This is a daily (?) list of links I found worthwhile. Some of them are news, some are timely information, and some are things I should have known about a long time ago, but only now had pointed out to me.
This is a daily (?) list of links I found worthwhile. Some of them are news, some are timely information, and some are things I should have known about a long time ago, but only now had pointed out to me.
Got quite a grab-bag of stuff this time. Been busy enough with life that what should be a simple evening habit one night a week has gone for…three weeks? I guess that’s not so bad. It’s long enough, though, that I can’t clearly remember all of the articles in my backlog. And there are too many topics to make a coherent theme. Let’s work through them, then.
Music for this linkblog: Twin Black Lodges, a generative soundscape from mynoise.net, inspired by Twin Peaks.
EUnomia is an EU-funded university research study that intends to develop tools for scoring the “trustworthiness” of users and posts on social media. They have come under criticism for not only the general sketchiness of their goals, but also for working closely with military and intelligence contractors with histories of anti-immigrant work. This FAQ represents what is known about them.
“Because it would mean banning some Republican politicians too”.
Basically, it can’t be done at scale using the same kind of automated tools that they used to get rid of ISIS accounts, because the collateral damage that they considered acceptable for that would affect people with power and influence in the US that could come back to bite them.
It’s also the case that there is significant overlap between the kind of rhetoric used by, e.g., the Christchurch shooter (someone everyone would want to ban) and, say, former US Rep. Steve King (someone I would ban, but Twitter wouldn’t). And then there’s the dog whistles – the US right generally uses coded language to merely suggest what the far-right says outright.
A lot of the lessons in this are things that anyone working on social networking software should take into account. In particular, Mastodon and its kin use asymmetrical following, which discourages close ties. And even though Mastodon has strict chronological timelines, it still has infinite scroll, no concept of read/unread messages, and is generally not reliable for messaging.
This is the kind of thing that data science is used for under surveillance capitalism. I’ve listed it under tracking, but this particular offence could actually be done without tracking you personally, just knowing what feelings an article evokes in a standard audience.
Duck, bill, haha. The actual bill proposes to give the Do Not Track standard teeth by making violations punishable. This would be somewhat weaker than the GDPR, because it would be opt-in, but would also be less of a pain in the ass than the GDPR-compliance features on European websites.
An oldie but a goodie about some of the many reasons that Xanadu never became a successful or widely-used system. It doesn’t get into some of the reasons that basic features of Xanadu (immutable documents, transclusion, transcopyright) would actually be bad things in an open-world system.
An article on the original Wiki on why Wiki is not that much like Xanadu.
Improving carbon capture through plants is a better idea than geoengineering, as long as it’s combined with massive reductions in emissions. I’m not sure that engineering roots to decompose worse is as good as making biochar, though.
Environmentally, they’re a tragedy because there is no safe way to repair, recycle, or dispose of them. Socially, they are a tragedy, because they are only for signalling disposable income.
An article on how DEC designed the fonts for their classic terminals to play nice with and take advantage of the hardware limitations of the displays. Interesting fact: the fonts as actually displayed are wider than the fonts as dumped from the terminals’ ROM, because of display timing.
An OTF font that simulates the “dot stretching” feature discussed in the previous article. I am using it with Cool-Retro-Term to write this linkblog in emacs.
Go well, friends. Take care of each other.
This is in early stages, but it works fine for most gopher sites. I would like to find time to help out with it.
This is a web server written in golang that attempts to “serve no evil” by imposing strong opinions on pages that it serves. The default opinions focus strongly on a “fast, safe, simple, clean, respectful” web.
An old-fashioned topical index of a set of web pages. We need something like this for the gopherverse, honestly.
A simple CSS stylesheet with no classes that you can just drop in to semantic HTML to give it a modern style without boilerplate.
By the author of shizaru, above. What limitations of gopher can we overcome without it degenerating into the modern web?
I really strongly disagree with the author’s position that status competition on social media is basically inevitable and therefore good. But I do like the depth of analysis of how different social media platforms have tried to serve as sources/stores of social status. The challenge for sustainable social media is to attract and keep users, while tamping down on status competition and status inequality, in the manner of traditional hunter-gatherer societies.
How data science, as effectively an intensification of capitalist racist patriarchal bureaucracy, threatens marginalized people in general and transgender or nonbinary people in particular.
South Carolina news. Not sure if this is more “blaming the victim” or “shooting the messenger”.
A discussion of centralized planning – how megacorps are, effectively, planned economies, and how their success shows that socialist planned economies could work – if we had a socialist society to implement it.
And, of course, if we don’t achieve socialism right away, we’re doomed. It’s no longer “socialism or barbarism”, but “socialism or extinction”.
I had way too many links to share this week, and I had to cut it down a lot to be able to handle all of it. That said, here’s what’s left.
The author argues that the state of social media, especially of Twitter, where harassment is baked into the platform, are a result of white cis men building a platform for themselves and not really thinking about other users. We can compare to Mastodon, where the anti-harassment features of the design largely result from trans women pestering the main developer, Gargron (white cis man), during the early development process.
The Intercept releases a PowerPoint presentation that’s a few years old about how GCHQ (Britain’s NSA) attacks people on social media. The contents aren’t very surprising, unless you believe that the US and Britain don’t do exactly the same kinds of things as China and Russia.
A defense of anti-trust law in general, and Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for big tech in particular
The definitive take-down review of Man Of Steel, part of a re-watch series.
So, apparently some guy, a crooked ex-cop, is actually named Eobard Thawne, and was arrested in Tennessee. This is a new low for the Reverse Flash.
Autism Speaks is not an organization by or for autistic people.
Twelve Step programs don’t work very well, and there are other strategies that work well. Why don’t we, as a society, do what works?
A Native American photographer is doing insider photography of every recognized Native American tribe.
This article is a good antidote to the standard kind of moral panic article over mobile devices. It takes a Marxist perspective on devices, and how the dominant narrative about them treats people (device users) as isolated economic units.
This is the main page for the Memex browser, a browser engine that is being developed. Here’s what the developer has to say about it:
- strengthen consent/trust,
- be easier to program against,
- work naturally with a greater range of UI devices,
- and possibly use less computing power.
A group of computer users are setting up a modern-day UUCP network. This manifesto explains why.
I had a UUCP newsfeed to my PC back when I was in college. It was running under OS/2, connecting to a local ISP over dialup. Looking back on that time period, I have never been more satisfied with my “social media” experience.
I don’t anticipate ever owning a Librem 5, but I’m extremely grateful for the work they are doing on adapting Gnome apps to smaller screens. I have a small laptop screen, and I like to split the screen in two halves, left and right, with a tiling window manager. Each half of the screen is very much a phone form factor, so apps designed for a phone screen work well. So far I’m seeing this with Epiphany (web browser) and Lollipop (music player); I’m looking forward to this support getting into Fractal (Matrix chat app).
Ad targeting is intrinsically discrimination between parts of your potential customer base. It’s just that when it comes to housing, many of the ways Facebook normally provides advertisers of discriminating are, in fact, illegal. This is entirely apart from the ways in which Facebook allows its advertising customers to reach users in ways that are fundamentally unethical, e.g., show this ad to people who are interested in “white nationalism”.
None of these are news as such. But this is a good article for showing people who are not sure why they should care.
Discussing these two articles together because the second one is highly derivative of the first, which is the actual expose. The truth is that, even though this story is about the SPLC, it’s not just about the SPLC. Most liberal “cause” organizations operate basically the same way. They do some good work, but it’s incidental to their fundraising operation, which is the main part of the organization.
This was one of my favorite movies as an edgy teen thirty years ago. The article talks about how it subverted the expectations of teen movies at the time. This just feels like one of the defining movies for Generation X.
This article is a Marxist look at DS9 as showing the dynamics of imperialism, and the compromises forced on a communist state competing with imperialist states. It really goes into quite a bit of depth.
DS9 is extremely popular on the fediverse, significantly with people who weren’t alive when it was actually on the air. But I think that’s more because of its LGBTQ+ subtexts rather than its anti-imperialism.
The author tries to give a materialist explanation of why people in rural areas vote against their economic interests that is more satisfactory than the idealist explanation given by liberals.
Someone with far too much patience and tolerance tries to provide a basic feel for the communist worldview, targeted at the Less Wrong/Slate Star Codex “rationalist” community, who are notable for being extremely tolerant of and charitable towards fascists, but much less so towards leftists of any kind. The result is a good “communism for normies” article.
Going to try to do this whole link blog entry from emacs. Normally I have a workflow that involves dragging links from Firefox into emacs, where, by a bit of emacs magic, they are automatically converted into Markdown links. But I’m trying to live in the terminal (with Cool Retro Term) this week, so I’m using pinboard-list.el to give me my list of links to share. Hopefully I’ll have a macro or something that is almost as easy as my drag-and-drop hack…
This article is a good introduction to the Men’s Liberation movement, and why we now have, instead, its shadow, then Men’s Rights movement. Oddly, it doesn’t mention contemtorary Men’s Lib resources, like /r/menslib on Reddit.
I also work in government web development, and because we have accessibility requirements that the private sector often doesn’t, progressive enhancement is a natural fit for us, too.
This is a theme for Bootstrap that makes it look like a classic GeoCites webpage. A brilliant subversion, since Bootstrap is so closely associated with webpages that look professional but lack any unique character. A real piece of work.
The author identifies two classes of problems that make it easier for neofascists to spread their idology: platform problems, and internet problems. Internet problems are those that just come from everyone being able to talk to everyone. Platform problems are those that come from platforms growth-hacking, slapping on a thin layer of moderation, and using algorithms to try to optimize for engagement.
An emacs user discusses how they went from using standard color themes to making a brutalist theme: more than no syntax highlighting, but substantially less than normal themes, and quieter. I’ve tried their theme, and for whatever reason, it causes font substitutions on my emacs both on Windows and GNU/Linux, so it’s not quite usable for me, but I really like the idea.
Basically, what you’re buying these days under the Pyrex brand is not Pyrex, in the sense that it’s not borosilicate glass. Because it’s cheaper to sell tempered glass, even though it’s prone to shattering into small pieces under thermal stress. This is fine.
The Miami Friends Meeting is working to shut down the child detention center in Homestead.
We saw this video at the Palmetto Friends Gathering last week. I wish I had a better link for you than vimeo, but youtube-dl will make it usable. This is a simplified history of Quakerism focusing on the social justice aspects. Sometimes it may be simplified to the point of not being 100% accurate, which was a point of contention for some of the people at the gathering.
This article is another “how to build a low tech website”, using a lot of the same tips as the other article. The main criticism I’ve seen is that the image processing is performative – you could actually get smaller images without the dithering done in the article.
tldr; Web developers don’t care about accessibility. And we often do things that require going out of your way to break things that are accessible in standard HTML.
Jason Scott @textfiles Since it’s the 30th anniversary of the world wide web, let me just link to some emulations-in-the-browser of browsers, so you can see some of where it could have gone before we all decided to let Ol’ Sociopathic Googly be the entire engine for everything.
Nature, uh, finds a way. People will use whatever tools are actually available to them to achieve their goals; taking away the chat apps won’t make people stop chatting.
Generative ambient music. This is very much my thing, and it would be ideal for listening to at work, if it weren’t against office policy :(
A good review.
O’Rourke’s life story is pretty compelling to me (punk band, Cult of the Dead Cow), but that’s not how I choose candidates to support. His policy record is pretty conservative, and that’s the opposite of what we need today.
Activism at Google and Amazon paid off. But can the emerging “tech left” forge long-term alliances between janitors, drivers, and engineers?
Electroshocking the corpse of anti-trust law.
Something actually concrete and useful from our local fishwrap! If you’re not in SC, I’m sure you have similar or better resources available to you. A guide to what you can actually get from FOIA and public records.
Basically, adults never show anger at kids, and they let kids know that showing anger is for babies, but in a playful way. And they use stories and play to let children practice controlling their anger while they are not mad.
Mercifully short today.
A lot of this rings true. The article mentions that little boys are different from little girls because even parents treat them differently, even when they don’t mean to. One thing it doesn’t mention is what they pick up from peers, even as toddlers and preschoolers.
I feel vindicated.
This is bound to be entertaining, but debates don’t convince anyone, much less prove anything.
I didn’t accumulate as many links this week, because while I was sick with the flu, I felt too bad to read as much as usual.
It might allow Facebook to pay less for moderators, though…
There will be no new normal.
I knew as soon as I saw the name “John Clements” attached that it would be a shitshow.
A thread unroller for the fediverse! You can unroll a thread by replying and cc’ing
My impression had been that after their many very public defeats when holding rallies, that US white supremacists were in retreat. But apparently that perception is wrong; they are more active, but in ways that don’t expose them to physical danger.
Electric cars should only need enough range to drive you to and from the train station.
Strap in, it’s a little depressing this time.
Mostly the answer is a good thing — more people are biking and walking. Unfortunately, that brings more people into danger, given that our cities are designed for cars, and not for people.
The article overstates it a little bit. It’s chloramines, caused by reaction of chlorine with proteins that causes red eyes, and the smell of the pool. But sweat would also be enough to create chloramines, it’s not all pee.
This is a really good article about how perfectionism is implicated in depression and suicide. Also touches on social media, and how it can cover up depression while also making it worse for some people.
A personal, but also very generic and relatable, account of falling in and out of love with the Internet.
Similar theme, very good writing; more focused on the Extremely Online, and especially on Twitter, rather than on the changes in Internet culture over time.
A necessary antidote to the cult of forced civility. Smarm is the form of civility without its substance. A defense of snark.
Dianne Feinstein treats a group of children who have come to beg her to let them grow up in a non-apocalyptic world as if they were some flesh golem made from pieces of lobbyists and Russian spambots. Strike that; she’d be friendlier to the lobbyists.
This was a horror to read. You need to be in a resilient mental space before you read it, but you need to make time to read it when you’re in that space. I don’t think I’ve read any story that sums up the times we’re living in as well as this one. The workplace surveillance and abuse; the desperation, quiet and otherwise; the progressive face that corporate HR puts on while it basically tortures people for the sake of appearances and a goal they can never possibly fulfill.
tldr; providing IT and cloud services to coal and oil companies enables them to extract fossil fuels more efficiently, effectively moving carbon from the ground to the atmosphere faster. This effect massively overshadows any kind of investments that Big Tech is making in clean energy or efficiency.
Oh God, never leave me voicemail. I need to set all of my voicemail messaegs to remind callers to send a text or email instead.
An amazing Catholic argument for prison abolition.
Companies that insist on surveilling their employees want to make encryption weaker for everyone. Pervasive monitoring is an attack.
A powerful piece of sequential art about fascist aesthetics in modern America.
That’s all for this edition.
Over the last five years or so, maybe a little bit more, downtown Columbia has been sprouting these student apartments everywhere there’s space for them and a lot of places there isn’t (displacing existing local businesses). One thing about them is that they all look alike – basically they’re long boxes, four or five stories tall, with various superficial architectural features that don’t really do anything to hide the fact that they’re long boxes.
This week I finally found out why this is! Apparently they are a type of building called “five over one” or “five on one” that consists of one story of poured concrete and four or five stories of “stick” (wood frame) construction, the same kind you see in single family homes. Apparently this used to violate fire codes, but in 2009 the nationwide model code updated to allow it (with increased sprinkler requirements, I think?). And it spread because it’s cheap. You don’t need as skilled labor to assemble pre-cut and pre-attached wood frames as you do to build the steel frames that used to be required.
Here are the articles I read about this in.
Teacher trainings for school shooter response are both terrifying and useless. And almost certainly profitable.
A film compiling footage of a Nazi rally in the US by the German-American Bund, before Pearl Harbor.
Why online “rationalists” are typically less rational than average.
Russiagate is brain worms for liberals who are unwilling and unable to look for domestic causes for Trump’s win. We’re entering the primary season again, and it looks like we’re going to repeat the mistakes of 2016 or worse, because Americans are incapable of learning anything.