The Joy of Missing Out

In the NYT, Hayley Phelan recommends disengagement from the information rat race.

If you’re wondering whether you may also be engaging in unhealthy tech habits, here’s a helpful pop quiz:

Do you own a smartphone?

That’s it. Because if you answered yes, you’re essentially carrying around what the Center for Humane Technology, an organization working to spur reform in the tech and media industries, calls a “slot machine” in your pocket. Play it enough times, and you’re bound to get hooked. This isn’t an accident. This is big business.

There are further tips in the article, all of which amount to "be less online" and, euphemized, "remember that capitalism is bad."

The phrase "Joy of Missing Out" and the ideas behind it have already been appropriated by those it obviously aims to subvert. Pictured below is Google CEO Sundar Pichai, selling you the idea of using Google to cut down on everything except Google.

This means that if you talk about this stuff in its intended or meaningful sense, gentlemen will explain it to you or tell you to use some app that stops you using other apps, then turn weirdly aggressive when you disagree. Read the rest

Villagers dig 15 miles of trenches in the name of faster Internet

Choosing to live as far from cities as I can, as often as I can, I spend a lot of time on the cusp of sanity trying to do my online job, keep up with the news, and keep in touch with the people I care about over a cellular connection that stays attached to my carrier’s network by a thread. On rainy days, or the frequent times when the gods have had enough of my bullshit, I can’t connect at all, forcing me to put my life on hold. It’s a part of choosing to live in the country! As mad as I’ve gotten at my lousy connection speeds in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to connect to YouTube badly enough that I was willing to dig 15 miles of trenches to make it happen — but that’s exactly what the residents of a small village in Wales did.

Michaelston-y-Fedw, located between Cardiff and Newport in the United Kingdom, has a population of around 300 people. They were all putting up with shitty internet, with speeds as slow as 4Mbps. It was possible to pay for high-speed broadband service in Michaelston-y-Fedw — someone is always willing to take your money — but the infrastructure to pipe the bandwidth into the village didn’t exist. Sick of their internet connectivity being caught in the late 1990s, some of the villagers got to drinking, which led to talking and, after a bit more drinking, resulted in a plan: They’d sort the mess out themselves. Read the rest

XOXO will be bigger and more inclusive in 2018

Described as "an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet," Andy Baio and Andy McMillan's internet-fest baby XOXO will be back in early September.

And according to this tweet, they're making it bigger and more inclusive (be sure to check out their "living" inclusion policy):

We're moving to a new venue, and growing so we can offer significantly more free subsidized passes, prioritizing underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The fun is happening in Portland, Oregon at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum from September 6 through 9. If this sounds like your jam, get on the horn and register before the deadline of June 29. Tickets (both paid and subsidized) are offered through a survey and lottery process, of which they write:

A first-come, first-serve system typically favors those with time and money, which ends up benefiting predominantly white men with well-paying jobs and disposable income.

Our survey system allows us to factor diversity into admission, which helps to counteract systemic biases and prioritize access to the festival for underrepresented folx and independent artists.

Check out the lineup! Read the rest

Good riddance to Klout, horseman of the influencer apocalypse

Social rating site Klout saw where society was heading with influencer marketing, but like many bad ideas that were a little ahead of their time, Klout will not live on to see the devastation they helped usher in. Read the rest

Eminent Domain: registrar gives France.com to the French government, destroying its owner's business

France.com was a popular travel site owned and operated by a U.S.-based French expat. Jean-Noel Frydman registered a trademark, had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and loved his birth country. For years, the French government was happy with it, even giving Frydman an award. In 2016, though, it decided it wanted his domain for itself. Though the .com top-level domain is administered in the U.S., they didn't have to go to court in America to get it. That's because the domain registrar, web.com, gave it to them.

It’s unclear if a US court ever validated the order with an international enforcement of judgment, a common measure for foreign rulings involving US businesses. But if Web.com had enough business in France, that may not have been necessary. Faced with a valid court order and the pressure of an entire government, the company’s lawyers may have simply decided it wasn’t worth fighting the issue in court. (Web.com did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their policy regarding court-ordered transfers.)

Trademarks, the domain-name resolution system, WIPO: all useless if your registrar is shady or easily rolled. This appears to be the first appropriation of a .com domain in this manner and confers upon web.com a uniquely dismal distinction.

Also consider the next level up: operators of fashionable new top-level-domains. They set prices per domain, with lists of "premium" ones with higher prices. So if you establish a successful business at .???, you may succeed in making your domain name "premium." Which means an extra zero or two tacked onto domain renewal fees. Read the rest

SEC fines Yahoo (now Altaba) $35 million over massive data breach

How the once mighty have fallen. Read the rest

Social media use in 2018 charted

Here's a chart of social media usage from Pew Research. YouTube and Facebook are by far and away ahead of the pack, but Facebook's been stagnant for a few years, at least in the U.S.

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

Note that there's no tracking data on YouTube: they only just sampled its popularity in their surveys. Like everyone else, they only just noticed that it was Google's real social network all along. Read the rest

Nordstrom confirms that it did not "like" tweet claiming "dick suck" is the true meaning of Nintendo DS

The Twitter account of upscale retailer Nordstrom confirmed this weekend that it did not "like" a tweet that claimed the "DS" in "Nintendo DS" stood for "dick suck."

Another twitter user had reported that the offensive remark appeared in their feed because Nordstrom liked it, but it appears now that this report was itself mistaken.

"The DS in Nintendo DS stands for Dick Suck," wrote Nick Wiger, a Twitter japester with 32k followers on the popular social network. "The idea was, playing it was as fun as gettin your dick sucked. 3DS, as fun as 3 dick sucks."

"Um, this appeared in my feed because @Nordstrom liked it?," replied Katie Metz of St. Louis, or at least an account using that identity, concluding her tweet with a skeptical frowny face emoji and the hashtags #nordstrom and #fail.

"Sorry for the confusion, Katie," Nordstrom responded three minutes later. "We can confirm we have not liked this tweet."

At press time, Twitter had not yet responded to an inquiry concerning why the site was still free.

Photo: Mike Mozart (CC-BY-3.0) Read the rest

Google images removes "view image" button from search results

Google removed the "view image" button from image search results last night.

The change is essentially meant to frustrate users. Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response.

There's something old-school stupid about it, like javascript snippets that "block" people from right-clicking on images. It doesn't accomplish what it hopes for, because the image is already downloaded, and there are a half-dozen other ways to get at it conveniently--not least simply dragging and dropping it.

The measure is about satisfying people who have no idea at all how web browsers work and who are mad at an offensive button. Google suggests in a tweet that this was done to make Getty Images' lawyers happy. Their clients will presumably be pleased by its disappearance, then alarmed to find that nothing has changed, because the people who rip off photo agencies aren't sat there clicking the "view image" button.

Meanwhile, Google Images still allows sites to change the images that the cached thumbnails link to. Odd!

Illustration by SpaceFoxy; via Google Images. Read the rest

"Cuck"-obsessed conservatives may harbor dreams of being cuckolded

The term "cuck", short for "cuckold", is used largely on America's right to insult men they consider to have been taken advantage of, willingly submissive, or otherwise weak. Among the more curious terms in the modern political lexicon, it is amusingly derivative of the term's use to refer to a porn category centered around men forced to watch their partners have sex with other men, often men of color. Sex researcher David Ley studied the cuckolding phenomenon as a whole, saw conservatives angry at reportage of this work, wondered if something interesting is going on in their heads, and found that yes, yes there was, if only because it's going on in a lot of people's heads.

Asked about his tweet, Ley told Gizmodo the following over email:

I honestly didn’t even know who he was? But, the research indicates that it is extremely likely that many of his followers enjoy this sexual fantasy. I always get sad and concerned when I see people publicly shaming healthy, normative sexual fantasies and behaviors. Hopefully by opening this dialogue, some of his followers might feel less shame and concern about their fantasies.

The rage aimed at Ley over his study, which ranges over attitudes to race and polyamory as well as cuckolding in particular, is remarkable. Read the rest

Interview with the founders of io9

Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders on 10 years of io9.

Annalee: We wanted to have a vision of the future for our readers that wasn’t completely silly but that wasn’t hopeless and dystopian. And again, part of covering science was very important to that because it was about how our stories could actually infect reality in a good way, and that what we dream can come true and that science and science fiction are part of the same project, which is to progressively improve reality for the maximum number of people.

They planned on naming it "Futurista" but couldn't get the domain. 'io9.com' turned out to be tough because of i/1 and 0/O confusion, and because the domain was heavily penalized by google due to prior use for porn, but the site was so good (and so successful) it didn't matter for long. Read the rest

A place to memorialize the domain names you let lapse

goodbye.domains is an obituary column for the domain names that you, after years of squatting, now accept will never be put to use and which are, furthermore, worthless.

I just let neverie.com lapse. "Neverie" was the title of the first novel I wrote as a teen, in the genre of trash fantasy. I'd imagined that I might one day edit and publish it, hence the domain. But I won't. Goodbye, neverie.com.

Goodbye Domains [via Dean Putney, who retired deansli.st] Read the rest

Beware unexpected extra charges added to your cable bill

Hidden fees awere long ago regulated on utility bills, but time and legal ingenuity (not to mention consumers drifting from phone companies to wireless and cable service providers) has made them commonplace once again. Comcast, says this customer, is robbing you with duplicative and meaningless line-item charges. The end of Net Neutrality is only a new frontier in a well-established treadmill of not-so-optional features, mystery fees and hostile customer service. Read the rest

Breitbart plotted to ruin Twitter, emails show

Breitbart, Steve Bannon and co. mused often about destroying Twitter, reports Buzzfeed, exploring financial and legal options to bring the site to heel and Jack Dorsey to his knees.

On Jan. 15, Yiannopoulos sent a peace offering to Twitter — a cordial email to Jack Dorsey asking for his verification to be restored in exchange for a detente. A screenshot of an email tracker Yiannopoulos used registered that the email was opened 111 times.

But Dorsey never responded.

And so the “#war,” as Bannon called it, carried on.

Begging is not a position of strength. But Twitter ignoring the alt right and its fellow travelers still had consequences.

This is hilarious, though:

[Chuck] Johnson didn’t just short Twitter from behind the scenes. He had helped create a Twitter account @shortthebird in July 2015 and organized a campaign to put stickers and posters up around the company’s San Francisco headquarters with the hashtag #shorttwitter. (The hashtag never really took off, however, as it was simultaneously being employed by Twitter users to joke about their physical stature.)

Read the rest

Cool 360 degree video shows the Internet at a NYC intersection

In today's Daily 360 from the New York Times, Ingrid Burrington, author of Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure points out the stuff in a city intersection that keep bits flowing. Read the rest

Enamel pin for artists tired of being asked to work for free

CWilock, tired of people who make use of others' artwork without permission, made this enamel pin to celebrate the best response to entitlement of the relentless quality that artists must deal with online. (Saying "no", as the addictive Twitter account @forexposure chronicles, often invites a stream of bigoted abuse.)

It's not for sale just yet, but keep an eye on their Etsy store for updates. Read the rest

How Facebook broke America

Alexis Madrigal describes What Facebook Did to American Democracy and why it was so hard to see it coming. Foreign exploitation of Facebook's ad system in the 2016 election was just the end result of Facebook's filter bubbles and its wildly successful efforts to get media to fill them. tl;dr: the horse was already dead before Russia flogged it.

The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn’t just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of “dark ads.”

The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook.

Facebook's uncanny method is to trickle enough traffic to publishers so they chum it constantly with Facebookish content, but not so much that publishers can assimilate Facebook visitors into their own audience. Unfortunately for this clever and destructive arrangement, the new far-right sites represented such a cohesive emergent affinity group that Facebook's machinery was co-opted.

It's said (usually on Twitter) that no-one is better than Nazis at exploiting a libertarian dropout's ideological impostures. This sort of thing usually strikes me as pompous and vague, but Facebook so perfectly embodies it I'm going to need two leftist energy bars for breakfast this morning. Read the rest

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