Category Archives: Internet/Telecom/Social Media

The Five Best Things on Facebook

The Vault of the Atomic Space Age

Facebook is a discordant marketplace-of-ideas battle royale unlike anything in human history. Most of it is inane (or worse) dreck. But some of it is brilliant – enlightening, uplifting, empathetic. If we could get rid of the 99.99% that isn’t we’d have a foundation for a better world.

But we can’t. So for now we’ll have to make do with my picks for the best things therein.

Brandon Stanton

Humans of New York

Brandon Stanton is a photographer and storyteller supreme. Or rather, he’s supremely talented at getting people to share their stories. He walks around NYC (and these days he jaunts about the world on occasion, too), takes pictures of those he sees, and lets them talk about their lives. Sometimes it’s harrowing, sometimes it’s informative, sometimes it’s whimsical and funny, but it’s always authentic and 100% free of judgment.

George Takei

George Takei

Actor, writer, and now First Citizen of the Internet. Stanton avoids judgment, but Takei brings an up-front agenda to the table in his campaign to promote fairness, equality, hope, dignity, and basic human decency. You may not agree with all he has to say – he wouldn’t ask you to – but if you engage with him in good faith you’ll come away a better, more thoughtful person.

The Man Must Burn

The Vault of the Atomic Space Age
The Man Must Burn

I present these together because their yin and yang exploration of the Modern Era is, I think, an essential study of a critically important moment in our history.

If I might abstract a bit, The Vault of the Atomic Space Age is dedicated to a presentation of 20th Century Modernism more or less on its own terms. The About brief describes it as “Art, fashion, design, technology, mid-century style, architecture, etc from the Atomic Space Age,” and while that’s true as far as it goes it undersells the sophistication with which the curator presents the vision of a society ascendant, winner of the World Wars and a bit heady on its new status as world leader. Its fetishization of the nuclear sublime and the grandiosity with which it sees its destiny is critical for us today because of the story told by the gap between the vision and what we now know of the reality 70 years on.

There’s a temptation to say the artifacts are presented objectively and unironically, but what we know makes that impossible.

If Vault indulges the techophilia of a supremely self-confident (and self-involved) culture, The Man Must Burn takes a grittier view. Denver’s own Matt Boggs shares his love affair with the 20th century’s dark side, collecting and archiving a staggering array of artifacts from the 1900s (seriously, I have no idea how he finds some of this stuff), focusing on the Mid-Century Modern era – everything from art to celebrity photos to comic books to space and war photography to cars to the sparkling retro-futurism of the 1950s and ’60s. As I look at the page now we have 1940s warplanes, Elvis, a link to a History.com article on the Spanish Flu-incited spiritualism craze and then some. Describing its breadth and depth is nearly impossible, but its visual impact, its persistent raid on the collective psyche of our rage to military, economic, and cultural empire, is everything the Internet ought to be.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Loosely affiliated with NASA, APOD is just what the name says. Each day we’re presented with a photo (usually breathtaking) of some corner of the cosmos, along with a well-crafted narrative telling us what we’re seeing. It’s hard to come away without being awed and informed.

We probably all have our favorites, and we like them our own reasons. These are mine, and I’d enjoy hearing about yours in the comments.

Boaty McBoatface, Footy McFooty Face and Trumpkin: WHY do people keep asking the Internet for help?

San Diego’s MLS hopefuls and Crayola ought to have learned from history. 

It started innocently enough in 2012, when the geniuses at Mountain Dew decided to ask the Internet’s help in naming their new “green apple with attitude” flavor. The results included “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong,” “Diabeetus” and “Moist Nugget.”

Shortly thereafter the Slovaks staged an Internet campaign to name a cycling and pedestrian bridge near the capital. Logically enough, voters wanted to name it for … Chuck Norris.

Then, of course, there was the famous 2016 case of the British government soliciting the Internet’s advice on what to name a new research ship. Which of the suggested dignified names would be chosen? Shackleton, perhaps – hard to get more worthy than that, right? Read more

Future Imperfect: SaraRobinson.net launches, just in time for the Y'allQaeda takeover

SaraRobinson.netSara Robinson, who has spent years thinking and writing in places like Orcinus, Our Future, Group News Blog, Salon, Grist, the New Republic and New York Magazine (as well as S&R, now that I think about it), has finally struck out on her on her own and debuted Future Imperfect.

And just in time. Sara has devoted a great deal of energy in her career to understanding the sorts of people currently occupying that rest area (and begging for snacks) out in Oregon, and today’s missive addresses the ways in which the Federal Government’s failure in the wake of the Bundy Ranch debacle led us to our current domestic terrorism drama (and may open the door to more such foolishness in the future if we don’t get our act together). Read more

Facebook’s See Less: the new “feature” that DOES. NOT. WORK.

Facebook - UnshareRecently the wizards at Facebook rolled out a new feature: See Less. It allows you, allegedly, to mark certain of your friends so that fewer of their posts show up in your feed. Intended as a polite way of dialing back your exposure to overparticipaters and people that, for whatever reason, you just aren’t as interested in as others.

Great idea. Great idea. If you’re like most people, you’re probably “friends” with all kinds of people you aren’t friends with. In my case, I’m friends with people I don’t know and couldn’t pick out of a lineup and I can’t actually remember how we “met” in the first place. Which is fine – some of these people are really bright and I enjoy what they bring to my news feed. Serendipity, exposure to unexpected viewpoints – these are good things.

But. Read more

Social media usability: Facebook, Flickr and WordPress can blow me

Fuck FlickrFucking bastards, every goddamned one of them.

Starting a few days ago Facebook seems to have “improved” the site again. All of a sudden, when you paste the URL of an image post from a WordPress site into the status box it doesn’t want to auto-load the image. Not only that, there is no way in hell, that I can figure out, how to end-run the user experience geniuses and make it load that image.

Read more

Online dating tips and etiquette: is it rude not to reply?

In the online world, bad behavior can be the best behavior. How is this possible?

Online DatingIn “real life,” when someone approaches and asks you out, you’re obliged by social custom to reply. You may not be interested, but you can’t just pretend that the person isn’t standing there talking to you. That would be unspeakably rude. So we have developed all manner of ways of saying no thanks, in what is hopefully the kindest way possible. None of us likes to be rejected, and if we have any empathy about us at all we’re uncomfortable inflicting pain and/or embarrassment on someone – especially since that person’s only crime is thinking we’re kinda neat.

That isn’t how it works at online dating sites.  Read more

Facebook’s worst nightmare: what if social media is just that – social?

New research suggests that social media is a bubble – how long before it bursts?

Facebook - UnshareThese are heady days for social media interests. Facebook and Twitter run rampant, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine and Instagram are booming, Ello is all kinds of interesting, and somehow or another Google+ and StumbleUpon are still hanging in there. While there isn’t literally a new social net rolling out every 15 minutes, it sometimes feels that way.

The money in social is just insane. Take the leader of the pack, for instance. Facebook’s market cap is just north of $200B and NASDAQ’s analysis is all kinds of bullish. Why not? Have a look at their revenue projections. Read more

Facebook, the NFL and the GOP: #WTF

What a fucking day.

Item: Congress has tentatively agreed on a bill that will keep the government from shutting down. Now, there’s a lot wrong with it, starting with the fact that the Republicans are insisting on a huge payoff to Wall Street, basically holding the best interests of the people hostage to the best interests of the insanely rich. The smart money says the Democrats will:

a) raise holy hell, then
b) fold like the Vichy little bitches they are.

In other news, the sun is expected to rise in the east tomorrow.

None of this is the fun part, though. First, the GOP plan would … well, just read it. Read more

« Older Entries