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  1. Last 7 days
  2. May 2020
    1. But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations.
    2. Some of it is visual. Yes, it is true that all my posts on Twitter and Facebook look something similar to a personal blog: They are collected in reverse-chronological order, on a specific webpage, with direct web addresses to each post. But I have very little control over how it looks like; I can’t personalize it much. My page must follow a uniform look which the designers of the social network decide for me.
    1. Part of the problem of social media is that there is no equivalent to the scientific glassblowers’ sign, or the woodworker’s open door, or Dafna and Jesse’s sandwich boards. On the internet, if you stop speaking: you disappear. And, by corollary: on the internet, you only notice the people who are speaking nonstop.

      This quote comes from a larger piece by Robin Sloan. (I don't know who that is though)

      The problem with social media is that the equivalent to working with the garage door open (working in public) is repeatedly talking in public about what you're doing.

      One problem with this is that you need to choose what you want to talk about, and say it. This emphasizes whatever you select, not what would catch a passerby's eye.

      The other problem is that you become more visible by the more you talk. Conversely, when you stop talking, you become invisible.

    1. How can we portray emotions, gestures, and attention in an authentic way through a computational medium?

      This reminds me a bit of Kevin Marks' post about phatic reactions in social media: http://epeus.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-twitter-works-in-theory.html

    1. It feels a lot like the reason we are unable to offer real alternative social networks is not that we cannot do so. It is because most people with the abilities to do so spend their time working on things that only work for the tiny audience that is the tech sector, while happily ignoring the needs of all those billions of non-technical humans out there. This is something that frustrates me more than I want to admit.
  3. Apr 2020
    1. Readers enter through a single portal (top), move through found parallel lanes of introduction and motivation, and then enter the more densely-linked core discussion of parks and gardens. The opening section is a formal garden, the later discussion is parkland.

      Good gardens might have multiple entrances and potential multiple exits to other adjacent gardens.

      What is the difference between a walled garden and a ghetto? The perception of the people inside versus those who are attempting to keep them there?

      Facebook may have been a walled garden of sortsonce , but if the people in charge are coercing the residents to stay inside, is it a walled garden anymore or has it become a ghetto? a concentration camp? At some point the definition only changes based on the perception of the people being held and their ultimate fates.

  4. Feb 2020
    1. Why can't there be more sites with solid commentary like this anymore? Do the existence of Twitter and Facebook mean whe can't have nice things anymore?

    1. Social media research ethics faces a contradiction between big data positivism and research ethics fundamentalism. Big data positivists tend to say, ‘Most social media data is public data. It is like data in a newspaper. I can therefore gather big data without limits. Those talking about privacy want to limit the progress of social science’. This position disregards any engagement with ethics and has a bias towards quantification. The ethical framework Social Media Research: A Guide to Ethics (Townsend and Wallace, 2016) that emerged from an ESRC-funded project tries to avoid both extremes and to take a critical-realist position: It recommends that social scientists neither ignore nor fetishize research ethics when studying digital media.Research ethics fundamentalists in contrast tend to say,You have to get informed consent for every piece of social media data you gather because we cannot assume automatic consent, users tend not to read platform’s privacy policies, they may assume some of their data is private and they may not agree to their data being used in research. Even if you anonymize the users you quote, many can still be identified in the networked online environment.
    2. One important aspect of critical social media research is the study of not just ideolo-gies of the Internet but also ideologies on the Internet. Critical discourse analysis and ideology critique as research method have only been applied in a limited manner to social media data. Majid KhosraviNik (2013) argues in this context that ‘critical dis-course analysis appears to have shied away from new media research in the bulk of its research’ (p. 292). Critical social media discourse analysis is a critical digital method for the study of how ideologies are expressed on social media in light of society’s power structures and contradictions that form the texts’ contexts.
    3. Marx is certainly not the only relevant critical social theorist who matters for under-standing social media. The critical study of social media should be based on a broad range of critical theories of society. The crisis of capitalism and the devastating social and political effects of austerity and neoliberalism have made evident that political econ-omy can no longer be ignored in the study of society. This does not mean that the econ-omy determines society but rather that all social phenomena have an economy and are economic and non-economic at the same time (Fuchs, 2015a).
    4. There are at least six elements in Marx’s works that are of key relevance for understanding communications today (Fuchs, 2016b; Fuchs and Mosco, 2016a, 2016b):(1) Praxis communication: Marx was not just a critical political economist but also a critical journalist and polemicist, whose writing style can inspire critical thought today.(2) Global communication: Marx stressed the connection of communication technol-ogy and globalization. In an age, where there are lots of talk about both the Internet and globalization, we should remind ourselves that technology-mediated globalization has had a longer history.(3) Dialectical philosophy: Marx elaborated a critical theory of technology that is based on dialectical logic. Dialectical philosophy can help us to avoid one-sided analyses of the media (Fuchs, 2014c).(4) Class analysis: Marx stressed the relevance of the connection of labour, value, commodities and capital. He analysed modern society as a class society. Focusing on class today can counter the positivism of analyses of society as information society, net-work society, knowledge-based society, post-industrial society and so on.(5) Crisis and social struggles: Marx described class struggle and crisis as factors in the historical dynamics of class societies. Class structures and struggles are in complex ways reflected on and entangled into mediated communication.(6) Alternatives: Marx envisioned alternatives to capitalism and domination. Given capitalist crisis and monopoly control of social media today, it is important to envision alternatives to capitalism and capitalist social media.
    5. The term ‘social media’ takes on different meanings depending on what concept of the social is foregrounded. Example understandings of the social are Émile Durkheim’s concept of social facts, Max Weber’s categories of social action and social relations, Ferdinand Tönnies’ notion of community or Karl Marx’s understanding of the social as social problems and social co-production that implies the need for social ownership

      Understanding and contextualizing social media

    1. Upon the efficient consumption and summarizing of news from around the world. Remember? from when we though the internet would provide us timely, pertinent information from around the world? How do we find internet information in a timely fashion? I have been told to do this through Twitter or Facebook, but, seriously… no. Those are systems designed to waste time with stupid distractions in order to benefit someone else. Facebook is informative in the same way that thumb sucking is nourishing. Telling me to use someone’s social website to gain information is like telling me to play poker machines to fix my financial troubles.. Stop that.
  5. Jan 2020
    1. As an American and a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I’m allergic to the notion of forbidden speech. But if government is going to forbid it, it damned well better clearly define what is forbidden or else the penumbra of prohibition will cast a shadow and chill on much more speech.

      Perhaps it's not what people are saying so much as platforms are accelerating it algorithmically? It's one thing for someone to foment sedition, praise Hitler, or yell their religious screed on the public street corner. The problem comes when powerful interests in the form of governments, corporations, or others provide them with megaphones and tacitly force audiences to listen to it.

      When Facebook or Youtube optimize for clicks keyed on social and psychological constructs using fringe content, we're essentially saying that machines, bots, and extreme fringe elements are not only people, but that they've got free speech rights, and they can be prioritized with the reach and exposure of major national newspapers and national television in the media model of the 80's.

      I highly suspect that if real people's social media reach were linear and unaccelerated by algorithms we wouldn't be in the morass we're generally seeing on many platforms.

    2. Many of the book’s essayists defend freedom of expression over freedom from obscenity. Says Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld (father of Joseph, who would become executive editor of The New York Times): “Freedom of expression, if it is to be meaningful at all, must include freedom for ‘that which we loathe,’ for it is obvious that it is no great virtue and presents no great difficulty for one to accord freedom to what we approve or to that to which we are indifferent.” I hear too few voices today defending speech of which they disapprove.

      I might take issue with this statement and possibly a piece of Jarvis' argument here. I agree that it's moral panic that there could be such a thing as "too much speech" because humans have a hard limit for how much they can individually consume.

      The issue I see is that while anyone can say almost anything, the problem becomes when a handful of monopolistic players like Facebook or YouTube can use algorithms to programattically entice people to click on and consume fringe content in mass quantities and that subtly, but assuredly nudges the populace and electorate in an unnatural direction. Most of the history of human society and interaction has long tended toward a centralizing consensus in which we can manage to cohere. The large scale effects of algorithmic-based companies putting a heavy hand on the scales are sure to create unintended consequences and they're able to do it at scales that the Johnson and Nixon administrations only wish they had access to.

      If we look at as an analogy to the evolution of weaponry, I might suggest we've just passed the border of single shot handguns and into the era of machine guns. What is society to do when the next evolution occurs into the era of social media atomic weapons?

    1. One of the key critiques of the study is that the researchers didn’t log in. That is to say that they could not experience the full impact of the algorithm as it impacts their findings.

      As Becca Lewis suggests, is the problem associated with methodology? This reminds me of some of the discussions associated with [social media and teens] (https://collect.readwriterespond.com/social-media-has-not-destroyed-a-generation/)

  6. Dec 2019
    1. There’s no doubt that the web would not be where it is today without companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, and even AOL. Corporations have driven growth, investment, and innovation on the web, and social media networks have made the web a part of everyone’s lives.

      Yes, they've done some of these things, but I'd argue they didn't do much of the actual innovation. Most of what they had done was being done in other areas of the web before them and they just paved the cow paths.

      Potentially worse, their only innovation was to silo all the value for themselves and then externalize all the costs and issues back into society so they don't have to pay for them themselves.

    1. And I am planning on cutting back on my personal use of social media (easier said than done) and want to try to return to using my blog more than Twitter for sharing.

      certainly a laudable goal!

      It helped me a lot to simply delete most of the social media apps off of my phone. I scribbled a bit about the beginning of the process back in November and there's a link there to a post by Ben doing the same thing on his own website.

      More people are leaving social feeds for RSS feeds lately. I've recently started following Jeremy Felt who is taking this same sort of journey himself. See: https://jeremyfelt.com/tag/people-still-blog/

      Kudos as well to making the jump here:

      Taking a bit of a Twitter break. I'm going to try to stay off until the new year, but likely lack the willpower to stay off for more than a few hours. Wish me luck!<br><br>....but silently. Not via reply to to this tweet. Cause that'll just suck me back into the vortext.

      — Clint Lalonde (he/him) (@edtechfactotum) December 19, 2019
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

      In part, it's what prompted me to visit your site to write a comment. (Sorry for upping your cis-gendered white male count, but 2019 was a bad year, and hopefully we can all make 2020 better as you've indicated.)

    2. Most of the convo, if any, seems to happen on the socials vs comments left on the blog these days.

      The sad part of this is how painfully limiting the conversation can be on social with the character limitations and too many issues with branching conversations and following all the context.

      I find that using Webmentions on my site adds a lot of value because it brings all the conversation back to my site, where it really should be for more context.

    3. By the numbers

      I'm curious what things would look like if you similarly did an analysis of Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Where are you putting more time? What's giving you the most benefit? Where are you getting value and how are you giving it back?

    1. Moving back to a focus on protocols over platforms can solve many of these problems.

      This may also only be the case if large corporations are forced to open up and support those protocols. If my independent website can't interact freely and openly with something like Twitter on a level playing field, then it really does no good.

    2. It would allow end users to determine their own tolerances for different types of speech but make it much easier for most people to avoid the most problematic speech, without silencing anyone entirely or having the platforms themselves make the decisions about who is allowed to speak.

      But platforms are making huge decisions about who is allowed to speak. While they're generally allowing everyone to have a voice, they're also very subtly privileging many voices over others. While they're providing space for even the least among us to have a voice, they're making far too many of the worst and most powerful among us logarithmic-ally louder.

      It's not broadly obvious, but their algorithms are plainly handing massive megaphones to people who society broadly thinks shouldn't have a voice at all. These megaphones come in the algorithmic amplification of fringe ideas which accelerate them into the broader public discourse toward the aim of these platforms getting more engagement and therefore more eyeballs for their advertising and surveillance capitalism ends.

      The issue we ought to be looking at is the dynamic range between people and the messages they're able to send through social platforms.

      We could also analogize this to the voting situation in the United States. When we disadvantage the poor, disabled, differently abled, or marginalized people from voting while simultaneously giving the uber-rich outsized influence because of what they're able to buy, we're imposing the same sorts of problems. Social media is just able to do this at an even larger scale and magnify the effects to make their harms more obvious.

      If I follow 5,000 people on social media and one of them is a racist-policy-supporting, white nationalist president, those messages will get drowned out because I can only consume so much content. But when the algorithm consistently pushes that content to the top of my feed and attention, it is only going to accelerate it and create more harm. If I get a linear presentation of the content, then I'd have to actively search that content out for it to cause me that sort of harm.

    3. That approach: build protocols, not platforms.

      I can now see why @jack made his Twitter announcement this morning. If he opens up and can use that openness to suck up more data, then Twitter's game could potentially be doing big data and higher end algorithmic work on even much larger sets of data to drive eyeballs.

      I'll have to think on how one would "capture" a market this way, but Twitter could be reasonably poised to pivot in this direction if they're really game for going all-in on the idea.

      It's reasonably obvious that Twitter has dramatically slowed it's growth and isn't competing with some of it's erstwhile peers. Thus they need to figure out how to turn a relatively large ship without losing value.

    4. Meanwhile, politicians from the two major political parties have been hammering these companies, albeit for completely different reasons. Some have been complaining about how these platforms have potentially allowed for foreign interference in our elections.3 3. A Conversation with Mark Warner: Russia, Facebook and the Trump Campaign, Radio IQ|WVTF Music (Apr. 6, 2018), https://www.wvtf.org/post/conversation-mark-warner-russia-facebook-and-trump-campaign#stream/0 (statement of Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): “I first called out Facebook and some of the social media platforms in December of 2016. For the first six months, the companies just kind of blew off these allegations, but these proved to be true; that Russia used their social media platforms with fake accounts to spread false information, they paid for political advertising on their platforms. Facebook says those tactics are no longer allowed—that they've kicked this firm off their site, but I think they've got a lot of explaining to do.”). Others have complained about how they’ve been used to spread disinformation and propaganda.4 4. Nicholas Confessore & Matthew Rosenberg, Facebook Fallout Ruptures Democrats’ Longtime Alliance with Silicon Valley, N.Y. Times (Nov. 17, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/technology/facebook-democrats-congress.html (referencing statement by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.): “Mr. Tester, the departing chief of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, looked at social media companies like Facebook and saw propaganda platforms that could cost his party the 2018 elections, according to two congressional aides. If Russian agents mounted a disinformation campaign like the one that had just helped elect Mr. Trump, he told Mr. Schumer, ‘we will lose every seat.’”). Some have charged that the platforms are just too powerful.5 5. Julia Carrie Wong, #Breaking Up Big Tech: Elizabeth Warren Says Facebook Just Proved Her Point, The Guardian (Mar. 11, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/11/elizabeth-warren-facebook-ads-break-up-big-tech (statement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)) (“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let's start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn't dominated by a single censor. #BreakUpBigTech.”). Others have called attention to inappropriate account and content takedowns,6 6. Jessica Guynn, Ted Cruz Threatens to Regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter Over Charges of Anti-Conservative Bias, USA Today (Apr. 10, 2019), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/04/10/ted-cruz-threatens-regulate-facebook-twitter-over-alleged-bias/3423095002/ (statement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)) (“What makes the threat of political censorship so problematic is the lack of transparency, the invisibility, the ability for a handful of giant tech companies to decide if a particular speaker is disfavored.”). while some have argued that the attempts to moderate discriminate against certain political viewpoints.

      Most of these problems can all fall under the subheading of the problems that result when social media platforms algorithmically push or accelerate content on their platforms. An individual with an extreme view can publish a piece of vile or disruptive content and because it's inflammatory the silos promote it which provides even more eyeballs and the acceleration becomes a positive feedback loop. As a result the social silo benefits from engagement for advertising purposes, but the community and the commons are irreparably harmed.

      If this one piece were removed, then the commons would be much healthier, fringe ideas and abuse that are abhorrent to most would be removed, and the broader democratic views of the "masses" (good or bad) would prevail. Without the algorithmic push of fringe ideas, that sort of content would be marginalized in the same way we want our inane content like this morning's coffee or today's lunch marginalized.

      To analogize it, we've provided social media machine guns to the most vile and fringe members of our society and the social platforms are helping them drag the rest of us down.

      If all ideas and content were provided the same linear, non-promotion we would all be much better off, and we wouldn't have the need for as much human curation.

    1. A personal website belonging to the IndieWeb doesn't need to run any particular suite of software, and doesn't need to be hosted on any particular service.

      Even here the word "belong" is pushing things too far. I might suggest "that is a part of" as a more apt replacement.

      Your web presence "belongs" to Facebook. Your website "belongs" to you.

    1. Alexander Samuel reflects on tagging and its origins as a backbone to the social web. Along with RSS, tags allowed users to connect and collate content using such tools as feed readers. This all changed with the advent of social media and the algorithmically curated news feed.

      Tags were used for discovery of specific types of content. Who needs that now that our new overlords of artificial intelligence and algorithmic feeds can tell us what we want to see?!

      Of course we still need tags!!! How are you going to know serendipitously that you need more poetry in your life until you run into the tag on a service like IndieWeb.xyz? An algorithmic feed is unlikely to notice--or at least in my decade of living with them I've yet to run into poetry in one.

    1. Madison’s design has proved durable. But what would happen to American democracy if, one day in the early 21st century, a technology appeared that—over the course of a decade—changed several fundamental parameters of social and political life? What if this technology greatly increased the amount of “mutual animosity” and the speed at which outrage spread? Might we witness the political equivalent of buildings collapsing, birds falling from the sky, and the Earth moving closer to the sun?

      Jonathan Haidt, you might have noticed, is a scholar that I admire very much. In this piece, his colleague Tobias Rose-Stockwell and he ask the following questions: Is social media a threat to our democracy? Let's read the following article together and think about their question together.

  7. Nov 2019
    1. Loading this iframe allows Facebook to know that this specific user is currently on your website. Facebook therefore knows about user browsing behaviour without user’s explicit consent. If more and more websites adopt Facebook SDK then Facebook would potentially have user’s full browsing history! And as with “With great power comes great responsibility”, it’s part of our job as developers to protect users privacy even when they don’t ask for.
    1. Are you looking for free social media icons sets to brighten up your website? Still perplexed about finalizing the final layout of the business card? Too many sites for social media icons but nothing is for free? Worry no more as we have got you covered here in this blog. We understand that all businesses have different preferences and unique styles to express themselves and their brand.

      Best Free Social Media Icons Sets for Your Website

    1. Using Technology to Help First-Gen Students

      This article highlights the need for and benefits of implementing more technology tools to support first-generation college students' learning, engagement, and success. For many first-gen students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, the transition to college can be challenging; this leads to lower retention rates, performance, and confidence. The authors, drawing off of research, suggest mobile devices and Web 2.0 technologies to prevent these challenges. Example of such tools include dictionary and annotation apps that are readily-accessible and aid in students' understanding of material. Fist-gen students can also use social media apps (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to maintain supportive connections with family, peers, and mentors. Rating: 8/10

  8. Oct 2019
    1. When these signals are intercepted, collected, co-opted, or stolen, they have the potential to confuse, weaken, or compromise an individual or initiative.

      I can't help but thinking here about stories of native peoples feeling like photographs of them were like having their soul stolen.