The Internet is Just a Prototype Lots of lovely links

A weekly reading list to stimulate thoughts about the (digitised) world you might want to live in.

I have begun collating my ‘interesting links’ each week. Here’s another collection for you to enjoy. They offer hints about the world we live in, and the one we might wish to pass on to future generations. I’ll keep doing this as long as I feel motivated!

You can join my email discussion group The Internet is Just a Prototype by paying to get in as a patron of my more benevolent public works. I am only offering a limited number of paid places; most people are invite only.

EU Data Watchdog: Facebook Users Are Treated Like ‘Battery Animals or Experimental Rats’ — Breitbart

“There are days when you have the impression people are treated as battery animals or experimental rats,” he continued. “We are treated as a farm for data. We are in within a walled garden, and every single action is monitored.” … seems like Faceborg is getting close to the “event horizon” from which there is no return.

The Medium Is (Not) the Message: Political Indoctrination Through Media Literacy Initiatives — Insurge Intelligence

The propagandists teaching children about #FakeNews… what would possibly go wrong? Well… “In this situation, from what I can tell, they are equating critical thinking with a responsibility to an editorial board to make a right decision, instead of a wrong decision, under intense pressure.”

Study links excessive smartphone use to inability to endure emotional distress — PsyPost

“People with less ability to endure emotional distress, and people who use less mindful awareness to regulate emotion, had greater severity of problematic smartphone use. The ability to regulate emotion may be an important variable to help offset problematic use of technology,” Elhai told PsyPost. — Thankfully we’ve added lots of instrumentation to these pervasive platforms to understand their wellbeing effect on users. Haven’t we? Err… oh, darn…

Algorithmic Sovereignty — University of Plymouth

“Algorithms constitute a foundational basis across different fields of studies: policy making, governance, art and technology. The ability to understand what is inscribed in such algorithms, what are the consequences of their execution and what is the agency left for the living world is crucial. Yet there is a lack of interdisciplinary and practice based literature, while specialised treatises are too narrow to relate to the broader context in which algorithms are enacted.”

The KARDASHEV Scale (types 0 to VI) — Veronica Sicoe

“In 1964, Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev figured that civilizations can be categorized by the total amount of energy available to them. He defined three levels of civilizations based on their capacity to harness and use power. These have since been expanded by another four (in light of the increasingly wild speculations spawned by marrying mathematics and theoretical physics).” — If “data is the new oil”, is there any equivalent for information and algorithms?

Inside the Alexa Prize — Wired

“Amazon, in case you haven’t noticed, has spent the past few years pursuing voice AI with a voraciousness rivaling that of its conquest of retail. The company has more than 5,000 people working on the Alexa platform.” — The participants in this hackathon strike me as being utterly naive, doing vast amounts of work for Amazon for a pittance, and then surrendering all their raw data.

MoneyLab Reader 2: Overcoming the Hype — Institute of Network Cultures

“MoneyLab is a network of artists, activists, and geeks experimenting with forms of financial democratization. Entering the 10th year of the global financial crisis, it still remains a difficult yet crucial task to distinguish old wine from its fancy new bottles. The MoneyLab network questions persistent beliefs, from Calvinist austerity, growth, and up-scaling, to trustless, automated decision making and (anarcho-)capitalist dreams of cybercurrencies and blockchained solutionism.” — Lots of reading for a longhaul flight…

There’s A Facebook Alternative, It’s Called Self-Sovereign Identity — Coindesk

“The Decentralized Identifiers specification, developed under the auspices of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is the basis of the solution. It outlines the format for the identifiers along with that of DID descriptor objects (DDOs), the documents containing all the metadata needed to prove control and ownership of an identifier.” — If you aren’t self-sovereign, you’re a slave in the identity plantation.

Some Facebook Quitters Face Technical Obstacles — WSJ

“Dark patterns” abound when you attempt to take off your shackles.

Most Social CIO In The World Signs On To Foster A People-Centered Internet — Forbes

“GDPR raises interesting questions because it puts a strong impetus on protecting privacy. There are open questions such as should an IP address be considered personally identifiable information? Right now, Europe would say yes. If you share an IP Address without consent of the “owner” of that IP Address, you are in violation of GDPR and potentially could be fined up to 4 percent of your revenue. What do you do if you are trying to monitor fraud?”

What Was Privacy? — HBR

“The privacy writer and researcher Alan F. Westin famously created a bell curve showing how concern about privacy has changed over time among three groups: fundamentalists (absolutists of the Logan Roots camp), pragmatists (those who worry about threats to privacy but believe that reasonable safeguards are in place or can be created), and the unconcerned (those who give privacy little thought). In Westin’s surveys, fundamentalists made up only 15% to 25% of those polled.”

The Poverty of Liberal Economics — The Imaginative Conservative

“The claim that the market is neutral with respect to the question of the objective good of the person is nothing more than a cover for liberalism’s imposition of a definite, decidedly liberal paradigm of economic freedom. It is important to see, however, that rejection of this paradigm does not necessarily entail an absolute rejection of the idea of the free market.” — Might there be room for competing ideas as to what an “algorithmic conscience” aims to achieve? I expect so!

Interledger is the New World Bank — Era of Light

The Interledger is the new Internet. Blocks are the new packets.

Salsify: Video is better when the codec and transport work together

We’re still spending enormous (wasted) energy on “best effort” performance. Time for a quality revolution in networking, methinks! Then we can move on to the real engineering problems…

The U.S. CLOUD Act and the EU: A Privacy Protection Race to the Bottom — EFF

“The U.S. CLOUD Act allows the U.S. President to enter into “executive agreements” with qualifying foreign governments in order to directly access data held by U.S. technology companies at a lower standard than required by the Constitution of the United States.” — We need information infrastructure that understands context and jurisdiction.

Why Bitcoin is bullshit, explained by an expert — Vox

“Sean Illing: Is yours a minority opinion in the world of cryptocurrency? Nicholas Weaver: Yes, because there’s a self-selecting bias. Most people who think this is bogus simply walk away. Those who are believers are believers. Very few people have followed it like I have for five years and still find it ridiculous, but that’s because I’m an academic and I have the space to do it and I find parts of it, especially the criminality, interesting. But the arguments in defense of this stuff are getting loonier and loonier.”

Visceral UX blog — Alastair Somerville

“This is why VisceralUX exists. We need to understand and respect how people feel about our products and services to make them usable and useful. We all feel before we understand.”

Facebook’s secretive hardware division is exploring modular smartphones — The Verge

Why are they doing their really controversial stuff in China? Hmm…

China Now Has the Most Valuable AI Startup in the World — Bloomberg

A database of everyone’s face… ah, dots… joined.

Is VR porn really on the rise? A look at who’s watching what, where and how — Wareable

“The most important statistic of all is that, without fail, every year, the most popular time for watching porn by far is… Christmas Day, when people get new VR headsets and apparently immediately run off to a dark room to, ah, test the gear.” — I wouldn’t know, too many Jehovah’s Witnesses in the family and not enough Xmas tech gifts.

Some Twittery links…

Finally, Some Smoking Guns of Facebook History. There’s still time to download your data before it collapses…


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