🎧 Triangulation 380 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | TWiT.TV

Listened to Triangulation 380 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Leo Laporte from TWiT.tv

Shoshana Zuboff is the author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. She talks with Leo Laporte about how social media is being used to influence people.


Even for the people who are steeped in some of the ideas of surveillance capitalism, ad tech, and dark patterns, there’s a lot here to still be surprised about. If you’re on social media, this should be required listening/watching.

I can’t wait to get the copy of her book.

Folks in the IndieWeb movement have begun to fix portions of the problem, but Shoshana Zuboff indicates that there are several additional levels of humane understanding that will need to be bridged to make sure their efforts aren’t just in vain. We’ll likely need to do more than just own our own data, but we’ll need to go a step or two further as well.

The thing I was shocked to not hear in this interview (and which may not be in the book either) is something that I think has been generally left unmentioned with respect to Facebook and elections and election tampering (29:18). Zuboff and Laporte discuss Facebook’s experiments in influencing people to vote in several tests for which they published academic papers. Even with the rumors that Mark Zuckerberg was eyeing a potential presidential run in 2020 with his trip across America and meeting people of all walks of life, no one floated the general idea that as the CEO of Facebook, he might use what they learned in those social experiments to help get himself (or even someone else) elected by sending social signals to certain communities to prevent them from voting while sending other signals to other communities to encourage them to vote. The research indicates that in a very divided political climate that with the right sorts of voting data, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of work for Facebook to help effectuate a landslide victory for particular candidates or even entire political parties!! And of course because of the distributed nature of such an attack on democracy, Facebook’s black box algorithms, and the subtlety of the experiments, it would be incredibly hard to prove that such a thing was even done.

I like her broad concept (around 43:00) where she discusses the idea of how people tend to frame new situations using pre-existing experience and that this may not always be the most useful thing to do for what can be complex ideas that don’t or won’t necessarily play out the same way given the potential massive shifts in paradigms.

Also of great interest is the idea of instrumentarianism as opposed to the older ideas of totalitarianism. (43:49) Totalitarian leaders used to rule by fear and intimidation and now big data stores can potentially create these same types of dynamics, but without the need for the fear and intimidation by more subtly influencing particular groups of people. When combined with the ideas behind “swarming” phenomenon or Mark Granovetter’s ideas of threshold reactions in psychology, only a very small number of people may need to be influenced digitally to create drastic outcomes. I don’t recall the reference specifically, but I recall a paper about the mathematics with respect to creating ethnic neighborhoods that only about 17% of people needed to be racists and move out of a neighborhood to begin to create ethnic homogeneity and drastically less diversity within a community.

Also tangentially touched on here, but not discussed directly, I can’t help but think that all of this data with some useful complexity theory might actually go a long way toward better defining (and being able to actually control) Adam Smith’s economic “invisible hand.”

There’s just so much to consider here that it’s going to take several revisits to the ideas and some additional research to tease this all apart.

🎧 Triangulation 383 Meredith Broussard: Artificial Unintelligence | TWiT.TV

Listened to Triangulation 383 Meredith Broussard: Artificial Unintelligence by Megan MorroneMegan Morrone from TWiT.tv

Software developer and data journalist Meredith Broussard joins Megan Morrone to discuss her book Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World, which makes the case against the idea that technology can solve all our problems, touching on self-driving cars, the digital divide, the difference between AI and machine learning, and more.

I’ve been waiting a while for Meredith’s book Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World to come out and this is an excellent reminder to pick up several copies for some friends who I know will appreciate it.

I’m curious if she’s got an Amazon Associates referral link so that we can give her an extra ~4% back for promoting her book? I don’t see one on her website unfortunately.

The opening of the show recalling the internet in the 90’s definitely took me back as I remember being in at least one class in college with Megan Morrone. I seem to recall that it was something in Writing Seminars, perhaps Contemporary American Letters?

There’s so much good to highlight here, but in particular I like the concept of technochauvinism, thought when I initially heard it I had a different conception of what it might be instead of the definition that Broussard gives as the belief that technology is always the solution to every problem. My initial impression of it was something closer to the idea of tech bro.

My other favorite piece of discussion centered on her delving into her local educational structure to find that there was a dearth of books and computers and how some of that might be fixed for future children. It’s reminiscent of a local computer scientist I know from Cal Tech who created some bus route models for the Pasadena school system to minimize their travel, gas cost, and personnel to save the district several million dollars. I’m hoping some of those savings go toward more books…

🎧 This Week in Google 489 I'm An Engineer, Darn It! | TWiT.TV

Listened to This Week in Google 489 I'm An Engineer, Darn It! by Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, Stacey Higginbotham from TWiT.tv
  • Facebook hopes for a better 2019 after a public image drubbing in 2018.
  • Google's Waymo Under Fire in Arizona - Literally.
  • Your cell phone has a huge security flaw, and there is no plan to fix it.
  • How much of the internet is made of bots? And how soon will people be the exception, not the rule?
  • Copyright expires for all works created in 1923 - the 1st time this has happened in 20 years. Is Mickey Mouse next?
  • One Oregon man takes his fight to call himself an engineer all the way to federal court.
  • Who owns your tattoo? Not you!
  • What will happen if the US tries to ban exports of AI tech?
  • A cafe in Tokyo where the staff is all robots controlled remotely by paralyzed workers.

Picks of the Week

🎧 This Week in Google 487 You're Filling It Wrong | TWiT.TV

Listened to This Week in Google 487 You're Filling It Wrong by Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, Mathew Ingram from TWiT.tv
  • Google takes Manhattan
  •  Almost 50% of Google's workers are temps, contractors, or vendors.
  •  Facebook vs New York Times
  •  Harassment on Twitter
  •  Jack Dorsey's beard shavings, Azalia Banks, and ISIS
  •  A very Google holiday season
  •  RIP Oath
  • Tesla fart app
  •  Peter Jackson restores WWI footage

Picks of the Week

  •  Leo's Tool: NexJack DeX Station
  •  Jeff's Number: Chartbeat's 2018 Most Engaged Stories

🎧 Gillmor Gang: Dead Flowers | TechCrunch

Listened to Gillmor Gang: Dead Flowers from TechCrunch

Doc Searls, Denis Pombriant, Keith Teare, Frank Radice, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Saturday, February 10, 2018.

  • Reference to SCAD
  • Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple’s home assistants
  • blockchain mention with respect to the S.E.C.

🎧 Gillmor Gang: Day Zero | TechCrunch

Listened to Gillmor Gang: Day Zero from TechCrunch

Esteban Kolsky, Denis Pombriant, Keith Teare, Gené Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Saturday, February 3, 2018.

An entire episode on water and sustainability.

Without seemingly knowing it they dance around the idea of needing a mixed economy. It’s almost as if they only know about capitalism and competition and there are no other options out there. We need protections (read “regulations” if you’re a Republican) put in by a planning and forward thinking government and then we can use capitalism as the fulcrum to ramp up and accelerate potential solutions when competition will bring them about.

🎧 Episode 46: Ben Norris aka @bennorris | Micro Monday

Listened to Episode 46: Ben Norris aka @bennorris from monday.micro.blog

This week’s guest, Ben Norris, is a husband and father of six children (plus a new puppy), as well as being an iOS developer, a blogger and a sketchnoter. He has also written quite movingly about mental illness and healing, and we chat about that a bit.

Ben’s Sketchnote of Manton’s Talk at Peers Conference


Mormon Sketcher

Coming Out
(tl;dr Hi, I’m Ben, and I have OCD.)

🎧 Episode 45: Annie Mueller aka @Annie | Micro Monday

Listened to Episode 45: Annie Mueller aka @Annie from monday.micro.blog

This week, Annie Mueller is our guest. She’s a freelance writer who has recently relocated with her family to Puerto Rico. “I do the words,” her About page says. And she likes Micro.blog:

I feel that it’s less about me expressing myself, and more about being part of this conversation with other people who are making their own cool things. It’s a neat meeting of interesting minds, and creative, thoughtful people. I just really enjoy the conversations that take place there.

🎧 Episode 44: Tony aka @tones | Micro Monday

Listened to Episode 44: Tony aka @tones from monday.micro.blog

This week we head back to the home of the Kiwis and talk to Tony in New Zealand. An engineer by trade, he’s been blogging since 2002.

I love writing but most of my writing I do for me…I just basically do what I think I would want to look back and read. I don’t really have an audience in mind.

Tony indicates an unusual but very valid method of having found his way into the IndieWeb via calendars from Tantek Çelik (🎧 00:02:51) and (🎧 00:19:34).

🎧 The Daily: Dispatches From the Border, Part 2 | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Dispatches From the Border, Part 2 from New York Times

A visit to one of the deadliest places in the United States for migrants shows that even for those who’ve made it across the border, a treacherous journey often awaits.

I’m really appreciating this series and how they’re bringing some actually reporting and storytelling about what is actually happening at the border. It’s far better than the simple pontificating we’re hearing from politicians who seem to have some broad strokes, but never quite seem to have the whole picture.

🎧 The Daily: The Story of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: The Story of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks from New York Times

The special counsel’s indictment of the longtime Trump adviser establishes a direct connection between WikiLeaks and the president’s campaign.

I’m curious if there are charges the special prosecutor is holding back on to get people to flip for one final round that will come back and knock down the entire house of cards?

🎧 The Daily: One Country, Two Presidents: The Crisis in Venezuela | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: One Country, Two Presidents: The Crisis in Venezuela from New York Times

As the once-prosperous nation faces economic and political collapse, the struggle over its leadership may hinge on the military.

The big question seems to be: What will the military do and which way will the country swing in what is sure to be some serious turmoil for the coming months and years.

🎧 Gillmor Gang X – Keith Teare | Anchor

Listened to Gillmor Gang X - Keith Teare by Steve Gillmor from Anchor

Gillmor Gang X - Keith Teare and Steve Gillmor. Produced on Anchor and GarageBand June 18, 2018

I’ve been getting back into Gillmor Gang episodes from the last year and noticed there’s a new shorter offshoot called Gillmor Gang X series. Steve has apparently taken to Anchor to put out slighly shorter episodes. You’ve got to love that just a few minutes into the show he mentions RSS and says (somewhat ironically) that as of six minutes ago we now have an RSS feed. Of course that doesn’t mean that he’s bothering to have any sort of feed for his primary show which still eschews RSS.

Given his long term interest in the music business and watching what the deans of the music business are doing with respect to distribution, I’m surprised that he doesn’t want to own and control his own masters and their own distribution. Perhaps the ease of recording and distribution on platforms like Anchor.fm (for this show) and TechCrunch for his other show is more than enough? They do discuss in the episode that the company is one of John Borthwick’s which may have prompted this series of experiments.

In any case, this seems like an interesting shorter format with fewer guests, so I’m interested in seeing where it goes.

🎧 Gillmor Gang: Body Language | TechCrunch

Listened to Gillmor Gang: Body Language from TechCrunch

Doc Searls, Esteban Kolsky, Denis Pombriant, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 26, 2018.

Some early talk about GDPR here, before people would become much more interested in it later in 2018. In retrospect, some of the early sales oil was being sold on what it was and what it would or wouldn’t include.

🎧 The Gillmor Gang: Smart Speakers | TechCrunch

Listened to The Gillmor Gang: Smart Speakers from TechCrunch

Doc Searls, Frank Radice, Denis Pombriant, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 12, 2018

I remember a bit why I haven’t listened to any episodes in over a year… While Gillmor presents himself as a liberal, it seems like he’s a bit too pro-Trump and gives him too much credit. He might often be playing devil’s advocate, but…

There’s some vaguely interesting information in here on blockchain and where it may be going, but it’s still too “tech-y” even for the tech crowd. There aren’t enough people on the show who are knee deep in the topic to make their pontifications on the topic worthwhile.

I want to start to catch back up on back episodes, but we’ll see how far we get.