The gender binary will not be deprogrammed: Ten years of coding gender on Facebook
A February 2014 iteration of Facebook’s software upgraded the number of options for gender identification from 2 to 58. Drawing on critical theoretical approaches to technology, queer theory, and insights from science and technology studies, this iteration is situated within a 10-year history of software and user modifications that pivot around gender. I argue that the gender binary has regulated Facebook’s design strategy while the co-existence of binary and non-binary affordances has enabled the company to serve both users and advertising clients simultaneously. Three findings are revealed: (1) an original programming decision to store three values for gender in Facebook’s database became an important fissure for non-binary possibilities, (2) gender became increasingly valuable over time, and (3) in the deep level of the database, non-binary users are reconfigured into a binary system. This analysis also exposes Facebook’s focus on authenticity as an insincere yet highly marketable regulatory regime.
zeitgeist 
2 days ago
Controlled Measures: Phrenology lies at the heart of biometric governance
"Lombroso’s theory was, like a great deal currently coming out of the world of tech, an engineering 'solution' in search of a problem."
zeitgeist  dist 
5 days ago
The Shape of Code » Major players in evidence-based software engineering
"The business school researchers don’t get a mention because their data is often covered by a confidentiality agreement. The machine learning crowd are just embarrassing."
devops  dist 
5 days ago
The YouTube stars heading for burnout: ‘The most fun job imaginable became deeply bleak’ | Technology | The Guardian
“What started out as being the most fun job imaginable quickly slid into something that felt deeply bleak and lonely”
zeitgeist  dist 
16 days ago
Potemkin AI
"Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk was a forerunner of today’s systems of artificial intelligence, not because it managed to play a game well, as with IBM’s Deep Blue or Google’s AlphaGo, but because many AI systems are, in large part, also technical illusions designed to fool the public. Whether it’s content moderation for social media or image recognition for police surveillance, claims abound about the effectiveness of AI-powered analytics, when, in reality, the cognitive labor comes from an office building full of (low-waged) workers. We can call this way of building and presenting such systems — whether analog automatons or digital software — Potemkin AI. "
zeitgeist 
22 days ago
Arbitration decision on student evaluations of teaching applauded by faculty | University Affairs
In a precedent-setting case, an Ontario arbitrator has directed Ryerson University to ensure that student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, “are not used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.”
zeitgeist 
26 days ago
Digital Humanities Publishing | NLP for Historical Texts
The absurdity of this process is mind-boggling, and it has absolutely no added value of any kind: neither for authors, nor for reviewers, nor for publishing, nor for readers. My only explanation is that it is, in fact, a purely symbolic exercise, a tribal ritual, if you want, to demonstrate the “digitality” of the “digital humanities.” As I have pointed out in an earlier post (The Digital Age, in German; The Digital Age (English remix)), “digital” here is merely a synonym for “modern.”
zeitgeist 
4 weeks ago
Should I Major in the Humanities? - The Atlantic
While history, English, and the rest have faded, only one set of humanities fields without a foot in the sciences has clearly held its own: the much newer (and smaller) disciplines the statistical agency joins together as ethnic, gender, and cultural studies.
zeitgeist 
4 weeks ago
A Look into Programmers' Heads - IEEE Journals & Magazine
Program comprehension is an important, but hard to measure cognitive process. This makes it difficult to provide suitable programming languages, tools, or coding conventions to support developers in their everyday work. Here, we explore whether functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is feasible for soundly measuring program comprehension. To this end, we observed 17 participants inside an fMRI scanner while they were comprehending source code. The results show a clear, distinct activation of five brain regions, which are related to working memory, attention, and language processing, which all fit well to our understanding of program comprehension. Furthermore, we found reduced activity in the default mode network, indicating the cognitive effort necessary for program comprehension. We also observed that familiarity with Java as underlying programming language reduced cognitive effort during program comprehension. To gain confidence in the results and the method, we replicated the study with 11 new participants and largely confirmed our findings. Our results encourage us and, hopefully, others to use fMRI to observe programmers and, in the long run, answer questions, such as: How should we train programmers? Can we train someone to become an excellent programmer? How effective are new languages and tools for program comprehension?
devops 
4 weeks ago
Rutgers study: Pay doesn't affect students' major choice
"Van Noy and Ruder also found that showing students their earning potential lowered their expectations for how much they would make, especially among students in STEM and business fields."
zeitgeist  dist 
5 weeks ago
Return of the Art and Technology Lab
"Contemporary art and tech projects, we argue, are in danger of succumbing to the same techno-utopianism as their 1960s iterations, and the same military-industrial allegiances that tainted the earlier projects continue to underpin twenty-first-century collaborations."
zeitgeist  dist 
5 weeks ago
The Strange Infinities of e-Commerce - The Atlantic
These posters are a probe for Our Weird Times. What happens when it takes the same effort to make 200,000 posters that each sell once as it does to manufacture one poster that sells 200,000 times? Perhaps actual people have always had an infinity of different desires, but it was never possible to satisfy each and every one. Now, though, under certain circumstances, Walmart.com or Amazon can host hundreds of thousands of products, each designed to ensnare ... well ... maybe just one customer. And some company in a faceless office in Los Angeles can make some money creating things that will almost certainly never sell more than a single copy.
zeitgeist 
5 weeks ago
Code to joy
By accident more than design, coders now comprise a Fifth Estate and as 21st-century citizens we need to be able to interrogate them as deeply as we interrogate politicians, marketers, the players of Wall Street and the media.
zeitgeist 
5 weeks ago
2018 in the programming language standards’ world
Prolog was the language to be associated with, if you were on the 1980s AI bandwagon (and the Japanese were going to take over the world unless we did something about it, e.g., spend money); this time around, it’s machine learning.
zeitgeist 
5 weeks ago
Post-Digital Literary Studies
It could be argued that computers have been instrumentalized as assault weapons in a series of philosophical crusades against hermeneutics, from Bense to Moretti as well as in the media theory of Friedrich Kittler. [...] By this virtue of failure, computer science for the first time makes it possible to state more precisely the limits of formal analysis and the necessities of hermeneutic interpretation, as opposed to vague or stereotyped romanticist criteria for assessing the literary or poetic quality of a text.
zeitgeist 
6 weeks ago
Machine Learning Can Identify the Authors of Anonymous Code | WIRED
[N]ewer research shows that stylometry can also apply to artificial language samples, like code. Software developers, it turns out, leave behind a fingerprint as well.

Rachel Greenstadt, an associate professor of computer science at Drexel University, and Aylin Caliskan, Greenstadt's former PhD student and now an assistant professor at George Washington University, have found that code, like other forms of stylistic expression, are not anonymous.
zeitgeist 
6 weeks ago
Programming Languages May Finally Be Reaching a Status Quo | WIRED
[T]he world of programming languages could be stabilizing a bit after a decade of change.
zeitgeist 
6 weeks ago
Engineers Say 'No Thanks' to Silicon Valley Recruiters, Citing Ethical Concerns - IEEE Spectrum
“The Amazon recruiter on the other end responded with apparent astonishment: ‘Wow I honestly had no idea’.”
dist  zeitgeist 
6 weeks ago
WTF is… DevOps?
Unfortunately, this anti-pattern has been followed by many organisations in an attempt to increase efficiency.
devops  zeitgeist 
6 weeks ago
Review of Passwords: Philology, Security, Authentication | Leonardo/ISAST
This highly stimulating book is in the first place a new and innovative take on the well-known two cultures debate. Yet rather than stressing the added value of bridging the gap between the two major strands – arts and sciences, alpha and beta – that came out from Western modernization and secularization since the Renaissance, Lennon argues that in some cases – that of philology, the humanist study of language, and that of cryptology, the mathematical and technical science of codes and ciphers –, the two cultures gap is much smaller than we often think.
pw-philology-review 
7 weeks ago
Stop DevOps before Someone Gets Hurt
DevOps is one the offshoots of software abstraction, where this time it was not the hardware, processes or any code complexities that were abstracted — but a way to abstract the IT personnel out (the “Ops” part).
devops  zeitgeist 
7 weeks ago
Rise and Fall of the Daily Paper
"We may wonder, then, whether the mutations under way in the information economy do not resemble identifiable trends in US private universities, again with the prospect of a turn towards social oligarchy"
zeitgeist  dist 
7 weeks ago
StatsModels: the first nail in R’s coffin
The flow of developers starting out with R will slow down, casual R users will have nothing to lose from trying out another language when the right project comes along (another language on the CV looks good and Python is a bigger market). There will be groups where everybody uses R and will continue to use R because that is what everybody else in the group uses. Ten-Twenty years from now R, developers could be working in a ghost town.
zeitgeist 
7 weeks ago
Opinion | The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley - The New York Times
“...one staffer told me that their jobs used to be about wrangling cat videos and now they had degenerated into a daily hell of ethics debates about the fate of humanity.”
zeitgeist  dist 
7 weeks ago
Sapping Attention: Mea culpa: there *is* a crisis in the humanities
I occasionally worry that talk of the "humanities crisis" could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fortunately or unfortunately, though, the shift seems to have more to do with content than with labels. The social science fields that most closely resemble humanistic ones--sociology, anthropology, international relations, and political science--have also seen serious drops. [...] The big winners in recent years have been health professions, including nursing; computer science and engineering; biological science and to a lesser degree, physical sciences; and what I oddly call "leisure," which includes things like sports management and exercise studies.
zeitgeist 
7 weeks ago
The Computational Unconscious
Computational capital is thus also racial capitalism, the longue durée digitization of racialization and, not in any way incidentally, of regimes of gender and sexuality.
racecond 
7 weeks ago
Who do you trust?
Over the last few decades the tech industry has built systems so fundamentally insecure, so rotten to their core, that we now have no real choice but to trust its largest and most powerful companies to protect us. I’m all too aware of the grim irony.
zeitgeist 
7 weeks ago
Futures of Journalisms Past (or, Pasts of Journalism’s Future)
On "three interrelated challenges to the post-World War II information order: twenty years of digital technological disruption, the 2008 economic crisis, and politically and economically motivated challenges to the industrial news media."
zeitgeist  dist 
7 weeks ago
Prometheus Wired
"The cosy relationship between industry and academia—including the corporate takeover of entire university laboratories, as with Uber and Carnegie Mellon—is seldom viewed with the same scrutiny as, say, the pharmaceutical industry’s interference in medical research."
dist  zeitgeist 
7 weeks ago
Facebook’s Security Chief to Depart for Stanford University
"Mr. Stamos also said Information Warfare was a new working group at Stanford with about 14 faculty members across academic disciplines."
zeitgeist  dist 
7 weeks ago
Outnumbered : From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles by David Sumpter – review
"In example after example, the toxic combination of filter bubbles, simplistic ranking mechanisms and algorithmic recommendation is seen as clearly in elite networks as in more accessible but supposedly less self-aware groups – but, we are told, the effects really aren’t as bad as we’re being told they are"
zeitgeist  dist 
8 weeks ago
From Megatechnic Bribe to Megatechnic Blackmail: Mumford’s "Megamachine" After the Digital Turn
Those who can’t be bribed are blackmailed. Thus it is no longer just that the myth of the machine is based on the idea that the megamachine is “absolutely irresistible” and “ultimately beneficial” but that it now includes the idea that to push back is “unforgivably detrimental.”
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
Life Aboard the Rocket Ship: An Interview with an Anonymous Engineer
"I definitely feel like this was a silly chapter in my life. I’m very glad I got to pay off my student loans. But I don’t feel good about the work. In fact I feel pretty embarrassed about it."
zeitgeist  devops  dist 
8 weeks ago
Digital Proudhonism
"The maker movement is one prominent translation of Digital Proudhonism into a challenge to the contemporary organization of production, with allegedly radical effects on politics and economics."
dist  zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
AIS Electronic Library (AISeL) - AMCIS 2018 Proceedings: Is Information Systems Late to the Party? The Current State of DevOps Research in the Association for Information Systems eLibrary
With the recent growth and popularity of DevOps in industry, practitioner outlets, and publications within the areas of computer science and software engineering, the aim of this paper is to address the question, "Is Information Systems late to the party?" In hopes of shedding light on this question, the authors conducted a thorough and systematic review of the publications contained in the Association for Information Systems eLibrary to examine the current state of DevOps research within the area of Information Systems. By following guidelines established for conducting reviews of literature in Information Systems, the authors identified 42 papers containing the keyword DevOps or Devops. Further analysis of each paper revealed only six papers that directly addressed the topic of DevOps. The authors conclude that Information Systems needs to fully "join the party" and that DevOps represents a fertile ground for increased Information Systems research.
devops 
8 weeks ago
Facebook’s results suggest it is short of new users and goodwill
"In its most-developed markets, Facebook is simply running out of people: there are not enough Americans or Europeans alive for the company to double in size again. And on a global scale, Facebook is just as limited by access to the net itself."
zeitgeist  dist 
8 weeks ago
David Golumbia — The Digital Turn | boundary 2
“Is there, was there, will there be, a digital turn?”
dist  zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
Tech’s Fractal Irresponsibility Problem - The Atlantic
Tech has a fractal irresponsibility problem: Each small worry reflects in miniature the shape of the industry’s big problems.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
Scroll Free September: Social media users urged to log off
The Royal Public Health Society is behind Scroll Free September, which is targeting users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

It believes logging off could improve sleep, relationships and wellbeing.

NHS England said it was right to highlight social media's role in a rise in young people's mental health issues.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
RSS Readers Are Due for a Comeback: Feedly, The Old Reader, Inoreader | WIRED
It owes that resilience in part thanks to social media burnout. Stankov says search traffic to Inoreader has nearly doubled since 2015, all organically. "RSS readers have not only survived in the era of social media, but are driving more and more attention back to themselves, as people are realizing the pitfalls" of relying too much on Facebook and others, Stankov says.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
How Facebook Went So Wrong So Fast - Bloomberg
Things are going unexpectedly wrong. I lean toward this explanation, with sprinkles of the first three. I tend to believe Facebook was caught off guard because of the simultaneous deterioration of user growth, particularly in the U.S. and Canada, which generate most of its revenue; in its revenue growth rate and expectations for a further slowdown; and in its profit-margin forecast.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
Facebook’s Stock Plunge Shatters Faith in Tech Companies’ Invincibility - The New York Times
It had become an article of investor faith on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley: Quarter after quarter, year after year, the world’s biggest technology companies would keep raking in new users and ever-higher revenue. And with that, their share prices would continue to march upward, sloughing off any stumbles.

This week, that myth was shattered.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
'The discourse is unhinged': how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong | Technology | The Guardian
The ice of AI’s first winter only fully retreated at the beginning of this decade after a new generation of researchers started publishing papers about successful applications of a technique called “deep learning”.

While this was fundamentally a decades-old statistical technique similar to Rosenblatt’s perceptron, increases in computational power and availability of huge data sets meant that deep learning was becoming practical for tasks such as speech recognition, image recognition and language translation. As reports of deep learning’s “unreasonable effectiveness” circulated among researchers, enrollments at universities in machine-learning classes surged, corporations started to invest billions of dollars to find talent familiar with the newest techniques, and countless startups attempting to apply AI to transport or medicine or finance were founded.

As this resurgence got under way, AI hype in the media resumed after a long hiatus.
zeitgeist 
8 weeks ago
How tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse | Technology | The Guardian
"They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless?"
zeitgeist  racecond  dist 
9 weeks ago
What is a coder's worst nightmare?
Because the compiler was poisoned with other source code that we didn't have. And that source code, that now existed only in the executable compiler, put those changes back into the compiler source before it compiled it. But this time it didn't modify the /usr/src copy, it copied it to a hidden directory, modified the compiler source, compiled itself from there, and deleted the hidden directory. It took an AT&T tech to find this. The ex-grad student had poisoned the compiler to poison itself when it was recompiled.
devops 
9 weeks ago
Evolutionary pressures on C++, Java and Python
The future evolution of C++, Java and Python is being driven by very different interested parties, and it’s going to be interesting watching events unfold over the next 5-10 years.
zeitgeist 
9 weeks ago
DevOps Hiring: The Ultimate Guide | The Enterprisers Project
Not all IT leaders like the term DevOps: Some prefer to just call it the agile way of working. But however you describe it, this style of working – which prizes speed, experimentation, and collaboration, all happening on nimble, cross-functional teams – has taken the enterprise by storm. It has demanded new IT leadership strategies. Above all, it has demanded culture change, as teams ditch old processes, rip down rules between groups, and accept “failures” as quick lessons on how to iterate their way to better products and services.
devops 
9 weeks ago
Ranking Programming Languages by GitHub Users
Ruby has seen the steepest decline in this timeframe, going from the 2nd most popular language in 2011 with over 18% of users to the 11th most popular today with 3.2% of users [...] Ruby has more than 3x the number of active users using the language than in 2011. It just hasn't grown nearly as fast as other languages.
zeitgeist 
9 weeks ago

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