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Reading: AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not

From AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not

Required study: When Google obfuscates (“Do No Harm”) the chaos spreads to accounts of Google obfuscating.

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Reading: The Boise State Hoax and the Threat to Academic Freedom

From The Boise State Hoax and the Threat to Academic Freedom

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Reading: Gone in 60 electrons: Digital art swaggers down the cul-de-sac of obsolescence • The Register

From Gone in 60 electrons: Digital art swaggers down the cul-de-sac of obsolescence • The Register

Because It’s Not Fucking There. Alistair Dabbs on the non-fungible and why the value of little rises to nothing.

Yes, it’s all hype, but what isn’t? If the art-as-investment market appears to be gambling on NFT, well, gambling on short-term value is what art dealers do. And who can blame the artists making a quick buck on the craze? It’s not just the Banksys and Winklemen, either: London-based artist Andrew Brown recently put 40 of his works up for sale at $500 each and sold the lot almost immediately, earning him $20,000 in 20 seconds. Its value then increased by 25 per cent a week and the last time I looked the collection was worth in excess of $300,000. That’s why art investors are interested.

Do what you like with your Non-Fungible Tokens, kids, but I’ve been down the digital format detour too many times already and it always leads to a cul-de-sac. One day you’ll discover – just as with my Shockwaves, AVE comics, Minidiscs, VHS tapes and all – that NFT ultimately stands for “Not Fucking There”.

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Reading: Can the Oversight Board force Facebook to follow its own rules?

From Can the Oversight Board force Facebook to follow its own rules?

When the Board holds you accountable, cut them off.

the Oversight Board’s decision to hand things back to Facebook speaks to issues that run much deeper than just Trump. One of the most notable issues raised by the Oversight Board in its 12,000-word decision is that Facebook isn’t particularly good at consistently enforcing its own policies, especially when it comes to politicians and other influential figures.

Facebook has already indicated that it’s unwilling to fully cooperate. In its decision, the board says that the company failed to answer several crucial questions, including several that speak to the very issues it raises in its policy recommendations.

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Reading: Basecamp tries to shut down discussion.

From Basecamp tries to shutdown discussion.

Telling.

This account is based on interviews with six Basecamp employees who were present at the meeting, along with a partial transcript created by employees. Collectively, they describe a company whose attempt to tamp down on difficult conversations blew up in its face as employees rejected the notion that discussions of power and justice should remain off limits in the workplace. And they suggest that efforts to eliminate disruptions in the workplace by regulating internal speech may cause even more turmoil for a company in the long run.

“My honest sense of why everybody is leaving because they’re tired of Jason and David’s behavior — the suppression of voices, of any dissent,” one employee told me. “They really don’t care what employees have to say. If they don’t think it’s an issue, it’s not an issue. If they don’t experience it, then it’s not real. And this was the final straw for a lot of employees.”

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Reading: The inside story of how we reached the Facebook-Trump verdict

From The inside story of how we reached the Facebook-Trump verdict

A view inside the oversight board:

The key word is “indefinitely” – if only because Facebook’s own policies do not appear to permit it. The oversight board (OSB) judgment doesn’t mince its words: “In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.” Ball squarely back in Facebook’s court.

What Facebook has to do now – in our judgment, which the company is bound to implement – is to re-examine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on 7 January. It should take account of the gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.

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Reading: After Vaccination, the Inertia Is Real – The Atlantic

From After Vaccination, the Inertia Is Real – The Atlantic

Guidance in the new algebra of risk and apprehension. Test anxiety.

The goal is to weigh the risk you’re considering against the risk you’re willing to take on—essentially figuring out if the potential boost to your well-being is worth it. That threshold will vary from person to person, and we should make room for that diversity, Taber said. Some people will want to dip their toes into the water more slowly, as Carter put it, and that’s okay.

Inevitably, people’s social expectations will misalign, and we’ll all need to exercise some patience, with ourselves and others, and clearly communicate our ground rules. “Say what you need and what you feel comfortable with,” Carter said. The activities we can safely do after vaccination should not necessarily be seen as the behaviors we should engage in; they are options, not obligations.

That sort of transparency isn’t intuitive for everyone, certainly not me. I have spent months roiling in a data-rich stew of fear and silence. I’m also worried about my own limitations. There is, first off, my lingering COVID-19 concern: I can’t help but worry that, even after I’m fully vaccinated, I’ll make a misstep—that I’ll somehow catch the virus and pass it on to someone else. I’m also worried that, amid all this chaos and isolation, I’ve simply forgotten how to be a social human. Charisma isn’t like riding a bike. And I’m not eager to show off just how far I’ve regressed—how much the pandemic has eroded my ability to engage.

The way to quash that fear is, of course, to flex the mingling muscles that have atrophied, and to remind myself that, as misanthropic as I can be, I do enjoy exercising them from time to time. Instead of yielding to my inertia, I’m reminding myself of the things I miss: hugging my friends. Smelling fresh-baked restaurant bread. Heading to an office that isn’t 30 feet away from my bed. I’m going to start slow, probably with a haircut or an outdoor picnic, then work my way up to the 18,000 weddings I’ve been invited to this fall. I’ll share my vaccination status with the people I want to interact with, and hope they offer me the same courtesy in return. I’ll learn how to say “Thank you, but I’m not ready for that” without the guilt eating me up.

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Reading: Taylor Swift Remade ‘Fearless’. Borges weighs in.

From Taylor Swift Remade ‘Fearless’. Borges weighs in.

[Taylor Swift Remade ‘Fearless’ as ‘Taylor’s Version.’ Let’s Discuss.}(https://ift.tt/39Y5Hcq)

Keeping a promise from when her master recordings were sold, Swift has faithfully rerecorded her 2008 album. Our critics and reporters explore its sound, and purpose.

An interesting read from a Benjamin-aura-NFT-Borges angle. I’m surprised none of the reviewers at the NYT brought in a mid-20th century author who address re-production. But Borges weighs into the discussion with “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”

Menard’s fragmentary Quixote (which is line-for-line identical to the original) to be much richer in allusion than Miguel de Cervantes’ “original” work because Menard’s must be considered in light of world events since 1602. Wikipedia

And so the reviewers demonstrate with their consideration of Swift’s re-make. Er, “reclamation.”

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Reading: Feature bloat: Psychology boffins find people tend to add elements to solve a problem rather than take things away

From Feature bloat: Psychology boffins find people tend to add elements to solve a problem rather than take things away

This is why subscription software is a Bad Idea: The tendency is to add improvements rather than refactor improvements. Applies in composition, too: Students tended to try to solve problems by adding text rather than cutting.

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Reading: Don’t Buy the Conservative Rebellion Against Corporations

From Don’t Buy the Conservative Rebellion Against Corporations

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic calls out the Right’s argument on socially-conscientious corporate moves.

Woke is a nebulous term stolen from Black American English, repurposed by conservatives as an epithet to express opposition to forms of egalitarianism they find ridiculous or distasteful—in this case, the idea that constituents of the rival party should have an unfettered right to vote. Wedded to the term capital, it functions as an expression of the hollowness of conservative populism, which is opposed not to the concentration of corporate power so much as to the use of that power for purposes of which conservatives disapprove. Their aim is not to diminish corporate power, but to use it to their advantage. They seek to ensure that large firms use their influence to maintain the dominance of conservative cultural mores and Republican political power.

Serwer uses McConnell’s language back on him: hijack from the left is woke. Hijack from the right OK.

“Parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared from the Senate floor. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.” As the Associated Press notes, McConnell is “among the most outspoken champions of the role of big money in elections, promoting the free-flow of undisclosed dollars to campaigns as a form of Constitution-protected free speech.” Apparently, corporations are allowed to behave as parallel governments only when they are vehicles for right-wing billionaires to hijack the country from outside the constitutional order.

The woke problem on the right is that corporations who have garnered tax breaks were bought – and ought to stay bought.

Republicans have no interest in curtailing corporate power in this fashion—not when they believe that power could be used to reimpose a diminished cultural hegemony. These so-called populist Republicans do not wish to throw the one ring into Mount Doom; they simply want to wield it on their own behalf.

But it comes down to this:

Republicans have no ideas of their own to speak of, beyond issuing colorful threats to employ state coercion against firms that fail to do their bidding.

My Precious.