What Facebook did right

I am no fan of Facebook but I have to respect professional contrarian Dave Winer’s point, that Facebook enabled everyone to post anything online. This is what they did right and I (and Winer) can keep saying that everyone should have a blog (and they should) but it’s not trivial to have a blog. Facebook provided a platform and an audience.

Yes, Facebook failed in many other ways and they may go the way of Myspace. And we should find a way to replace what Facebook did right.

Reklamer
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No more 20th century children

I hadn’t realised that; there are no more children in the world from the 20th century. They are all adults now.

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I am aware of the irony

But it’s catchy.

(Youtube)

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When the left turn to the feudal overlords

Deplatforming works; forcing a platform, like Facebook or Twitter, to remove a user so that user can no longer use the platform absolutely works. A crazy person like Alex Jones and his fake news Infowars is not missed, but of course the solution is wrong.

I am not coming at this as a free speech issue; being Danish and not from the USA, my view on free speech is not as fundamental. Also, the platforms may be de facto monopolies, but only when viewed together as a group and they are all non-government organisations. They can do what they want and getting rid of Jones was logical.

It was logical because Jones and Infowars were so obviously bad for the public good. However, the real reason they were bad wasn’t the content (which was bad in and of itself) but rather that those very platforms, through engagement algorithms, brought so much attention to them.

The platforms have chosen to live on engagement, so anyone mentioning or commenting on Jones would get Infowars content recommendations. And as has been clear for a long time, this leads to more and more extreme recommendations.

So the deplatforming solves a problem, but the problem it solves is a problem with the platform.

And deplatforming has been used in much wider scenarios. In Denmark, the person holding the highest civilian office was suspended from Facebook and on a much smaller scale I have a friend for whom this happened more than once. OK, he writes some stupid and provocative stuff that I don’t think he should write but when people opposing his views try to get him deplatformed, and succeed, that is a problem. Because those platforms are where our public discussions are carried out.

I am thinking about this because a new wave of deplatforming is occurring at the moment and the fallout from that is interesting.

This time it started with professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos getting kicked of Patreon, followed closely by Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin. I haven’t heard much of Yiannopoulos’ work but I have heard some of Benjamin’s. I have a problem with some of the stuff that Benjamin has done and I don’t think he has taken responsibility for those actions, so I don’t seek him out. But his take-down of Crash Courses “Human Geography” video is a classic, and should be watched. The CC video is a criticism of Environmental Determinism and this criticism is done so poorly that Benjamin’s take-down ends up introducing ED pretty well.

When Benjamin was removed from Patreon, removing a significant part of his income, it became apparent that deplatforming had reached a new level. I was not surprised when I heard that Mastercard and Paypal has a hand in the deplatforming, as they have been active in this area for some time. Originally they had acted on behalf of the Five Eyes nations, making sure that sites like Wikileaks would have trouble getting funding. But now they are acting on behalf of political groupings, primarily on the radical left.

This is where the title comes in; as the platforms of choice are owned by private entities, and because those platforms are in effect the only way to get your message distributed, they work as feudal lords to us. And apparently the left is happy to ask our feudal lords for assistance.

Not to mention the credit card companies, whom we have entrusted our money. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have a credit card company decide what we could use our money on? Well, some, but not all usual suspects.

And if you lack imagination as to how this will turn out, just look to China and their upcoming Social Credit System. Will a dissident be allowed to buy a car? Probably not.

So the radical left turn to the feudal lords of internet and financial platforms, asking them to stop those they oppose. I doubt they have the imagination to realise what will happen in a few years, even though the USA election in 2016 showed everyone what a generation of identity politics from the radical left brought forth: Identity politics from the radical right.

I think Dave Rubin is right in leaving Patreon now and trying to establish an independent way to fund his activities, but I think he lacks some imagination. He is still dependent on Youtube and of course his website depends on DNS (both platforms). He needs to solve those problems, essentially recreating the distributed, non-platform internet. And then he will still be dependent on payment providers…

I still think everyone should have a blog and I don’t think it should be hosted here, on Automattic’s WordPress.com site. That is something that I at least have to look at myself someday.

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When censorship is too efficient

China has run into problems with their censorship: When you need workers to censor content, they have to know what they are censoring and if your censoring is too efficient, they wont know what they are supposed to be censoring.

(Twitter)

How can you know when to censor June 4 if you have never heard of the hundreds of deaths on Tiananmen Square in 1989? Well, there are now companies in China certifying censors by teaching them the “forbidden knowledge”.

If you think this only happens in communist tyrannies you are not paying attention.

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Watching the future with horror

Someone has taken Orwell’s warnings as a recipe: Some Chinese schoolchildren will now be tracked using chips in their uniforms. They are starting with the poorest areas first and then, once the kinks are ironed out, it will spread. The schools with the ethnic minorities will probably be second.

Will it stop with schools and children? Students? Workers?

Will it spread beyond China?

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Dark Side of the Moon

The Moon doesn’t have a dark side. But, the Pink Floyd album is great.

Congratulations to the Chinese for landing a probe on the far side of the moon.

I accept that “dark side” is used to mean the “originally unseen by human eyes” but it still bothers me.

To those that do not know this already – you should really look at the moon once in a while – the rotation of Moon is tide-locked with Earth and, though libration causes it to change a little back and forth, the same side is always pointing towards us.

Also, the moon is upside-down when you travel to a different hemisphere.

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Puritans with power

(Youtube)

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Weapons

If you invent a new weapon, it will used by your enemies within 15 years.

 

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Spider-man: Into the spider-verse

I knew this movie would be good but I did not realise just how stunning it looks. The story is good and compared to most superhero movies, it’s great. But the visuals, how they are used to tell the story and how they call back to the actual comics, are stunning.

If you have ever read a superhero comic you should watch this movie.

(Youtube)

I wonder if some of the visuals effects will only mean something as long as we have print media in the way of the “old days”. Anyway, the movie was made now and should be experienced in that context.

If you haven’t read a superhero comic you should still watch this movie.

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