Please clap: it's how Medium writers are going to be paid

Medium, the oft-pivoting publisher and platform, recently introduced an alarmingly twee new metric: "claps". If you like an article, you can "clap" for it, or as one might like to say, "give it the clap." And now The Verge reports that they'll be paying writers on the basis of how many claps they get.

A couple weeks ago, Medium replaced its “recommend” feature — a little heart button at the end of each article — with a “clap” button that you can click as many times as you want (much like how Periscope lets you send broadcasters an infinite number of hearts). The site wants people to send authors claps to show how much they enjoy reading each article.

Now, those claps are actually going to mean something. Medium pays authors by dividing up every individual subscriber’s fee between the different articles they’ve read that month. But rather than doing an even division between articles, Medium will weight payments toward whichever articles a subscriber gives the most claps to. It’s not clear exactly how much each individual clap tips the scale, but you can be sure that writers will be asking readers to click that button.

It’s a pretty strange way to implement payments, since it relies on a really arbitrary metric that individual subscribers might use in really different and inconsistent ways.

Medium should introduce a negative counterpart to "clap" called "slap." Read the rest

The far right has its own web, but what use is a site no-one will serve?

After Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer, hitherto Nazi-friendly internet companies have found their boots and their banhammers. The angry right has for some time anticipated this eventuality, and colonized or established replicas of key services and platforms. 8chan, Voat and Gab are the most well-known examples, respectively resembling 4chan, Reddit and Twitter. Adi Robertson writes that the internet's plumbing, the world of domain name registrars and load mitigation, will be harder to replicate. Why the alt-right can’t build an alt-internet.

Even if such a registrar could ignore bad PR, activists could still lodge complaints with the registries, which ultimately control access to domains. There are ways to bypass ICANN entirely. A site could use an alternative domain name system like Namecoin, for instance. It could advertise a numerical IP address rather than a link. The Daily Stormer set up shop on the free and decentralized Tor network, operating on the so-called dark web. But at that point, you’re not just independent, you’re effectively walled off from the normal internet. ... Far-right sites and services want to be real alternatives to their mainstream counterparts, not just enclaves for true believers.

Whatever is taken from them may also be taken from you. Read the rest

Hate groups expose the cynicism of social media platforms

Those praising social media for turfing out white supremacists (and those demanding free speech from it), are missing a deeper problem, writes John Herrman: that these commercial simulations of liberal public discourse are broken replicas of it, ultimately ruled by fiat.

But what gave these trolls power on platforms wasn’t just their willingness to act in bad faith and to break the rules and norms of their environment. It was their understanding that the rules and norms of platforms were self-serving and cynical in the first place. After all, these platforms draw arbitrary boundaries constantly and with much less controversy — against spammers, concerning profanity or in response to government demands.

Believing that private companies must embody or guarantee constitutional rights is one of the internet's worst mistakes. It's not about whether they say yes or no; the plain fact is they can't, even if they want to. They are never free of outside pressure or internal cunning. When we yabber at them to do this or that, we're forgetting that we're just speechcropping. The fact a handful of tech companies are becoming the only public square is a growing problem. Read the rest

GoDaddy kicks white supremacist site in the URLs

After white supremacist site The Daily Stormer published a nasty article about the woman killed by a Nazi in Charlottesville, domain registrar GoDaddy finally decided to boot them from its service. Read the rest

Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7bn

Amazon announced Friday that it was acquiring Whole Foods Market for $13.7bn in cash. Bezos: "they make it fun to eat healthy."

Does your tech startup have anything going on with Whole Foods? It doesn't any more. Read the rest

A great oral history of Funny Or Die, which just turned ten

Funny Or Die is ten years old this week. The comedy site's launch a decade ago almost didn't happen. Wired has compiled a definitive oral history of the site, right up through its most recent reset as Trump ascended to the Presidency.

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Leaving kids in front of screens unsupervised for hours may have unpleasant consequences, parents learn

We all did so well keeping our kids away from obvious traps like 4chan, but it turns out that during those endless unsupervised hours watching Minecraft videos and Twitch streams, their hosts were muttering on about anime and black IQs and what to do about The Jews. And now our kids are hitting their teens, it's coming out of them like the first belches of sewage from a blocked toilet, and, well, here we all are in 2017!

...again this week with the news that YouTube video gaming personality JonTron had made several racist and anti-semitic statements. JonTron — real name Jon Jafari — started his week by tweeting support for Iowa representative Steve King on Sunday, after King made the troubling claim that “we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.” Jafari then doubled down on this stance in an interview with fellow streamer Steven “Destiny” Bonnell, complaining of the erosion of a “unifying culture” in the United States, portraying Black Lives Matter as violent terrorists, and repeatedly making portentous warnings that white people would become the minority in American society. ...

On YouTube, these fringe opinions are insidious, too. They’re not set to Leni Riefenstahl films or videos of the Nuremberg Rallies — they dribble out during video game streams, or in Twitch chat, or in YouTube’s never-ending “up next” queue. These are ostensibly benign spaces that have become politicized in recent years, but not so loudly that the average parent will be able to clock the association.

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Martin Shkreli buying domain names of people who write about him

Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli became famous for hitting AIDS patients with a price hike in a life-saving drug—and then for the fraud charges for which he awaits his day in court. But he's also a bit of an odd duck, eating shit on campus and getting kicked off Twitter for harassment. Now he's been noticed snapping up web domains that include critics' and enemies' names.

Maxwell Tani at Business Insider:

Over the past five months, Shkreli has purchased domains associated with writers from Vice, Vanity Fair, AOL, Bloomberg, Dealbreaker, and Gizmodo, along with others associated with other individuals critical of Shkreli on social media.

Shkreli didn't appear to be too happy when Noisey reporter Phil Witmer published a story ... "Can I buy philwitmer.com right now? Yes I can, and yes I will," he said to whoever was watching his livestream. ...

In the weeks after Shkreli's Twitter account was suspended in January for harassing Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca, the former exec started buying up domain names for journalists, snagging "marrymelauren.com" on the day he was suspended.

Martin Shkreli keeps buying up the personal domain names of journalists who write about him [BI] Read the rest

Crashed UFO in Colombia actually belongs to Google

Farmers in Colombia's Tolima provence were freaked out by a UFO that crashed in a field on Sunday. "It was smoking and a strange liquid was leaking it," said one resident.

Police eventually identified the wreckage as an Internet balloon from X, Alphabet (Google)'s R&D company. X's Project Loon is "designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide."

"We all thought it was a UFO or the remains of a space craft," locals were quoted as saying in El Tiempo newspaper.

(BBC)

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Two examples of excellence from Japan

Exhibit A: Calculator operation

Exhibit B: Apologies

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A trip to the domain name conference

Ingrid Burrington thought of domain names as "a very niche genre of experimental poetry, one in which radical constraints (availability, brevity, the cadence of an interrupting “dot”) produce small, densely packed pockets of internet magic." At a conference for domainers--the dot.whatever squatters and salesfolk and speculators--she learned that it's more a matter of alchemy.

...brevity is typically a good move, though memorable phrases are also effective. Some TLDs are hot right now (.io), and some single words are always a good investment (lotions.com, furs.com), but good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of furs.io and lotions.io in one session). Long-time domainers also had oddly specific advice—”Hyphens make your domain less valuable—unless you’re in Germany” and “.info is a dead zone.”

Domainers are generally a short-sighted crowd. Lotions.io might be worthless by itself, but one person dedicating themselves day and night to the thorough and remorseless blogging of all the lotions that go in and out? By Christmas lotions.io could be worth thousands. Read the rest

How to become a superstar vlogger

Liam Williams was given money by the BBC to explain the success and culture of YouTube vloggers.

A search for the next megastar vlogger finds an unlikely victor in struggling comedian, Liam, who must undertake a series of challenges in order to win a £10,000 prize. Along the way, several successful YouTubers give him help and advice.

Both an explainer and a The Office-like mockumentary, there is a weird magic about this that seeps out with the skill and naturalism of its performers. Why, exactly, do young people stare for hours at people just like themselves, talking about themselves? And why is there a corresponding caste of tired, decade-older cynical people wishing they could be there with them? Read the rest

Seafood-related queries from own internet-connected vending machines brought college network to its knees

A university, mercifully left unnamed, blew off complaints from students about its slow network. When the problem became too bad to ignore, their IT team found the culprit thanks to a "sudden big interest in seafood-related domains."

The firewall analysis identified over 5,000 discrete systems making hundreds of DNS lookups every 15 minutes. Of these, nearly all systems were found to be living on the segment of the network dedicated to our IoT infrastructure. With a massive campus to monitor and manage, everything from light bulbs to vending machines had been connected to the network for ease of management and improved efficiencies. While these IoT systems were supposed to be isolated from the rest of the network, it was clear that they were all configured to use DNS servers in a different subnet. ... botnet spread from device to device by brute forcing default and weak passwords. Once the password was known, the malware had full control of the device and would check in with command infrastructure for updates and change the device’s password – locking us out of the 5,000 systems.

The Internet of Hacked Things strikes again! I'm sure some content filtering and updating passwords will do the trick. Read the rest

"Debate Me": parody of internet manliness gurus/dorks

Something Awful has a guest column from one of the manosphere types netizens cannot fail to be familiar with in 2017.

DEBATE ME.

That's right. I've been powering up these logical brain lasers for hours now just to tear through your fallacies like so much tissue paper. Let me set the stage: my house, seven hours, a webcam, and you and me, duking it out with truth-fists. A jury of my choosing, made up of my peers. The loser gives $10,000 to whatever charity deals with the most tragic of cancers.

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The theme song to Duck Tales but with Alex Jones ranting about Chemtrails

@hateshaliek: "i started singing 'chemtrails' in the tune to the ducktales theme a half hour ago so i just had to make this real quick:"

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All of IT development summed up in one image

This picture grid brilliantly sums up the attitudes in nearly every IT office I've ever worked in. This is the oldest reference to it I can find.

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Mark Zuckerberg says he's not an atheist anymore

Checkmate, atheists! The king of the Internet has found religion.

Zuckerberg, whose Facebook profile once identified him as an atheist, revealed his change of heart on his social media network after he wished everyone on Dec. 25 a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah” from “Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” referring to his wife, daughter and dog. When a commenter asked him, “Aren’t you an atheist?” he responded: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”

Zuckerberg aside, Silicon Valley's values will evolve in the immediate future. Monospace-L libertarianism is nothing if not adaptable to circumstances. Read the rest

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