The Internet With A Human Face

Reading over this piece about how the Internet never forgets, you realize that privacy invasions and security risks aren’t just about Facebook.

The online world is very different. Online, everything is recorded by default, and you may not know where or by whom. If you’ve ever wondered why Facebook is such a joyless place, even though we’ve theoretically surrounded ourselves with friends and loved ones, it’s because of this need to constantly be wearing our public face. Facebook is about as much fun as a zoning board hearing.

And how times really have changed.

The degree of centralization is remarkable. Consider that Google now makes hardware, operating systems, and a browser.

It’s not just possible, but fairly common for someone to visit a Google website from a Google device, using Google DNS servers and a Google browser on the way.

This is a level of of end-to-end control that would have caused us to riot in the streets if Microsoft had attempted it in 1999. But times have changed.

Facebook To Break Out Mobile Apps

From The Verge:

Facebook plans to produce a number of slick, standalone apps designed for mobile. “When Mark says something like this publicly you can imagine that the company is following through on it,” said one source. If all goes as planned, Facebook is running headfirst into a fragmented future. But that might not be such a bad thing.

Everyone seems to hate something about Facebook…so pick the parts of Facebook you like most.

I expect the entire suite could look something like:

  • Facebook Status1
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Facebook Photos (or Facebook Moments?)
  • Facebook News (or Paper)
  • Facebook Search
  • Facebook Check-In
  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Events

I think most people will hate it because they’re used to the bloated Outlook approach. But, like everything Facebook, they’ll hate it at first and then get used to it.

  1. The challenge with something like this, besides keeping it from being a Twitter clone, is “what’s a status update?” Is it a link? Shouldn’t links go under news? Is it a photo? Shouldn’t photos go in a Facebook photo app? 

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet

However it originated, though, the usage of “because-noun” (and of “because-adjective” and “because-gerund”) is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus (linguist Gretchen McCulloch: “It means something like ‘I’m so busy being totally absorbed by X that I don’t need to explain further, and you should know about this because it’s a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing'”). It conveys brevity (Carey: “It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone”).


Dr. Drang:

I’m sure you’ve noticed the backlash against free internet services over the past couple of years. Not that there are fewer free services, just that a certain set of people have been arguing that we shouldn’t be using them. Their rallying cry is “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” This is considered a deep truth among the anti-free set. It’s certainly true, but it isn’t deep, and I’m not convinced that it makes free services bad.

The Internet destroyed the middle class

Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class –

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face,” he writes in the book’s prelude: “At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”

Efficiency and automation made America a knowledge-based economy. Nerds replaced low-skilled labor.

Others often make the point that new industries have emerged to replace the previous labor market, but there’s no acknowledgement of how those markets don’t employ as many people as the older industries did.

Why not? Because there’s no need to. Because computers.

And this is where things start getting weird. If you are in favor of automation and efficiency (and who isn’t) you are indirectly supporting the hollowing out of the low-skilled job market – and you begin to sound like a heartless Scrooge when the only thing you can think to improve the quality of life for low-skilled laborers is that they need to catch up, and fast.


“I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet”

Paul Miller:

By late 2012, I’d learned how to make a new style of wrong choices off the internet. I abandoned my positive offline habits, and discovered new offline vices. Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.

I like the lesson that the Internet enables people to connect, but I think we need to be careful of in what ways. If I’m checking my Facebook every 10 minutes that has almost nothing to do with connecting and everything to do with vanity and dopamine.

Sam Harris on Trolling

Mostly from the responses he got to the back and forth he did with Bruce Schneier.

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I have not shied away from controversy and that many of my views defy easy summary. However, I continue to learn the hard way that if an issue is controversial, and my position cannot be reduced to a simple sentence, my critics will do the work of simplification for me.


On narcissistic personality disorders stemming from social media use:

Lynne Malcolm: Do you notice people posting on Facebook that are just so obsessed with themselves?

Emily Jacobs: Definitely, if not themselves it’s where they are going and what they are doing. I have noticed a few people who will post something at every location they’re at and post lots, and lots, and lots of photos either of themselves or with other people but they always seem to be social 24/7 when obviously you realise they are not like that. But when they portray this you know online personality of being a very social person and yeah, somebody really into themselves and wants to promote themselves I suppose and you notice—oh, they’re having some fun but you just not sure about how much they promoting themselves.

I’ve been coming around to the idea that the people who are always posting about themselves, their menial accomplishments, their latest meals, their check-ins at restaurants, aren’t completely to blame for this problem. I think they are actively encouraged to post these kinds of thing and this is the backlash.