More things about algorithms

Here’s the brand-new series of articles about algorithms, published by investigative powerhouse ProPublica (very relevant to this week’s topic!):


Here’s the Khan Academy course about algorithms (in class, I showed the first video from this course, which gives examples of various kinds of algorithms):


Also shown: Google Trends and Explore Google Trends; and FAQs about trends on Twitter.

We mentioned “brute force” algorithms (e.g. for winning at checkers) vs. machine-learning algorithms, which were necessary for this amazing achievement: How the Computer Beat the Go Master (March 2016).

Blog post 6: Viral online media

Three articles are assigned this week. One is very short and NOT academic! It comes fromBuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti — so read it. Find all of the articles in the Course Schedule and the two journal articles on Ares.

Step 1. Read all three assigned articles (and make notes, as always).

Step 2. Find a case in which a media item “went viral” online. It can be any kind of media (video or any other). It can be commercial, advertising, news, p.r., or personal. Some things (often videos) go viral by accident. Other cases might be part of a deliberate campaign. However — NOT ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE. We all know that one. Also, NOT KONY 2012. That is also very well known. Continue reading

Blog post 3: A Twitter experience

This assignment is very different. You will need to start working on it as soon as you can!

You should start at least five days before you write the post, which is due Monday, Sept. 19, at 9 a.m.

Read the two assigned articles for the week before you start writing your blog post. Each article is quite different from the other.


All steps are required for this assignment. Do all five steps below. Step 5 tells you what to include in your post.

STEP 1: Create a new account at Twitter, or use one you already have. You MUST use your own Twitter account for this!

Read or scan the Terms of Service (feel free to comment on any parts that impress you favorably or unfavorably, but that’s NOT required).

STEP 2: IMPORTANT! Choose at least 10 NEW people to FOLLOW. Make sure each of them is tweeting regularly (check their timeline before you follow them!). These 10 new people must NOT be friends of yours. You can choose any type of person, but NOT people you know in real life. NOTE: Follow individual people, NOT BRANDS or COMPANIES. Continue reading

The revolution will not be tweeted

Do you know what the title of this post refers to? If not, here’s a little history lesson from YouTube.

It also refers to what we were just talking about last week — the famed Iranian almost-revolution that had something to do with Twitter … or did it?

In an apt comparison to the early protests of the U.S. civil rights movement, circa 1960, Malcolm Gladwell (author of four mass-market nonfiction books, including The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers) examines the Iranian election case and others in which the Internet is commonly believed to have played a major role.

His essay, published in the current issue of The New Yorker, is titled Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. His observations about weak ties and strong ties are particularly interesting, I think.