Stuff that isn’t blog-post-worthy, but may be helpful to think out loud.

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The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times

A good article by Tim Wu in the New York Times, on the effects of convenience. Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. And Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows. Read More

What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party - The New York Times

A tragedy is like a fault line. A life is split into a before and an after, and most of the time, the before was better. Few people will let you admit that out loud. Source: What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party - The New York Times That bit resonated. Actually, the whole article resonated a bit more than I’m comfortable with. Small talk becomes a bit like navigating a mental minefield. Read More

The Looming Digital Meltdown - The New York Times

Zeynep Tufekci, in the NYTimes: Modern computing security is like a flimsy house that needs to be fundamentally rebuilt. In recent years, we have suffered small collapses here and there, and made superficial fixes in response. There has been no real accountability for the companies at fault, even when the failures were a foreseeable result of underinvestment in security or substandard practices rather than an outdated trade-off of performance for security. Read More

The World Is Getting Hacked. Why Don't We Do More to Stop It? -

Zeynep Tufekci, writing about the latest ransomware, in the New York Times: If I have painted a bleak picture, it is because things are bleak. Our software evolves by layering new systems on old, and that means we have constructed entire cities upon crumbling swamps. And we live on the fault lines where more earthquakes are inevitable. All the key actors have to work together, and fast. Source: The World Is Getting Hacked. Read More

How Google Took Over the Classroom - The New York Times

Natasha Singer wrote a piece for the NYTimes on Google in the classroom. Is it a marketing ploy? (of course it is - there is no such thing as a free lunch, etc…) Google says “of course it isn’t - we just want kids to learn! It’s about the learning!” 🤔 These two quotes, one from Bill Fitzgerald, the other from the director of Google’s education unit, Bram Bout, outline the tension nicely: Read More

Nick Heer on web hosting and user data

These are all concerning avenues for users. Adding advertising tends to mean user privacy is compromised, as ads become increasingly targeted by the day; shutting a company down means all user data gets removed, and it's up to each user to find a new product or service to fill the hole. Rinse and repeat. Arguably worse is when the company and all attached user data is acquired. There's very little control any user has over that decision: they may like the original product, but are uncomfortable with the new owner. Read More


I've been frustrated by how much time I burn away fidgeting with social media. Lately, it's been essentially a form of self-regulation or soothing as it feels like civilization is melting down. Trump stumbles to pronounce a 5-letter acronym fed to him on a teleprompter? Ugh. To Twitter! etc. The world isn't melting down. I need to snap out of the pattern of just pissing away time on social media. So, I've deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone and iPad. Read More

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You Don't Have as Much Control in Videogames as You Think | WIRED

Warren Spector on dialogue: "It's very easy for us to simulate the pulling of a virtual trigger, and it's very, very hard for us to simulate a conversation. I defy anybody to show me a conversation system in a game today that isn't identical to the conversation systems that Richard Garriott was using in the '80s. The big innovation in conversation systems now is that there's a timer on your choice on the branching tree. Read More

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David Levy On the Agony Of Going Offline

David Levy, in "The Useless Agony of Going Offline": (He went offline for 72 hours over the new year's long weekend. Productivity ensued.) I didn't miss my smartphone, or the goofy watch I own that vibrates when I receive an e-mail and lets me send text messages by speaking into it. I didn't miss Twitter's little heart-shaped icons. I missed learning about new things. During the world's longest weekend, it became clear to me that, when I'm using my phone or surfing the Internet, I am almost always learning something. Read More

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Zygmunt Bauman: Social media are a trap

Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called "armchair activism," and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people? A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. Read More

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