can explain the increased rate of apoptosis both in terms of total cell number and total numbers of collectives. Thus, by considering the geometry of a primitive multicellular organism we can gain insight into the initial emergence of reproductive division of labor during an evolutionary transition in individuality.
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Culturomics: Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books

Construct a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed, and then analyze that corpus using advanced software and the investigato...
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Mathematics Online: Wolfram Brings Mathematica Technical Computing to the Web

Mathematics Online: Wolfram Brings Mathematica Technical Computing to the Web | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

If you’re a fan of Wolfram’s Mathematica app, you’ll be pleased to hear its comprehensive tools for technical computing are now more accessible. For the first time, Mathematica is available on the Web.

While the desktop applications (Windows, Mac and Linux) remain unaltered, Wolfram is introducing a browser-based version called Mathematica Online that can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.

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Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Over 500 million people interact daily with Facebook. Yet, whether Facebook use influences subjective well-being over time is unknown. We addressed this issue using experience-sampling, the most reliable method for measuring in-vivo behavior and psychological experience. We text-messaged people five times per day for two-weeks to examine how Facebook use influences the two components of subjective well-being: how people feel moment-to-moment and how satisfied they are with their lives. Our results indicate that Facebook use predicts negative shifts on both of these variables over time. The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. Interacting with other people “directly” did not predict these negative outcomes. They were also not moderated by the size of people's Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression. On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

 
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Persona’s Machine-Learning App Lets People Follow Different Sides Of Your Twitter Identity

Persona’s Machine-Learning App Lets People Follow Different Sides Of Your Twitter Identity | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Our identities are prismatic. We’re not the same person to everyone. Yet when you follow someone on Twitter, your feed overflows with a combination of their personal, professional, and social tweets. But thanks to TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon project Persona, you can choose which dimensions of someone’s identity you want to see. Persona uses machine learning to classify people’s tweets into separate themed timelines around different topics they tweet about, like their work, personal life, and interests.

 

If you ever wished you could just get someone’s smart professional insights without knowing what they had for lunch, or love their taste in art but yawn when they nerd out on tech or current events, Persona could banish boring tweets from your feed.

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