The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks #25

A weekly reading list to stimulate thoughts about the (digitised) world you might (or might not) want to live in.

Here is this week’s collection of articles and ideas that caught my eye, with a focus on ‘digital life’ , broadband Internet and personal data. They offer data about the world we presently live in, and hints about the one we might wish to pass on to future generations.

Censorship corner

Damage Control: Twitter Says Overzealous Shadowbanning Was a Mistake, 3 Days Before Congress Grills CEO Jack DorseyBreitbart

“Notably, the platform’s previous system didn’t merely seek to downrank accounts that were actually abusive, but accounts that could be viewed as abusive. And not even that — accounts that were likely to be viewed as abusive. Twitter did not explain whose determinations of “abusiveness” were being treated as authoritative.” — No mean tweets to Dorsey’s political associates, as that’s ‘abuse’. See also Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple slapped with class-action lawsuit over conservative censorship.

EU Considering Requiring a Broadcaster License to have YouTube ChannelArmstrong Economics

“Germany has already taken steps that the FCC and the EU are looking at very closely. The German regulator says Twitch and YouTube streams are considered broadcasts, must apply for a broadcasting license. Germany has already taken that step requiring a radio broadcast license for Twitch. Germany under Merkel is deeply concerned about her negative press. They are starting to regulate and shut down free speech under the pretend of hate speech to protect the public.” See also Should the tech giants be liable for content?.

Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones and Infowars accountsCNBC

“The ban appears to be related to a heated exchange between Jones and a CNN reporter Wednesday, which Jones live-streamed on the Twitter-owned video service Periscope. Jones ranted at the reporter, as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, following back-to-back congressional hearings where Dorsey addressed online election interference, as well as accusations of political bias and conservative censorship on the platform.” — Jones spreads disinformation: some truth mixed with untruth, and lies by omission. Hard cases make bad law, as they say.

Noteworthy news

Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision Says Fourth Amendment Applies to Smart Meter DataEFF

“The Court reasoned that people do not “voluntarily ‘assume the risk’ of turning over a comprehensive dossier of physical movements” just by choosing to use a cell phone. The Seventh Circuit held that the same goes for smart meter data: “a home occupant does not assume the risk of near constant monitoring by choosing to have electricity in her home.””

CNN Boosts Left-Wing Campaign to Censor Breitbart; Approves ‘Blacklisting’Breitbart

“In the midst of a nationwide debate about whether, and how, social media companies are censoring and eliminating conservatives, a practice they euphemistically call “de-platforming,” CNN weighed in clearly on the side of that censorship, offering Rivitz an interview unchallenged by any opposing points of view.” — We are mired in a memetic war. CNN is in deep trouble. See also Facebook’s former security chief: US elections at risk of being ‘World Cup of information warfare’.

Comcast Now Wants to Pay You to Watch TV OnlineThe Anti Media

“The strategy currently in development would reward users for watching shows on its Watch Back service, offering them points to be redeemed through gift cards. Episodes from including Bravo, USA, and NBC, all owned by parent company Comcast, would be offered and, in theory, entice viewers to watch more of the content on TV.” — I haven’t watched TV as a regular habit for 30 years, and nothing is going to change it.

Important ideas

Why Technology Favors TyrannyThe Atlantic

“Can you guess how long AlphaZero spent learning chess from scratch, preparing for the match against Stockfish 8, and developing its genius instincts? Four hours. For centuries, chess was considered one of the crowning glories of human intelligence. AlphaZero went from utter ignorance to creative mastery in four hours, without the help of any human guide.”


“The Octalysis Framework is developed by Gamification Guru Yu-Kai Chou, who has spent more than 13 years as a pioneer in gamification. … Octalysis is a human-focused gamification design framework that lays out the eight core drives for human motivation.”

Data of distinction

2018 is the End of Social Media as we Know ItMark Spencer

“Two million people under the age of 25 will stop using the social network this year, research firm eMarketer predicted. For the first time, the majority of US internet users between the ages of 12 and 17 won’t use Facebook once a month this year.”

Blue Light is Making Us Blind, Say ResearchersNatural Blaze

“The researchers said molecules that we need to be able to see, called retinal, turn into cell killers when they interact with blue light. … The researchers want to get to the bottom of that and develop some sort of eye drop to reduce damage. In the meantime, they suggest avoiding looking at your phone in the dark.”

Who controls your data?Engadget

“My Facebook data dump also noticeably increased before and after May 25th: from 10 advertisers with my contact info to 180. My ad interests swelled from 198 to 357. One representative from Facebook told me the former was due to a bug that caused fewer advertisers to be shown between October 2017 and April 2018; another rep told me the latter was due to fluctuations in the ad categories Facebook maintains. Both denied the change was related to the GDPR.” — Would Facebook ever lie to you?

Interesting views

The Untold Story Of Notpetya, The Most Devastating Cyberattack In HistoryWired

“In fact, it was a clusterfuck of clusterfucks. The same scene was playing out at 17 of Maersk’s 76 terminals, from Los Angeles to Algeciras, Spain, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, to Mumbai. Gates were down. Cranes were frozen. Tens of thousands of trucks would be turned away from comatose terminals across the globe.”

The Future Sharing Economy and a New Model of ConsumerismMichael Spencer

“While Netflix and Uber may not exist any longer in 15 years, what will exist are robust subscription services that will be bundled together that make the most sense. Amazon Prime for instance, has a discount version for people on food stamps. Amazon Prime is also a good examples of how many services of value are bundled together in an ecosystem of value.”

The Internet Doesn’t Need a Fairness DoctrineNational Review

“While President Trump may not like CNN coverage or Google search results of his name, granting the government the power to control search results is asking for a whole host of unintended consequences. Do Diamond and Silk want the government to mandate that they provide time for opposing views on their YouTube channel? … Would supporters of President Trump (or the president himself) want a Democratic president to have the power to police the Internet?” See also Social Media Giants Need Regulation From a Government That’s Unsure How To Help.

Can we consume less without wrecking the economy?DW

“Degrowthers argue that while recycling is important, we will only cut resource use to sustainable levels by consuming far, far less. And that just isn’t compatible with a system that demands we all buy as much as possible to keep factories running, workers employed and investments profitable. …Welfare, communal sharing, volunteering, open-source innovation — and a shift from fulfillment measured in the accumulation of shiny baubles toward more intrinsic human values — all have a role to play.”

Media of merit

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