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robertogreco : nextdoor   4

Fear-based social media Nextdoor, Citizen, Amazon’s Neighbors is getting more popular - Vox
"Why people are socializing more about crime even as it becomes rarer."



"These apps have become popular because of — and have aggravated — the false sense that danger is on the rise. Americans seem to think crime is getting worse, according to data from both Gallup and Pew Research Center. In fact, crime has fallen steeply in the last 25 years according to both the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Of course, unjustified fear, nosy neighbors, and the neighborhood watch are nothing new. But the proliferation of smart homes and smart devices is putting tools like cameras and sensors in doorbells, porches, and hallways across America.

And as with all things technology, the reporting and sharing of the information these devices gather is easier than it used to be and its reach is wider.

These apps foment fear around crime, which feeds into existing biases and racism and largely reinforces stereotypes around skin color, according to David Ewoldsen, professor of media and information at Michigan State University.

“There’s very deep research saying if we hear about or read a crime story, we’re much more likely to identify a black person than a white person [as the perpetrator],” Ewoldsen said, regardless of who actually committed the crime.

As Steven Renderos, senior campaigns director at the Center for Media Justice, put it, “These apps are not the definitive guides to crime in a neighborhood — it is merely a reflection of people’s own bias, which criminalizes people of color, the unhoused, and other marginalized communities.”

Examples abound of racism on these types of apps, usually in the form of who is identified as criminal.

A recent Motherboard article found that the majority of people posted as “suspicious” on Neighbors in a gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood were people of color.

Nextdoor has been plagued by this sort of stereotyping.

Citizen is full of comments speculating on the race of people in 9-1-1 alerts.

While being called “suspicious” isn’t of itself immediately harmful, the repercussions of that designation can be. People of color are not only more likely to be presumed criminals, they are also more likely to be arrested, abused, or killed by law enforcement, which in turn reinforces the idea that these people are criminals in the first place.

“These apps can lead to actual contact between people of color and the police, leading to arrests, incarceration and other violent interactions that build on biased policing practices by law enforcement agencies across the country,” Renderos said. “And in the digital age, as police departments shift towards ‘data-driven policing’ programs, the data generated from these interactions including 9-1-1 calls and arrests are parts of the historic crime data often used by predictive policing algorithms. So the biases baked in to the decisions around who is suspicious and who is arrested for a crime ends up informing future policing priorities and continuing the cycle of discrimination.”

Apps didn’t create bias or unfair policing, but they can exacerbate it

“To me, the danger with these apps is it puts the power in the hands of the individual to decide who does and doesn’t belong in a community,” Renderos said. “That increases the potential for communities of color to come in contact with police. Those types of interactions have wielded deadly results in the past.

“Look what happened to Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was the watchdog. He saw someone who looked out of place and decided to do something about it.”

These apps can also be psychologically detrimental to the people who use them.

It’s natural for people to want to know more about the world around them in order to decrease their uncertainty and increase their ability to cope with danger, Ewoldsen said, so people turn to these apps.

“You go on because you’re afraid and you want to feel more competent, but now you’re seeing crime you didn’t know about,” Ewoldsen said. “The long-term implication is heightened fear and less of a sense of competence. ... It’s a negative spiral.”

“Focusing on these things you’re interpreting as danger can change your perception of your overall safety,” Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told Recode. “Essentially you’re elevating your stress level. There’s buckets of research that talks about the dangers of stress, from high blood pressure to decreased mental health.”

These apps are particularly scary since they’re discussing crime nearby, within your neighborhood or Zip code.

“Because it’s so close, my guess is it has a bigger impact on fear,” Ewoldsen said."
fear  nextdoor  crime  citizenapp  amazonneighbors  neighborhoods  2019  surveillance  sousveillance  safety  race  racism  privacy  bias  vigilantism  news  media 
may 2019 by robertogreco
What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” (Melville House). Odell, a multidisciplinary artist who teaches at Stanford, is perhaps best known for a pamphlet called “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch,” which she put together while in residence at the Museum of Capitalism, in Oakland. Odell investigated the origins of a blandly stylish watch that was being offered for free (plus shipping) on Instagram, and found a mirrored fun house of digital storefronts that looked as though they had been generated by algorithm. The retailers advertised themselves as brands that had physical origins in glitzy Miami Beach or hip San Francisco but were, in fact, placeless nodes in a vast web of scammy global wholesalers, behind which a human presence could hardly be discerned.

Like Newport, Odell thinks that we should spend less time on the Internet. Unlike him, she wants readers to question the very idea of productivity. Life is “more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized,” she writes. To find the physical world sufficiently absorbing, to conceive of the self as something that “exceeds algorithmic description”—these are not only “ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” She also developed a fascination, via Google Maps, with the creek behind her old kindergarten, and she went to see it with a friend. She followed the creek bed, which, she learned, runs beneath Cupertino’s shopping centers and Apple’s headquarters. The creek became a reminder that under the “streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews” there is a “giant rock whose other lifeforms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic.”

Odell elegantly aligns the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds: what has happened to the natural world is happening to us, she contends, and it’s happening on the same soon-to-be-irreparable scale. She sees “little difference between habitat restoration in the traditional sense and restoring habitats for human thought”; both are endangered by “the logic of capitalist productivity.” She believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.”

“Digital Minimalism” and “How to Do Nothing” could both be categorized as highbrow how-to—an artist and a computer scientist, both of them in their thirties, wrestling with the same timely prompt. (At one point, Odell writes, she thought of her book as activism disguised as self-help.) Rather than a philosophy of technology use, Odell offers a philosophy of modern life, which she calls “manifest dismantling,” and which she intends as the opposite of Manifest Destiny. It involves rejecting the sort of progress that centers on isolated striving, and emphasizing, instead, caregiving, maintenance, and the interdependence of things. Odell grew up in the Bay Area, and her work is full of unabashed hippie moments that might provoke cynicism. But, for me—and, I suspect, for others who have come of age alongside the Internet and have coped with the pace and the precariousness of contemporary living with a mixture of ambient fatalism and flares of impetuous tenderness—she struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Odell writes about the first electronic bulletin-board system, which was set up, in Berkeley, in 1972, as a “communal memory bank.” She contrasts it with Nextdoor, a notoriously paranoid neighborhood-based social platform that was recently valued at $1.5 billion, inferring that the profit motive had perverted what can be a healthy civic impulse. Newport, who does not have any social-media accounts of his own, generally treats social media’s current profit model as an unfortunate inevitability. Odell believes that there is another way. She cites, for example, the indie platform Mastodon, which is crowdfunded and decentralized. (It is made up of independently operated nodes, called “instances,” on which users can post short messages, or “toots.”) To make money from something—a forest, a sense of self—is often to destroy it. Odell brings up a famous redwood in Oakland called Old Survivor, which is estimated to be almost five hundred years old. Unlike all the other trees of its kind in the area, it was never cut down, because it was runty and twisted and situated on a rocky slope; it appeared unprofitable to loggers. The tree, she writes, is an image of “resistance-in-place,” of something that has escaped capitalist appropriation. As Odell sees it, the only way forward is to be like Old Survivor. We have to be able to do nothing—to merely bear witness, to stay in place, to create shelter for one another—to endure."



"My Newport-inspired Internet cleanse happened to coincide with a handful of other events that made me feel raw and unmanageable. It was the end of winter, with its sudden thaws and strange fluctuations—the type of weather where a day of sunshine feels like a stranger being kind to you when you cry. I had just finished writing a book that had involved going through a lot of my past. The hours per day that I had spent converting my experience into something of professional and financial value were now empty, and I was cognizant of how little time I had spent caring for the people and things around me. I began thinking about my selfhood as a meadow of wildflowers that had been paved over by the Internet. I started frantically buying houseplants.

I also found myself feeling more grateful for my phone than ever. I had become more conscious of why I use technology, and how it meets my needs, as Newport recommended. It’s not nothing that I can text my friends whenever I think about them, or get on Viber and talk to my grandmother in the Philippines, or sit on the B54 bus and distract myself from the standstill traffic by looking up the Fermi paradox and listening to any A Tribe Called Quest song that I want to hear. All these capacities still feel like the stuff of science fiction, and none of them involve Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
april 2019 by robertogreco
25 small ways to make SF a better place - Curbed SF
"When it comes to making change at the local level, sometimes the tiniest actions can spark the biggest changes—and in San Francisco, where the options for helping the greater good can seem overwhelming, starting with small daily tasks is the best place to start. As more wealth pours into the city and the economic divide grows wider than ever before, it’s important to help out your fellow San Franciscan, zip code and tax bracket be damned.

For San Franciscans looking to make their hometown a better place, we present these small, but substantial, ways that you can help make a difference.

From your home

1. Stay informed about local news. It’s hard not to be aware of national news these days, but to get a sense of what’s changing in your immediate surroundings, soak in some local news by making local papers and blogs a part of your daily media diet. The San Francisco Chronicle is, of course, important, but other SF outlets can help you stay informed—from hyperlocal blogs (Richmond SF Blog, Mission Local, etc.) to established sources (Hoodline, San Francisco Magazine, etc.) and even more. Oh, and don’t forget Curbed SF.

2. Compost. Don’t believe the malodorous lies! Composting is easy and a great way of helping the environment from your kitchen. If your building or home does not yet have a green composting bin, the city will send you one free of charge.

3. Follow these pro-housing advocates and journalists on Twitter: Kim-Mai Cutler, Liam Dillon, Victoria Fierce, SF YIMBY, Laura Foote Clark, and YIMBY Action will keep you abreast of both anti-growth hypocrisy and action items that will help abate the California housing crisis.

4. Remember reusable bags. They’re easy to compile, but difficult to remember once you’re at Whole Foods. The cost of plastic and paper bags, both environmental and economical, are too much to bear. Stick a few reusable bags by your front door so you remember to bring them to your next shopping trip.

5. Donate, don’t discard, your old clothes. For those of you who simply cannot bear the thought of wearing last year’s jeans (perish the thought!) or want to whittle down your wardrobe to a minimalist offering, don’t trash your old clothes. Shelters like the St. Anthony Foundation can redistribute clean clothing to homeless San Franciscans. If you have professional women’s attire to toss, consider give them to Dress for Success. And Larkin Street Youth accepts gently worn clothing for at-risk, runaway youths.

In your neighborhood

6. Learn about your neighborhood’s history. Did you know the Castro used to be an Irish-American working-class neighborhood? Or that South of Market used the be called South of the Slot, which later became a novella by Nobel Prize-winning scribe Jack London? And who knew that Presidio Terrace was originally designed as a whites-only neighborhood? Take a deep dive into your neighborhood’s past, good and bad. After all, the city isn’t a blank slate.

7. Donate old books. Grab a handful (or trunkload) of books from your home library and add some inventory to the nearest Little Free Library. There are dozens in San Francisco and hundreds in the Bay Area. If you’d rather donate to the library, take your books to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. It’s a tax write-off!

8. Take care of a neighbor’s pet at PAWS. For some people, especially those who are chronically ill, frail, and isolated by disease or age, animal companionship is crucial to their health and well-being. Volunteer with PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) to get paired one-on-one with members of the community (who may be LGBT seniors or people living with HIV, Hepatitis C, or cancer) who need help caring for their pet. Ideal for animal lovers with no-pet rental agreements!

9. Attend neighborhood meetings. The best way to find out about what’s up in your neighborhood is to attend public meetings organized each month by your local community association. Here’s a good place to start.

10. Wave to tourists when they pass you on cable cars or tour buses. They freakin’ love that.

Along your route

11. Take public transit. It’s the best way to get to know your city. Learn Muni and BART routes along your most-traveled roads and hop on. And you’d be surprised how convenient the cable cars and F lines are.

12. Put foot to pedal. San Francisco is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you get started.

13. Be kind to the homeless. It’s going to take great leaps and bounds from the city to solve its chronic homeless problem. In the meantime, there are small things that you can do to empower those who need help. For starters, remember that people become homeless for a number of reasons—so leave the stereotyping or judgmental attitudes behind.

14. Document your city. One of the best ways to get to know the city is to shooting photos. Better yet, post them on Instagram. You will discover thousands of photographers also share your love of the city’s many neighborhoods. It’s a great way of take a closer look at your hood and getting to know your neighbors. Just don’t forget to geotag.

15. Be a conscientious pedestrian. From moving over to the right when using your phone to helping fellow pedestrians with strollers, there are a lot of ways to improve your two-foot mode of transportation around town. Because it’s 2018 and there’s no excuse for blocking a sidewalk. Here’s a pedestrian etiquette guide to help sharpen your two-step game.

In your community

16. Say hello to people/ask people how they’re doing. San Francisco can feel like a big small town, and its residents know it. If you’re walking around a neighborhood, or stopping into a local store, say, “Hello.” Stop being rude to service industry workers. Do not order with your phone attached to your ear. It’s dehumanizing. Be friendly.

17. Be a poll worker on election day. Looking for a way to up your voting game? Become a poll worker. It takes roughly 3,000 workers on election day to bets all the ballots processed. And with this upcoming June election being a crucial one, the city could use your help. (Psst, you will also get a $195 stipend.)

18. Fight hunger in the community. The uptick in foodie trends and prices have made nourishment seem like a privilege for the lucky and well-to-do. Not so. People are still starving in the city. Get involved with groups like San Francisco Food Bank, GLIDE Church, and Project Open Hand to make sure everyone in the community has food on the table.

19. Volunteer with the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. The department’s Pathways to Citizenship Initiative program always needs volunteers, interpreters, and legal professionals to assist with their bi-monthly naturalization workshops.

20. Get off Nextdoor. Beginning with good intentions, Nextdoor has turned into a cesspool of racism and bigotry for a lot of San Francisco residents.

With a group

21. Hook up with the Friends of the Urban Forest. See how you can help add foliage to San Francisco’s streets with this choice nonprofit. They organize everything from neighborhood tree plantings to sidewalk landscaping.

22. Dedicate your time to volunteering at one of the two Friends of the San Francisco Public Library bookstores. All proceeds benefit the public library system in San Francisco.

23. Host a letter-writing party. Written letters get more traction than email or @’ing your local lawmaker. If there’s an issue you feel strongly about, it’s more than likely you’re not the only one, and a letter-writing party is a great way to organize your community for a positive cause. Best of all, you can add a few bottles of wine and turn it into a real party.

24. Volunteer at Animal Care and Control. ACC receives roughly 10,000 animals every year and rely on volunteers to help out. These pets don’t get the luxe treatment found at nearly SF SPCA, so they could use all the love they deserve.

25. Show up. When people come together—especially in times of great need—they can do amazing things. This was especially true during the AIDS crisis and of the moments following the Loma Prieta earthquake. Go to protests. Attend rallies. Fight for others’ rights. Relish the fact that you live in a city that, in one way or another, however dim it seems at times, seeks for the betterment of all humans."
classideas  sanfrancisco  civics  community  activism  engagement  pedestrians  2018  etiquette  publictransit  transportation  bikes  biking  nextdoor  volunteering  animals  pets  nature  trees  protests  friendliness  elections  neighborhoods  environment  composting  recycling 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors, is becoming a home for racial profiling | Fusion
"While Nextdoor’s ability to assist in crime-spotting has been celebrated as its “killer feature” by tech pundits, the app is also facilitating some of the same racial profiling we see playing out in cities across the country. Rather than bridging gaps between neighbors, Nextdoor can become a forum for paranoid racialism—the equivalent of the nosy Neighborhood Watch appointee in a gated community.

Ahlberg is an East Coast native who moved to Oakland three years ago; Ivy Hill, where she lives, is what real estate agents call a “transitioning” neighborhood. She appreciates the information-sharing benefits of Nextdoor, but is concerned about the racial profiling that happens there. Since signing up for the app in 2012, Ahlberg has repeatedly seen black people in the neighborhood described as “suspicious” characters. “The most agitated alert messages are, by far, in reference to young black men who are seen as dangerous or a possible threat,” she said.

The same week of Ahlberg’s party, the New York Times wrote about Nextdoor’s venture capital-fueled growth, and its attempts to get community leaders onto its platform. It recounted the usual company lore about Nextdoor’s explosive growth over the last four years, leading to the creation of 53,000 micro-communities in the U.S. with users now sending 5 million messages a day. Like most media coverage of Nextdoor, the Times story didn’t mention the tense racial conversations that often play out there, and sometimes spill outside the app’s walled garden onto the open Internet.

“Racism quietly flourishes in San Leandro,” wrote one blogger citing Nextdoor posts in another Oakland neighborhood. A woman in St. Louis blogged about Nextdoor becoming the leaping off point for a discussion of how black mothers raise their sons. “Nextdoor: In case your Facebook feed isn’t racist enough,” is how a woman in Wisconsin titled a Tumblr post about the discomforting posts she saw on the network."



"If Nextdoor’s racial profiling problems can’t be solved through heavier moderation, they’ll need to be addressed by the communities themselves, in meetings and community forums like the ones being organized by Mickiewicz and other concerned citizens. We don’t need Starbucks baristas to write #RaceTogether on coffee cups to stimulate conversations about race in our communities. Nextdoor is where it’s already happening. Let’s hope these semi-public, semi-private conversations lead to diverse communities better understanding each other rather than Nextdoor, and similar services, simply becoming yet another place to safely air long-held racial assumptions.

“There seems to be a culture of fear on Nextdoor, where anytime someone feels fear, they call the police,” Mickiewicz said. “This is a misplaced solution to feeling fear, because it can have really serious consequences.”"
pendarvisharshaw  racism  localnetworks  community  engagement  participation  2015  nextdoor  profiling  racialprofiling 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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