To put our toxic relationship with Big Tech into perspective, critics have compared social media to a lot of bad things. Tobacco. Crystal meth. Pollution. Cars before seat belts. Chemicals before Superfund sites. But the most enduring metaphor is junk food: convenient but empty; engineered to be addictive; makes humans unhealthy and corporations rich. ❧
I know I’ve read this before, but it deserves a re-read/review every now and then.
This year is marked as the ‘Year of the Reader’, and indeed, there was a lot of Reader talk last weekend. I really like the progress we are making with Microsub and apps like Indigenous, but I also noticed we’re not there yet for me. But that’s not a discouragement, quite the opposite!
This blogpost has three parts: first I describe the painpoints I feel at the moment, then I describe what I have been hacking on yesterday, and in the last part I share some other ideas we talked about over dinner in Nürnberg, that where not recorded in any form other than short notes on some phones.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
this is another single point of Aaron in our stack. ❧
As opposed to another single point of Ryan….
November 08, 2018 at 08:59AM
I have discovered new interesting posts by looking at the likes my friends post. ❧
November 08, 2018 at 09:07AM
More ways to combat feed overwhelm
Before IndieWebCamp, we had a discussion about Readers in a traditional Nürnberger restaurant. Here also, people came up with some ideas to deal with accruing unread-counts.
One idea came from how Aperture deletes posts after 7 days. This actually prevents the overload. It would be nice if you can tell your reader that, for example your Twitter feed, is ephemeral and that the posts can be discarded if you did not read them in time.
One other idea that came up was to keep track of the average time between posts of a certain feed. This way a Reader could boost posts when they are from a feed that is not regularly updated. These kind of posts are usually lost in piles of more posts from more frequently updates feeds.
Yet a last idea was to tell your reader to leave out posts with certain words for a small period of time. This can come in handy when you haven’t watched the newest episode of Game of Thrones yet, but want to stay connected to your feeds without spoilers. ❧
Some good ideas here to deal with feeds.
November 08, 2018 at 09:10AM
I have a problem with algorithms that sort my posts by parameters I don’t know about, made by people who want to sell my attention to others. ❧
"I am really pleased to see different sites deciding not to privilege aggressors' speech over their targets'," Phillips said. "That tends to be the default position in so many online 'free speech' debates which suggest that if you restrict aggressors' speech, you're doing a disservice to America—a position that doesn't take into account the fact that antagonistic speech infringes on the speech of those who are silenced by that kind of abuse." ❧
Abstract: The News Study research report presents findings about how a sample of U.S. college students gather information and engage with news in the digital age. Results are included from an online survey of 5,844 respondents and telephone interviews with 37 participants from 11 U.S. colleges and universities selected for their regional, demographic, and red/blue state diversity. A computational analysis was conducted using Twitter data associated with the survey respondents and a Twitter panel of 135,891 college-age people. Six recommendations are included for educators, journalists, and librarians working to make students effective news consumers. To explore the implications of this study’s findings, concise commentaries from leading thinkers in education, libraries, media research, and journalism are included.
A great little paper about how teens and college students are finding, reading, sharing, and generally interacting with news. There’s some nice overlap here on both the topics of journalism and education which I find completely fascinating. In general, however, I think in a few places students are mis-reporting their general uses, so I’m glad a portion of the paper actually looks at data from Twitter in the wild to see what real world use cases actually are.
As I read this, I can’t help but think of some things I’ve seen Michael Caulfield writing about news and social media over the past several months. As I look, I notice that he’s already read and written a bit about a press release for this particular paper. I’ll have to take a look at his take on it tomorrow. I’m particularly interested in any insights he’s got on lateral reading and fake news above and beyond his prior thoughts.
Perhaps I missed it hiding in there reading so late at night, but another potentially good source for this paper’s recommended section would be Caulfield’s book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
The purpose of this study was to better understand the preferences, practices, and motivations of young news consumers, while focusing on what students actually do, rather than what they do not do. ❧
October 22, 2018 at 08:28PM
YouTube (54%), Instagram (51%) or Snapchat (55%) ❧
I’m curious to know which sources in particular they’re using on these platforms. Snapchat was growing news sources a year ago, but I’ve heard those sources are declining. What is the general quality of these sources?
For example, getting news from television can range from PBS News Hour and cable news networks (more traditional sources) to comedy shows like Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah which have some underlying news in the comedy, but are far from traditional sources.
October 22, 2018 at 08:35PM
Some students (28%) received news from podcasts in the preceding week. ❧
October 22, 2018 at 08:38PM
news is stressful and has little impact on the day-to-day routines —use it for class assignments, avoid it otherwise.” While a few students like this one practiced news abstinence, such students were rare. ❧
This sounds a bit like my college experience, though I didn’t avoid it because of stressful news (and there wasn’t social media yet). I generally missed it because I didn’t subscribe directly to publications or watch much television. Most of my news consumption was the local college newspaper.
October 22, 2018 at 08:46PM
But on the Web, stories of all kinds can show up anywhere and information and news are all mixed together. Light features rotate through prominent spots on the “page” with the same weight as breaking news, sports coverage, and investigative pieces, even on mainstream news sites. Advertorial “features” and opinion pieces are not always clearly identified in digitalspaces. ❧
This difference is one of the things I miss about reading a particular newspaper and experiencing the outlet’s particular curation of their own stories. Perhaps I should spend more time looking at the “front page” of various news sites?
October 22, 2018 at 08:57PM
Some (36%) said they agreed that the threat of “‘fake news’ had made them distrust the credibility of any news.” Almost half (45%) lacked confidence with discerning “real news” from “fake news,” and only 14% said they were “very confident” that they could detect “fake news.” ❧
These numbers are insane!
October 22, 2018 at 09:04PM
As a matter of recourse, some students in the study “read the news laterally,” meaning they used sources elsewhere on the Internet to compare versions of a story in an attempt to verify its facts, bias, and ultimately, its credibility.25 ❧
This reminds me how much I miss the old daily analysis that Slate use to do for the day’s top news stories in various outlets in their Today’s Papers segment.
October 22, 2018 at 09:15PM
Some respondents, though not all, did evaluate the veracity of news they shared on social media. More (62%) said they checked to see how current an item was, while 59% read the complete story before sharing and 57% checked the URL to see where a story originated (Figure 7). Fewer read comments about a post (55%) or looked to see how many times an item was tweeted or shared (39%). ❧
I’m not sure I believe these self-reported numbers at all. 59% read the complete story before sharing?! 57% checked the URL? I’ll bet that not that many could probably define what a URL is.
October 22, 2018 at 10:00PM
information diet ❧
October 22, 2018 at 11:02PM
At the tactical level, there are likely many small things that could be tested with younger audiences to help them better orient themselves to the crowded news landscape. For example, some news organizations are more clearly identifying different types of content such as editorials, features, and backgrounders/news analysis.57More consistent and more obvious use of these typological tags would help all news consumers, not just youth, and could also travel with content as itis posted and shared in social media. News organizations should engage more actively with younger audiences to see what might be helpful. ❧
October 22, 2018 at 11:37PM
When news began moving into the first digital spaces in the early 1990s, pro-Web journalists touted the possibilities of hypertext links that would give news consumers the context they needed. Within a couple of years, hypertext links slowly began to disappear from many news stories. Today, hypertext links are all but gone from most mainstream news stories. ❧
October 22, 2018 at 11:38PM
October 22, 2018 at 11:40PM
This weblog is mainly for myself, used as a commonplace book in which I put ideas, quotations, facts, and citations that I might want to use later. That’s why the topics are diverse and often esoteric. I’m not trying to build an audence or get a lot of hits on a counter. My impression is that most visitors arrive because search engines have led them to here and I’m one of the few websites in the world that address some key word they’re interested in.
Since I am not writing for other people, especially (you will see the exceptions—things such as posts I also use as comments on other blogs, excerpts from letters or articles I have written or will write, and so forth), please do not think I am deliberately trying to offend someone or that I am cleverly pushing a hidden agenda. I’m not, simply because I don’t expect enough people to read this blog for such efforts to be worthwhile. Actually, I probably shouldn’t even fix my typos, and perhaps I’ll stop doing that. You’re weclome to read, and I’ll try to write well simply to avoid getting into bad habits, but I’ll not expend more effort than if I were writing this into a hidden fil in my PC.
An excellent statement on an About page in which someone explicitly states that they use their site as a commonplace book and do so primarily for themselves.
Welcome to the IndieWeb Rick!
I particularly love your idea of using some of your digital knowledge and tools for research and education related work. In case you haven’t found it yet there are a growing number of educators, researchers, and practitioners applying IndieWeb philosophies and principles to the education space not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of our students and others. I hope you’ll take a moment to add yourself and some of your work to the list. If there’s anything any of us can do to help out, please don’t hesitate to touch base with us via our websites or in chat.
The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply. ❧
The 'Baldwin effect' has now been demonstrated at the genetic level in a population of dark-colored lizards adapted to live on a lava flow in the desert.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
One explanation has been that many of an animal’s traits are not fixed, but can change during its lifetime. This “phenotypic plasticity” enables individual animals to alter their appearance or behavior enough to survive in a new environment. Eventually, new adaptations promoting survival arise in the population through genetic changes and natural selection, which acts on the population over generations. This is known as the “Baldwin effect” after the psychologist James Mark Baldwin, who presented the idea in a landmark paper published in 1896. ❧
September 11, 2018 at 08:57AM
Journal article available at: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(18)30899-6
I love the voice of their help page. Someone very opinionated (in a good way) is building this product. I particularly like this quote: Your data is a liability to us, not an asset. ❧
All tribes need tribal leaders, who in turn need loyalty. Followers of Corbyn and Trump will both detest the comparison, but note how both have the merch, the chants, the hagiography. They’re radically different, but both are products of the tribalism that social media has accidentally brought about. ❧
IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. If Mr. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new Ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate Middle Eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict.
And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.
In general, while I’ve been reading Stuart Kauffmann’s At Home in the Universe, I can’t help but thinking about the cascading extinctions he describes and wonder if political extinctions of ideas like Communism or other forms of government or even economies might follow the same types of outcomes described there? ❧
August 29, 2018 at 09:37AM
Building on this, could we create a list of governments and empires and rank them in order of the length of their spans? There may be subtleties in changes of regimes in some eras, but generally things are probably reasonably well laid out. I wonder if the length of life of particular governments follows a power law? One would suspect it might. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 09:43AM
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 08:53AM
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. ❧
What if, in fact, we’ve only just found a local maximum? What if in the changing landscape there are other places we could potentially get to competitively that supply greater maxima? And possibly worse, what if we need to lose value to get from here to unlock even more value there?
August 29, 2018 at 08:56AM
Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious. ❧
and probably not a bad outcome in an earlier era that thought of things in terms of clockwork and lacked the ideas of quantum theory and its attendant uncertainties.
August 29, 2018 at 08:59AM
Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since Hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, Kojève left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the European Economic Community, until his death in 1968. ❧
This is depressing on so many levels.
August 29, 2018 at 09:05AM
Paul Kennedy’s hugely successful “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension. ❧
Curious how this may relate to the more recent “The End of Power” by Moisés Naím. It doesn’t escape one that the title of the book somewhat echoes the title of this particular essay.
August 29, 2018 at 09:18AM
But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its GNP on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society’s political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness. ❧
It’s not so much the percentage on produced defense goods, but how quickly could a society ramp up production of goods, services, and people to defend itself compared to the militaries of its potential aggressors.
In particular, most of the effort should go to the innovation side of war materiel. The innovation of the atomic bomb is a particularly nice example in that as a result of conceptualizing and then executing on it it allowed the US to win the war in the Pacific and hasten the end of war in Europe. Even if we otherwise had massive stockpiles of people or other weapons, our enemies could potentially have equaled them and dragged the war on interminably. It was the unknown unknown via innovation that unseated Japan and could potentially do the same to us based on innovation coming out of almost any country in the modern age.
August 29, 2018 at 09:24AM
Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working less, and did so because he valued leisure more than income. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the impersonal working of material forces, ❧
Science could learn something from this. Science is too far focused on the idealized positive outcomes that it isn’t paying attention to the negative outcomes and using that to better define its outline or overall shape. We need to define a scientific opportunity cost and apply it to the negative side of research to better understand and define what we’re searching for.
Of course, how can we define a new scientific method (or amend/extend it) to better take into account negative results–particularly in an age when so many results aren’t even reproducible?
August 29, 2018 at 09:32AM
FAILURE to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 09:44AM
“Protestant” life of wealth and risk over the “Catholic” path of poverty and security. ❧
Is this simply a restatement of the idea that most of “the interesting things” happen at the border or edge of chaos? The Catholic ethic is firmly inside the stable arena while that of the Protestant ethic is pushing the boundaries.
August 29, 2018 at 09:47AM
Hence it did not matter to Kojève that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world. ❧
This presupposes that homeostasis could ever be achieved.
One thinks of phrases like “The future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” But everything we know about systems and evolving systems often indicates that homeostasis isn’t necessarily a good thing. In many cases, it means eventual “death” instead of evolving towards a longer term lifespan. Again, here Kauffmann’s ideas about co-evolving systems and evolving landscapes may provide some guidance. What if we’re just at a temporary local maximum, but changes in the landscape modify that fact? What then? Shouldn’t we be looking for other potential distant maxima as well?
August 29, 2018 at 09:52AM
But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy. ❧
Writers spend an awful lot of time focused too carefully on the free market economy, but don’t acknowledge a lot of the major benefits of the non-free market parts which are undertaken and executed often by governments and regulatory environments. (Hacker & Pierson, 2016)
\August 29, 2018 at 10:02AM
Are there, in other words, any fundamental “contradictions” in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure? ❧
Churchill famously said “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”
Even within this quote it is implicit that there are many others. In some sense he’s admitting that we might possibly be at a local maximum but we’ve just not explored the spaces beyond the adjacent possible.
August 29, 2018 at 10:08AM
For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind. ❧
While this seems solid on it’s face, we don’t know what the future landscape will look like. What if climate change brings about massive destruction of homo sapiens? We need to be careful about how and why we explore both the adjacent possible as well as the distant possible. One day we may need them and our current local maximum may not serve us well.
August 29, 2018 at 10:10AM
I feel like this word captures very well the exact era of Trumpian Republicanism in which we find ourselves living.
August 29, 2018 at 10:37AM
After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army withered after the war. ❧
And yet somehow we see these movements anew in America and around the world. What is the difference between then and now?
August 29, 2018 at 11:46AM
This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality do not have to do with the underlying legal and social structure of our society, which remains fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, so much as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 11:47AM
But those who believe that the future must inevitably be socialist tend to be very old, or very marginal to the real political discourse of their societies. ❧
and then there are the millennials…
August 29, 2018 at 11:51AM
Beginning with the famous third plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in 1978, the Chinese Communist party set about decollectivizing agriculture for the 800 million Chinese who still lived in the countryside. The role of the state in agriculture was reduced to that of a tax collector, while production of consumer goods was sharply increased in order to give peasants a taste of the universal homogenous state and thereby an incentive to work. The reform doubled Chinese grain output in only five years, and in the process created for Deng Xiaoping a solid political base from which he was able to extend the reform to other parts of the economy. Economic Statistics do not begin to describe the dynamism, initiative, and openness evident in China since the reform began. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 11:58AM
At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power. ❧
If Facebook were to continue to evolve at it’s current rate and with it’s potential power as well as political influence, I could see it attempting to work the way China does in a new political regime.
August 29, 2018 at 12:04PM
IF WE ADMIT for the moment that the fascist and communist challenges to liberalism are dead, are there any other ideological competitors left? Or put another way, are there contradictions in liberal society beyond that of class that are not resolvable? Two possibilities suggest themselves, those of religion and nationalism. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 12:19PM
This school in effect applies a Hobbesian view of politics to international relations, and assumes that aggression and insecurity are universal characteristics of human societies rather than the product of specific historical circumstances. ❧
August 29, 2018 at 12:30PM
But whatever the particular ideological basis, every “developed” country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones ❧
August 29, 2018 at 12:37PM
Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again. ❧
Has it started again with nationalism, racism, and Trump?
August 29, 2018 at 12:48PM
I learned a valuable lesson that the haters have all the energy in the world to share their outrage but the people you really want to reach respect you, your time, and what you’re doing and they are often too busy to take the time to express gratitude. ❧
I’ve spent some time talking about open pedagogy at several universities this Spring, and in each of those presentations and workshops, I have usually mentioned The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, an OER anthology that my students and I produced last year for an American literature survey course I taught. When I talk about the anthology, it’s usually to make a point about open pedagogy. I began the project with the simple desire to save my students about $85 US, which is how much they were (ostensibly) paying for the Heath Anthology of American Literature Volume A. Most of the actual texts in the Heath were public domain texts, freely available and not under any copyright restrictions. As the Heath produced new editions (of literature from roughly 1400-1800!), forcing students to buy new textbooks or be irritatingly out of sync with page numbers, and as students turned to rental markets that necessitated them giving their books back at the end of the semester, I began to look in earnest for an alternative.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
Most of the actual texts in the Heath were public domain texts, freely available and not under any copyright restrictions. As the Heath produced new editions (of literature from roughly 1400-1800!), forcing students to buy new textbooks or be irritatingly out of sync with page numbers, and as students turned to rental markets that necessitated them giving their books back at the end of the semester, I began to look in earnest for an alternative. ❧
Repackaging public domain texts and charging a steep markup too much above and beyond the cost of the paper is just highway robbery. Unless a publisher is adding some actual annotative or analytical value, they shouldn’t be charging outrageous prices for textbooks of this nature.
August 13, 2018 at 12:14PM
If OER is free, what hidden costs exist in its production? Making these textbooks is taking me a chunk of time in the off-season. Thanks to my salaried position, I feel ok about putting in the overtime, but it’s a privilege my colleagues who teach under year-to-year part-time non-contracts can’t afford. Who should be funding OER creation? Institutions? Students? For-profit start-ups? How will you invest time in this project without obscuring the true costs of academic labor? Right now, we pass the corruptly high cost of academic publishing onto the backs of academia’s most vulnerable members: students. But as OER gains steam, we need to come up with funding models that don’t land us back in the same quagmire of exploitation that we were trying to get out of. ❧
This is a nearly perfect question and something to watch in the coming years.
August 13, 2018 at 12:35PM
working in public, and asking students to work in public, is fraught with dangers and challenges. ❧
August 13, 2018 at 12:36PM
What David told me was his energy, enthusiasm in the class was at a much higher level with the OER approach. Sure we choose the polished “professional” textbook because of its assumed high standards, quality etc, but then its a more passive relationship a teacher has with it. I make the comparison to growing and/or making your own food versus having it prepared or taking it out of a package. Having produced our own food means we know everything about it from top to bottom, and the pride in doing that has to make the whole experience much more energized. ❧
As I read both this post and this comment from Alan, I can’t help but think again about scholars in the 14th century who taught students. It was more typical of the time that students were “forced” to chose their own textbooks–typically there were fewer, and at the advent of the printing press they were significantly higher in price. As a result students had to spend more time and attention, as Robin indicates here, to come up with useful things.
Even in this period students often annotated their books, which often got passed on to other students and even professors which helped future generations. So really, we’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re just doing it anew with new technology that makes doing it all the easier.
As a reference, I’ll suggest folks interested in this area read Owen Gingerich’s The Book Nobody Read which I recall as being one of the texts I’ve read that references early teaching and textbook practices during that time period.
August 13, 2018 at 12:44PM