alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Yikes. Only a week until Conflux 13? Where did that go?

For my sins, this year I will be appearing on four panels. They’re gonna be great. Y’all should come see them.

  • Magic systems in SF fiction: Friday, 29 September @ 10am.
  • Remembering Terry Pratchett: Saturday, 30 September @ 10am.
  • Reinventing the myth: Monday, 2 October @ 10:00am.
  • Wonderful, wide, weird, cruel & cool (worldbuilding): Monday, 2 October @ 1:30pm.

Or, actually. you should come see all of them except the Pratchett panel. Because I am totally, 100% going to cry in that and it’s going to be awkward for everyone. And by “awkward” I mean “amazing”. It’s going to be amazing. So come along!

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

In the early 2000s, the Japanese mobile phone market looked… pretty much like nowhere else in the world. It was its own closed ecosystem of telco-run vendor portals and odd one-off proprietary technologies that was considered pretty much impossible to crack by an “outside” handset.

Except Apple did it, and because they did it, the rest of the world discovered emoji.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

So the other week I played Firewatch.

[Content warning for discussion of terminal illness and assisted suicide. Also one mildly NSFW-maybe image of artistic cartoon nudity.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Really good visual comic about the Rat Park drug experiment, which aimed to study the relationship between drug addiction and social inclusion.

Also known as the “why don’t most people who get given morphine in hospitals turn into heroin addicts?” experiment. Spoiler alert: because drug addiction is just as much, if not more, about the social context of the user as it is about the chemical effects of the drug itself.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

More on Safari/WebKit’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature, which I mentioned yesterday. Apparently it’s machine learning based, meaning it’s quite a bit more complicated than a simple domain-based blacklist.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

[W]hat does it mean to be a “good bloke”?

It means drinking a lot. It means conforming to the norms of a place and not pushing back. It means protecting your mates and isolating those who take offence or complain.

This dance in Australia between the newcomers and those who are enforcing the culture of a place is old – and also classless. It runs through everything from the top end of town to rough outback pubs. What is the hazing at university colleges, the grin and bear it and don’t make a fuss while dancing with your pants around your ankles to Eagle Rock – than a version of being a “good bloke”? Even women in this country are expected to be “good blokes”. If you aren’t a good sport – you can notice a shift in the atmosphere. It feels dangerous.

Brigid Delaney on Australian conformity.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Apparently online advertising lobbyists have their banners in a twist over Apple’s plans to introduce automatic tracker blocking in Safari.

Most current adware blocking and spyware obfuscation is user-directed. That is, if you don’t want your every move on the internet tracked, collated, and onsold by massive shady multinational surveillance companies, you need to both, a) know the problem exists in the first place, and b) know which in the massive ecosystem of imperfect-but-better-than-nothing anti-spyware products is trustworthy enough to use.1

So while companies like Google and Facebook–whose business models are spying and nothing else–wring their hands with weak and useless “initiatives” designed more to stave off the looming threat of government regulation than protect users, Apple (and, to give them credit, Microsoft) are more and more using “protecting privacy” as their market differentiators. This is why Apple, for example, added a “cop button” to Touch ID in response to that ridiculous US ruling about biometrics.2

And it’s why, one assumes, Apple continues to beef up its browser anti-spyware technology. Apple’s motto has always been “it just works”; that is, their products are intuitive for non-tech types. “It just works” when applied to browser anti-spyware means the browser’s default, unconfigured state should be to deny third-party tracking and micro-targeted advertising. If the latter really does provide the “better user experience” that ad lobbyists like to claim, then users missing their micro-segmented Russian propaganda [content warning for discussions of how Facebook’s advertising platform facilitates antisemitism] can opt-in by using a less privacy-focused browser.

… Yeah. I’m not holding my breath, either.

“But free content on the internet relies on ads!” cry the industry shills.

Well… yes and no. First of all, even when content relies on advertising, there’s no reason whatsoever that it has to rely on the hyper-targeted, micro-segmented, deeply personally intrusive style of advertising sold by platforms like Facebook. The sole reason this type of advertising exists is to give ad platforms an excuse to charge more and, thus, make more money. Keep in mind, I’m not just talking about, say, Google showing you ads for garden supply stores when you search for how to fix ruptured garden hose. I’m talking about things like Facebook trying to sell you things based on its inference of your current mood. Removing that level of intrusiveness is not, let’s be completely clear about this, going to kill the internet.

Second of all, I am Internet Old and, as such, I absolutely remember a time before the internet decided “spying on everyone, all the time” was going to be its primary business model. Yes, things looked different–they were much more decentralized, for example, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–but, again, people managed. Just like they do now with things like non-ad-sourced micropayments and premium content subscriptions. Yes, monetizing in this way isn’t “easy” but–and maybe this is just me–that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Particularly when you consider the sort of content that’s profitable in ad-based attention economies…

In other words, bring on the blockers, I say.

  1. Plug: uBlock Origin, uMatrix, and Vanilla. ↩︎
  2. One assumes that, contra Twitter hot takes, similar safeguards will apply to Face ID. ↩︎

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

2 + 2 =

Sep. 17th, 2017 11:17 pm
alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Conspiracy time! Just how did Orwell intend 1984 to end, given that there are two different versions in print, both of which would’ve been in circulation in Orwell’s life?

Also see: How one single letter (or number, in this case) can completely change a book’s ending…

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Here’s something I hadn’t really thought of before: what food looked like prior to the invention of baking powder.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Using the Wikipedia API as a text adventure.

Can be a little bit confusing at first, but I got sucked in as soon as I realized you could pick up (get) pretty much anything that would be an article (my favorite inventory item was the Italian peninsula).

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

On the rise and rise of the “wellness industry“.

I will not lie, the article image (of a very flexible woman in a yoga pose) makes my hips hurt to look at.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Today in “reminders not all futurism is terrible”, an article on why you will (probably) never have a jetpack, and will just have to settle for pocket telepathy and near-omniscience (a.k.a. your smartphone) instead.

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

The last few years, Apple has sold, on average, 800,000 new iPhones a day. In order to meet the demand, not only do they have to manufacture phones close to that rate, but all of the components that they buy from other companies have to be manufactured by those other companies at that rate. Samsung, currently the only source of the high-end OLED screen mentioned above, literally can’t manufacture them fast enough to meet that kind of demand. And that isn’t the only component in the premium phones like that. So part of the reason that both Samsung and Apple are charging nearly 1000 bucks for their highest-end phones is because they want most of their customers to buy the other models, the ones that don’t have components which can’t (yet) be produced at that quantity.

fontfolly on $1,000 phones.

Yes. This.

Seriously, the scale of the ecosystem behind Apple’s incredible throughput of iPhones is… pretty much unprecedented, and it goes all the way down their supply chain. There is, after all, a reason they appointed a CEO (i.e. Tim Cook) with a background in logistics…

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

On why Tumblr is so unprofitable.

I actually disagree with the article headline. I think there is money in “internet culture”, which in this instance mostly means “fandom”. Sites like Pinboard and AO3 or, like, the Homestuck Kickstarter1 prove that the dollars are there. It’s just that they’re not dollars the ad-driven, unicorn-hunting Big Brand tech sector knows how to find.

Also, related: “Dat Boi” isn’t funny and never was and trying to explain it just makes you sound older than not getting the joke in the first place…

  1. Remember that? ↩︎

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Why do we have to have lists of women? Because women (often) don’t get included on lists of people. And because it’s share bait. Men hit RT thinking they are improving the visibility of women, and they are, but usually the visibility of women as women and not so much for the awesome stuff they do.

Cate on binders.

(Also see this article, from the same author, which includes the realization that “lists of women” are a kind of re-packaged male gaze.)

Y’all remember how everyone laughed at the whole “binders full of women” thing? Best remember that next time someone whips out a “Top Women in X” list…

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Speaking of “yikes moments“…

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Cryptocurrencies, in this case. So, hey. You remember that time someone stole $55 million in “unhackable” cryptocurrency? Fun times. No lie: every time I read one of these stories I’m astounded anew by the sheer levels of willful ignorance in technolibertarian circles.

Incidentally, y’all do know the idea behind modern cryptocurrencies originated in the Illuminatus! trilogy, right? For those who haven’t had the misfortune of reading the books, they’re the “stepping stone” between 1960s LSD-induced hippie sensibilities and modern-day Silicon Valley libertarianism. While not as well known as, say, Ayn Rand’s novels, they occupy a similar sort of socio-political niche in that they tend to get read by a certain type of very young man with delusions of knowing more than he actually does.

In Illuminatus!, the “proto BitCoin” is called “flaxscript” or “hempscript”.1 From the definition in the appendices:

The idea behind flaxscrip, of course, is as old as history; there was private money long before there was government money. The first revolutionary (or reformist) use of this idea, as a check against galloping usury and high interest rates, was the foundation of “Banks of Piety” by the Dominican order of the Catholic Church in the late middle ages.

It goes on. And on. I’ll spare you, you get the drift.

There’s also a Special Fun Crunchy Center Bonus in here; a steaming helping of antisemitism. Because that whole thing about “usury”? Yeah, that’s a dogwhistle reference to the historical persecution of Jewish people.

In other words, cryptocurrencies–and the technologies that support them–have their origins in the bigoted2 drug-addled anti-government conspiracy theories of two editors from Playboy.

Yikes. No wonder they’re a hit with with the “alt-right”.

  1. Because pot is so, like, edgy, man. ↩︎
  2. Antisemitism certainly isn’t the only thing wrong in the Illuminatus! books; they’re screamingly sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic, too. All while pretending they’re, like, so progressive, man. ↩︎

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Unlike the Industrial Revolution and the computer revolution, the A.I. revolution is not taking certain jobs (artisans, personal assistants who use paper and typewriters) and replacing them with other jobs (assembly-line workers, personal assistants conversant with computers). Instead, it is poised to bring about a wide-scale decimation of jobs — mostly lower-paying jobs, but some higher-paying ones, too.

This transformation will result in enormous profits for the companies that develop A.I., as well as for the companies that adopt it. Imagine how much money a company like Uber would make if it used only robot drivers. Imagine the profits if Apple could manufacture its products without human labor. Imagine the gains to a loan company that could issue 30 million loans a year with virtually no human involvement. (As it happens, my venture capital firm has invested in just such a loan company.)

We are thus facing two developments that do not sit easily together: enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands and enormous numbers of people out of work. What is to be done?

Kai-Fu Lee on the AI revolution.

I’m pretty sure I was just talking about this the other day

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

It’s so easy to participate in systemic cruelty when you think it doesn’t actually touch you. For instance: do the Senators willing to vote for this draconian “health” bill imagine that they will ever be in a position where they might lose their health coverage? Same principle applies to all kinds of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other modes of discrimination. It’s tempting to ignore these things when you’re sure it won’t be you who gets stoned to death in the town square. But the truth is that no one is exempt—the system that crushes one will crush all. Anyone can be chosen for the lottery.

Emily Temple on “The Lottery”.

Being Australian, I wasn’t exposed to Shirley Jackson’s work until I was an adult (her stories aren’t generally part of school curricula here). Which is good. Because being forced to read her in school would’ve ruined her for me,1 and she’s a baller and her work is amazing and y’all should read it.

Ironically, “The Lottery” is probably my least favorite thing of hers I’ve read, for all that it’s the most talked about and enduring. Which isn’t at all to say it doesn’t have something important to tell us, all the more for the fact it refuses to be explicit about what that thing is…

  1. Oh hi, Blade Runner, you totally classic sci fi film I utterly loathe after having to do a poster essay about the freakin’ symbolism of your freakin’ unicorn of what-the-fuck-ever as a teenager! ↩︎

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.

alisfranklin: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Forgetting things isn’t a “defect” in memory; it’s part of the design. In theory, the human brain could remember every single thing you’ve ever done. But it doesn’t. So… why?

Mirrored from alisfranklin.com.