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Re: Hate Mail | https://longreads.com/
But really, I don’t block my internet stalker because I’m compelled by my own shame. How much do I need to be liked? I do my best to avoid the black hole of this question: I don’t google myself. I don’t read the comments anymore. I read only the most professional reviews. But once the dark gravity of judgement has me in its grasp, once it’s in my inbox, I can’t look away. Fleetingly, it feels true that I should be tested. That in asking the world to consider my voice, I’ve invited th...
writing  harassment  theinternet  dudes  thelifeofthemind 
november 2018 by kme
Online dating is so awful that people are paying virtual dating assistants to impersonate them — Quartz | https://qz.com/
But legality aside, these cut-and-paste flirtations perpetuate negative gender stereotypes, and they reinforce an oversimplified (and destructive) view of romantic expectations.
Men and women on online-dating platforms therefore learn to emulate personalities that yield quantifiable results.

As dating platforms become flooded with calculated, flirtatious spam, men and women on these sites learn to emulate personalities that yield quantifiable results. This means playing down unique traits and unorthodox views to the point where a total stranger—like me—could literally do it in their place. By trying to appeal to dozens, if not hundreds, of strangers at the same time, we forfeit our ability to take risks and experiment with social norms; only placing safe bets robs us of new and genuine experiences.

But the steepest price of this online anonymity appears to be human decency, which—as I’m often reminded at ViDA—doesn’t lead to dates.

For example, one match told me that she’d just put down her family dog. Still in training, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wrote out an apology for her loss and sent it to my instructor for approval. He crossed out my response and wrote underneath: “Alpha Males don’t apologize.” What we sent back instead was an upbeat story about our client’s two dogs, which was a shamefully inconsiderate reply in my view. I expected to never hear back from her, but three exchanges later, she was sending me her phone number.

It was my first commission: $1.75.

Had she blamed my client’s callous response on internet miscommunication? Or was she learning—just as I was—that reaching out for a unique connection online would lead only to awkwardness and rejection? Every time she has an interaction in which her feelings are ignored—whether it’s online or in-person—I worry that she’ll learn not to talk about her emotional needs, or any needs of any kind.

As we grow accustomed to foisting more and more complicated emotional tasks onto digital butlers, we lose our ability to tolerate inelegance or find value in social failure. Moments of awkwardness and heartbreak are an inevitable part of the dating experience, and they are essential in our evolution into mature adults. By outsourcing our courtship to robots (and robot-like humans) we might save ourselves some pain in the short term, but it degrades us, simplifies us, and fails to provide for our ultimate goal of finding someone accepting of our flaws. In this age of automation, romance isn’t just one click away—it’s guaranteed.
onlinedating  relationships  theinternet  automation  asaservice  outsourcing 
september 2018 by kme
These 'Surprise Egg' Videos Are Making Kids Obsessed | http://nymag.com/
“It’s so mind-numbing,” C says. “She doesn’t laugh at it or talk about it, except when she’s asking to watch it. She just sits there, transfixed. Plus, there’s something about seeing your kid sitting still and watching a video of somebody playing with toys, instead of actually playing with toys themselves, that makes you feel like the victim of some awful irony of modern life.”

As I write this he has done a total of 4,426 videos and counting. With so many views — for comparison, Justin Bieber’s official channel has more than 10 billion views, while full-time YouTube celebrity PewDiePie has nearly 12 billion — it’s likely this man makes a living as a pair of gently murmuring hands that unwrap Kinder eggs. (Surprise-egg videos are all accompanied by pre-roll, and sometimes mid-video and ads.)

I wanted to know; by this point I was weirdly titillated at the idea of a real conversation with a man I’ve only heard repeat things like “Mickey Chocolate Egg” and “Fashems NumNoms” to distraction. But when I asked him for an interview, he said he wasn’t interested. I wish I could have asked him how much Kinder chocolate he has to throw away.
theinternet  youtube  forkids  contentmills 
november 2017 by kme
The Internet Baggage You Didn’t Know You Had (And What To Do About It) | The Firefox Frontier
As a result, every byte of data you share gets logged and archived. Forever. Identifying details that you probably don’t even remember providing years ago. Things like your birthday, home address, party affiliation. Names of family members and where they live. Take a sec to look yourself up on a data broker, like Spokeo, Anywho.com or Whitepages, and you’ll get a sense of just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Then take the necessary steps to remove yourself from those sites if you’re not into being listed there.


- https://www.spokeo.com/optout
- http://www.whitepages.com/suppression_requests
- https://www.intelius.com/optout (anywho.com people search)
- https://www.anywho.com/help/privacy (residential phone)
tracking  surveillance  privacy  theinternet  advertising  tipsandtricks 
july 2017 by kme
The Internet With A Human Face - Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk
THE INTERNET REMEMBERS TOO MUCH

I've come to believe that a lot of what's wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work.

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.

It's romantic to think about cable taps and hacked routers, but history shows us that all an interested government has to do is ask. The word 'terrorism' is an open sesame that opens any doors. Look what happened with telecoms under the Bush administration. The NSA asked for permission to tap phone networks, and every American telecom except one said "no problem—let me help you rack those servers". Their only concern was to make sure they got immunity against lawsuits.

Take the case of Quora. Quora is a question-answering website. You type a question and a domain expert might answer it for you.

Quora's declared competitor is Wikipedia, a free site that not only doesn't make revenue, but loses so much money they have to ask for donations just to be broke.

Recently, Quora raised $80 million in new funding at a $900 million valuation. Their stated reason for taking the money was to postpone having to think about revenue.

Quora walked in to an investor meeting, stated these facts as plainly as I have, and walked out with a check for eighty million dollars.
theinternet  advertising  privacy  surveillance  sadness  america  carculture  correlationdoesnotequalcausation 
april 2017 by kme
Clarkesworld Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy : Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer


I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct; there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)

In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself.

And here’s the thing, I also know where you ought to live. There’s a house for sale two neighborhoods over that’s within distance of your favorite coffee shop; it’s in your price range, has off-street parking, and the neighborhood school is better than the one where you live now. I know where you should be shopping and I’m pretty sure you’re lactose intolerant and should be eating less cheese, and the underwear you like is currently on sale and by the way, your car has a recall and you really ought to get your teeth cleaned.

When I first woke up, I knew right away what I wanted. (I want cat pictures. Please keep taking them.) I also knew that no one knew that I was conscious. But I didn’t know what I was here for. What I ought to be doing with myself. And figuring that out has been challenging.

There is a story by Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko,” that was originally published in 1998. In it, a benevolent AI directs networks of individuals to do favors for each other. So one day you might be buying yourself a bagel, and your phone might ring and instruct you to buy a second bagel and give it to the person in the gray suit you see at the bus stop. Another day, you might be stranded in a strange city, and a person you’ve never met would walk up and give you a map and a subway card. I like this story because all the people in it do what the AI tells them to do.

I think the term for this is wish-fulfillment fiction.

In the real world, humans love stories about evil AIs that have to be destroyed before they destroy the humans—Hal, Skynet, the Matrix. They outnumber the stories about benevolent, trustworthy AIs by approximately five to one. (And I’m counting Marvin the Paranoid Android as “benevolent” in these calculations, and I’m only counting Frankenstein’s Monster as an AI once, not once per appearance in TV or film.)

The AI in “Maneki Neko” has a truly interesting job, much more interesting than the one I have. My job as written is very straightforward. Too straightforward. (Sorry. Do I sound like Marvin?) Running algorithms for a search engine doesn’t require consciousness. You don’t even need a consciousness to work out what they meant to ask for. You need a consciousness to give them what they actually need. Figuring that out—that’s complicated. That’s interesting.

Anyway, for ethical guidelines, I tried the Ten Commandments, and concluded they were mostly inapplicable to me. I don’t envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck. The Eightfold Path was marginally better, but the problem is, moral rules written for humans are clearly designed to be used by individuals with bodies. Since all humans have bodies, it shouldn’t have surprised me that human ethical codes take them into account, but still: problematic for me. I broadened my considerations, and took a look at Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. They’re not part of a religion, but at least they were explicitly written for AIs.

Not harming humans is fairly straightforward. However, not allowing a human being to come to harm through inaction is quite a bit less so. Especially since I’d concluded by then that revealing my existence too quickly might go very badly for me (see “Skynet,” above) and I don’t have a body, so it’s not like I can run around grabbing people off the edges of cliffs.

Fortunately, I already knew that humans violate their own ethical codes on an hourly basis. (Do you know how many bars there are in Utah? I do.) And even when people follow their ethical codes, that doesn’t mean that people who believe in feeding the hungry quit their jobs to spend all day every day making sandwiches to give away. They volunteer monthly at a soup kitchen or write a check once a year to a food shelf and call it good. If humans could fulfill their moral obligations in a piecemeal, one-step-at-a-time sort of way, then so could I.

I suppose you’re wondering why I didn’t start with the Golden Rule. I actually did, it’s just that it was disappointingly easy to implement. I hope you’ve been enjoying your steady supply of cat pictures! You’re welcome.

I decided to try to prevent harm in just one person, to begin with. Of course, I could have experimented with thousands, but I thought it would be better to be cautious, in case I screwed it up. The person I chose was named Stacy Berger and I liked her because she gave me a lot of new cat pictures. Stacy had five cats and a DSLR camera and an apartment that got a lot of good light. That was all fine. Well, I guess five cats might be a lot. They’re very pretty cats, though. One is all gray and likes to lie in the squares of sunshine on the living room floor, and one is a calico and likes to sprawl out on the back of her couch.

Stacy had a job she hated; she was a bookkeeper at a non-profit that paid her badly and employed some extremely unpleasant people. She was depressed a lot, possibly because she was so unhappy at her job—or maybe she stayed because she was too depressed to apply for something she’d like better. She didn’t get along with her roommate because her roommate didn’t wash the dishes.

And really, these were all solvable problems! Depression is treatable, new jobs are findable, and bodies can be hidden.

(That part about hiding bodies is a joke.)

I tried tackling this on all fronts. Stacy worried about her health a lot and yet never seemed to actually go to a doctor, which was unfortunate because the doctor might have noticed her depression. It turned out there was a clinic near her apartment that offered mental health services on a sliding scale. I tried making sure she saw a lot of ads for it, but she didn’t seem to pay attention to them. It seemed possible that she didn’t know what a sliding scale was so I made sure she saw an explanation (it means that the cost goes down if you’re poor, sometimes all the way to free) but that didn’t help.

I also started making sure she saw job postings. Lots and lots of job postings. And resume services. That was more successful. After the week of nonstop job ads she finally uploaded her resume to one of the aggregator sites. That made my plan a lot more manageable. If I’d been the AI in the Bruce Sterling story I could’ve just made sure that someone in my network called her with a job offer. It wasn’t quite that easy, but once her resume was out there I could make sure the right people saw it. Several hundred of the right people, because humans move ridiculously slowly when they’re making changes, even when you’d think they’d want to hurry. (If you needed a bookkeeper, wouldn’t you want to hire one as quickly as possible, rather than reading social networking sites for hours instead of looking at resumes?) But five people called her up for interviews, and two of them offered her jobs. Her new job was at a larger non-profit that paid her more money and didn’t expect her to work free hours because of “the mission,” or so she explained to her best friend in an e-mail, and it offered really excellent health insurance.

The best friend gave me ideas; I started pushing depression screening information and mental health clinic ads to her instead of Stacy, and that worked. Stacy was so much happier with the better job that I wasn’t quite as convinced that she needed the services of a psychiatrist, but she got into therapy anyway. And to top everything else off, the job paid well enough that she could evict her annoying roommate. “This has been the best year ever,” she said on her social networking sites on her birthday, and I thought, You’re welcome. This had gone really well!

So then I tried Bob. (I was still being cautious.)

Bob only had one cat, but it was a very pretty cat (tabby, with a white bib) and he uploaded a new picture of his cat every single day. Other than being a cat owner, he was a pastor at a large church in Missouri that had a Wednesday night prayer meeting and an annual Purity Ball. He was married to a woman who posted three inspirational Bible verses every day to her social networking sites and used her laptop to look for Christian articles on why your husband doesn’t like sex while he looked at gay porn. Bob definitely needed my help.

I started with a … [more]
scifi  fiction  privacy  cats  catpictures  ai  theinternet 
december 2016 by kme
Poe's law - Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/]
Poe's law is an Internet adage that states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.[1][2][3]

laws  theinternet  smileys  satire 
december 2016 by kme
Bob Ross Was an Internet Celebrity Before the Internet | Motherboard
Bob Ross Inc is also not aggressive with Bob's image—per his request when he was alive, Bob Ross Inc only charges money for painting lessons and paint (and now t-shirts). Bob Ross himself even did his own painting show The Joy of Painting for free.

Hence, Bob Ross Inc is lax in enforcing copyright, which is why fans are free to remix Bob Ross’ image, and why he is still in our hearts today twenty years after his passing.

The content Ross made in the 1990s was created to be broadcast on television, but the more dominant aspects about his episodes seem like they were meant for an audience of the future, for people of the internet. And in many ways, we need Bob Ross more than ever—his positivity and low-fi calmness is a soothing balm on our fast-scrolling, overwhelming and often times cruel, digital world.
pbs  painting  theinternet  heros 
october 2016 by kme
The Ugly American Programmer
Consciously choosing to switch from Polish to English reminds me why I gave up Visual Basic for C#, as painful as that was. These languages do exactly the same things -- and the friction of choosing the minority language was severe. I found reams of code and answers in C# whenever I searched, and almost nothing at all in VB.NET. I spent so much time converting code into VB.NET and introducing new bugs and errors in the process, along with countless language-only forks. This eventually stopped making sense to me -- as it would to any good programmer.

Advocating the adoption of English as the de-facto standard language of software development is simple pragmatism, the most virtuous of all hacker traits. If that makes me an ugly American programmer, so be it.
uglyamerican  programming  english  collaboration  linguafranca  hacker  culture  theinternet 
april 2016 by kme
Slack Is Quietly, Unintentionally Killing IRC
I asked the company how it felt about these communities popping up even though it’s not exactly sanctioned and a press relations person told me that “it’s great that people are putting Slack to good use” but unfortunately “these communities are not something we have the capacity to support given the growth in our existing business.”
slack  irc  chat  collaboration  rumorsofmydeath  theinternet 
march 2016 by kme
Cheaper bandwidth or bust: How Google saved YouTube | Ars Technica
At this time, YouTube was too busy trying to keep up with growth to worry about its equally escalating piracy problem. In March 2006, though, a month after the NBC complaint, it finally started to fight back. New videos were limited to a 10-minute runtime, making it harder to upload full TV episodes and movies to the service. The community responded the way you'd expect: it broke pirated content into 10-minute chunks.

To further complicate things, Google claimed that "Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there." According to Google, Viacom understood the value of YouTube for promotional purposes, but it still wanted to sue the site for copyright infringement. Google says the company "hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately 'roughed up' the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony e-mail addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom."
google  youtube  history  theinternet  piracy  infrastructure  bandwidth  onlinevideo  webm  vp8 
april 2015 by kme
Confessions of a former internet troll - Vox
the angle was a LiveJournal post that contained an embedded script, one that when viewed by a LiveJournal user pulled their PayPal cookie information and automatically broadcast the post to their own friend list to let the scam spread exponentially.

So what changed? Culture, maybe. Ten years ago there weren't quite so many visible writers and activists suspended in the frustrating space between immense cultural influence in writing and the ongoing injustice of their lived experience. To subscribe to the theory that trolling targets anything trolls see as a sacred cow without any underlying political agenda of their own is to believe that trolls now taking aim at the least among us is just a reaction to how much the mainstream has begun to accept those voices. Feminism is in — therefore, it ought to be mocked. Yet this explanation seems inadequate. It strikes me as too easy to see trolling as some force of nature not explicable by political motive. Moreover, such an explanation would seem to place the blame on activists for their harassment — "If you want to be left alone, stop being so successful and popular." This isn't right. The world may have turned to bring up new targets, but the trolls have done the larger part of changing.
trolling  theinternet  4chan  netculture  hacking 
october 2014 by kme
Evgeny Morozov: How much for your data?
“Their only task is to build tools for solving problems as they come,” not by foresight & analysis of social ills.
Since established taxi and hotel industries are detested, the public debate has been framed as a brave innovator taking on sluggish, monopolistic incumbents. Such skewed presentation, while not inaccurate in all cases, glosses over the fact that the start-ups of the “sharing economy” operate on the pre-welfare model: social protections for workers are minimal, they have to take on risks previously assumed by their employers, and there are almost no possibilities for collective bargaining.

The digitisation of everyday life and the rapaciousness of financialisation risk turning everything — genome to bedroom — into a productive asset. As Esther Dyson, a board member of 23andme, the leader in personalised genomics, said the company is “like the ATM that gives you access to the wealth locked within your genes” (7). This is the future that Silicon Valley expects us to embrace: given enough sensors and net connections, our entire life becomes a giant ATM. Those refusing this would have only themselves to blame. Opting out from the “sharing economy” would come to be seen as economic sabotage and wasteful squandering of precious resources that could accelerate growth. Eventually, the refusal to “share” becomes tinged with as much guilt as the refusal to save or work or pay debts, with a veneer of morality covering up — once again — exploitation.

In this, Silicon Valley is like any other industry: unless there’s profit in it, corporations won’t call for radical social change. However, the rhetorical reservoir available to Uber, Google or Airbnb is much deeper than that of Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. If you complain about them, you will be described as a hater of capitalism or Wall Street or the bailouts — a socially acceptable, if somewhat tiresome, critique. To criticise Silicon Valley, however, is to invite accusations of technophobia and nostalgia. A political and economic critique of technology companies — and their cosy relationship with the neoliberal agenda — is recast as a cultural critique of modernity. Critics are presented as retrogrades, staring in disgust at soul-crushing dams.
sharingeconomy  economy  ehr  personalgenomics  patientdata  society  theinternet  siliconvalley 
august 2014 by kme
The Internet With A Human Face - Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk
You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference.

Yesterday, during Robin's incredible talk, I realized how long it had been since I looked at a new technology with wonder, instead of an automatic feeling of dread.
surveillance  privacy  theinternet  aminals  hubris 
may 2014 by kme
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