Healthy Social Media, Secrets of Pascal’s Triangle and Venus’ Tectonics

Welcome to this week’s Via Waverly, where I expose diverse and unexpected finds that were served to me by Waverly.

Principles of Healthy Social Media

I stumbled on this research by New Public, an organization that wants to reimagine the Internet as a public space. (Via Fast Company.) They asked power users of major Internet platforms questions like Does the platform encourage people to treat one another humanely?

Based on the answers, the researchers came up with 14 principles for healthy social media. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Inviting everyone to participate
  • Encouraging the humanization of others
  • Building bridges between groups
  • Promoting thoughtful conversation

Wave: 🕸️ Better Web

Secrets hidden in Pascal’s Triangle

You know Pascal’s triangle, right? If I asked you, apart from 1, which number is the most frequent in the triangle and how often it appears, what would you say?

If you’re like me, you’d probably guess something like: “I have no idea which number it is, but it probably appears infinitely many times.” Well, thanks to Terrence Tao and Waverly, I learned this week about the Singmaster’s conjecture which says that no number larget than 1 appears infinitely many times. In fact, the current record holder is 3003 and it appears 8 times.

I always love it when strange numbers like 3003 appear in a conjecture. Makes maths feel like a wonderful and unexplored world.

Wave: 🧮 Math Geekiness

Tectonic Plates on Venus

What’s one thing Earth has that no other planet has? Tectonic plates! At least that was what we thought until a couple of weeks ago where scientist found evidence that Venus surface moves around.

Wave: 🌋 Geological Mysteries

A Feel-Good Math Story

I immersed myself in this heartfelt tribute of a son to his mathematician father.

For me, the symbols are mathematical madeleines. They remind me of the pads of paper that were scattered around our house, each full of my father’s scribblings—his version of the sandpiper tracks that had delighted him as a child. When I was a child myself, I would watch him on the couch, deep in thought, scratching away with a mechanical pencil. At some point, I thought that I might like to have a life like that.

Dan Rockmore

There’s something about the struggle of intellectuals that moves my heart. I connect with their desire to do the greatest work, the slow realization that they might not get there, and their human condition rising from the depth of their soul and making them fall in love again with the mundane.

Wave: 🧮 Math Geekiness

Rally, A New Privacy-First Platform

Mozilla just introduced Rally, a novel data sharing platform that puts privacy above everything else.

Today, we’re announcing the Mozilla Rally platform. Built for the browser with privacy and transparency at its core, Rally puts users in control of their data and empowers them to contribute their browsing data to crowdfund projects for a better Internet and a better society.

The goal seems to be to enable technology policy research by academics, which often do not have access to the data they need —this data being trapped in the walled gardens of online services. This objective reminds me quite a bit of data trusts, although the article doesn’t mention them.

Wave: ⚖️ Policies for people