Social media controls the world


If you are posting a dupe link in a topic, Discourse will tell you. Let me demonstrate

I am sure someone will be along to complain about this momentarily… anyways, back on topic.

The attention point in that article is so important:

What’s happened is, really rapidly, we’ve undergone this tectonic shift, this inversion between information and attention. Most of the systems that we have in society—whether it’s news, advertising, even our legal systems—still assume an environment of information scarcity. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it doesn’t necessarily protect freedom of attention. There wasn’t really anything obstructing people’s attention at the time it was written. Back in an information-scarce environment, the role of a newspaper was to bring you information—your problem was lacking it. Now it’s the opposite. We have too much.

Oh damn

One of the first books about web usability was actually called Don’t Make Me Think. It’s this idea of appealing to our impulsive selves, the automatic part of us, and not the considerate, rational part.

I love that book, this is like a 🔪 right in the 💘


So this is what I would like, and I don’t know if it’s possible: An app that identifies click-bait. Ideally it would hide the links so I’d see a blank spot and probably know a link had been there, but my app had identified it as click-bait.



I saw that earlier tonight. That’s so interesting, because it’s such a different media narrative.

All of these groups are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to publish any advertisement “with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

However, if you serve an ad to only white people, is the ad itself indicating a preference? I would say, no, it is not. It is the difference between:

Ad placed in the NYT: Rent our homes! But only whites please.

Ad placed in “White People Monthly”: Rent our homes!

Is advertising in that imaginary whites-only publication – which has never existed, but facebook makes possible – itself discriminatory?


Maybe? It is easier to hide your discrimination as no one besides the target audience will view an ad that looks neutral but by placement isn’t. It is also complicated because putting an ad into the WSJ and not the House Wife’s monthly is not discrimination. The ability to target an ad as specifically as you can in Facebook is a dimension no one could have fathomed. No idea how to tackle that problem as you create alternate realities by this.


I don’t think tech is evil, per se, but being infinitely connected to other human beings 24/7 every moment of your existence … kind of … is?

There’s only so much other people you can really take; in the physical world there are limits to how many people can actually interact with you, but not in the virtual world. And that one degree of separation that online offers isn’t always a good tradeoff.


Hunters and gatherers were are far less risk for infectious disease because they didn’t encounter very many new people very often. Their exposure was low, and contact among such bands was sporadic enough that diseases couldn’t spread very fast.

It wasn’t until you crowded thousands, or tens of thousands of them, along with their animals, into small dense areas with poor sanitation that disease outbreaks took off. Instead of meeting dozens of new people per year, an urban dweller probably encountered hundreds per day. Diseases that would have affected only a few people at a time as they spread slowly across a continent (or just burned out for lack of new carriers) would now leap from person to person in a flash.


I would say, yes it is. We’l see what the courts have to say, but it’s hard to see how that doesn’t violate the spirit of the law at a minimum.



Fair enough, but will it be enforced under a Trump administration? From the same article:

Housing, employment and credit are the three areas in which federal law prohibits discriminatory ads. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — the agency responsible for enforcing fair housing laws — told us that it has closed an inquiry into Facebook’s advertising policies, reducing pressure on the company to address the issue. In a 2015 newspaper column, Ben Carson, now HUD secretary, criticized “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality” in housing.

At least Facebook, to their credit, seems to be taking it seriously, though if you read the article closely you can see they basically just renamed “race” to “multicultural affinity”.


Well the algorithms might be, or at least can easily be used as tools for such.

Which we’ve always known and been paranoid about… until everyone got a smart phone and gave away all their data to everyone ever.


I think there’s a difference in that anybody can go up to the newsstand to buy White People Monthly, even if they aren’t white. But, Facebook is essentially saying “only let white people see this ad”.

I guess it depends on how good facebook’s algorithms are at identifying a white person.

It’s still a matter of degree, of course.


Jester updated all the hardware on the backend of, and it’s running smoothly now for anyone interested. The Tusky app for android is a good mastodon client.

It’s still small at this point, with just a few thousand users, but it’s been growing reasonably quickly.


Only 5% of Americans have critical thinking skills. 20% are relative thinkers, and an overwhelming 75% are dichotomous, or “black and white” thinkers. You make bread with the ingredients you have. Most Americans really are dumb.


Assimilated by the Borg?


This is the best place for this little personal vignette. So my conservative nutcase friend texts me to say happy thanksgiving and that he bought the newer version of Doom for $15. Fine. I text him back, ‘no turkey here until Saturday but same to you. And enjoy the game.’ So far so good, right?

He texts me, “What game? I no longer watch the National Felons League.”

The fuck? I texted him back, “What game are you downloading, idiot?”

There have been replies. I’ve been ignoring him.


I used to attribute 50/50 with stupid / not stupid, but I’m coming around to your way of thinking.



Interesting argument.

I think there’s a non-zero but not very significant chance that AI could destroy life as we know it. There’s also a chance we may get destroyed in any countless number of horrible ways, however, some of which are far more likely and still of our own making.

Then again, AI can cause other issues aside from doomsday. Most notably, job loss. While this is normal for any technological shift, I can understand the concern people would have because a generation will suffer with out-of-date skillsets. While some might worry about the slippery slope to Wall-E, there’s a looooooooooooong distance between here and there, and it’s really not that slippery.


two AI programmes at Facebook HQ in California that supposedly began talking to each other in a language of their own and, as a result, had to be shut down by their creators.

It’s a good thing they didn’t get in touch with a superintelligent Russian chatbox and join forces to take over the world. We really dodged a bullet there.