Archive by Author | plerudulier

Twitter vs. Facebook as a news source: Ferguson shows the downsides of an algorithmic filter

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

While Twitter has been alive with breaking news about the events in Ferguson, Mo. after the shooting of an unarmed black man — video clips posted by participants, live-tweeting the arrest of journalists, and so on — many users say Facebook has been largely silent on the topic, with more info about ice-bucket challenges by various celebrities. Is this a sign of a fundamental difference between the two platforms? In a sense, yes. But it’s also a testament to the power of the algorithms that Facebook uses to filter what we see in our newsfeeds, and that has some potentially serious social implications.

Part of the reason why Twitter is more news-focused than Facebook has to do with the underlying mechanics of both sites, and the way user behavior has evolved as a result. Because of its brevity, and the ease with which updates can be shared, Twitter is a…

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In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty – [NYTimes.com]

Just after 4 a.m. on a recent Friday, while most of the neighbors in her leafy Boston suburb were still asleep, Jennifer Guidry was in the driveway of her rental apartment, her blond hair pulled back in a tidy French braid, vacuuming the inside of her car. The early-bird routine is a strategy that Ms. Guidry, a Navy veteran and former accountant, uses to mitigate the uncertainty of working in what’s known as the sharing economy.

via In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty – NYTimes.com.

Algorithms Are Replacing Unions As The Champions of Workers

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_dropcap]Quality of life is perhaps the single largest factor underpinning human happiness, and that quality is largely determined by one’s job. It should be no wonder then that so many activists and politicians have made improving work a key element of their advocacy for generations. The history of America is, in many ways, the history of work.[/tc_dropcap]

So when I look around the world today and observe who are the next champions of workers, I surprisingly don’t see them where you would normally expect. Unions were once the bastions of progressive improvements for labor, but they have been relegated to defending the status quo and are facing serious irrelevance in the United States today. Politicians as well seem almost ignorant of the changes underway in our economy, proposing laws that do little to help people and everything to help their campaign donors.

They have been replaced. The people with…

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The new death etiquette: short, shared, shallow – [independent.co.uk]

It’s a mark of the long reach of technology’s grappling hook that the death of the actor and comedian Robin Williams – to be followed only a few hours later by the passing of Lauren Bacall – should inspire a debate not only about their merits as entertainers but about the validity of the social media platforms on which fans queued up to pay tribute.

My colleague Simon Kelner, over in The Independent, was one of several commentators to wonder whether the encomia pronounced by people with no direct connection to the deceased were evidence that we had become “a shallow, sentimental society”, whose members found it difficult to distinguish between genuine emotion and those impelled into being by the peer group.

Kelner, having gamely confessed to never having found Williams particularly funny, ended up by presuming the Twitter memorial to be rather a good thing and arguing that social media “links us more closely to other people’s triumphs and tragedies. It gives us a sense of a greater humanity…

Whatever one may feel about this judgement, the tidal wave of condolence that followed Williams’ self-inflicted death, appeared – once the views of a handful of relative-abusing trolls had been discounted – to be quite genuine. A neutral observer might have assumed that his career had peaked nearly a decade and a half ago, but longevity worked its habitual magic and for every fan of the recent work there was someone to remember Mork the space alien from 1978. Even Simon Cowell, one felt, was entitled to tweet that he never met him but he just knew he was a great guy.

via The new death etiquette: short, shared, shallow – Comment – Voices – The Independent.

Germany Added A Lot Of Wind And Solar Power, And Its Electric Grid Became More Reliable – [thinkprogress.org]

To hear its critics tell it, Germany’s ambitious push to switch over to renewable energy has delivered an electrical grid that’s capricious, unreliable, and prone to blackouts. But according to data highlighted by ECO Report last week, the reality on the ground couldn’t be further from that caricature.

Specifically, the availability of electricity in Germany was lost only for an average of 15.91 minutes per customer in 2012, according to figures from the Council of European Energy Regulators. That’s far better than the United States, which saw its electricity become unavailable for a whopping 244 minutes per customer in 2008. Germany also did significantly better than the United Kingdom lost 81.42 minutes per customer in 2008, the Netherlands lost 33.7 minutes per customer and France lost 95.1 minutes per customer. Of all the countries tracked, Japan and Singapore are the only two with grid reliability to match Germany’s.

via Germany Added A Lot Of Wind And Solar Power, And Its Electric Grid Became More Reliable | ThinkProgress.

Robin Williams and Hollywood’s illness stigma – [latimes.com]

Robin Williams and Hollywood's illness stigma - LA Times

Medical illness is a strange thing when it comes to Hollywood. Addiction is a subject people will talk about often and freely; there’s hardly a week that goes by without a celebrity “opening up” about their struggles.

That’s far from the case with illness. Nora Ephron kept her battle with leukemia secret up until her death. Michael J. Fox didn’t disclose his Parkinson’s for seven years after his diagnosis. Patrick Swayze continued to downplay reports of his cancer until his condition had deteriorated irrevocably in 2009.

In part this is all for a very simple, practical reason — like many people, a lot of actors want to continue working when they become ill, and everything from casting to insurance becomes trickier once disease enters the picture. Fox worked for a good chunk of those seven years without anyone the wiser.

via Robin Williams and Hollywood’s illness stigma – LA Times.

The surprising democratizing power of McDonald’s Wi-Fi

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Originally posted on Quartz:

On Wednesday, two reporters covering the protests surrounding the fatal police shooting of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, were arrested—in a McDonald’s. Why were they there? One of the reporters, The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, says not for a Big Mac:

For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.

The other reporter in the McDonald’s at the time, Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post, managed to tweet a photo of what was happening before he, too, was arrested.

The two reporters in Ferguson…

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How A Dissolvable ‘Tampon’ Could One Day Help Women Stop HIV – NPR.org]

When it comes to protecting themselves from HIV, women need more options.

About 84 percent of all women diagnosed with HIV contract the virus through heterosexual sex. And right now, the female condom is the only contraception available that stops HIV — and is controlled by the woman. These devices can be hard to find and tough to use.

Now engineers at the University of Washington in Seattle have come up with an experimental technology that may one day make HIV protection for women as easy as using a tampon.

For years, scientists have been developing gels or creams that contain anti-HIV drugs known as microbicides. But these topical ointments can be problematic. They’re messy to apply. They can leak. And the medication absorbs slowly, so women have to use the gels or creams at least 20 minutes before sex.

via How A Dissolvable ‘Tampon’ Could One Day Help Women Stop HIV : Goats and Soda : NPR.

What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — [medium.com]

What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium

Ferguson is about many things, starting first with race and policing in America.

But it’s also about internet, net neutrality and algorithmic filtering.

It’s a clear example of why “saving the Internet”, as it often phrased, is not an abstract issue of concern only to nerds, Silicon Valley bosses, and few NGOs. It’s why “algorithmic filtering” is not a vague concern.

It’s a clear example why net neutrality is a human rights issue; a free speech issue; and an issue of the voiceless being heard, on their own terms.

I saw this play out in multiple countries — my home country of Turkey included — but last night, it became even more heartbreakingly apparent in the United States as well.

For me, last night’s Ferguson “coverage” began when people started retweeting pictures of armored vehicles with heavily armored “robocops” on top of them, aiming their nuzzle at the protesters, who seemed to number a few hundred.

via What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium.

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