Dumb Fucks

Jean-Louis Gassée posted another great Monday Morning Note, Mark Zuckerberg Thinks We’re Idiots:

The message is clear: Zuckerberg thinks we’re idiots. How are we to believe Facebook didn’t know — and derived benefits — from the widespread abuse of user data by its developers. We just became aware of the Cambridge Analytica cockroach…how many more are under the sink? In more lawyerly terms: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

A company’s culture emanates from the top and it starts early. In 2004, the man who was in the process of creating Facebook allegedly called Harvard people who entrusted him with their emails, text messages, pictures, and addresses “dumb fucks”. Should we charitably assume he was joking, or ponder the revelatory power of such cracks?

I deleted my Facebook account last week like (a lot of? a few?) others, but as I mentioned on Twitter, I’m not naive.

My newsfeed has been full of junk, memes, opinions, and ignorant political rants for too long and this Cambridge Analytics scandal was just the extra push I needed to do want I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time.

‘Tis a silly place.

WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook:

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

“It is time,” Acton wrote, adding the hashtag #deletefacebook. Acton, who is worth $6.5 billion, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment.

I deleted my Facebook account 2 days ago. When I talk about Facebook, I’m usually talking about the ‘face’ of Facebook — the newsfeed/homepage. It’s just junky. It’s been that way for a long time. I almost exclusively talk with my close friends in a private group we set up. I ignore everything else.

I’m not convinced Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the leadership at Facebook have backbones.

Facebook Still Sucks

On Facebook’s news blog David Ginsberg and Moira Burke ask if Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?:

The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.

The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being. This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.

So Facebook has concluded social media sucks if you use it the wrong way. Wow, thanks for the advice.

That’s like a car dealership selling cars that all pull to the right without turning the steering wheel and the dealer telling you, “The driving experience is better if you drive straight.”

Facebook created a platform that encourages the passive consuming of information garbage. If people are engaging in this incorrect usage, maybe Facebook should rethink how Facebook is designed, which it sounds like they’re doing.

Another way of feeling better about yourself is not using Facebook at all. I admittedly have an account that I check once or twice a week and I’m usually reminded as soon as I log in why I don’t like using it for more than a minute or so. If I spend any significant time on Facebook, it’s in the private group my best friends and I set up to talk.

The main Facebook newsfeed feels like I’m having a political debate in an isle of Walmart, with someone handing out pizza bites next to me and a row of TVs playing clips of stupid home movies and dogs tricks behind me, all the while hearing everyone else’s rants around me. Bleh.

What Ed Lee Didn’t Do

How Mayor Ed Lee remade San Francisco in Big Tech’s image:

It was for the have-nots, too, but not in the same way: many have found themselves economically banished from San Francisco. At the dawn of Lee’s tenure, nobody foresaw the explosion of tech industry job growth in this city and region at its present level. As such, the Lee administration’s gift bag for tech outfits — an industry that was poised for takeoff, regardless — led to unforeseen consequences. The avuncular Lee found himself portrayed by the city’s left as the smiling avatar of the tech- and business-friendly policies that have driven San Francisco’s inequality levels to be on par with those in Rwanda.

“Ed could have worked more robustly to address the runaway inequality in San Francisco,” says former city supervisor John Avalos, a critic of Lee’s from the left who ran against him for mayor in 2011. “The way he supported tech and the private sector was an effort that got out of hand. It was like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

This was all part of Ed Lee’s San Francisco. His policies made many people angry. But right now people aren’t angry; they’re sad.

Fuck that, I’m angry. Just because someone dies, doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of them.

The number of homeless people — and their sidewalk encampments of tents – exploded in number under Ed Lee, mirroring the explosion of techies and tech companies in San Francisco. I know this because I’ve lived in San Francisco for five years and I’ve been visiting it regularly since 2001.

I’m not saying Ed Lee is completely to blame for this, but he sure as hell didn’t make the situation better.

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Community

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Making Friends Over 30

Over at The New York Times Alex Williams explores why it’s so hard to make friends over 30:

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.

But often, people realize how much they have neglected to restock their pool of friends only when they encounter a big life event, like a move, say, or a divorce.

I’m keenly aware of this problem as a 40-year-old dude.

My wife is initially surprised how dismissive I am of the boyfriends and husbands of her friends and co-workers. Then I explain to her that if the guy in question is cool, I’ll make a few concerted efforts at reaching out to them (grab a drink, hit a concert, meet my other friends) but I’m usually met either with radio silence or reasons they can’t hang out. At this point I write them off.

If I run into them again I’ll usually replace my previously genuine conversating with vapid smalltalk. If they’re not making an effort, why should I?

Pretty Hate Machine

Mike Monteiro’s history of Twitter, from beginning to end (via kottke):

Twitter would have you believe that it’s a beacon of free speech. Biz Stone would have you believe that inaction is principle. I would ask you to consider the voices that have been silenced. The voices that have disappeared from Twitter because of the hatred and the abuse. Those voices aren’t free. Those voices have been caged. Twitter has become an engine for further marginalizing the marginalized. A pretty hate machine.

Biz Stone would also believe that Twitter is being objective in its principled stance. To which I’d ask how objective it is that it constantly moves the goal posts of permissibility for its cash cow of hate. Trump’s tweets are the methane that powers the pretty hate machine. But they’re also the fuel for the bomb Twitter doesn’t yet, even now, realize it is sitting on. There’s a hell of a difference between giving Robert Pattinson dating advice and threatening a nuclear power with war.

Monteiro is right. Twitter has become “a cesspool of hate”. People I follow who historically only tweeted about art, culture, or design now react to Trump on a daily basis. Multiply that by the 240 accounts I follow and that becomes a shitload of negativity. Not a great way to start your day.

Suspending Trump’s Twitter account is not a First Amendment violation. Twitter is a company with clearly stated policies you must abide to use their service. If you do not abide by those policies then you don’t get to use the service.

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Community, Tromp

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Boycott Bullshit

Twitter Users Split on Boycott Over Platform’s Move Against Rose McGowan:

Activists, celebrities and journalists joined a boycott of Twitter on Friday to protest the social media platform’s locking of the account of the actress Rose McGowan, a fierce critic of the film producer Harvey Weinstein over his alleged sexual harassment and assaults of women.

The boycott began at midnight Thursday in New York and was to last all day. Many of those taking part signified their participation with the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter.

The idea for the protest came from Kelly Ellis, a software engineer, who wrote: “#WomenBoycottTwitter Friday, October 13th. In solidarity w @rosemcgowan and all the victims of hate and harassment Twitter fails to support.”

This is such bullshit.

The idea isn’t bullshit. The idea is great — boycott Twitter for locking Rose McGowan’s account for saying she was the victim of sexual harassment while at the same time allowing Jerkoff Trump to continue to spew hate and hostility on his account. Many have argued Trump has violated Twitter’s terms of service.

I digress.

What’s bullshit about this boycott is how half-assed it is. Boycott Twitter for a day? Really? One whole day? There’s way too many things happening second by second, all over the world, to get a meaningful amount of people to focus on one thing for more than a few hours.

An effective boycott should last longer than 24 measly hours. You also need to offer people an alternative platform of communication if you’re asking them to give up what they currently use. When you do that and Twitter notices their daily active user count plummeting, there’s a good chance they’ll start enforcing their terms of service.

That’s how you effect change.

If you’re saying to yourself that what I’m suggesting is extremely hard, you’re right. Effecting change is very hard. It’s not something you can do by typing a hashtag before a word on your fucking pocket computer.

Microblogging AKA Tumblr AKA Twitter

In 2007, CNet reviewed the then new “microblogging” service, Tumblr:

Tumblr blogging service, which launched last month, gives people the chance to publish brief or full-length, media-rich posts using their browser or mobile phone. It’s a happy medium between a tidbit posting service, such as Twitter, and a full-fledged blogging tool, such as WordPress or Blogger. Tumblr is aimed at folks who feel they may not have enough content or time to write a full blog, yet still want to write and share links and media.

After today’s announcement, Twitter is sounding a lot more like Tumblr.

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Community, Technology

Twitter Becomes Less Twittery

Twitter is increasing their character limit from 140 to 280:

We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).

Huh? The 140-character limit is what makes Twitter unique. What’s next, increasing the limit to 560 characters? Then 1120? Pretty soon Twitter will be able to pivot into a blogging platform like it was 2003 again. Yeah!

Forcing constraints on a situation can lead to more creative solutions.

I’ve heard many comedians say they love using Twitter as a “testing ground” for new material because a) they can get reactions from people immediately and b) it forces them to be economical with their choice of words.

I think this move will water down the Twitter experience.

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Community, Words

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Those Poor, Poor Men

Over at The New York Times, Nellie Bowles wrote a piece on the backlash that is growing against the women in tech movement:

Their complaints flow on Reddit forums, on video game message boards, on private Facebook pages and across Twitter. They argue for everything from male separatism to an end to gender diversity efforts.

Silicon Valley has for years accommodated a fringe element of men who say women are ruining the tech world.

Now, as the nation’s technology capital — long identified as one of the more hostile work environments for women — reels from a series of high-profile sexual harassment and discrimination scandals, these conversations are gaining broader traction.

If men are in such a bad position in Silicon Valley, what sort of position are women and minorities in? Give me a break.

“What Google did was wake up sectors of society that weren’t into these issues before,” said Paul Elam, who runs A Voice for Men, a men’s rights group. He said his organization had seen more interest from people in Silicon Valley.

Men’s rights groups? Douchebag tech bros in Silly Valley have lost their minds.

I moved to California in 2012 with my wife, after living in Manhattan for about 10 years. One of the things I miss most about NYC is the diversity — not just of races, but of everything. In New York everyone worked in different industries, looked different, talked with different accents and in different languages, ate different foods, and listened to different types of music.

Out here in San Francisco (where I live) and Sunnyvale (where I work) it’s way more homogenous. Guys look like me: white dudes with glasses, and do what I do: work for web design and tech companies. This doesn’t appeal to me. I have no interest in hanging out with versions of myself all the time.

Maybe it’s time to move.

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Community

There’s the door, Texas.

In Texas, Distrust of Washington Collides With Need for Federal Aid:

Few places need the federal government right now more than Texas does, as it begins to recover from Hurricane Harvey. Yet there are few states where the federal government is viewed with more resentment, suspicion and scorn.

For Republicans, who dominate Texas government, anti-Washington sentiment is more than just a red-meat rhetorical flourish — it is a guiding principle.

Gov. Greg Abbott, the Republican former state attorney general, once described a typical day in his old job as, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.” His predecessor as governor, Rick Perry, wrote a book titled “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington.”

The sentiment is not limited to politicians. In June, the legislature of Texas Boys State — the mock-government exercise for high schoolers, run by the American Legion — voted overwhelmingly to secede from the union.

Texas has been a pain in the side of the United States since Day 1. I wasn’t aware of this until I started reading Battle Cry of Freedom and began reading more articles about Texas.

As much as I don’t like the idea of a flag with 49 stars in it, I’m willing to let that go so we can let Texas go.

Let’s see how long Texas can make it on it’s own.

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Community, Politics

New York Rents

In New York, rents are increasing twice as fast as wages:

What’s worse, StreetEasy found that rent increases haven’t risen equally across the various income brackets or rent price points. For instance, apartments priced at the bottom fifth tier of the market have spiked 4.9 percent annually since 2010 while homes in the top fifth tier of the market appreciated annually by three percent, on average. In essence, the lowest priced apartments have seen their rents increase the most.

With that, New York City’s lowest wage earners have seen their paychecks increase the least since 2010, yet wages for the city’s highest earners have grown the greatest. The combination of steep rent increases paired with minimal wage gains for low-income New Yorkers have forced many to spend an unreasonable amount of their income on rent.

I lived in New York for over 10 years, but with the way rents are continuing to go, I won’t be moving back any time soon.

A few months ago I read The Complacent Class by Tyler Cowen and he spends a good deal on this income/rent disparity:

Indeed, in this new world the performance of income and social mobility is rather disappointing. In spite of the people who are doing great, the data indicate that the upward mobility of Americans, in terms of income and education, which increased through about 1980, has since held steady. Partly this is because the economy is more ossified, more controlled, and growing at lower rates. It’s also because it is much more expensive to move into a dynamic city, an option that gave many a way of making economic progress in times past. Two researchers, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, estimate that if it were cheaper to move into America’s higher-productivity cities, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) would be 9.5 percent higher due to the gains from better jobs. Yet no one thinks that the building restrictions of, say, San Francisco or New York will be relaxed much anytime soon. Most of the complacent class just doesn’t see building restrictions as an urgent issue, and even if they understand the problem intellectually, as many of them do, the selfish incentive to make changing restrictions a priority just isn’t there.

New York has turned into ‘a playground for the rich.’ This is unfortunate because it keeps out keeps out a key demographic that gives New York it’s rich culture: artists (painters, musicians, writers, designers).

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Trump Needs to Go

White House Acts to Stem Fallout From Trump’s First Charlottesville Remarks:

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — White House officials, under siege over President Trump’s reluctance to condemn white supremacists for the weekend’s bloody rallies in Charlottesville, Va., tried to clarify his comments on Sunday, as critics in both parties intensified demands that he adopt a stronger, more unifying message.

A statement on Sunday — issued more than 36 hours after the protests began — condemned “white supremacists” for the violence that led to one death. It came in an email sent to reporters in the president’s traveling press pool, and was attributed to an unnamed representative.

It was not attributed directly to Mr. Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics. It also did not single out “white supremacists” alone but instead included criticism of “all extremist groups.”

Many people have pointed out Trump can be very specific with his attacks on Twitter, so his vague, macro-level condemnation on the events in Charlottesville is very apparent and disgusting.

This orange-faced, small-handed racist can’t leave office soon enough for me.

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Community, Tromp

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