Read “I Have Blood on My Hands”: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation (BuzzFeed News)
A 6,600-word internal memo from a fired Facebook data scientist details how the social network knew about specific examples of global political manipulation — and failed to act.
A reminder to continue on my quest to remove my data from Facebook and delete my account.

“In the office, I realized that my viewpoints weren’t respected unless I acted like an arrogant asshole,” Zhang said. 

Sad that one would have to act like a techbro to have their message at work be heard.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 09:40PM

Read The Prodigal Techbro (The Conversationalist)
Prodigal tech bro stories skip straight from the past, when they were part of something that—surprise!—turned out to be bad, to the present, where they are now a moral authority on how to do good, but without the transitional moments of revelation and remorse.  

I also wish that the many, exhausted activists who didn’t take money from Google or Facebook could have even a quarter of the attention, status and authority the Prodigal Techbro assumes is his birth-right. 

amen

Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:12AM

Nighat Dad runs the Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan, defending online freedom of expression and privacy for women, minorities and dissidents. That’s real courage. Gus Hosein has worked in tech and human rights for over 20 years, runs Privacy International, the UK-based non-profit, and is the most visionary thinker I know on how to shake up our assumptions about why things are as they are.  Bianca Wylie founded the volunteer-run Open Data Institute Toronto, and works on open data, citizen privacy and civic engagement. The “Jane Jacobs of the Smart Cities Age,” she’s been a key figure in opening up and slowing down Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs juggernaut in Toronto. Aral Balkan runs Small Technology Foundation and works on both the tools and the policies to resist surveillance capitalism. Unafraid of being unpopular, even with other activists, Balkan freely hammers rights organizations or conferences for taking big tech’s sponsorship money while criticizing the companies’ practices. In the western Balkans, hvale vale works tirelessly and cheerfully on women’s rights, sexual rights and the political and practical path to a feminist internet. Robin Gross,  a Californian intellectual property lawyer, could have put her persistence and sheer pizazz to work defending big entertainment companies, but instead she’s worked for decades against the copyright maximalism that strangles artists’ creativity and does nothing to increase their incomes. I would love to hear their voices amplified, not (just) the voices of those who took a decade and more to work out the rottenness at the core of big tech. 

An interesting list of anti-big tech evangelists and activists. I’ve got some issues with Aral being included here–as a prior professional iOS app developer, he’s more likely a counterexample of just the thing she’s talking about here.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:16AM

I’m re-assessing how often I help out well-established men suddenly interested in my insights and contact book. It’s ridiculous how many ‘and I truly mean them well’s I cut out of this piece, but I really do, while also realizing I help them because they ask, or because other people ask for them. And that coffee, those introductions, that talk I gave and so much more of my attention and care—it needs to go instead to activists I know and care about but who would never presume to ask. Sometimes the prodigal daughter has her regrets, too. 

We all need to do a better job of amplifying the voices that have been marginalized for too long.
Annotated on September 14, 2020 at 11:23AM

Watched The Social Dilemma (2020) from Netflix
Directed by Jeff Orlowski. With Skyler Gisondo, Kara Hayward, Vincent Kartheiser, Tristan Harris. Explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.
Rating: ★★★★½

Incredibly bleak. Sadly not a lot of discussion (literally until the credits) about how to begin to address the issue.

This does a good job at pointing out some of the problems, but doesn’t really begin to suggest solutions.  (i.e. it covers some of the reasons for Why IndieWeb, but doesn’t get into the ideas of how to escape corporate social media.)

I sort of expected more discussion about how the algorithms are actively radicalizing people toward the fringes. Instead this was suggested in the fictionalized parts. 

I’m not sure that I really enjoyed the fictionalized character “avatars” portions as much, but they will give the more passive viewers specific examples and people to attach the narrative to to help push the points home. I suspect that for most, those portions will prevent the documentary from being as dry and thus help it reach a broader audience.

Vincent Kartheiser was a generally good anthropomorphization of an AI in an interesting piece of type-casting, but at one or two points he actually may have even been sympathetic.

Everyone who is on social media should watch this movie.

Watched Dune - Official Trailer (2020) Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya from YouTube
Check out the first trailer for Denis Villeneuve's eagerly anticipated adaptation of sci-fi classic, Dune.
Looks intriguing as a remake. Missing all of the 60’s/70’s pseudo kitsch from the 80’s version. No hint of influence from Barbarella or the Flash Gordon movies.
Read Social Interactions on the Web by James Gallagher (jamesg.blog)
This morning I was close to giving up on my micropub endpoint. It has taken a significant amount of time to get the project to the stage I am at now. There is still more to do. I have not yet completed the server deployment. I’m having issues with wsgi that I have not yet fixed. I thought that may...
Read Language in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
Using data from the 2011 Census, we take a closer look at language within England and Wales. Those who reported English (or Welsh in Wales) as their main language accounted for 92.3% of the population, except in London where proportion was much lower. Those who reported another main language accounted for 7.7% of the population, with Polish topping the list of "other" main languages. London and the West Midlands saw the highest percentage of people who could not speak English "well" or "at all".
Read a tweet (Twitter)
Read A $200 Million Seed Valuation for Roam Shows Investor Frenzy for Note-Taking Apps (The Information)
The shift to remote work has buoyed the valuations of several startups making productivity tools. The latest is Roam Research, which has raised $9 million at a valuation of $200 million, or about 25 times higher than the median valuation for seed rounds.Roam is tapping more than a dozen ...
Roam Research should really be going the Zebra route and not the VC funding route. If the 11 person company is truly self-supporting with its current user base and there’s so much upside for growth, they’d be far better off to keep that value internally.

The only reason for VC funding is if they’re looking to do questionably moral things with their users’ data in the future. Data lock in was already my primary concern before this funding round, now its a complete deal blocker.

The VC funding model means that their long term viability is limited, particularly with the competition in the space. The only reason for company management to take this sort of funding is hopes at a quick buy out and large cash windfall at which point their mumblings at data and privacy for users are moot. Buyer beware.

Aside: From a marketing perspective the photo on this article has me wavering between the ideas of a Northern European shoegaze band and an Arizona-based hipster religious cult.

Read The Very Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (The Kitchn)
Growing up, I thought there was only one way to make a chocolate chip cookie. You started with the yellow bag of Nestlé Toll House chocolate morsels, followed the directions on the back, and nine to 11 minutes later you were rewarded with a tray of warm cookies. Simple as that. Fast forward 20 years, and there are now more recipes for chocolate chip cookies than I’d ever have a chance to make in my lifetime (although I’d be down to try). To distinguish themselves from the competition, they all claim to be the best, whether that’s because they’re the easiest, or the most flavorful, or the chewiest, or the softest.
Not quite the article I was searching for, but relatively interesting nonetheless. One would expect Alton’s cookies to be best here…
Read About Components (WP Theme Components)
Watch a demo with Cameron Jones from WP Theme Components and Nathan Wrigley from WP Builds What is a theme component? Theme components are bite sized code snippets that can be reused across multiple themes. Using theme components makes it easier to reuse the same code across multiple themes. What is...
Relatively quick and to the point. Watched the video at 1.25x. I’m intrigued.
Read Jetpack 8.9: New ways to grow subscribers and collect donations by Jeremy Herve (Jetpack — Essential Security & Performance for WordPress)
This month, start engaging your site visitors with two exciting new tools! The Newsletter Sign-up form and Donations Block will help you grow your subscriber and supporter base. Jetpack 8.9 is also proud to support v2.0 of the official AMP plugin for WordPress. Convert visitors into subscribers wit...
They’ve added social reviews to allow one to preview how posts will appear on Facebook, Twitter, and Google search results before you publish them.
Read Most Spoken Languages (most-spoken-languages.sanstream.nl | SanStream Studio)
When we are young we first learn the language from the people around us. This helps us to communicate, share ideas and learn from them. Most of the time just this is just one, but it can be more than one. The last decades the network of people that human being know (due to globalisation) has shifted from knowing just the people in your local area to people all across the world. In order to effectively communicate with other people from across the world it is useful to speak a shared language.

Finding data 

You’re right about data here. I follow some research out of the MIT Media lab by Cesar Hidalgo who may have some interesting data resources if you poke around.

Some additional starting points:

Read Amazon Drivers Are Hanging Smartphones in Trees to Get More Work by Spencer Soper (Bloomberg)
Someone seems to have rigged Amazon system to get orders first
Operation reflects ferocious rivalry for gigs in a bad economy

They believe an unidentified person or entity is acting as an intermediary between Amazon and the drivers and charging drivers to secure more routes, which is against Amazon’s policies. 

Surely this would be the case as someone would potentially need to watch the phones in the tree to ensure they aren’t stolen. That may represent a larger cost in potential loss that the potential gain.
Annotated on September 11, 2020 at 08:39AM

A Flex driver who has been monitoring the activity said the company needs to take steps to make sure all drivers are treated fairly.“Amazon knows about it,” the driver said, “but does nothing.” 

Orders don’t necessarily need to be proximity based at the level of 20 feet, so Amazon should be able to make the changes at the level of several miles to prevent against something like this.
Annotated on September 11, 2020 at 08:42AM