Tag Archives: Social networks

Updates from Georgia Tech

Decades of Data on World’s Oceans Reveal a Troubling Oxygen Decline
By Takamitsu Ito, Shoshiro Minobe, Matthew C. Long and Curtis Deutsch – A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water – an important measure of ocean health – has been declining for more than 20 years.

The majority of the oxygen in the ocean is absorbed from the atmosphere at the surface or created by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. Ocean currents then mix that more highly oxygenated water with subsurface water. But rising ocean water temperatures near the surface have made it more buoyant and harder for the warmer surface waters to mix downward with the cooler subsurface waters. Melting polar ice has added more freshwater to the ocean surface – another factor that hampers the natural mixing and leads to increased ocean more> stratification.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent “hypoxic events” that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms. more> https://goo.gl/3F17TB

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“I have nothing to hide. Why should I care about my privacy?”

By Fábio Esteves – There are two sets of reasons to care about your privacy even if you’ve got nothing to hide: ideological reasons and practical reasons.

Don’t confuse privacy with secrecy. I know what you do in the bathroom, but you still close the door. That’s because you want privacy, not secrecy.

A company like Facebook or Google allows you to upload unlimited data to their servers, for free. What’s their business model? How do they make so much money? They sell your info to advertising companies. But they never asked you if you wanted to sell your information. If someone asked you in person 100 questions about your personal life to sell it, would you answer them? Probably not, right? But you let this happen every time you use a service that makes money selling your info. more> https://goo.gl/mstSm5

How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election

By Alex Hern – One of the most powerful players in the British election is also one of the most opaque.. With just over two weeks to go until voters go to the polls, there are two things every election expert agrees on: what happens on social media, and Facebook in particular, will have an enormous effect on how the country votes; and no one has any clue how to measure what’s actually happening there.

Not all of that comes from automation. It also comes from the news culture, bubbles of education, and people’s ability to do critical thinking when they read the news. But the proximate cause of misinformation is Facebook serving junk news to large numbers of users.” more> https://goo.gl/wmkDhT

Democracy needs politeness

By Steven Bullock – In 1808, the US president Thomas Jefferson ranked the ‘qualities of mind’ he valued. Not surprisingly, he included ‘integrity’, ‘industry’, and ‘science’. These traits were particularly important to American revolutionaries seeking a society based on independent citizens, rather than harsh rulers and inherited privilege.

But at the top of his list, Jefferson chose not these familiar Enlightenment values but ‘good humour’ – or what contemporaries usually called ‘politeness’.

18th-century Britons and Americans believed that politeness was essential for a free society. Autocrats shouted, cursed and berated. But they sought only obedience. Leading a more open society required respect for other people, sensitivity to their expectations and concerns. By the time of Jefferson’s ranking, politeness had been part of the project of challenging authoritarian rule for more than a century. more> https://goo.gl/IVIswe

What know-it-alls don’t know, or the illusion of competence

By Kate Fehlhaber – This ‘illusion of confidence’ is now called the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’, and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.

It’s typical for people to overestimate their abilities. And similar trends have been found when people rate their relative popularity and cognitive abilities.

The problem is that when people are incompetent, not only do they reach wrong conclusions and make unfortunate choices but, also, they are robbed of the ability to realize their mistakes.

Instead of being confused, perplexed or thoughtful about their erroneous ways, incompetent people insist that their ways are correct. As Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man (1871): ‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.’

After all, as Confucius reportedly said, real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance. more> https://goo.gl/MkSn8M

21st-century propaganda: A guide to interpreting and confronting the dark arts of persuasion

By Gideon Lichfield – The belief, or rather hope, that humankind is ultimately rational has gripped Western politics at least since Descartes, and inspired such 19th-century optimists as Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill. “Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe,” Jefferson famously wrote.

But in recent years we’ve learned much about the human mind that contradicts the view of people as rationally self-interested decision-makers. Psychologists have established that we form beliefs first and only then look for evidence to back them up.

Research has turned up apparent physiological and psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, and found evidence that these differences have ancient evolutionary origins. It has identified the “backfire effect,” a.k.a. confirmation bias, in which people hew to even more strongly to an existing belief when shown evidence that clearly contradicts it.

Other research has looked at the habits of highly effective propagandists such as China, Russia, and alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos.

The main takeaways: truth, rationality, consistency, and likability aren’t necessary for getting people to absorb your viewpoint. Things that do work: incessant repetition, distractions from the main issue, sidestepping counterarguments rather than refuting them, using “peripheral cues” to establish credibility or authority, and antagonizing people who dislike you in order to get the attention of people who might like you. more> https://goo.gl/ddOwca

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I write on the internet. I’m sorry.

By Michael Brendan – One of the main reasons they feel like this is because of the internet, particularly social media’s effect on the way news is created and delivered to you. And how all of this has warped the experience of those who have lived through these social changes.

It isn’t just about politics either, but almost every dimension of human experience.

Do you love architecture? Someone just built a monstrosity next to a building you loved. Click here.

Do you adore products by Apple? Well, they’re screwing them up. Click here.

Did you just feel that unnamable, almost unmentionable surge of gratitude for all the people you’ve known in life and all the kindnesses their presence brought to you? Click here and see that most of them have contemptibly dumb opinions about everything.

The internet doesn’t coddle you in a comforting information bubble. It imprisons you in an information cell and closes the walls in on you by a few microns every day. It works with your friends and the major media on the outside to make a study of your worst suspicions about the world and the society you live in. Then it finds the living embodiments of these fears and turns them into your cell mates. And good heavens it is efficient. more> https://goo.gl/b9DXYn

Only governments can safeguard the openness of the internet

By Rufus Pollock – On 6 October 1536, in the prison yard of Vilvoorde castle near modern-day Brussels, a man named William Tyndale was strangled then burnt at the stake. His crime? To translate the Latin Bible into English, his native tongue. A priest and scholar, Tyndale was an information freedom-fighter, whose mission was to open up the scripture for ordinary men and women.

Tyndale worked in the midst of an extraordinary new information era, ushered in by the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press. Prior to the press, there were just 30,000 books in all of Europe; some 50 years later, in 1500, there were more than 10 million. The Catholic Church had responded to these developments with alarm. It tried to retain a monopoly on biblical interpretation by declaring translations from Latin heretical. Their logic was simple: control the flow of information, and you control its power.

Like Tyndale, today’s citizens are living through another information revolution.

Tyndale set out to use the technology at his disposal to empower and liberate ordinary people, giving them the opportunity to understand, think and make decisions for themselves. Open information meant believing that people should be free to encounter and recombine ideas at will, without some grand designer dictating the appropriate ends.

Radio offers a cautionary tale. Commentary about radio in the 1920s sounds eerily similar to discussions of the internet today. more> https://goo.gl/2qtcu6

All The Things Wrong With the Web Today, According to its Inventor

By Joon Ian Wong – Tim Berners-Lee isn’t particularly pleased with the way things have gone with his creation.

Advertising’s pernicious effect on the news. The web is cleaving into the haves and have-nots of news readership. Wealthy readers will pay to opt out of advertising; less privileged readers will have to stick with news that’s ad-supported,

Social networks are ignoring their responsibility to the truth. Social networks absorb their users’ personal data, but wind up “disempowering” those same users by isolating them from the wider web,

Online privacy is a “human right” that’s being trampled. Government surveillance and corporate monetization of personal data threaten web users’ right to privacy. more> https://goo.gl/kqgTNp

90 years later, the broadcast public interest standard remains ill-defined

By Jack Karsten – The public interest standard has governed broadcast radio and television since Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927. However, decades of successive court cases and updated telecommunications laws have done little to clarify what falls into the public interest.

Prior to the public interest standard, free speech advocates argued with the broadcasting industry over who should have editorial control over content. Industry groups opposed a common carrier approach that would have allowed anyone to buy airtime. The resulting compromise established a short-term renewable licensing regime, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission since 1934, which required broadcasters to act on behalf of all others who did not receive a license. Congress granted the FCC the flexibility to revise its interpretation of the public interest standard to reflect changing circumstances. Since its founding, the FCC has repeatedly refused to set forth its own concrete definition of the public interest.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 updated the 1934 Communications Act, but did not address the public interest standard beyond maintaining the status quo. more> https://goo.gl/AfmULj