Links for 2019/05/07

May 7, 2019 · 4 minute read

Posted in: social social media retrocomputing web Xanadu environment masculinity

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, inspired by Twin Peaks.

Social Media

EUnomia Critical FAQ

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.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS?

“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.

Why Google+ Failed

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.

Web tracking

The New York Times sells premium ads based on how an article makes you feel

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.

DuckDuckGo wrote a bill to stop advertisers from tracking you online

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.


WIRED: The Curse of Xanadu

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.

Wiki is not Xanadu

An article on the original Wiki on why Wiki is not that much like Xanadu.


The Plan to Grab the World’s Carbon with Supercharged Plants

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.

Airpods Are a Tragedy

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.

Digital typography

Raster CRT Typography (according to DEC)

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.

Simulate Dot Stretching in DECTerminalModern.ttf

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.


The Anarchists Who Took The Commuter Train

23 Reasons Not to Reveal Your DNA

Posters Urge Atlanta Residents Not to Dump Trash on White Supremacists’ Property

Get These Dependencies Off My Lawn

How Men Became “Emotional Gold Diggers” - Men Have No Friends and Women Bear The Burden

Go well, friends. Take care of each other.

Share on Mastodon | Follow on Mastodon