📑 Three things about Readers during IndieWebCamp Nürnberg | Seblog

Highlighted Three things about Readers during IndieWebCamp Nürnberg by Sebastiaan AndewegSebastiaan Andeweg (seblog.nl)
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.  
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📑 Reply to Ben Werdmüller | Interdependent Thoughts

Annotated Reply to Ben Werdmüller by Ton Zijlstra (Interdependent Thoughts)
They can spew hate amongst themselves for eternity, but without amplification it won’t thrive.  

This is a key point. Social media and the way it (and its black box algorithms) amplifies almost anything for the benefit of clicks towards advertising is one of its most toxic features. Too often the extreme voice draws the most attention instead of being moderated down by more civil and moderate society.

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👓 How Students Engage with News: Five Takeaways for Educators, Journalists, and Librarians | Project Information Literacy Research Institute

Read How Students Engage with News: Five Takeaways for Educators, Journalists, and Librarians [.pdf] by Alison J. Head, John Wihbey, P. Takis Metaxas, Margy MacMillan, and Dan Cohen (Project Information Literacy Research Institute)
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.

Perhaps there are some interesting segments and even references relevant to the topics of education and IndieWeb for Greg McVerry‘s recent project?

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

“Solutions journalism’ is another promising trend that answers some of the respondents’ sense of helplessness in the face of the barrage of crisis coverage.62  

October 22, 2018 at 11:40PM

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👓 What We Learned from Studying the News Consumption Habits of College Students | Dan Cohen

Read What We Learned from Studying the News Consumption Habits of College Students by Dan CohenDan Cohen (Dan Cohen)
Over the last year, I was fortunate to help guide a study of the news consumption habits of college students, and coordinate Northeastern University Library’s services for the study, including great work by our data visualization specialist Steven Braun and necessary infrastructure from our digital team, including Sarah Sweeney and Hillary Corbett. “How Students Engage with News,” out today as both a long article and accompanying datasets and media, provides a full snapshot of how college students navigate our complex and high-velocity media environment.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Side note: After recently seeing Yale Art Gallery’s show “Seriously Funny: Caricature Through the Centuries,” I think there’s a good article to be written about the historical parallels between today’s visual memes and political cartoons from the past.  

This also makes me think back to other entertainments of the historical poor including the use/purpose of stained glass windows in church supposedly as a means of entertaining the illiterate Latin vulgate masses.
October 22, 2018 at 08:07PM

nearly 6,000 students from a wide variety of institutions  

Institutions = colleges/universities? Or are we also considering less educated youth as well?
October 22, 2018 at 08:08PM

A more active stance by librarians, journalists, educators, and others who convey truth-seeking habits is essential.  

In some sense these people can also be viewed as aggregators and curators of sorts. How can their work be aggregated and be used to compete with the poor algorithms of social media?
October 22, 2018 at 08:11PM

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👓 Free Speech in the Age of Algorithmic Megaphones | Wired

Read Free Speech in the Age of Algorithmic Megaphones (WIRED)
Researchers have long known that local actors—as well as Russia—use manipulative tactics to spread information online. With Facebook suspending a slew of domestic accounts, a difficult reckoning is upon us.

We need something in the digtial world that helps to put the brakes on gossip and falsehoods much the same way real life social networks tend to slow these things down. Online social networks that gamify and monopolize based on clicks using black box algorithms are destroying some of the fabric of our society.

Lies were able to go across the world before the truth had a chance to put on it’s breeches in the past, but it’s ability to do so now is even worse. We need to be able to figure out a way to flip the script.

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📺 Facebook: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) | YouTube

Watched Facebook: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver from HBO via YouTube

Facebook’s global expansion has been linked to political turmoil overseas, so maybe their ads should focus less on how they “connect the world” and more on why connecting people isn’t always the best idea.

Some solid reasons to completely abandon Facebook.

👓 'I was shocked it was so easy': ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you're gay | The Guardian

Read 'I was shocked it was so easy': ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you're gay by Paul Lewis (the Guardian)
Psychologist Michal Kosinski says artificial intelligence can detect your sexuality and politics just by looking at your face. What if he’s right?

How in God’s name are we repeating so many of the exact problems of the end of the 1800’s? First nationalism and protectionism and now the eugenics agenda?

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👓 ‘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.
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📑 ‘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?

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👓 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.

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👓 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.


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👓 Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias | HackedEducation

Read Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias by Audrey WattersAudrey Watters (Hack Education)
This is the transcript of the talk I gave this afternoon at a CUNY event on "The Labor of Open"

Interesting to hear that Audrey has now also removed the Creative Commons license from her website now as well as having disabled comments and the ability to annotate using Genius and Hypothes.is. I’m all for this and happy to support her decision despite the fact that it means that it’s potentially more difficult and circuitous to share and comment on some of her excellent work. I’m sad that we’re in a place that people on the web would attack, target, and otherwise bully people into needing to take such steps, but I’m glad that there are ways, means, and tools for blocking out these bad actors. While I might have otherwise reposted and annotated her piece directly, I’ll respect her wishes and her digital sovereignty and just quote a few interesting phrases instead. This being said, you’re far better off reading the original directly anyway.

While reading this I was initially worried that it was a general rehash of some of her earlier work and thoughts which I’ve read several times in various incarnations. However, the end provided a fantastic thesis about unseen labor which should be more widely disseminated.

almost all the illustrations in this series – and there are 50 of these in all – involve “work” (or the outsourcing and obscuring of work). Let’s look at a few of these (and as we do so, think about how work is depicted – whose labor is valued, whose labor is mechanized, who works for whom, and so on.

What do machines free us from? Not drudgery – not everyone’s drudgery, at least. Not war. Not imperialism. Not gendered expectations of beauty. Not gendered expectations of heroism. Not gendered divisions of labor. Not class-based expectations of servitude. Not class-based expectations of leisure.

And so similarly, what is the digital supposed to liberate us from? What is rendered (further) invisible when we move from the mechanical to the digital, when we cannot see the levers and the wires and the pulleys.

As I look back upon the massive wealth compiled by digital social companies for what is generally a middling sort of job that they’re not paying nearly as much attention to as they ought (Facebook, Twitter, et al.) and the recent mad rush to comply with GDPR, I’m even more struck by what she’s saying here. All this value they have “created” isn’t really created by them directly, it’s done by the “invisible labor” of billions of people and then merely captured by their systems, which they’re using to actively disadvantage us in myriad ways.

I suppose a lot of it all boils down to the fact that we’re all slowly losing our humanity when we fail to exercise it and see the humanity and value in others.

The bigger problem Watters doesn’t address is that with the advent of this digital revolution, we’re sadly able to more easily and quickly marginalize, devalue, and shut out others than we were before. If we don’t wake up to our reality, our old prejudices are going to destroy us. Digital gives us the ability to scale these problems up at a staggering pace compared with the early 1900’s.

A simple and solid example can be seen in the way Facebook has been misused and abused in Sri Lanka lately. Rumors and innuendo have been able to be spread in a country unchecked by Facebook (primarily through apathy) resulting in the deaths of countless people. Facebook doesn’t even have a handle on their own scale problems to prevent these issues which are akin to allowing invading conquistadores from Spain the ability to bring guns, germs, and steel into the New World to decimate untold millions of innocent indigenous peoples. Haven’t we learned our lessons from history? Or are we so intent on bringing them into the digital domain? Cathy O’Neil and others would certainly say we’re doing exactly this with “weapons of math destruction.”

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

A series of damning posts on Facebook has stoked longstanding ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka, setting off a wave of violence largely directed at Muslims. How are false rumors on social media fueling real-world attacks?

On today’s episode:

• Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, who have reported on Sri Lanka for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Fraudulent claims of a Muslim plot to wipe out Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority, widely circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp, have led to attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned homes and shops in the country.

• Facebook’s algorithm-driven news feed promotes whatever content draws the most engagement — which tend to be the posts that provoke negative, primal emotions like fear and anger. The platform has allowed misinformation to run rampant in countries with weak institutions and a history of deep social distrust.

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Reply to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian Greger

Replied to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian GregerSebastian Greger (sebastiangreger.net)
Originally intended to showcase a privacy-centred implementation of emerging social web technologies – with the aim to present a solution not initially motivated by legal requirements, but as an example of privacy-aware interaction design – my “social backfeed” design process unveiled intricate challenges for Indieweb sites, both for privacy in general and legal compliance in particular.

Again Sebastian Greger has written up a well-thought-out and nuanced approach to design. Here he discusses privacy and GDPR with a wealth of research and direct personal experience in these areas. He’s definitely written something interesting which I hope sparks the beginning of a broader conversation and evaluation of our ethics.

There’s so much to think about and process here, that I’ll have to re-read and think more specifically about all the details. I hope to come back to this later to mark it up and annotate it further.

I’ve read relatively deeply about a variety of privacy issues as well as the weaponization of data and its improper use by governments and businesses to unduly influence people. For those who are unaware of this movement over the recent past, I would highly recommend Cathy O’Neil’s text Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which provides an excellent overview with a variety of examples about how the misuse of data can be devastating not just to individuals who are broadly unaware of it, but entire segments of society.

There is a lot of publicly available data we reveal via social media and much of it one might flippantly consider “data exhaust” which has little, if any inherent value by itself. Unfortunately when used in aggregate, it can reveal striking things about us which we may either not be aware of ourselves or which  we wouldn’t want to be openly known.

My brief thought here is that much like the transition from the use of smaller arms and handguns, which can kill people in relatively small numbers, to weapons like machine guns on up to nuclear weapons, which have the ability to quickly murder hundreds to millions at a time, we will have to modify some of our social norms the way we’ve modified our “war” norms over the past century. We’ll need to modify our personal social contracts so that people can still interact with each other on a direct basis without fear of larger corporations, governments, or institutions aggregating our data, processing it, and then using it against us in ways which unduly benefit them and tremendously disadvantage us as individuals, groups, or even at the level of entire societies.

In my mind, we need to protect the social glue that holds society together and improves our lives while not allowing the mass destruction of the fabric of society by large groups based on their ability to aggregate, process, and use our own data against us.

Thank you Sebastian for kicking off a broader conversation!

Disclaimer: I’m aware that in posting this to my own site that it will trigger a tacit webmention which will ping Sebastian Greger’s website. I give him permission to display any and all data he chooses from the originating web page in perpetuity, or until such time as I send a webmention either modifying or deleting the content of the originating page. I say this all with some jest, while I am really relying on the past twenty years of general social norms built up on the internet and in general society as well as the current practices of the IndieWeb movement to govern what he does with this content.

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❤️ akaDashan tweet about swinging cradle for your phone

Liked a tweet by 大山 Dashan 大山 Dashan (Twitter)

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