Posts tagged studies

Global e-Waste Growing to 65.4 Million Tons by 2017
A new study by a coalition of NGOs, and industry, science, UN and government bodies, attempts to map the flow of e-waste around the globe. In doing so, it predict a huge surge in our collective discarded junk, with the United States and China generating the most waste.
Via The Independent:

[S]oaring international demand for electric and electronic products is fueling a global rise in e-waste, which is set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by 2017.
The grim forecast is from a new study released today, which has mapped more than 180 countries.
It reveals that, in only five years, the yearly amount of e-waste will rise 33 per cent from the 49 million tons of used electrical and electronic items generated last year…
…Mobile phones form the bulk of the 14 million used electronic products exported, with most used phones destined for Hong Kong, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Old computers are generally sent to Asian countries, while heavy items such as TVs and computer monitors end up in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China.

The exportation of our unwanted electronics has strong, local health concerns. Take, for example, Guiyu, China. The town has become a dumping ground for old computers, phones and other gadgets with an industry arising that tries to strip valuable metals from, say, say microchips.
Side effect, according to the BBC:

The soil in Guiyu has been found to be so saturated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and tin that groundwater has become undrinkable.
According to China’s Shantou University, the town has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and local children suffer from an extremely high rate of lead poisoning.

Image: A woman in Guiyu, China strips electronics of their valuable parts. Select to embiggen.

Global e-Waste Growing to 65.4 Million Tons by 2017

A new study by a coalition of NGOs, and industry, science, UN and government bodies, attempts to map the flow of e-waste around the globe. In doing so, it predict a huge surge in our collective discarded junk, with the United States and China generating the most waste.

Via The Independent:

[S]oaring international demand for electric and electronic products is fueling a global rise in e-waste, which is set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by 2017.

The grim forecast is from a new study released today, which has mapped more than 180 countries.

It reveals that, in only five years, the yearly amount of e-waste will rise 33 per cent from the 49 million tons of used electrical and electronic items generated last year…

…Mobile phones form the bulk of the 14 million used electronic products exported, with most used phones destined for Hong Kong, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Old computers are generally sent to Asian countries, while heavy items such as TVs and computer monitors end up in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China.

The exportation of our unwanted electronics has strong, local health concerns. Take, for example, Guiyu, China. The town has become a dumping ground for old computers, phones and other gadgets with an industry arising that tries to strip valuable metals from, say, say microchips.

Side effect, according to the BBC:

The soil in Guiyu has been found to be so saturated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and tin that groundwater has become undrinkable.

According to China’s Shantou University, the town has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and local children suffer from an extremely high rate of lead poisoning.

Image: A woman in Guiyu, China strips electronics of their valuable parts. Select to embiggen.

lyke srsly who needz english anyhow?

Google “Top 10 Worst College Majors” and you’ll get over 700,000 results. Forbes put together a list of their own, and included English Language & Literature as one of them. 

In a New York Times article, Verlyn Klinkenborg discussed the diminishing number of students majoring (or even studying) the humanities. She writes: 

Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.

With tuition and loan interest rates rising, it makes sense that college students are focused on making money as soon as they can. Klinkenborg goes on to point out that:

English majors turn up almost anywhere, in almost any career, and they nearly always bring with them a rich sense of the possibilities of language, literary and otherwise.

Bonus: Read all of Klinkenborg’s work for the New York Times here

If You Drink and are Anxious, You’re on Facebook. Stoned? Not so Much
Via ReadWrite:

For his master’s thesis, Missouri University doctoral student Russell Clayton surveyed 229 college freshmen students living in dorms. He asked them to rank their perceived levels of loneliness, anxiety, alchohol use and marijuana use, then measured their “connectedness” to Facebook.
Clayton found that students who reported higher levels of anxiousness and alcohol use “appeared to be more emotionally connected with Facebook.” What’s more, “people who perceive themselves to be anxious (in general) are more likely to want to meet and connect with people online, as opposed to a more social, public setting.”

Clayton’s study also shows the power of persuasion: viewing status update photos of people drinking made individuals “more motivated” to drink themselves.
Back to ReadWrite:

According to the research, marijuana use “predicted the opposite: a lack of emotional connectedness with Facebook.” According to Clayton, “Marijuana use was negatively related to emotional connectedness to Facebook and unrelated to Facebook connection strategies. This indicates that the more a participant engages in marijuana use the less emotionally connected they feel toward Facebook.”

FJP: We let you draw your own conclusions, just don’t Facebook drunk.
Image: A beer, at a bar, by Michael.

If You Drink and are Anxious, You’re on Facebook. Stoned? Not so Much

Via ReadWrite:

For his master’s thesis, Missouri University doctoral student Russell Clayton surveyed 229 college freshmen students living in dorms. He asked them to rank their perceived levels of loneliness, anxiety, alchohol use and marijuana use, then measured their “connectedness” to Facebook.

Clayton found that students who reported higher levels of anxiousness and alcohol use “appeared to be more emotionally connected with Facebook.” What’s more, “people who perceive themselves to be anxious (in general) are more likely to want to meet and connect with people online, as opposed to a more social, public setting.”

Clayton’s study also shows the power of persuasion: viewing status update photos of people drinking made individuals “more motivated” to drink themselves.

Back to ReadWrite:

According to the research, marijuana use “predicted the opposite: a lack of emotional connectedness with Facebook.” According to Clayton, “Marijuana use was negatively related to emotional connectedness to Facebook and unrelated to Facebook connection strategies. This indicates that the more a participant engages in marijuana use the less emotionally connected they feel toward Facebook.”

FJP: We let you draw your own conclusions, just don’t Facebook drunk.

Image: A beer, at a bar, by Michael.

Although real-time corrections are modestly more effective than delayed corrections overall, closer inspection reveals that this is only true among individuals predisposed to reject the false claim. In contrast, individuals whose attitudes are supported by the inaccurate information distrust the source more when corrections are presented in real time, yielding beliefs comparable to those never exposed to a correction.

R. Kelly Garrett and Brian E. Weeks, The Promise and Peril of Real-Time Corrections to Political Misperceptions (PDF).

Yesterday I published an article, Can Robots Tell the Truth?, that explores the Washington Post’s attempt to harness an algorithm that could conduct real-time fact checking on political speeches.

Today, Kelly and Brian forwarded this paper of theirs. It’s part of a larger project out of Ohio State University’s School of Communications called “Misperceptions in an Internet Era”. Their Twitter handle is @FalseBeliefNews.

So, if you take their findings and rewrite my headline, you’d end up with something along the lines of, “Who Cares if Robots Can Tell the Truth Because it’s not Going to Change Anyone’s Mind Anyway”.

Which is discouraging. — Michael.

Getting in Bed with Gadgets: Your Technology is Keeping You Awake 

world-shaker:

Among the key findings:

  • 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their smartphones
  • 95% of people use the phone for something just before going to bed
  • Half of people check their phones immediately if they wake up during the night

FJP: Those key findings are all too familiar.

There’s Even a Study for This

thenoobyorker:

By the way if CNN has taught us anything with their coverage of a hormone study about women and their voting habits, it’s that all this talk about “politically correct” science and science funding is bullshit.

CNN and news organizations are quicker to cover this shit than they are covering studies a few months from now that say that the initial study is “flawed” or not true.

FJP: May we introduce you to Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn Out to be False, summed up nicely by the CBC?

The researchers, lead by neurobiologist François Gonon, examined the way newspapers reported on a number of high profile studies on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They asked the question: do scientific claims reported in the media end up being proven true over time? Their answer: in most cases, no. Then they asked: do the media go back and set the record straight? No again.

In other words, we, in the media, make a big deal over a new research finding, but when it turns out to be less exciting, or even wrong after future research, we don’t tend to report that. ‘Never mind’ doesn’t usually make it into the news.

Misinformation and Its Correction is a nice follow-up when your depression about the above dissipates and you want to hunker back down into it again.

Misinformation is even more likely to travel and be amplified by the ongoing diversification of news sources and the rapid news cycle. Today, publishing news is as simple as clicking “send.” This, combined with people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, tends to magnify the effects of misinformation. Nyhan says that although a good dose of skepticism doesn’t hurt while reading news stories, the onus to prevent misinformation should be on political pundits and journalists rather than readers. “If we all had to research every factual claim we were exposed to, we’d do nothing else,” Nyhan says. “We have to address the supply side of misinformation, not just the demand side.”

Correcting misinformation, however, isn’t as simple as presenting people with true facts. When someone reads views from the other side, they will create counterarguments that support their initial viewpoint, bolstering their belief of the misinformation. Retracting information does not appear to be very effective either. Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers in 2011 that showed a retraction, at best, halved the number of individuals who believed misinformation.
The Politics of Social Media
The Pew Research Center released a study yesterday exploring how people, politics and social media interrelate. Some key findings: 

36% of social networking site (SNS) users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.

Those numbers aside, it’s been 100% fun keeping up with Twitter while listening to convention speeches. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter how well the two go hand in hand. — Michael
Image: Detail from Who Uses Social Networking Sites (PDF), via Pew Internet and American Life Project. 

The Politics of Social Media

The Pew Research Center released a study yesterday exploring how people, politics and social media interrelate. Some key findings

  • 36% of social networking site (SNS) users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
  • 26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.

Those numbers aside, it’s been 100% fun keeping up with Twitter while listening to convention speeches. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter how well the two go hand in hand. — Michael

Image: Detail from Who Uses Social Networking Sites (PDF), via Pew Internet and American Life Project. 

In Print World, Political Coverage is Manly Business
A new study reports that over 70% of 2012 presidential campaign coverage in leading print dailies is written by men.
Via the 4th Estate Project:

Print election coverage since April 15th, the unofficial start to the general election (Santorum dropped out on April 12th), has been brought to us mostly by male journalists. 72.1% of print articles written on the election since April 15th were written by men and just 27.9% were written by women. During the GOP Primary, the ratio was slightly more skewed toward male journalists. From January 1 – April 14, over three-quarters (76.2%) of election print articles were written by men while only 23.8% were written by women.

At Pacific Standard, Vince Beiser looks at the numbers and says that while his gut reaction is to “sniff disdainfully at the way women continue to be treated as second-class citizens in the news media,” there’s something deeper going on. He points out that women head the New York Times (Jill Abramson) and Newsweek (Tina Brown), and are among the top editors at outlets like the AP and Reuters. Then, of course, there’s Arianna Huffington. In the end, he asks, “Could it be that at least part of the numbers disparity is because there are just more men than women who want to be campaign reporters?”
At Slate, Emily Bazelon gives an answer:

At least part of it? Most definitely, along with the other usual explanations, like mentoring and subtle signals about who is good at what. Campaign coverage is travel heavy and grueling. If you’re the primary parent, which more women still are, you’re less likely to volunteer for it. I say this as someone who gave up her chance to go to both the GOP and Democratic conventions this year for Slate. I’m not the primary parent exactly: My husband and I pretty much share. But he’s an academic, so this is a crazy time of year for him. I thought to myself: Do I really have to go? Politics isn’t my main thing. And I decided, as I did in 2008, that the answer was no—and then when I realized that Slate’s coverage of the conventions will be light on women who are on the scene, I felt predictably bad about it.

Caveat: The study, with data gathered by The 4th Estate Project (methodology here) looks at 35 leading daily newspapers. It does not take into account online news organizations.
Caveat to that Caveat: Known brands such as the print publications in this study are also among Americans’ leading online sources for the news.
Image: A Closer Look: Who’s Writing Nine Newspapers’ Presidential Election Coverage by the Women’s Media Center. (Select to embiggen)

In Print World, Political Coverage is Manly Business

A new study reports that over 70% of 2012 presidential campaign coverage in leading print dailies is written by men.

Via the 4th Estate Project:

Print election coverage since April 15th, the unofficial start to the general election (Santorum dropped out on April 12th), has been brought to us mostly by male journalists. 72.1% of print articles written on the election since April 15th were written by men and just 27.9% were written by women. During the GOP Primary, the ratio was slightly more skewed toward male journalists. From January 1 – April 14, over three-quarters (76.2%) of election print articles were written by men while only 23.8% were written by women.

At Pacific Standard, Vince Beiser looks at the numbers and says that while his gut reaction is to “sniff disdainfully at the way women continue to be treated as second-class citizens in the news media,” there’s something deeper going on. He points out that women head the New York Times (Jill Abramson) and Newsweek (Tina Brown), and are among the top editors at outlets like the AP and Reuters. Then, of course, there’s Arianna Huffington. In the end, he asks, “Could it be that at least part of the numbers disparity is because there are just more men than women who want to be campaign reporters?”

At Slate, Emily Bazelon gives an answer:

At least part of it? Most definitely, along with the other usual explanations, like mentoring and subtle signals about who is good at what. Campaign coverage is travel heavy and grueling. If you’re the primary parent, which more women still are, you’re less likely to volunteer for it. I say this as someone who gave up her chance to go to both the GOP and Democratic conventions this year for Slate. I’m not the primary parent exactly: My husband and I pretty much share. But he’s an academic, so this is a crazy time of year for him. I thought to myself: Do I really have to go? Politics isn’t my main thing. And I decided, as I did in 2008, that the answer was no—and then when I realized that Slate’s coverage of the conventions will be light on women who are on the scene, I felt predictably bad about it.

Caveat: The study, with data gathered by The 4th Estate Project (methodology here) looks at 35 leading daily newspapers. It does not take into account online news organizations.

Caveat to that Caveat: Known brands such as the print publications in this study are also among Americans’ leading online sources for the news.

Image: A Closer Look: Who’s Writing Nine Newspapers’ Presidential Election Coverage by the Women’s Media Center. (Select to embiggen)

The Battle Over Online Freedom Continues
The clash between citizens and governments over online freedom of expression is growing, according to a new report by Reporters Without Borders.
Called Beset by Online Surveillance and Content Filtering, Netizens Fight On, the study explores how both authoritarian and democratic governments attempt to control online activity. To do so, the authors label a number of countries such as Syria, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Bahrain, Iran and Turkmenistan among others as “Enemies of the Internet”; and say countries such as Australia, France, Egypt, Eritrea and India among others are “Countries Under Surveillance.”
Through this lens, the report’s authors declare, “More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue,” and outline how:
Internet and mobile phone shutdowns are occurring more frequently
Content filtering is increasing
Content removal is increasing
Pressure on Internet Service Providers and Web site owners to police content is increasing
Surveillance is more effective and more intrusive
Government propaganda is increasing
Cyber attacks are increasing
Arrests, raids and roundups are increasing
While not a pretty picture for online freedoms the report does include examples of how citizens are fighting back. For example:

In order to combat increasingly competent censors, self-styled “hacktivists” have been giving technical assistance to vulnerable netizens to help them share information in the face of pervasive censorship. The campaigns on behalf of the Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad and Syria’s Razan Ghazzawi have transcended international borders. The hashtag #OpSyria, started by Telecomix – a decentralised network of net activists committed to freedom of expression – has allowed Syrians to broadcast videos of the crackdown.

An overview of the report can be found here. The full report is available here (PDF).
Image: Wordcloud of Beset by Online Surveillance and Content Filtering, Netizens Fight On. Created with Wordle.

The Battle Over Online Freedom Continues

The clash between citizens and governments over online freedom of expression is growing, according to a new report by Reporters Without Borders.

Called Beset by Online Surveillance and Content Filtering, Netizens Fight On, the study explores how both authoritarian and democratic governments attempt to control online activity. To do so, the authors label a number of countries such as Syria, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Bahrain, Iran and Turkmenistan among others as “Enemies of the Internet”; and say countries such as Australia, France, Egypt, Eritrea and India among others are “Countries Under Surveillance.”

Through this lens, the report’s authors declare, “More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue,” and outline how:

  • Internet and mobile phone shutdowns are occurring more frequently
  • Content filtering is increasing
  • Content removal is increasing
  • Pressure on Internet Service Providers and Web site owners to police content is increasing
  • Surveillance is more effective and more intrusive
  • Government propaganda is increasing
  • Cyber attacks are increasing
  • Arrests, raids and roundups are increasing

While not a pretty picture for online freedoms the report does include examples of how citizens are fighting back. For example:

In order to combat increasingly competent censors, self-styled “hacktivists” have been giving technical assistance to vulnerable netizens to help them share information in the face of pervasive censorship. The campaigns on behalf of the Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad and Syria’s Razan Ghazzawi have transcended international borders. The hashtag #OpSyria, started by Telecomix – a decentralised network of net activists committed to freedom of expression – has allowed Syrians to broadcast videos of the crackdown.

An overview of the report can be found here. The full report is available here (PDF).

Image: Wordcloud of Beset by Online Surveillance and Content Filtering, Netizens Fight On. Created with Wordle.

Seventy-four Percent of Tea Party Republicans Believe the News is Biased
A new Pew Research Center report on how Americans get their political news shows 74% of Tea Party Republicans believe the media is biased.
In the report, Pew notes that “[a]mong news audiences, those who cite the Fox News Channel or the radio as their main source of campaign news are the most likely to say there is a great deal of bias in news coverage.”
By contrast, 30% of moderate to conservative Democrats believe the media is biased.
Other findings include:
Cable television is the primary political news source for Americans;
The number of people getting their news from online news sources has leveled off after explosive growth between 2002 and 2008;
News consumption from newspapers and local and network television stations is in steep decline;
About 20% of Americans get campaign information via Facebook;
Just 5% get campaign information via Twitter;
Only 20% of people under 30 say they are following the campaign closely.
The Pew Research Center is available here and can be read online or downloaded.

Seventy-four Percent of Tea Party Republicans Believe the News is Biased

A new Pew Research Center report on how Americans get their political news shows 74% of Tea Party Republicans believe the media is biased.

In the report, Pew notes that “[a]mong news audiences, those who cite the Fox News Channel or the radio as their main source of campaign news are the most likely to say there is a great deal of bias in news coverage.”

By contrast, 30% of moderate to conservative Democrats believe the media is biased.

Other findings include:

  • Cable television is the primary political news source for Americans;
  • The number of people getting their news from online news sources has leveled off after explosive growth between 2002 and 2008;
  • News consumption from newspapers and local and network television stations is in steep decline;
  • About 20% of Americans get campaign information via Facebook;
  • Just 5% get campaign information via Twitter;
  • Only 20% of people under 30 say they are following the campaign closely.

The Pew Research Center is available here and can be read online or downloaded.

Predicting the Spread of News

Researchers are analyzing if its possible to predict how widely news items will spread before publishing and promoting them via social networks.

By analyzing past performance of popular Twitter posts, the researchers from UCLA and HP Labs believe they can predict ranges of popularity on Twitter with 84% accuracy.

Via Technology Review:

[Bernardo Huberman] wants to know whether their is something about the news stories themselves that determine their popularity. In other words, he’s looking for factors that determine how popular a news story will be before it is even published.

To find out, Huberman and his colleagues examined the content of news stories during a single week in August last year as measured by the news feed aggregator Feedzilla. They scored each article based on four criteria: the news source that generates and posts the article; the category of news; the subjectivity of the language; and the people and things named in the article.

They then measured the way these news stories spread across the Twitter network to see which became popular and how quickly. They used this to work out how an article’s score in each criterion is linked to its eventual popularity.

Technology Review rightfully points out that this could have a profound effect on how newsrooms assign and schedule their editorial. It also suggests that we could have “social checkers” in our word processing apps and CMS’s that work similarly to spell checkers. The social checker would help predict how popular our stories will become.

An interesting metric even if it ignores the simple fact that often the most important stories aren’t the ones that reach the most eyeballs.

StudyThe Pulse of News in Social Media: Forecasting Popularity, via arxiv (PDF).

pewinternet:

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism brings you “The Year in News 2011.” According to the report, the faltering U.S. economy was the number 1 story in the American news media in 2011. See what else topped the list, and what was trending in the social media world by reading the full report here.

The Arab Spring and Information Flow

The International Journal of Communication has a new study that explores “information flow” during the Arab Spring. In particular, it looks at how Twitter promulgated information from Tunisia and Egypt to and among journalists, activists, mainstream media outlets and other interested parties.

GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram does a good job exploring the report’s findings:

The evolution of what media theorist Jeff Jarvis and others have called “networked journalism” has made the business of news much more chaotic, since it now consists of thousands of voices instead of just a few prominent ones who happen to have the tools to make themselves heard. If there is a growth area in media, it is in the field of “curated news,” where real-time filters like NPR’s Andy Carvin or the BBC’s user-generated-content desk verify and re-distribute the news that comes in from tens of thousands of sources, and use tools like Storify to present a coherent picture of what is happening on the ground.

The study makes the point that mainstream media outlets play a key role in the dissemination of news during such events (and also notes that journalists tend to retweet other journalists more often than they do non-mainstream sources), but it also makes it obvious that prominent bloggers and activists are crucial information conduits as well. 

The full study can be found here.