No one has mastered the art of feed design like Twitter and Facebook. Both companies have endlessly experimented, devising techniques to deliver the stories and updates users care about—and avoid overwhelming them with noise. The result is a series of computations that are as crucial to the information industry as Google’s search algorithm. Here’s a peek under the hood at what went into building Twitter’s and Facebook’s feeds—and how they keep you glued to the screen.
“My superior is a gamer.” Sister Helena Burns said, laughing. “You know you’re a media nun when your superior is a gamer.”
You might not expect nuns to be experts on Twitter, Facebook, and multi-player video games, but Burns defies all expectations. With 13,790 Twitter followers and counting, the Daughter of St. Paul calls herself a “media nun”: A woman religious with a calling to communicate the word of Christ, in any way she can.
And yes, there is a gamer-superior in her convent.
“She has this souped-up computer,” Burns continued. “She gets her own little ministry out there. Once people get to know she’s a nun, they have questions, or they ask for prayers. But you do have to clean up your language when Sister Irene’s out there.”
I imagine Sister Irene sitting in front of a sleek desktop with neon LED backlights, wearing her bright yellow Grado headphones and concentrating intensely on a multi-player RPG. It’s a funny image—there’s such a symbolic disconnect between the stereotypical idea of a nun and a basement-dwelling teenager who loves World of Warcraft. That’s what’s so fascinating about these sisters and their order: They defy stereotypes about who participates in Internet culture, and how.
So how does a nun use social media?
Read more. [Image courtesy of Helena Burns]
New personal hero.
You can’t turn back the clock and hear Martin Luther King deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in person — but you can follow along as if it’s happening today, thanks to the Twitter account @todayin1963. All summer, the account — run by NPR’s Codeswitch team, which examines the intersections of race, ethnicity, and culture — has been tweeting its way through the summer of 1963, a pivotal period of the civil rights movement.
Want to know business? These are the only people you need to follow.
These are the best reporters, writers, and thinkers on the Internet – the people who understand what’s happening.
Here are our favorite sources of news covering the world of business and finance. From macroeconomics to microlending, these folks are all money when it comes to delivering high-value information.
If you’re drowning in noise, let WIRED’s 101 Signals be your lifeline. These are the core nutrients of a good data diet.
Let’s face it: Technology and etiquette have been colliding for some time now, and things have finally boiled over if the recent spate of media criticisms is anything to go by. There’s the voicemail, not to be left unless you’re “dying.” There’s the e-mail signoff that we need to “kill.” And then there’s the observation that what was once normal — like asking someone for directions — is now considered “uncivilized.”
Cyber-savvy folks are arguing for such new etiquette rules because in an information-overloaded world, time-wasting communication is not just outdated — it’s rude. But while living according to the gospel of technological efficiency and frictionless sharing is fine as a Silicon Valley innovation ethos, it makes for a downright depressing social ethic.
On day one of the fight between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli Defense Forces executed a top leader of the militant group — and took to Twitter and YouTube to brag about it. On day two, the Palestinian group hit back, launching its most sophisticated rockets and announcing every new barrage on social media.
More @ Danger Room.
Lots of people are talking about whether electronic artists push one button or more than one button when they play live. Everyone else seems to be bickering about whether the kids today are immoral because they play videogames and stream music instead of dropping acid and seeing the Grateful Dead.
You know who isn’t talking? Ironically, because it’s his job, Louis CK. He’s too busy doing things like reinventing the media business, if only for one man and his fans.