September 12, 2014
"But that is part of the ideological mission of Big Data, to get us to accept black-box algorithmic filtering as reflecting what would have chosen to see, had we been given the choice. In other words, the common understanding of “personalization” has been stretched to leave out the will of the actual person involved."

Rob Horning at Internal ExilePrompted by the callous statement from OKCupid’s data scientist

September 7, 2014

There are two debaters, Alice and Bob. Alice takes the podium, makes her argument. Then Bob takes her place, but before he can present his counter-argument, he must summarize Alice’s argument to her satisfaction — a demonstration of respect and good faith. Only when Alice agrees that Bob has got it right is he permitted to proceed with his own argument — and then, when he’s finished, Alice must summarize it to his satisfaction.

The first time I saw one of these debates, it blew my mind.


Robin Sloan in The Message at Medium. The Steel Man of #GamerGate

September 6, 2014
"But the bigger loss will be the networked intelligence that prizes emergence over engagement and interaction above the retweetable— which gets very boring very quickly."

Zeynep Tufekci at Medium. Why Twitter Should Not Algorithmically Curate the Timeline

It’s the Human Judgment of the Flock, Not the Lone Bird, That Powers It

September 3, 2014
"In fact, as concerns interactivity, one of the web world’s waving flags, the techies don’t want to know that reading a book is the ultimate interactivity, where the reader’s life flows through the sentences, as through an electric circuit, animating those sentences, bringing them to life in the mind—so that it is only when a book is read that it is completed. Nothing else is as interactive as that. And a book is written in silence and read in silence, another advantage in our noisy world—an integrity of the mind is maintained with the ability to live in an extended discourse."

E. L. Doctorow in The Nation. The Promise—and Threat—of the Internet

Who will rule our virtual world—government data miners and the corporations in step with them, or everyone else?

August 24, 2014

Project Gutenberg eBooks are a permanent part of the Internet and the eBooks have been all along.

eBooks come and go from other eBook sites, other eBooks sites come or go from time to time, but Project Gutenberg has always been there.

The big reason is Project Gutenberg is for the benefit of everyone in the world equally, not more for anyone than anyone else, me included.



August 16, 2014

As I have written here before, as much as we should fear the immense power of intelligence agencies such as the NSA, it’s important to recognize that secrecy does not merely function as an instrument of power — just as importantly it functions to conceal incompetence.

The agencies want to sustain their mystique as the valiant and stealthy defenders of national security. What they dread is being seen as over-funded bunglers.


Paul Woodward at War in Context. How the NSA shut down the internet in Syria — by accident

July 24, 2014
"How can the public learn the role of algorithms in their daily lives, evaluating the law and ethicality of systems like the Facebook NewsFeed, search engines, or airline booking systems?"

J. Nathan Matias at MIT Center for Civic Media. Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook Newsfeed 

July 19, 2014
Images on the Internet

I passively follow on Twittter, but it seems to me that Vinay Gupta tweets in storms. When he does, I tune in because he very often asks important questions. Today, which the above tweet was a part, he was exploring the question:

Suppose you had a rule: never buy anything that wasn’t made by people you would trade places with in a pinch. Suppose we all did that?

The tweet I singled out, he marked with the hash tag #Soon, but what he’s talking about seems very much #Now to me. And if I, some old white dude in America, is seeing, I know lot of other people are. I know it because sometimes people talk about it.

One of the things that makes this different from “poverty porn” is the images showing up on social media streams now are not really anonymous. They show up as a result of social networks. Even if the images and messages of suffering are from “friends of friends” we’re aware nowadays of being part of a network with those who are suffering.

Gupta’s question would you trade places packs a punch because these other places really aren’t so remote from us.

What do we do when we know the names of the starving mother and child we see on the Internet?

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July 8, 2014
“New media, new civics?” and reactions in Policy & Internet | ... My heart’s in Accra

P&I, unfortunately, is protected by paywall, but I and others involved are archiving pre-press versions of our papers. Mine will be up on MIT’s DSpace repository in the near future and is here in the meantime. Other participants have been making their pieces available online as well. If you’ve got access through your university or a library, please check out the whole issue

"Their pieces available" provide three good links ;)

July 1, 2014
"With tools like Google Website Optimizer or Facebook ad campaigns, the capacity to run de facto experiments is mass-democratized to social media editors, product managers, software developers, and basically everyone who runs a website. This is new. It doesn’t match our socially shared, institutionalized frames and connected norms."

Sebastian Deterding at Tumbling Conduct.Frame Clashes, or: Why the Facebook Emotion Experiment Stirs Such Emotion

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