Tag Archives: Social networks

The future of the open internet — and our way of life — is in your hands

By Quincy Larson – So far, the story of the internet has followed the same tragic narrative that’s befallen other information technologies over the past 160 years:

  • the telegram
  • the telephone
  • cinema
  • radio
  • television

Each of these had roughly the same story arc:

  1. Inventors discovered the technology.
  2. Hobbyists pioneered the applications of that technology, and popularized it.
  3. Corporations took notice. They commercialized the technology, refined it, and scaled it.
  4. Once the corporations were powerful enough, they tricked the government into helping them lock the technology down. They installed themselves as “natural monopolies.”
  5. After a long period of stagnation, a new technology emerged to disrupt the old one. Sometimes this would dislodging the old monopoly. But sometimes it would only further solidify them.

And right now, we’re in step 4 the open internet’s narrative. We’re surrounded by monopolies.

The problem is that we’ve been in step 4 for decades now. And there’s no step 5 in sight. The creative destruction that the Economist Joseph Schumpeter first observed in the early 1900s has yet to materialize. more> https://goo.gl/dFd7MK

America Needs a Crash Course in Critical Thinking

By Tom Jacobs – Newly published research suggests we need to develop an often-overlooked but vitally important skill: critical thinking.

Two North Carolina State University scholars report that, once students learned to apply healthy skepticism to one realm of knowledge, they were less likely to accept questionable claims in an unrelated field.

The history class “contained direct instruction on critical thinking,” including the use of famed astronomer Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection kit.”

“Students also learned common logical fallacies, fallacies of rhetoric, tropes in historical myths, and then applied them to course topics,” the researchers write.

At the end of the semester, all students were again tested on their belief in scientifically unproven claims. While attitudes did not significantly change among those who took the research methods course, those in the history course were less likely to support baseless assertions. more> https://goo.gl/g1h1km

Cutting the Gordian Knot of Privacy

By Maj. Gen. Earl D. Matthews – Europe has leapfrogged the United States in this arena and leads the way in defining privacy laws. Last year, the European Parliament approved the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which strengthens and unifies data protection laws for individuals within the European Union. Enforcement of the GDPR will begin in 2018, and organizations not in compliance will face heavy penalties, such as fines of up to 4 percent of annual gross revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.

Some experts have declared that privacy in the digital realm is dead. I beg to differ. It might be in an evolutionary state, but privacy is unquestionably not dead. It is not mutually exclusive to either the private or public sector, to economic development or national security. Privacy remains a fundamental expectation for individuals. America’s expectation of privacy is a permanent challenge requiring national resolve and continued response.

Additionally, asking the right questions is perhaps the most important consideration to move the discussion forward.

Why do people fail to read privacy policies?

If they do read and understand them, then why do they often lack enough experience to make an informed choice?

Why do privacy policies often serve more as a liability disclaimer for the government and industry than as a guarantee of privacy for citizens and consumers?

Adopting transparent data privacy and protection policies that are brief, well-stated and clear-cut might be a good start to addressing these questions. more> https://goo.gl/K07OB9

The century of American global domination of language is over

BOOK REVIEW

That’s the Way it Crumbles—The Americanization of British English, Author: Matthew Engel.

(glasbergen.com)By Cassie Werber – While some argue that the infiltration of American English is constantly speeding up, Lynne Murphy, a reader in linguistics at the University of Sussex, says that in fact the great era of American English as the language of the world was the 20th century, and it’s over.

“American culture (and words) could easily spread in the 20th century because it was hard to produce and distribute recorded entertainment, but the US had the capacity and the economy and the marketing savvy to do so,” Murphy wrote in a recent blog.

What’s changed in the 21st century, she suggests, is that the internet has re-formed our relationship with media, making audiences less purely receptive, and more able to seek out the content that interests them. Ultimately, she argues, there’s more “exchange of words between people, rather than just reception of words from the media.”

Now, Britain is seeing “a huge torrent” of language from the US, and being constantly changed by it. more> https://goo.gl/L84Ikg

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

BOOK REVIEW

The Enigma of Reason, Authors: Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber.
The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, Authors: Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.
Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, Authors: Jack Gorman and Sara Gorman.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Author: Elizabeth Kolbert.

By Elizabeth Kolbert – Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain.

For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

“Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves,” Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective.

Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.

If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias.

Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner. more> https://goo.gl/hUYB9s

A New Reason for Foreigners to Avoid Google and Facebook

By Leonid Bershidsky – A Philadelphia court has made the unfortunate decision to reopen the legal debate on whether the U.S. has the right to access e-mails stored on foreign servers if they belong to U.S. companies.

That’s a dangerous approach that hurts the international expansion of U.S. tech companies. Privacy-minded customers in Europe are already suspicious of the U.S. government’s cooperation with the tech giants, revealed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Nationalist politicians in some countries — for example, Marine Le Pen of the French National Front — want to ban cross-border personal data transfers, arguing that such data must be stored on servers inside the internet user’s country. That, however, does not appear to guarantee that the U.S. won’t get at it, either.

Those who are uneasy about the degree of the U.S. government’s reach into their private files and communications need to start thinking about alternatives, no matter how hard it may be to replace Google, Microsoft or Facebook. more> https://goo.gl/a1hqfP

How social media is crippling democracy, and why we seem powerless to stop it

Tech-assisted gaslighting is destroying truth, justice, and the American way. Can anything be done?

By ason Perlow – Because so many of us that “are on the spectrum” work in technology, and so many of us use these tools for business and not just for recreational purposes, we all have to work extra hard to hone our “soft” skills, as all of these tools are not particularly helpful in developing our interpersonal relationships and how we interact with people in the real world.

The more disconnected from face-to-face relationships we become, the more our soft skills atrophy. And these tools not only make the soft skills deteriorate, but they also reinforce bad habits and amplify our negative personality traits.

We all know someone whose personality traits are amplified in this way.

These tools can do much more than alter and distort the way we perceive our relationships with others and how others perceive us. These tools can alter our very sense of reality. more> https://goo.gl/BXBk9J

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Free speech debates are more than ‘radicals’ vs ‘liberals’

BOOK REVIEW

Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship, Author: Eric Heinze.
Excitable Speech, Author: Judith Butler.
On Liberty, Author: John Stuart Mill.

By Eric Heinze – The main schism in today’s free speech debates pits liberals, advocating unbridled speech as a tool of freedom, against radicals, who unmask unbridled speech as a tool of class privilege. But that rift tells only one story.

In almost all democracies today (the United States being the sole and oft-criticized exception), mainline liberal doctrines overwhelmingly require limits on provocative speech. Liberals today largely consent to drawing lines between the lawful and the unlawful expression of ideas.

They disagree only about where that boundary should lie. Indeed, an ever more distinct libertarianism has arisen in diametric opposition to the ‘balance of interests’ approaches of our more conventional liberal approaches. The strident (though still minority) libertarian would wholly abolish those lines in favor of free speech. Accordingly, far from dissenting from the more mainstream liberal line-drawing, radicals wish merely to draw the lines more tightly around certain types of expression. They differ from liberals only as a matter of degree, not as a matter of principle, even when they appear to adopt different philosophies or vocabularies.

If we want to avoid the impasses and repetitions plaguing the free-speech debates, one way is to stop assuming that ‘the liberal position’ always dictates one outcome, and ‘the radical position’ another. Both approaches supply plausible justifications for supporting restrictions on public discourse – but even stronger grounds for opposing them. more> https://goo.gl/DxjOMc

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Putin’s Real Long Game

By Molly K. McKew – What both administrations fail to realize is that the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not. It may not be a war we recognize, but it is a war. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.

So far, Trump seems far more likely than any of his predecessors to accelerate, rather than resist, the unwinding of the postwar order. And that could be a very bad — or an unexpectedly good — thing. So far, he has chosen to act as if the West no longer matters, seemingly blind to the danger that Putin’s Russia presents to American security and American society.

The question ahead of us is whether Trump will aid the Kremlin’s goals with his anti-globalist, anti-NATO rhetoric– or whether he’ll clearly see the end of the old order, grasp the nature of the war we are in, and have the vision and the confrontational spirit to win it. more> https://goo.gl/vgwEmY

In 2017, Cost Per Bit Exceeds Revenues

By Carol Wilson – This is the year when most telecom network operators will see their revenue-per-bit fall below their cost-per-bit, says a veteran industry analyst, and that financial reality is going to reverberate through the industry for at least the next two years, prompting further consolidation and cuts by network gear makers, as operator capex budgets shrink.

Companies such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) have been very open in saying the revenue-cost crossover drives their aggressive transformation efforts, because they recognize it is impossible to meet bandwidth requirements of the future doing things the way they’ve been done in the past.

That will mean continued price pressure on equipment vendors, CIMI Corp. CEO Tom Nolle, maintains. He points to declining revenues, quarter over quarter, for companies such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and to the fact that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is alone among vendors in growing its revenues because it is a price leader in many categories.

The analyst expects 2017 and 2018, at minimum, to be pretty bleak years for the telecom equipment space. more> https://goo.gl/ayoS7W