I’ve added a new interactive fiction, “Shoot First!“, to my Patron’s Only Digital Vault. For as little as $3 patrons get immediate access to all the goodies in the Vault, including an analog horror film, audio books, new fiction and music, interactive goodies, etc.
In order to rein in the ads and “Promoted” posts in your Twitter feed, you need to uncheck all of your “Interests” in the Ads preferences section of your Settings. This list is usually in the hundreds, if not thousands—and each item must be manually unchecked. ☹️
This script helps enormously: Automatically Unchecking Twitter Interests. I found changing the timer from “100” to “3000” was the sweet spot where it was working through these checkboxes in decent time, but not triggering a whole bunch of 500 errors or hanging up.
The question for me is this: Does Facebook provide anywhere near the social value to justify what this man suffered? Does it provide enough value to justify the suffering of the likely thousands of workers who Facebook employees to protect us from Facebook?
As you reflect on this, you probably want to check out The Facebook Files, an ongoing investigative series from the Wall Street Journal (articles are paywalled, but the related podcasts are free and worth your time and attention).
Plainly put, Facebook profits from hate and misery. Further reads:
This report notes that, of the posts reported to them as anti-Jewish Facebook acted on less than 11%. By contrast, Facebook claims to proactively remove +90% of child porn without anyone (outside of FB mods) ever having to see it, let alone report it. The second problem—moderating images of abuse—is a lot harder than setting up a grep to flag specific hate terms (let alone having a moderator check a user-reported post to see what it says). And yet FB gladly pours the resources needed to do the harder thing. Why? Because, broadly speaking, the world abhors the abuse of children—and thus advertisers find it toxic. It hits their profit center, and so they act. (I leave it as an exercise for you, in your quiet hours, to consider why it is that the world doesn’t abhor Jew hatred. I assume it’s because they believe that we often have it coming.)
Brass tacks question: Given what social media companies like FB can and will do, in terms of exerting editorial control when it is in their interest to do so, I’m left wondering if they really deserve Section 230 protection?
FB, of course, is far from unique here—or, maybe, is uniquely awful only in the magnitude and clarity of their disfunction and viciousness. For a Twitter-centric rumination on the fundamental design aspects of social media that are making it so damaging to both individual humans and larger human societies, please read Noah Smith’s rational (and, in the case of the later, research-backed) articles “The Shouting Class” and “The Shouting Class 2: Last Refuge of Scoundrels”:
“In other words, society has always had about the same number of shouty jerks. But with the rise of social media, we have moved our society’s political discussions from spaces in which the shouty jerks were at least somewhat marginalized and contained to spaces that preferentially amplify their voices.…In pursuit of personal glory, bad people turn neighbor against neighbor.”
The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal!Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band).Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture.All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities.
There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).
Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets. When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.
This is a commercial/charitable fundraising situation. The Humble Bundle folks and No Starch Press have bundled together a bunch of awesome books. Pay as little as $1 to get a few, $8 to get a bunch, and $15 to get them all. If you go in at the $15 level, you get ~$300 in books (all digital, all in multiple formats, all totally DRM-free, so you can read them however and wherever you like). It’s a really awesome deal (I bought plenty of Humble Bundles way before I ever was part of one—and, I’ll be straight with you: Being part of one as an author is a really big boon for me, too; my last Humble Bundle put an additional 30,000 copies of my book in front of eager makers, and helped me make enough money to stay afloat that year).
Even if you only drop a buck for the first five books, you’re getting some great stuff—Medieval LEGO is fun, the Scratch book is solid, and my son loved Lauren Ipsum (which is sort of a modern computer-science take on Phantom Tollbooth; he’s easily read it a half dozen times). Moving up to the $8 tier doesn’t just get you my book (which regularly sets you back ~$20), but also two of my favorite intro programming books (I learned Python from Teach Your Kids to Code, and Scratch Programming Playground is what taught my kid to code) and a really great manga book that’ll explain electricity to anyone. And, of course, going whole hog just piles on the awesomeness (again, I’m especially pleased to see a couple DIY hands-on electronics books here, especially since Arduino has gotten so dirt-cheap to get into). Every purchase doesn’t just benefit my publisher and me, but also Teach for America.