I’m not committing to a weekly anything! Incidentally, here’s the best bookmarks I saved in Week 9, 2019.
Silicon Valley Darkness
If you used to read my Ind.ie roundups or you follow @firstname.lastname@example.org on Mastodon and @indie on Twitter (I post lots of links there!), you’ll know I’ve always got something to populate this category. I am not your breathless startup cheerleader. Links this week feature lights being shone on the darkness of Facebook and Google, and UK and EU regulators trying (and often failing) to rein in the Silicon Valley monsters.
You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook.
By Sam Schechner and Mark Secada on The Wall Street Journal.
“The social-media giant collects intensely personal information from many popular smartphone apps just seconds after users enter it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook”
Nest Secure had a secret microphone, can now be a Google Assistant
By Ms. Smith on CSO
“If your IoT device secretly contained a microphone, which was previously undocumented, would you be happy when the device maker announced an over-the-air update that can enable the microphone for virtual assistant voice functionality? That’s what happened with the security alarm system Nest Secure.”
Facebook labelled ‘digital gangsters’ by report on fake news
By David Pegg on The Guardian
Labour moved quickly to endorse the committee’s findings, with the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, announcing: “Labour agrees with the committee’s ultimate conclusion – the era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately.
“We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.”
Why a focus on “fake news” and Facebook misses the internet’s real problems - and solutions
By Jennifer Cobbe on Open Democracy
“The biggest oversight… is in diagnosing disinformation as essentially a problem with Facebook, rather than a systemic issue emerging in part from the pollution of online spaces by the business model that Facebook shares with others: the surveillance and modification of human behaviour for profit.”
Even the IAB warned adtech risks EU privacy rules
By Natasha Lomas on Techcrunch
“The IAB is certainly seeking to deploy pro-privacy arguments to try to dilute Europeans’ privacy rights.”
The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America
By Casey Newton on The Verge
“That people don’t know there are human beings doing this work is, of course, by design. Facebook would rather talk about its advancements in artificial intelligence, and dangle the prospect that its reliance on human moderators will decline over time.
But given the limits of the technology, and the infinite varieties of human speech, such a day appears to be very far away. In the meantime, the call center model of content moderation is taking an ugly toll on many of its workers.”
CSS for good and evil
I like the trajectory of this post, looking at how CSS is employed to thwart blocking technologies, then to how the same CSS could be used in a positive manner, all wrapped in accessibility concerns.
By Chris Coyier on CSS Tricks.
‘It just feels so rude, doesn’t it? Like a user specifically installs technology onto their computer in order to exert some control over what they allow onto their computers and into their eyeballs. And they are saying, “No, we do not respect that choice. We are going to fight your technology with our technology and force feed this stuff onto your computer and your eyeballs.” Doesn’t sit right.’
Being a woman
Over the last decade I’ve gone from being wilfully ignorant of how women are treated to being frustrated by it on a daily basis. The last week gave me horror and horrified delight from two bookmarks.
The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashes
By Caroline Criado-Perez on The Guardian.
“Crash-test dummies based on the ‘average’ male are just one example of design that forgets about women – and puts lives at risk”
The Reply Guy Constitution
By Emlyn Crenshaw on McSweeney’s.
“Section 2 – The Comment. Our replies to all tweets shall fall into one of the following categories: unsolicited advice, explanation, contrarian comment, request for research to be done on Our behalf, improvement upon the joke, and/or sucketh upping. When We cannot think of a proper reply to the tweet in question, a .gif of minimal relevance shall suffice. Above all, no woman shall be excluded from Our familiar and chummy tone.”
Funny: The Reply Guy Constitution
Ending on something nice… ten years ago, my pal and then-flatmate Scott Coello made this animation for a dog I loved. His work on it features heavily in my memory of our last year at university, and likely includes some of my junk mail. The animation is so good, adorable, and really stands the test of time.
She Farted And Created The World
By Scott Coello on Vimeo.