Read a thread by Imran Khan (Twitter)
Read Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data by Joseph Cox (Vice)
An Avast antivirus subsidiary sells 'Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site.' Its clients have included Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and McKinsey.
Bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:41AM
Read Polite Toolbox (www.polite.one)
Polite is a part think tank, and part studio focused on the ethical renaissance of the Internet. We have designed the Polite Toolbox.

We advocate for a Slow Web Movement.
We are what we eat, and we are also what we consume online.
Data-driven advertising, BlackBox algorithms, and the competition between Big Tech to keep us “engaged“ has created an addiction to low-value content. It is time to reset our digital consumption and create healthier habits.
Since the last decade, with a set of guidelines, the Slow Web Movement is changing Software to make it care about us again.
Think of it as the equivalent of “Organic” for Technology.

As solid a pitch for the slow web movement as I’ve seen yet from an analogy perspective.
Annotated on February 01, 2020 at 09:13AM

The right to Non-manipulative design.

see also dark patterns.
Annotated on February 01, 2020 at 09:14AM

🔖 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

Bookmarked The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff (PublicAffairs; 1 edition)

Shoshana Zuboff's interdisciplinary breadth and depth enable her to come to grips with the social, political, business, and technological meaning of the changes taking place in our time. We are at a critical juncture in the confrontation between the vast power of giant high-tech companies and government, the hidden economic logic of surveillance capitalism, and the propaganda of machine supremacy that threaten to shape and control human life. Will the brazen new methods of social engineering and behavior modification threaten individual autonomy and democratic rights and introduce extreme new forms of social inequality? Or will the promise of the digital age be one of individual empowerment and democratization?

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is neither a hand-wringing narrative of danger and decline nor a digital fairy tale. Rather, it offers a deeply reasoned and evocative examination of the contests over the next chapter of capitalism that will decide the meaning of information civilization in the twenty-first century. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves.

book cover of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

Can’t wait to get this…

On first blush, I’ll note that the cover looks a lot like that of Pikkety’s Captialism in the 21st Century. Certainly an interesting framing by the publisher.

👓 Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? | Wired

Read Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? (WIRED)
Opinion: The 2009 vs. 2019 profile picture trend may or may not have been a data collection ruse to train its facial recognition algorithm. But we can't afford to blithely play along.

👓 Why Some of Instagram’s Biggest Memers Are Locking Their Accounts | The Atlantic

Read Why Some of Instagram's Biggest Memers Are Locking Their Accounts (The Atlantic)
More meme accounts are going private. Their owners say it’s a new way to gain followers on a crowded platform.

📑 Unfollowing Everybody | Anil Dash

Annotated Unfollowing Everybody by Anil Dash (Anil Dash)
To that point, I've also basically not refollowed any news accounts or "official" corporate accounts. Anything I need to know about major headlines gets surfaced through other channels, or even just other parts of Twitter, so I don't need to see social media updates from media companies whose entire economic model is predicated on causing me enough stress to click through to their sites.
Some good general advice…

👓 ‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans | Washington Post

Read ‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans (Washington Post)
As treasury secretary, Tim Geithner criticized predatory lenders. Now the private equity firm he leads runs a company that mails high-rate loans to risky customers.

📑 ‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans | Washington Post

Annotated ‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans (Washington Post)
Despite the risks, however, Mariner Finance is eager to gain new customers. The company declined to say how many unsolicited checks it mails out, but because only about 1 percent of recipients cash them, the number is probably in the millions. The “loans-by-mail” program accounted for 28 percent of Mariner’s loans issued in the third quarter of 2017, according to Kroll. Mariner’s two largest competitors, by contrast, rarely use the tactic.
Incidentally 1% is the response rate necessary to make spam email and fax financially viable. Coincidence?

Do businesses that rely on a low response rate of 1-2% and succeed have something in common? Could they all be considered predatory?

👓 Why 2016 Was the Year of the Algorithmic Timeline | Motherboard

Read Why 2016 Was the Year of the Algorithmic Timeline (Motherboard)
2016 was the year that the likes of Instagram and Twitter decided they knew better than you what content you wanted to see in your feeds.

use algorithms to decide on what individual users most wanted to see. Depending on our friendships and actions, the system might deliver old news, biased news, or news which had already been disproven.


2016 was the year of politicians telling us what we should believe, but it was also the year of machines telling us what we should want.


The only way to insure your posts gain notice is to bombard the feed and hope that some stick, which risks comprising on quality and annoying people.


Sreekumar added: “Interestingly enough, the change was made after Instagram opened the doors to brands to run ads.” But even once they pay for visibility, a brand under pressure to remain engaging: “Playing devil’s advocate for a second here: All the money in the world cannot transform shitty content into good content.”

Artificially limiting reach of large accounts to then turn around and demand extortion money? It’s the social media mafia!


It disorients the reader, and distracts them with endless, timeless content.

👓 A Close Look at How Facebook’s Retreat From the News Has Hurt One Particular Website—Ours | Slate

Read A Close Look at How Facebook’s Retreat From the News Has Hurt One Particular Website—Ours by Will Oremus (Slate Magazine)
New data shows the impact of Facebook’s pullback from an industry it had dominated (and distorted).

(Roose, who has since deleted his tweet as part of a routine purge of tweets older than 30 days, told me it was intended simply as an observation, not a full analysis of the trends.)

Another example of someone regularly deleting their tweets at regular intervals. I’ve seem a few examples of this in academia.


It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between NewsWhip’s engagement stats, which are public, and referrals—that is, people actually clicking on stories and visiting publishers’ sites. The two have generally correlated, historically, and Facebook told me that its own data suggests that continues to be the case. But two social media professionals interviewed for this story, including one who consults for a number of different publications, told me that the engagement on Facebook posts has led to less relative traffic. This means publications could theoretically be seeing less ad revenue from Facebook even if their public engagement stats are holding steady.


From Slate’s perspective, a comment on a Slate story you see on Facebook is great, but it does nothing for the site’s bottom line.


(Remember when every news site published the piece, “What Time Is the Super Bowl?”)

This is a great instance for Google’s box that simply provides the factual answer instead of requiring a click through.


fickle audiences available on social platforms.

Here’s where feed readers without algorithms could provide more stability for news.

👓 An Invisible Rating System At Your Favorite Chain Restaurant Is Costing Your Server | BuzzFeed

Read An Invisible Rating System At Your Favorite Chain Restaurant Is Costing Your Server by Caroline O'DonovanCaroline O'Donovan (BuzzFeed)
In data-hungry, tech-happy chain restaurants, customers are rating their servers using tabletop tablets, not realizing those ratings can put jobs at risk.
The lack of thought on behalf of these large restaurant chains is simply deplorable. If presented with a tablet or app like this at a restaurant, I’m simply going to get up and leave. I’ll actively boycott the use of such aggressive nonsense.

And Ziosk could be a roundabout way for employers to discriminate against employees. Employers are legally restricted from evaluating employees based gender, age, race, or appearance, according to Karen Levy, an assistant professor in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University — but nothing is stopping Ziosk users from doing that, even though those ratings can affect a worker’s pay or employment. “If you outsource that job to a consumer, you may be able to escape that,” she said.

“Customers who might discriminate against a certain class or group of workers can use the system to leave negative comments that would affect the workers,” said Cornell’s Ajunwa. She compared the restaurant system to student evaluations of professors, which determine the trajectory of their careers, and tend to be biased against women.


Having low scores posted for all coworkers to see was “very embarrassing,” said Steph Buja, who recently left her job as a server at a Chili’s in Massachusetts. But that’s not the only way customers — perhaps inadvertently — use the tablets to humiliate waitstaff. One diner at Buja’s Chili’s used Ziosk to comment, “our waitress has small boobs.”According to other servers working in Ziosk environments, this isn’t a rare occurrence.

This is outright sexual harrassment and appears to be actively creating a hostile work environment. I could easily see a class action against large chains and/or against the app maker themselves. Aggregating the data and using it in a smart way is fine, but I suspect no one in the chain is actively thinking about what they’re doing, they’re just selling an idea down the line. The maker of the app should be doing a far better job of filtering this kind of crap out and aggregating the data in a smarter way and providing a better output since the major chains they’re selling it to don’t seem to be capable of processing and disseminating what they’re collecting.


👓 Dear Marketing by Email “Experts” I’m Serious About Messing With You | CogDogBlog

Read Dear Marketing by Email “Experts” I’m Serious About Messing With You by Alan Levine (CogDogBlog)
Hi, Hello. I was wondering whether you’d be interested in selling advertising space on Does the phrase “No, not even after hell freezes over” mean anything to you? The advertiseme…
This is pretty hilarious. I definitely need something like this for my site.

👓 Remix, Mashups, Aggregation, Plagiarism oh my | Clint Lalonde

Read Remix, Mashups, Aggregation, Plagiarism oh my by Clint Lalonde (ClintLalonde.net)
I am about to criticize and show examples from a copyright poster (or, for you new-fangled kids, an infographic) I received in the mail today from Turnitin, the anti-plagiarism company. Fair dealin…
Clint you’re dead on in your analysis here. Some of these things are definitely not plagiarism. Worse, they seem to be resorting to fearmongering.

I’m hoping that the marketing department of the company was just trying to round out a list of 10 things for their handy, but improper, infographic. Shame on them for spreading bad information in hopes that increased fear will help to sell their product.

To help fight poor information and to promote the raw power of remixing and extending, I’ll reference this excellent video from Matt Ridley: