How Well Can You Multitask?

Multitaskers receive a lot of praise for being able to do many things at once, but a study conducted at Stanford University shows that multitaskers are significantly more prone to distractions, making it difficult for them to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. Moreover, there is a lingering effect to multitasking in which individuals can’t shut off their multitasking tendencies when not multitasking.

In reality, only a very small number of the population can efficiently multitask. These “supertaskers” represent less than 3% of the population according to a study done at the University of Utah.

Are you are multitasker? Take the following test to find out how you measure up against both low and high multitaskers.
Take the test here:

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Female peers in small work groups enhance women’s motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in engineering

In a new piece in PNAS, Dasgupta,Scircle & Hunsinger demonstrate the
importance of team gender composition. They show that females have greater
participation, self-confidence, and career aspirations when they are
assigned to teams with more females.

Abstract: For years, public discourse in science education, technology, and
policy-making has focused on the “leaky pipeline” problem: the observation
that fewer women than men enter science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics fields and more women than men leave. Less attention has
focused on experimentally testing solutions to this problem. We report an
experiment investigating one solution: we created “microenvironments”
(small groups) in engineering with varying proportions of women to identify
which environment increases motivation and participation, and whether
outcomes depend on students’ academic stage. Female engineering students
were randomly assigned to one of three engineering groups of varying sex
composition: 75% women, 50% women, or 25% women. For first-years, group
composition had a large effect: women in female-majority and sex-parity
groups felt less anxious than women in female-minority groups. However,
among advanced students, sex composition had no effect on anxiety.
Importantly, group composition significantly affected verbal participation,
regardless of women’s academic seniority: women participated more in
female-majority groups than sex-parity or female-minority groups.
Additionally, when assigned to female-minority groups, women who harbored
implicit masculine stereotypes about engineering reported less confidence
and engineering career aspirations. However, in sex-parity and
female-majority groups, confidence and career aspirations remained high
regardless of implicit stereotypes. These data suggest that creating small
groups with high proportions of women in otherwise male-dominated fields is
one way to keep women engaged and aspiring toward engineering careers.
Although sex parity works sometimes, it is insufficient to boost women’s
verbal participation in group work, which often affects learning and


New App Will Integrate 37 Social Networks and Music Sites Into One Simple Feed

“A new web and mobile platform plans to simplify our online lives by providing users access to all of their accounts in one place. Squidlle will integrate dozens of social networks and sites for music, video, images, design and blogging and create one combined feed for all of them. The product-whose odd name we assume was created with an algorithmic name generator-just launched on Indiegogo.”

This new app could provide interesting research opportunities for looking at the networks of Social Network Sites. Think of each SNS as a node and the connections (direct or indirect links) as edges.

“Users will be able to browse updates from various accounts on one combined feed, post and message across all of their accounts at once and even use multiple accounts from the same service (like personal and professional Twitter handles). They’ll also be able to hide specific content, save posts or links as “read later,” create lists, save drafts and customize notifications.”


Team Captains Let Players Reach Personal Milestones, Even at Expense of Team

A study from Queensland University of Technology in Australia, examining more than 3,000 One-Day International matches from 1971-2014, found that cricket batsmen who were close to reaching personal milestones were less likely to be dismissed by their captain. That is, if a cricket captain is thinking about possibly declaring (ending his team’s batting to avoid a draw if time expires), he may decide to wait a bit more if one of the batsmen is close to a landmark (scoring 50, 100 or 200). For instance, if a batsman has a score of 90, not declaring will provide the chance for this batsman to score a “century,” but also wastes time if his team is sufficiently ahead in runs. This strategy at first sight, seems detrimental to the team because the decision to declare an innings should be entirely determined by the team’s overall score or the field conditions, not by its individual batsmen’s score. However, the authors suggest that this balance by captains could be done as a form of social-exchange, where the captain hopes the risk in allowing a player to reach a strictly personal goal is repaid by a higher level of overall performance by not only that player, but other players in the team who appreciate the captain’s gesture. This research highlights the complexities of how leaders must manage both an individual’s and the team’s goals, and how the two may interact to influence team performance.

Read the full article here:

Building A Smarter Team: Tom Ashbrook Doesn’t Understand the Benefits of Teams

“The world is going to teamwork. In the 1950s, about half of our work was done in teams. Today, by one measure, it’s more like 90 percent. Maybe it’s at the office. Maybe it’s on Google Hangout. Maybe it’s at the PTA. But what makes a good team? A smart team? It’s not just a bunch of smart people, says a big new study. It’s a crew that shares the floor, the talking time, it claims. It’s a team that has high social sensitivity. And it’s often, it says, a team with more women. We need a cultural revolution, they say, to optimize our teams. This hour On Point: Are you onboard? We’re talking teamwork.” -Tom Ashbrook


Anita Woolley, professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

Thomas Malone, professor management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. Author of “The Future of Work.” (@twmalone)

Morris Shechtman, founder of Fifth Wave Leadership.

Listen to the entire podcast here:

How Network Science Is Changing Our Understanding of Law

Original Article:

How Network Science Is Changing Our Understanding of Law


Konaris et al at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece expanded on existing legal network analysis by extracting “all the documents from the European Community’s legal database dating back to 1951” and organizing the texts into three subnetworks: treaties between countries, regulations and directives that are based on these treaties, and case laws that have emerged from the application of these regulations. Analysis of each subsection showed that “all were small world networks in themselves” that generally demonstrate high levels of resilience. This model produced a novel perspective because it takes into account both the temporal dynamism and hierarchical nature of European law. In addition to mapping citations (references that do not modify the target document) Konaris also represented legal bias (edit references that modify either the text or the lifecycle of the target document) and accounted for their effects over time. This revealed “a steep increase in the density of links within the network over time”. Ultimately, Konaris suggests that the clusters and related connections illustrated by this work may “help legislators determine the effect of proposed changes and improve the effectiveness of legal information retrieval”.


Cuban Youth Build Secret Computer Network Despite Wi-Fi Ban

Cuba has been in the headlines recently with the president Obama’s decision to lift the 55-year-long trade embargo on the country.
But what do we know about Cuba’s networks, specifically their online networks? If you thought China had tough internet laws, at least they have the internet. Cuba, on the other hand, bans internet use for all but a few Cubans and “charges nearly a quarter of a month’s salary for an hour online in government-run hotels and Internet centers”. And yet, a small group of primarily young Cubans have created a pseudo-online network consisting of over 9,000 nodes using hidden Wi-Fi hotspots and cables strung across rooftops. The network is essentially a giant “lan party” for young Cubans to chat, play games, and organize events. This presents an opportunity to research one of the few remaining insular networks.

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A*STAR draws on open-source map data to provide a new perspective on disaster relief

open-source map data to provide a new perspective on disaster relief

Christopher Monterola of that A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore and co-researchers at and The Logistics Institute-Asia Pacific put forth a computer model that predicts the most expedient over-ground routes using real-time data uploaded by agents on the scene. This model allows users to project the “flow of goods and other relief efforts, and quantify the reachability of critical loci within a geographic area”. To create this tool, Moterola’s team “developed a procedure that automatically transforms street maps into a network of nodes (road intersections) and edges (road segments)”. By allowing for continuous updates from crowd-sourced platforms like OpenStreetMap, the model incorporates a flexibility that enables local governments to visualize multiple infrastructure destruction scenarios.

The team achieved this by comparing “two different model networks: a grid lattice common in cities and a ‘scale-free’ road network that represents a mix of urban hubs and rural spokes”. In the resulting paper, Monterola et al. discuss “the inaccuracy of assuming that road networks follow a structure similar to the more commonly studied scale-free, random, and/or grid (regular) network configurations” – contradicting conventional assumptions used in preparedness planning. Hopefully, these findings will help correct the flaws of existing practices that forestall relief to victims (like those of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013) and mitigate the loss of life and property.

News Article:

Full Article:

Proceedings of IEEE, “The Impact of Changing Technology on Social Networks”, Dec 2014

This special issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE focuses on how digital technology is changing the structure and dynamics of social networks and the tools we have for studying and designing them. Three main take-home messages:

• Social media, search, and data extraction technologies are not only changing the structure and dynamics of social networks, but are also changing how controllable these systems are.

• Precision, quantitatively justified interventions into behavioral dynamics are increasingly feasible within the digital domain, permitting large-scale experiments on human behavior and social systems. This is useful and presents challenges.

• We understand the relationship between energy and information – how bits get converted to watts – for electrical circuits, but not for social networks. In biology, computational social science, and the science of social engineering, the development of a functional theory of information is a central theoretical challenge that needs to be addressed if these disciplines are to have strong foundations.

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Workshop on Paradigms for Control in Social Systems

@ International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS) 2015
Jun 1-3 2015
Reykjavík, Iceland

While the control of complex networks has recently emerged as an active area of research, the notion of control remains relatively undefined for social and economic systems. For example, what does it mean to control a co-purchase network, a web of trust, or an interbanking loan system? In this workshop, we invite researchers to explore what control means in such inherently social systems and how these notions of control can either be quantitatively modeled using existing techniques or necessitate the development of new modeling approaches.

We seek original submissions aimed at exploring challenges in the control of social systems, including:

* Case studies of control in social systems
* Formalizing objectives in social systems as control problems
* Models of dynamics and control in social systems
* Relationships between control mechanisms from different social systems

The organizers hope to engage a broad group of researchers to nucleate a discussion on understanding control in the context of social, economic, and business systems. Papers should be original, but can take the form of mini-survey papers or position papers on these topics. Travel support is available for some selected papers.

We aim to make this workshop hands on, with breakout sessions to delve into specific research questions and agendas.

Accepted papers will be included in the open-access Procedia Computer Science series.

Submission Instructions

Papers are limited to 10 pages with a deadline of January 22, 2015.

Submissions will be made through the ICCS 2015 EasyChair system.

pdf icon CFP_ParadigmsSocialControl-1.pdf