Tag: society (page 1 of 17)

Losing followers, making friends

There’s a lot going on in this article, which I’ve taken plenty of quotations from below. It’s worth taking some time over, especially if you haven’t read Thinking, Fast & Slow (or it’s been a while since you did!)

Social media inherited and weaponised the chronological weblog feed. Showing content based on user activity hooked us in for longer. When platforms discovered anger and anxiety boosts screen time, the battle for our minds was lost.

Till this point the fundamental purpose of software was to support the user’s objectives. Somewhere, someone decided the purpose of users is to support the firm’s objectives. This shift permeates through the Internet. It’s why basic software is subscription-led. It’s why there’s little functional difference between Windows’ telemetry and spyware. It’s why leaving social media is so hard.

Like chronological timelines, users grew to expect these patterns. Non-commercial platforms adopted them because users expect them. While not as optimized as their commercial counterparts, inherited anti-patterns can lead to inherited behaviours.

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In his book Thinking Fast And Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thought…

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System 1 appears to prioritise speed over accuracy, which makes sense for Lion-scale problems. System 1 even cheats to avoid using System 2. When faced with a difficult question, System 1 can substitute it and answer a simpler one. When someone responds to a point that was never made that could be a System 1 substitution.

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10 Years ago my life was extremely online. I’ve been the asshole so many times I can’t even count. Was I an asshole? Sure, but the exploitation of mental state in public spaces has a role to play. It’s a strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

Commercial platforms are filled with traps, some inherited, many homegrown. Wrapping it in Zuck’s latest bullshit won’t lead to change. Even without inherited dark patterns, behaviours become ingrained. Platforms designed to avoid these patterns need to consider this if exposed to the Dark Forest.

For everything else it’s becoming easier to just stay away. There are so many private and semi-private spaces far from the madding crowd. You just need to look. I did. I lost followers, but made friends.

Source: Escaping The Web’s Dark Forest | by Steve Lord

Muting the American internet

This is a humorous article, but one with a point.

[W]e need a way to mute America. Why? Because America has no chill. America is exhausting. America is incapable of letting something be simply funny instead of a dread portent of their apocalyptic present. America is ruining the internet.

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The greatest trick America’s ever pulled on the subjects of its various vassal states is making us feel like a participant in its grand experiment. After all, our fate is bound to the American empire’s whale fall. My generation in particular is the first pure batch of Yankee-Yobbo mutoids: as much Hank Hill as we are Hills Hoist (look it up!), as familiar with the Supreme Court Justices as we are with the judges on Master Chef, as comfortable in Frasier’s Seattle or Seinfeld’s Upper West Side as we are in Ramsay Street or Summer Bay.

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I should not know who Pete Buttigieg is. In a just world, the name Bari Weiss would mean as much to me as Nordic runes. This goes for people who actually might read Nordic runes too. No Swede deserves to be burdened with this knowledge. No Brazilian should have to regularly encounter the phrase “Dimes Square.” To the rest of the vast and varied world, My Pillow Guy and Papa John should be NPCs from a Nintendo DS Zelda title, not men of flesh and bone, pillow and pizza. Ted Cruz should be the name of an Italian pornstar in a Love Boat porn parody. Instead, I’m cursed to know that he is a senator from Texas who once stood next to a butter sculpture of a dairy cow and declared that his daughter’s first words were “I like butter.”

Source: I Should Be Able to Mute America | Gawker

Morality, responsibility, and (online) information

This is a useful article in terms of thinking about the problems we have around misinformation online. Yes, we have a responsibility to be informed citizens, but there are structural issues which are actively working against that.

How might we alleviate our society’s misinformation problem? One suggestion goes as follows: the problem is that people are so ignorant, poorly informed, gullible, irrational that they lack the ability to discern credible information and real expertise from incredible information and fake expertise.

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This view places the primary responsibility for our current informational predicament – and the responsibility to mend it – on individuals. It views them as somehow cognitively deficient. An attractive aspect of this view is that it suggests a solution (people need to become smarter) directly where the problem seems to lie (people are not smart). Simply, if we want to stop the spread of misinformation, people need to take responsibility to think better and learn how to stop spreading it. A closer philosophical and social scientific look at issues of responsibility with regard to information suggests that this view is mistaken on several accounts.

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Even if there was a mass willingness to accept accountability, or if a responsibility could be articulated without blaming citizens, there is no guarantee that citizens would be successful in actually practising their responsibility to be informed. As I said, even the best intentions are often manipulated. Critical thinking, rationality and identifying the correct experts are extremely difficult things to practise effectively on their own, much less in warped information environments. This is not to say that people’s intentions are universally good, but that even sincere, well-meaning efforts do not necessarily have desirable outcomes. This speaks against proposing a greater individual responsibility for misinformation, because, if even the best intentions can be corrupted, then there isn’t a great chance of success.

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Leaning away from individual responsibility means that the burden should be shifted to those who have structural control over our information environments. Solutions to our misinformation epidemic are effective when they are structural and address the problem at its roots. In the case of online misinformation, we should understand that technology giants aim at creating profit over creating public democratic goods. If disinformation can be made to be profitable, we should not expect those who profit to self-regulate and adopt a responsibility toward information by default. Placing accountability and responsibility on technology companies but also on government, regulatory bodies, traditional media and political parties by democratic means is a good first step to foster information environments that encourage good knowledge practices. This step provides a realistic distribution of both causal and effective remedial responsibility for our misinformation problem without nihilistically throwing out the entire concept of responsibility – which we should never do.

Source: On the moral responsibility to be an informed citizen | Psyche Ideas