May 29th, 2014
Having finally got round to reading the transcript of Maciej Cegłowski's Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk , I can but report that – as usual – he talked a lot of sense:
One reason there's a backlash against Google glasses is that they try to bring the online rules into the offline world. Suddenly, anything can be recorded, and there's the expectation (if the product succeeds) that everything will be recorded. The product is called 'glass' instead of 'glasses' because Google imagines a world where every flat surface behaves by the online rules. [The day after this talk, it was revealed Google is seeking patents on showing ads on your thermostat, refrigerator, etc.]
Well, people hate the online rules!
Google's answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they're doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress.
You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference.
May 19th, 2014
Matt Haughey posted some bad news on MetaTalk today:
Today I need to share some unfortunate news: because of serious financial downturn, MetaFilter will be losing three of its moderators to layoffs at the end of this month. What that means for the site and the site's future are described below.
While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.
Where we are headed
The site is currently and has been for several months operating at a significant loss. If nothing were to change, MeFi would defaulting on bills and hitting bankruptcy by mid-summer. As a result, I'm having to make the difficult decision to lay off employees to make up for budget shortfalls. Starting June 1st, we'll be operating with a smaller moderator staff. […]
Not the sort of MetaFilter link I usually post here!
MetaFilter is one of the best, most consistently interesting online communities on the web; not just because of the links people post there, but because over the years it has hosted some of the most entertaining and informative comment threads I've seen on the internet. Since the Death of Usenet, it's been my number one source of civilised discussion online, and it's a terrible shame that it looks as if Google's tweaking of their search algorithm may have hit the site hard, despite MetaFilter being about as far from a linkfarm as it's possible to be.
If you've enjoyed the various links I've posted here over the years that came from MetaFilter, please consider dropping by the site and sending them a donation via PayPal (the donation link is at the foot of that page, under the subheading Supporting MetaFilter. Or even making it a recurring monthly donation if, like me, you use MetaFilter regularly.
May 18th, 2014
After visiting Kink.com's studios at The Armory, Kate Losse shares Further Notes on Kink as a Platform:
The first thing our tour guide wanted to make sure we understood was that not only is tourist photography fine at Kink, it is also encouraged, as is posting photos from Kink to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. "If you feel inspired to enter a cage and pose for pictures, please do!" the guide said enthusiastically, cautioning us only that the professional performers in the building were not fair game for photos/friend requests unless asked. "Just because you've seen someone's asshole doesn't mean they want to be your friend on Facebook," our guide admonished.
This was the first of many uncanny moments I felt during the tour, where a porn platform representative was laying down rules for social media that are more explicit than those of social media companies themselves. When was the last time a social media platform told you the house rules for friending or distributing information? For social media platforms, all information flow is good flow. At Kink, there are rules, and the proprietors of the platform wanted to make sure we knew them. [...]
[Via The Baffler]
May 7th, 2014
Well, that's a surprise: Andy Baio has launched a Kickstarter project for The Return of Upcoming.org…
April 16th, 2014
Talking to The Verge in the wake of the publication of her book It's Complicated, danah boyd talks a lot of sense about how people interact online:
People seem very afraid of their kids creating different identities on different social networks. Why are teens doing this, and should their parents be concerned?
No, in fact, this is one of the weird oddities about Facebook. Let's go back to Usenet. People had multiple nicks, they had a field day with this. They would use these multiple "identities" to put forward different facets of who they were. It wasn't to say that they were trying to be separate individuals. Who you are sitting with me today in this professional role with a shared understanding of social media is different than how you talk to your mom. She may not understand the same things you and I are talking about. At the same time, if you were talking about your past, I'd have none of it and your mother would have a lot of it. This is this moment where you think about how you present yourself differently in these different contexts, not because you're hiding, but because you're putting forward what's relevant there.
The idea of real names being the thing that leads you – that's not actually what leads us in the physical space. We lead with our bodies. We adjust how we present our bodies by situation. We dress differently, we sit differently, we emote differently. [...]
Call me nostalgic, but I'm always pleased to see references to Usenet. We might not have called it 'social media', but there's a lot to be learned from the experience of all those people back before the web was even a thing, having thousands of shared social spaces to navigate. Of course Usenet also blessed us with Canter and Siegel, but that was part of the learning curve too.
April 15th, 2014
TL;DR Wikipedia Is both concise and accurate:
January 5th, 2014
I can't remember where I found a link to this, but the Columbia Journalism Review's profile of my favourite internet sceptic, Evgeny vs. the internet Is well worth a read:
Evgeny Morozov wants to convince us that digital technology can't save the world, and he's willing to burn every bridge from Cambridge to Silicon Valley to do it.
November 3rd, 2013
danah boyd on why it's a good idea that Facebook have started providing 13-17 year old users with a way to decide on a post-by-post basis whether their content can be circulated publicly, rather than always being restricted to their Facebook friends only as is the case at present:
One of the most crucial aspects of coming of age is learning how to navigate public life. The teenage years are precisely when people transition from being a child to being an adult. There is no magic serum that teens can drink on their 18th birthday to immediately mature and understand the world around them. Instead, adolescents must be exposed to – and allowed to participate in – public life while surrounded by adults who can help them navigate complex situations with grace. They must learn to be a part of society, and to do so, they must be allowed to participate.
October 30th, 2013
Tom Morris updates a classic:
It has now been fourteen years since the Cluetrain Manifesto. I have updated it to reflect contemporary reality and society.
- Markets are conversations in much the same way as the school bully picking on the disabled queer kid is friendship.
- Markets consist of human beings. Smelly, horrible human beings who we want to fuck over.
- Conversations among human beings sound human. Conversations with social media marketers sound like people attempting to sound human.
- One of the problems with the market is that people make stupid decisions based on a lack of information. This is not like Twitter at all.
- Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. But NSA wiretapping subverts hyperlinks, so we've got that covered.
[Via The Null Device]
September 28th, 2013
Alexander Baxevanis thinks that in the face of the vast number of photos being uploaded every day we need to think harder about why and where people take photographs, what they're trying to accomplish when they share them online.
[Via Martin Belam]
September 25th, 2013
Susan Faludi in The Baffler, on Leaning In:
The scene at the [Lean In event addressed by Sheryl Sandberg at the] Menlo Park auditorium, and its conflation of "believe in yourself" faith and material rewards, will be familiar to anyone who's ever spent a Sunday inside a prosperity-gospel megachurch or watched Reverend Ike's vintage "You Deserve the Best!" sermon on YouTube. But why is that same message now ascendant among the American feminists of the new millennium?
Sandberg's admirers would say that Lean In is using free-market beliefs to advance the cause of women's equality. Her detractors would say (and have) that her organization is using the desire for women's equality to advance the cause of the free market. And they would both be right. In embodying that contradiction, Sheryl Sandberg would not be alone and isn't so new. For the last two centuries, feminism, like evangelicalism, has been in a dance with capitalism.
September 14th, 2013
Fresh from the Toronto International Film Festival, NOAH Short does a nice job of portraying a teen relationship drama via the medium of the main character's computer screen.
NB: NSFW due to some male nudity/sexual exhibitionism in places during the scene showing the main character browsing Chatroulette.
[Via waxy.org links]
August 26th, 2013
Nicholas Carr's Theses in tweetform (2nd series):
21. Recommendation engines are the best cure for hubris.
23. Hell is other selfies.
24. Twitter has revealed that brevity and verbosity are not always antonyms.
July 29th, 2013
One for readers in the UK: the Open Rights Group invites you to sign their petition telling David Cameron to Stop Sleepwalking the UK into Censorship.
Dear David Cameron,
Everyone agrees that we should try to protect children from harmful content. But asking everyone to sleepwalk into censorship does more harm than good.
Filters won't stop children seeing adult content and risks giving parents a false sense of security. It will stop people finding advice on sexual health, sexuality and relationships. This isn't just about pornography. Filters will block any site deemed unsuitable for under 18s.
Please drop these plans immediately.
July 11th, 2013
Terms And Conditions May Apply:
6) In Exchange for These Services
a. In exchange for visiting this website, you have agreed to publish a post stating that you have visited this website on Facebook. Failure to do so may result in legal action.
b. Furthermore, and with the same applicable penalties, you have also agreed to watch the film "Terms and Conditions May Apply", in any or all of the following mediums: Theatrical, VOD, SVOD, DVD, airplane, cruise ship, hotel, or building wall.
Clause 6a. will in future be known as the Jay-Z clause.
June 16th, 2013
Alex Hern reckons that #guardiancoffee is the future:
Journalism is dead. Come on, we all know it. The only problem is that it's also kinda useful.
[Via Martin Belam]
May 17th, 2013
Google's Larry Page bids us Welcome to Google Island (as related by Wired's Mat Honan):
"I hope my nudity doesn't bother you. We're completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It's something I learned at Burning Man," he said. "Here, drink this. You're slightly dehydrated, and your blood sugar is low. This is a blend of water, electrolytes, and glucose."
I was taken aback. "How did you…" I began, but he was already answering me before I could finish my question.
"As soon as you hit Google's territorial waters, you came under our jurisdiction, our terms of service. Our laws – or lack thereof – apply here. By boarding our self-driving boat you granted us the right to all feedback you provide during your journey. This includes the chemical composition of your sweat. Remember when I said at I/O that maybe we should set aside some small part of the world where people could experiment freely and examine the effects? I wasn't speaking theoretically. This place exists. We built it." [...]
May 15th, 2013
The Luck of the Listserve:
The Listserve is a mailing list lottery. Sign up for the Listserve, and you're joining a massive e-mail list. Every day, one person from the list is randomly selected to write one e-mail to everyone else. That's it. As of this writing, the Listserve has 21,399 subscribers. There has been one email per day since April 16th, 2012.
[Via The Morning News]
April 29th, 2013
Nitsu Abebe has written a thoughtful piece on The Amanda Palmer Problem. By which he means not so much the various issues some people have with Palmer's own actions but the wider problem of how artists seeking support from fans can bring down such vitriol upon themselves online:
I think there's a lesson to be learned from Palmer, and it's not the falling-into-the-crowd lesson she offers. Yes, she's correct: The web offers an opportunity to fall into the open arms of fans, in ways that weren't available before. Here's the catch: The web also makes it near-impossible to fall into the arms of just one's fans. Each time you dive into the crowd, some portion of the audience before you consists of observers with no interest in catching you. And you are still asking them to, because another thing the web has done is erode the ability to put something into the world that is directed only at interested parties.
This sort of furore is only going to get bigger and noisier as the example of the The Veronica Mars Movie Project is followed by the likes of Zach Braff and more and more recognisable names show up on the front page of Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
[Via Waxy.org links]
April 22nd, 2013
A telling vignette from Businessweek's article about Eve Online:
[A number of prominent Eve Online players...] were in Iceland's capital to meet with executives from CCP Games, the company that created Eve. The seven make up the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a group elected by other Eve players and flown by CCP to Iceland every six months or so to discuss how the game should evolve. It's a kind of super-user focus group, but also a channel for players' complaints. In 2011, when CCP rolled out some controversial changes, the company summoned the CSM members to Reykjavík for an emergency meeting in an effort to stem a user backlash. "At the time, I had been dating a girl for only three weeks and was terrified," says Joshua Goldshlag (Eve name: Two Step), a 35-year-old CSM member and computer programmer from Massachusetts. "I certainly did not want to mention that I had been elected as an Internet space politician."