Social Science Recap [June 15-29, 2011]

Social Science Roundup--June 15-June 29, 2011

Interesting internet finds linking anthropology, sociology, psychology (other ologies) to design, user experience, and technology. In this post: apps that show you that you're a blabber mouth. Claims can become fact pretty easily, a case of a scholar being called out. Channel your inner Zack Morris/Jessie Spano and check out old technology. Tall grass jewelry? And many more...

Please, be brief. Originally released in 2009, I stumbled upon the Talk-o-Meter iPhone app while looking up conversation dominance. Basically, it's an iPhone app that tells you who is controlling the conversation, based on the frequency of a person talking. It's only a matter of time before we have iPhone apps that can log other dimensions of conversation dominance such as initiations, overlaps, and interruptions.

Gould, you did bad! One of my favorite books was criticized recently (this is ALL over the internet). Stephen Jay Gould's 1981 book The Mismeasure of Man is a critique of the pseudo-scientific skull-measuring techniques employed in the 1800's to reify racial hierarchy, basically linking cranial capacity to intelligence. Gould focuses on physician/scientist Samuel Morton's collection, critiquing Morton's methods (insinuating that he purposefully biased results to get his predetermined results). Gould's work was left undisputed for 30 years, and many of the claims in his book are stated as fact today, but researchers at UPenn went back and examined Morton's notes, and remeasured the skulls themselves and said that maybe his numbers weren't too far off (his claims of racial hierarchies however are bogus). It's a stern warning: your opinions and claims can one day we taken for fact, and then someone might revisit your work and call you out for your flawed research. (Article is published in PLoS Biology).

Lots of gray, black, and silver things. At Internet Week, Google sponsored an exhibit called Digital Archaeology with the overarching message of the need to archive virtual and digital relics, such as influential websites. Many of the digital artifacts we've retained are physical pieces of hardware. When I see an old Mac, it's "cute" or "Saved By the Bell." When I see an old website, my head wants to explode from staring at the blue underlined links and horrible graphics. I'm curious to see the actual display-ability of old websites. Did you know there isn't even a single screenshot of the very first website?  TRIVIA: What was the very first website? Story Worldwide put together the exhibit, check out the Fast Co. article.

Forget diamonds! The Huffpost Style recently reported on the famous anthropology family, the Leakey's, who started their own jewelry collection as part of a move to help Masai families in their Kenyan community establish a more sustainable income stream. After severe droughts in the area left nearly 100 families financially dependent on the Leakey's, they started the Leakey Collection to capitalize on their design backgrounds as well as provide ethically sourced products to sell.