Tag Archives: Social networks

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

The Future of Work — 3 Mega-Trends

By Graham Brown-Martin – Technology is just part of a broader spectrum of human activity and social change is driven by society rather than machines, that is, we have agency to act independently and make free choices.

The path of innovation and its social consequences are almost entirely shaped by society as a result of numerous social factors such as culture, politics, regulatory mechanisms and economic arrangements. The latter one is particularly apposite given the post-WWII obsession with neoclassical economics, as taught in most universities.

Political decisions supported by economic frameworks have excluded citizens from the discourse and, as a result, are now unraveling across the western world. It turns out that the things we value most are the things that are difficult or impossible to measure.

This obsession for economics and measuring what could be measured and ignoring what it couldn’t gave us global agencies such as the World Bank, IMF and OECD.

But these organizations have been unable to apply their frameworks, wedded as they are to a single metric of GDP, to the worlds most pressing challenges such as climate change, increasing population or growing inequalities, rather they have exacerbated them. more> https://goo.gl/DywzVb

In defense of hierarchy

By Stephen C Angle, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Julian Baggini, Daniel Bell, Nicolas Berggruen, Mark Bevir, Joseph Chan, Carlos Fraenkel, Stephen Macedo, Michael Puett, Jiang Qian, Mathias Risse, Carlin Romano, Justin Tiwald and Robin Wang – Good and permissible hierarchies are everywhere around us.

Yet hierarchy is an unfashionable thing to defend or to praise.

We live in a time when no distinction is drawn between justified and useful hierarchies on the one hand, and self-interested, exploitative elites on the other.

First, bureaucratic hierarchies can serve democracy. Bureaucracy is even less popular these days than hierarchy. Yet bureaucratic hierarchies can instantiate crucial democratic values, such as the rule of law and equal treatment.

There are at least three ways in which usually hierarchical constitutional institutions can enhance democracy: by protecting minority rights, and thereby ensuring that the basic interests of minorities are not lightly discounted by self-interested or prejudiced majorities; by curbing the power of majority or minority factions to pass legislation favoring themselves at the expense of the public good; and by increasing the epistemic resources that are brought to bear on decision-making, making law and policy more reflective of high-quality deliberation. Hence democracies can embrace hierarchy because hierarchy can enhance democracy itself.

Yet in recent decades, these civic hierarchies have been dismantled and often replaced with decentralized, competitive markets, all in the name of efficiency. This makes sense only if efficiency and effectiveness (usually assumed to be measured in economic terms) are considered the overriding priorities.

But if we make that assumption, we find ourselves giving less weight to values such as the rule of law, democratic legitimacy or social equality. Hence, we might sometimes prefer the democratically accountable hierarchies that preserve those values even over optimal efficiency. more> https://goo.gl/PDDv12

Related>

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