Category Archives: Computer magic

Comedy Hack Day Demos at MIT Media Lab

Cultivated Wit Comedy Hack DayComedy Hack Day began when Craig realized he had two independent groups of nerdy friends: comedy nerds and computer nerds. Comedy Hack Day brings these two groups together.

The first event was held in NYC September 2012. The second was held at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco in April 2013 (watch highlight reel). This weekend, we infested the MIT Media Lab.

group shot

Here are the final demos:

Continue reading Comedy Hack Day Demos at MIT Media Lab

Beauty vs. Usability = Both

Like many users before me, I stared at my rat’s nest of Delicious bookmark tags one day and realized the futility of tagging all these links with words and phrases I’d never actually recall. At that point, I gave up on taxonomy and tried a new tactic: filing bookmarks into only two folders: Beautiful and Useful.

The beautiful examples were inspiring, artistic, and aesthetically gorgeous. The useful examples offered new functionalities, potential savings of time, and clever solutions.


Beauty vs. Utility
Beauty vs. Utility

This dichotomy approach failed, too, as I realized that there’s a sometimes complicated interplay between beauty and utility.

Javier Bargas-Avila, user experience researcher at Google and YouTube, is at the Harvard Berkman Center today (video) to share his psychological research on this interplay in user experience. Continue reading Beauty vs. Usability = Both

Characterizing the Life Cycle of Online News Stories Using Social Media Reactions

I’ve graduated, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to see my first academic paper accepted for publication. Thanks to Carlos CastilloMohammed El-Haddad, and Jürgen Pfeffer for driving this paper, and for inviting me to collaborate. Take a look. Al Jazeera English provided us with some great data.

To appear in Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing. Baltimore, USA. February 2014.

[Download PDF]

The shelf-life of hard news vs feature pieces
The shelf-life of hard news vs feature pieces on Al Jazeera English

This paper presents a study of the life cycle of news articles posted online. We describe the interplay between website visitation patterns and social media reactions to the news content. We show that we can use this hybrid observation method to characterize distinct classes of articles. We also find that social media reactions can be used to predict future visitation patterns early and accurately.

We validate our methods using qualitative analysis as well as quantitative analysis on data from a large international news network, for a set of articles generating more than 3,000,000 visits and 200,000 social media reactions. We show that it is possible to model accurately the overall traffic articles will ultimately receive by observing the first ten to twenty minutes of social media reactions. Achieving the same prediction accuracy with visits alone would require to wait for three hours of data. We also describe significant improvements on the accuracy of the early prediction of shelf-life for news stories.

Make an Internet Time Capsule with Google Chrome

If you use the Chrome browser, you may have noticed that when you begin typing in the address bar, Google’s Autocomplete prediction service guesses where you might be heading to save you keystrokes. If you have Web History enabled, those guesses aren’t just popular websites, but rather the sites you’re historically most likely to visit.

I realized that this list of sites actually end up serving as a sort of internet time capsule of the last ten weeks (the amount of time the browser history spans). So, here are my Internet ABCs of my last three months of grad school at the Media Lab. Click any of the images to go to the site.

A is for Analytics
is for Analytics. I maintain a lot of websites

Continue reading Make an Internet Time Capsule with Google Chrome