Chilling effects & other forms of silence
TL;DR #189 – 3/16/2019
Hi all, welcome to TL;DR. My name is Ian O’Byrne. I research, teach, & write about technology in our lives. I try to synthesize what happened this week in tech…so you can be the expert as well.
I posted a couple of other things this week:
- Is your child a dandelion, an orchid, or a tulip? – Guidance from research on environmental sensitivity that might add to our understanding of the differences among children.
- Storytelling – A post providing an overview of the theories and research informing storytelling.
- Preparing for productivity using Chrome, apps, & some tweaks on a Mac – A quick video lecture focusing on how I structure assessments including formative and summative assessments in Peergrade.
As a regular reader of this newsletter, we’ve talked about deepfakes in the past. This is one of the best examples of a deepfake i’ve found in a long time. I’ll be using this for some upcoming talks.
Happy 30th Birthday to the World Wide Web.
The world wide web was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 – originally he was trying to find a new way for scientists to easily share the data from their experiments. Hypertext (text displayed on a computer display that links to other text the reader can immediately access) and the internet already existed, but no one had thought of a way to use the internet to link one document directly to another.
Facebook appears to be in the middle of a pivot.
In “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking,” a 3,200-word essay that Zuckerberg posted to Facebook on March 6, he says he wants to “build a simpler platform that’s focused on privacy first.” In apparent surprise, he writes: “People increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”
This piece from Konstatin Kakaes hits the nail on the head:
Zuckerberg’s essay is a power grab disguised as an act of contrition. Read it carefully, and it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that if privacy is to be protected in any meaningful way, Facebook must be broken up.
Facebook grew so big, so quickly that it defies categorization. It is a newspaper. It is a post office and a telephone exchange. It is a forum for political debate, and it is a sports broadcaster. It’s a birthday-reminder service and a collective photo album. It is all of these things—and many others—combined, and so it is none of them.
Zuckerberg describes Facebook as a town square. It isn’t. Facebook is a company that brought in more than $55 billion in advertising revenue last year, with a 45% profit margin. This makes it one of the most profitable business ventures in human history. It must be understood as such.
Researchers say social media activists’ thought-policing is having a chilling effect on pursuing cures for diseases.
Advocates on social media are targeting scientists who release studies that don’t fit into their views on the diseases, going so far as to wishing for the demise of their careers because of a research paper. Scientists say it can dissuade researchers for wanting to do work on certain diseases, setting off a vicious cycle where patients are the ones who suffer.
Sanger closes by sharing how he is locking down his cyber-life. He describes this as your personal. familial, and civic duty.
Think of it as cyber-hygiene. You need to wash your data regularly. It’s time to learn. Our swinish data habits are really starting to stink the place up, and it’s making the executives, criminals, and tyrants think they can rule the sty.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren published an extensive plan on Friday to break up big tech companies likes Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
If elected president in 2020, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said that she would pass legislation that would classify large tech platforms with annual global revenue of $25 billion or more as “platform utilities,” and break them apart via antitrust laws.
Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.
Over the next couple of weeks in my tech classes, we’ll start diving into augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). I’m investigating ways to have students make their own Google Cardboard in class.
Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
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