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Wybo Wiersma.net

Wybo is a sociologist and PhD/DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute.

He studies online social behaviour. Especially: How social media affect protest movements such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wallstreet. More...

Also: MSc in Social Science of the Internet, MA in Digital Humanities (distinction), 3 BAs (firsts/cum laude) in History, Philosophy of Information Science and Information Science

Simulating the Emergence of Critical Mass:

How Forums Grow by Stimulating User Contributions

Attaining critical mass is notoriously difficult for online platforms, and many online communities fail because of this. A common feature of most successful communities, are threads, which are found on forums, Facebook, and on Quora, among other places.

In this paper Agent-Based Simulation was used to examine the impact of variations in thread-structures on growth and critical mass attainment.

What was found was that threads perform better than no threads at all, and indented thread-structures that allow users more control over what to read, improve engagement even further.

The Invisible Hands of Time:

How Timezones Shape Online Communities

A popular view of online communities is that they transcend time and place. As threads and comments are posted during the circadian cycle, however, participants will see different (new) threads as they arrive, which then affects who interacts with whom and the social ties that form.

A case-study of the Hacker News community was conducted to measure these effects. Strong time-pressure effects were found at the thread-level. For social ties statistically significant effects were found as well; especially for users at the edge of the network. Even the two-week gap between the introduction of daylight savings time in the US and UK had an impact.

These findings indicate that online communities may not be as global as generally believed, and might limit the validity of purely social interpretations of online reply structures.

The Validity of Surveys:

Online and Offline

Online surveys are generally considered cheaper, faster, and more convenient. They also have a potential for international reach, allow for elaborate skip-logic, and eliminate errors in data-entry, to name a few of their benefits.

But many wonder about their validity.

In this paper all the important threats to the validity of both online and offline surveys are assessed. Such as lack of a sampling frame, and things such as experimenter effects.

As long as the pros and cons are taken into account, there is room for both, and with the arrival of smartphones, there might be a sampling frame for web-surveys soon.

Enclosures of the Mind:

Intellectual Property from a Global Perspective

The copyright system has become morally problematic and alternatives should be developed.

It is outdated first of all: Copyrights were initially introduced as regulation for the printing industry. But due to the spread of digital technology, copyrights now reach into all personal communication. Making upholding it not only impossible, but also mutually exclusive with privacy.

Second, in essence it consists of creating artificial scarcity. It negates the third reasons for why markets are effective in the physical realm: 1) decentralized decision-making, 2) efficient allocation of investments, 3) efficient use of resources. Not restricted use, but ubiquitous use is efficient for digital goods, because they can be multiplied at zero cost.

A levy-system could replace it.

A very Dutch year at Oxford and Westminster...

Dutch Society Committee Dinner

It keeps surprising me how much happens in an Oxford year. So many experiences, both great, ...read more

AgentBase.org - Agent Based Simulation in the browser

May I present to you: AgentBase.org. AgentBase allows you to do Agent Based Modeling (ABM) directly in the browser.

You can edit, save, and share models without installing any software or even reloading the page. Models are written in Coffeescript and use the AgentBase library. ...read more

Yet another lifetime-in-a-year

Oxford Union committee Hilary Term 2014 (spring)

Another year in Oxford, and one that felt like it lasted a lifetime! To begin, I passed my transfer. Which is the first of 3 milestones of the Oxford PhD. It consists of a detailed research proposal + a defence of the methodology & approach. For those interested, it can be found here. ...read more

Another exciting year at the OII

A swim with friends in the river at Port Meadow

Last year at almost any time there was something more interesting to do in Oxford than updating this blog. Such as friends to meet, papers to read, famous speakers to hear at the Oxford Union, or a sunny swim in the river ...read more