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."
April 19th, 2013
January 12th, 2013
Three remembrances of Aaron Swartz:
January 7th, 2013
Phil Gyford on setting out for another decade-long stint of publishing the Diary of Samuel Pepys online:
As I wrote last week the Diary of Samuel Pepys project has kicked off again for another almost-decade of daily publishing. What's wrong with me? Or, more practically, what did I think about when starting a ten-year project all over again?
[As the process of adding all the hyperlinks was complete from the project's first run...] there wasn't much reason not to restart the diary from the beginning. Restarting only involves having the site's front page and RSS feed automatically update daily with "today's" diary entry.
Of course, I couldn't let it be that easy. [...]
December 15th, 2012
The Pinboard Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud:
Can you explain it in PR-speak?
In 2012, Internet thought leader Maciej Cegłowski rocked the startup community with his provocative slogan 'Barely Succeed', challenging prospective entrepreneurs to reject the lottery culture of Silicon Valley in favor of small, sustainable projects that could give them a more realistic shot at financial independence.
Today he has unleashed the second part of his business philosophy, 'Barely Invest', which shatters the myth that financing is the main obstacle to creating a small technology business. In a world where social capital has become the bottleneck to success, Cegłowski intends to seize the commanding heights of the New Economy as the Internet's premier social capitalist.
December 12th, 2012
Back in April 1976, ARPANET staged the fourth in a series of online dialogues between significant cultural figures. This one featured Yoko Ono, Ayn Rand, Sidney Nolan and Jim Henson. It's fair to say that Henson and Rand didn't see eye to eye:
I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea.
Why would I want to talk to him. What has he achieved or trying to achieve.
He has achieved what I think is the ultimate goal of your way of thinking.
Isolation. Contempt for others. A hard heart. Yet even he can muster a bit of empathy every now and then.
I am not isolated. I have no contempt for others. Millions of people read my books and find my thoughts inspirational. I hardly spend my time on the sidelines in a trash can grumping.
Not yet anyway.
[Via The Null Device]
December 11th, 2012
Massively Multiplayer online games that close down tend to do so in a highly unsatisfactory manner, with a date being announced for the servers to be turned off and little fanfare beyond that created by the players themselves. Tiny Speck, the company behind Glitch (official site | Wikipedia article) took a much classier approach:
Tiny Speck resurrected favorite rare in-game items, such as the Stoot Barfield Pullstring Doll and the 2010 Glitchmas Yeti, as rewards for participation in the last feats. The company also continued to release new content, from feats to recipes to new areas, until a few days before the closure. Players raced to earn new achievement badges and take screenshots in the just-opened areas. [...]
Players enjoyed the fresh content, and developers enjoyed creating it. [Glitch designer Stewart Butterfield...] said that much of that content was almost completed when the staff was notified of the game shutdown – and the jobs that would go with it. Letting staffers complete their own pet projects was a way to recognize their work.