Corporations like Exxon are using spurious free speech claims to fend off regulation
Corporate free speech has more harmful effects than just money in politics
10 days ago
A little-known California law is Silicon Valley's secret weapon
The California law that allows hopping between companies.
google  automation 
12 days ago
When Social Media Are the News | Anthropology-News
Jordan Kraemer on three shifts in social media that tied it closer to news. First, it emerged as a way for teens to make friends of a similar cultural life-style- people who shared taste. Then with mobile phones and social media, they were tagging each other. And now in 2016, it's become all about news to share political identity.
platformization  socialmedia 
13 days ago
Disunited Kingdom : Democracy Journal
Great piece on the problems in the UK. Farrell argues that the parties in the UK have become disconnected from their voters; they are ruled by elites and Brexit is what happened when elites in both parties who agreed on the necessity of Europe kept the issue away from democratic politics; lots of stuff to chew on here; can this analysis be applied to the US? It seems like at least for the Republican party it could...
polarization  trump 
13 days ago
When the Media Become the Opposition – Culture Digitally
What happens when there is persistent antagonism between government and mainstream media? The case from Argentina.

Far from certain, these scenarios are but three among many possible outcomes, which could also include an intensification of partisanship, a rising tension in public discourse, and an increased alienation among the ideologically uncommitted members of the public. What seems more certain is that the next four years will likely see a shift in the nexus linking government, media, and the public in the United States which, judging by the Argentine case, is poised to have lasting consequences not only for politicians and journalists, but also for society at large.
polarization  platformization 
19 days ago
How a former Clinton aide is rewriting Silicon Valley’s political playbook - The Washington Post
Still, Lehane’s deals are evidence that Silicon Valley — a region once known for eschewing in-the-trenches warfare — has thoroughly embraced the real­politik. In a mere 17 months on the job, his team has persuaded officials in more than 100 localities to retreat from rules that would have been crippling for Airbnb, largely by borrowing tactics from the world of politics. Lehane, who had cut his teeth deflecting the controversies of the Clinton White House, has been campaigning city by city, striking compromises to get the company out of hot water.
airbnb  sharing_economy 
19 days ago
What Clicks From 70,000 Courses Reveal About Student Learning - The Chronicle of Higher Education
But it’s hard to know what to make of the click patterns. Take the finding about grade-checking: Is it an existential victory for grade-grubbers, proving that obsessing over grades leads to high marks? Or does it simply confirm the common-sense notion that the best students are the most savvy at using things like course-management systems?

Of course, the research shows only that there’s a correlation between checking grades and getting good ones. "I’m not saying anything that implies causality," says John Whitmer, director of learning analytics and research at Blackboard. Still, he does see the finding as an opportunity to improve course-management tools. For instance, Blackboard could add an option that lets professors send email reminders to students who haven’t checked in recently and put grade information in front of them so they know where they stand.

"It could be that does nothing," Mr. Whitmer concedes, "but it could be it has a slight positive impact." That’s a relatively new mentality toward designing courses and tools — applying an engineering approach.
19 days ago
Yes, politics can make us stupid. But there’s an important exception to that rule. - Vox
More Dan Kahan research showing that the "curious" tend to be less partisan
24 days ago
How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump - The New York Times
How the Trump-Russia dossier came to pass. A look at how the espionage and politics industry mix...
politics  trump  polarization 
6 weeks ago
Why Uber lost $2.2 billion in 9 months
Read also the epic five part blogposts he mentions.
uber  platformization 
6 weeks ago
Coursera’s new monthly subscriptions could monetize procrastination | TechCrunch
“I think because when you’re watching Netflix, you start watching a show and love it and watch the whole thing right away,” he told the FT. “We’re not introducing a new payment model so much as a new psychological model. The power is in their hands and they see the benefit of moving fast because it saves them money.”
moocs  coursera 
8 weeks ago
Ed H. Chi - A rant. I was wondering why so little ML/RecSys...
A rant.
I was wondering why so little ML/RecSys papers appear in the HCI community, especially given the close relationship that AI had with HCI in its early days.
Speaking from personal experience, I didn't bother to submit such a paper to the CHI conference this year after being rejected by the reviewers several times along this line of exploration, so my interns and I got tired of trying. As a result, after many years of being in the HCI community, this is the first year I didn't submit a single paper to the CHI conference. (Instead I have a paper in submission to the WWW conference on a cool recommender approach.)
I'm reading all of the angst of my HCI research friends over their CHI paper reviews, and have this weird bittersweet feeling that I'm working on something that fundamentally changes user experience(*), but yet the HCI community doesn't seem to really care. Something just feels wrong about that.
footnote: (*) If you use an Android phone or YouTube or G+, you almost certainly have been affected by recommender and search changes that came from my group, and yes, we have published some about that.
moocs  research  computer_science 
8 weeks ago
Anthropologists for Hire | Savage Minds
The point I’m trying to make in some circular way is that every last notion I’ve had about “fieldwork” as anthropology’s signature method has hopelessly broken down—and that that has at least as much to do with the changing ways in which we now pose research questions, as with our increasingly limiting professional-practical constraints. The professionalized model that caused discomfort once makes perfect sense now, at least because the piecemeal is eminently doable, and seems equitable besides. Truth is, I’d become an anthropologist-for-hire long before I went adjunct—not because I’m marketing services to a company, but because that’s the way in which I was starting to think about my work and my time: as piecemeal parcelable, and ultimately a trade-off. I have a skill, a niche expertise, a way of getting at human habits, of explaining “Indian and hindu” views of genetics, of understanding “the human factor,” the “cultural factor.” It’s part of the rationale by which “Anthropology” exists in smaller schools and corporate environments anyway: the way we don’t do things any more, or perhaps even the way we never did. So, buy me out of teaching or pay me consulting fees by the hour, and I’ll figure out whether Indians will consent to blood donation or a smaller scoop of laundry detergent. In exchange, I reserve the right to use data for my own research, and to reflect critically on the entire process—the right not to join the field. Anthropology turned instrumental in exchange for time and invaluable positioning to other, more reflective, critical ends. “Ethnography” is what happens on the sidelines of for-hire research–which even gold-standard positions within the academy are often generating anyway.
9 weeks ago
The man who kept editors glued to Chartbeat wants to help them keep the lights on – Poynter
Chartbeat is an app used by journalism to understand reader engagement. I saw this referred to in Angel Christin's presentation.
platformization  journalism 
9 weeks ago
Analyst's Notebook - Wikipedia
This product is used by the French police to collect information about suspects

Analyst's Notebook is a software product from IBM used for data analysis and investigation. It is a part of the Human Terrain System, a United States Army program which embeds social scientists with combat brigades. Several investigations, including an investigation into fraud in the U.S. Army, are reported to have used Analyst's Notebook capabilities.[1] It is also used by the Swedish police to analyse social contacts and social networks.[2][not in citation given]
research  platformization 
9 weeks ago
The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation. - The New York Times
Another analysis, from Ball State University, attributed roughly 13 percent of manufacturing job losses to trade and the rest to enhanced productivity because of automation. Apparel making was hit hardest by trade, it said, and computer and electronics manufacturing was hit hardest by technological advances.
artificial_intelligence  automation 
9 weeks ago
Donald Trump’s trade team has based their analysis on a remarkably silly mistake
The Democratic Party has long been divided on questions of trade policy. Bill Clinton’s administration pushed for NAFTA and Chinese accession to the World Trade Organization over the objections of labor unions. Barack Obama’s administration has pushed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, again over the objections of labor unions, this time joined by many public health groups.

Over time, the coalition of left-wing skeptics of the prevailing trade policy regime has developed an increasingly sophisticated critique:

Modern trade deals are largely more about encouraging foreign countries to adopt regulatory changes that are friendly to Hollywood and American drug companies rather than about reducing trade barriers.
Investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms undermine democratic control over regulatory policy and the legal system.
Trade deals subject less educated American workers to foreign competition while leaving credentialed professionals protected in a way that skews the income distribution.
Last but by no means least, standard economic theory predicts that increased trade will grow the economy but hurt some specific social classes. And the US has failed over the past quarter-century to adequately grow the welfare state to ensure that trade policy is a win-win.
Because political life is full of dreary reductive binaries, many left-of-center people who are generally strongly critical of Trump have been inclined to praise his criticisms of US trade policy. It is important, however, to understand that Trump is not in any way offering any version of the most sophisticated criticisms of America’s approach to global trade. Not just in his rallies and off-the-cuff remarks but in his policy papers prepared by PhD economists, he is appealing to the idea that arbitrary restrictions on the sale of foreign-made goods will mechanically boost the American economy.

There is no empirical or theoretical basis for this view, which is why no president of either party has ever attempted to make it the centerpiece of his national economic strategy. It’s just wrong. It’s the kind of thing you might come up with if you were a wealthy landlord and reality television personality who ran for president on a whim without learning anything about issues or public policy.
9 weeks ago
Reflecting on Chapter 1 of The Age of Sharing, by Nicholas John
Which raises, for me, the question of solidarity. The Silicon Valley versions of sharing promise to recreate small communities of like-minds in which any natural altruism is modulated carefully through online platforms—for a small fee, of course. This kind of solidarity is mechanical solidarity at its worst, recalling the ways in which pre-modern communities remained close to outsiders and difference and relied on the basest logic of crowds and gossips. Durkheim’s solution was something that looked more like the solidarity of today’s big urban areas, a sense of belonging to a place that relied on each of us being an important piece of a very large system that needed different kinds of jobs, different kinds of skills, and different kinds of consumption. Durkheim’s metaphor for modern society was not one of sharing, but of reliance—just as a body relies on different organs, so too a modern society needs different people to function.
Platformization  sharing_economy 
9 weeks ago
Facebook now flags and down-ranks fake news with help from outside fact checkers | TechCrunch
If they confirm a story is fake, they notify Facebook through a special reporting website it exclusively built for them, and can include a link to a post debunking the article. Facebook will then show posts of those links lower in the News Feed. It will also attach a warning label noting “Disputed by [one or more of the fact checkers]” with a link to the debunking post on News Feed stories and in the status composer if users are about to share a dubious link, plus prohibit disputed stories from being turned into ads.
Facebook  polarization  platformization 
9 weeks ago
A No-Nonsense Machiavelli | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
But let’s finish on a lighter note. While translators have played up Machiavelli’s cynicism, they have also been rather prudish about any sexual reference. Machiavelli was a notorious womanizer and in The Prince he believed he was addressing an audience of men who had no worries about political correctness. At the end of his book, discussing the way different personalities will mesh positively or negatively with different circumstances, he observes that there is no one type of person suitable for every situation. All the same, there are certain attitudes that are generally more successful than others; and he comes out with the famous—or infamous—line, la fortuna è donna, et è necessario, volendola tenere sotto, batterla et urtarla. Literally: “fortune is woman and it is necessary, wanting to keep her underneath, to beat her and shove her.”

Clearly the image is a sexual one. Why else would he write “keep her underneath”? Battere and, particularly, urtare were both used colloquially to describe sex, from the male point of view. Like it or not, this is Trump territory. Machiavelli isn’t talking about wife-beating. But many translators are hesitant; Marriot, very cautiously and literally, gives: “fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her.” Bull has: “fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her.” The sex is gone.

Let me conclude, then, with the whole passage as it came out after endless revisions. No doubt if he were alive today, Machiavelli would see Trump’s triumph as an extraordinary demonstration of the soundness of the advice he gives here:

To conclude then: fortune varies but men go on regardless. When their approach suits the times they’re successful, and when it doesn’t they’re not. My opinion on the matter is this: it’s better to be impulsive than cautious; fortune is female and if you want to stay on top of her you have to slap and thrust. You’ll see she’s more likely to yield that way than to men who go about her coldly.
generalinterest  politicaltheory 
9 weeks ago
Why David Brock’s plan to create a “Breitbart of the left” is destined to fail
Why has the fight for liberal broadcasting been such a struggle? Because liberal innovators have reverse-engineered conservative media without addressing the underlying need that those right-wing outlets meet. Right-wing media thrives in large part because conservatives do not trust other news sources. They have been trained for generations, stretching back to the 1950s, to view news media as inherently ideological, and to reject nonconservative sources.
Trump  polarization  platformization 
10 weeks ago
MSNBC’s special forum with Bernie Sanders showed the promise (and limits) of his political appeal - Vox
Some of the responses here are amazing - they show how Sanders can make Democrats make inroads into Trump voters only to a certain extent...
polarization  trump 
10 weeks ago
Facebook corrects more metrics affecting ad reach, streaming reactions, plus Like & Share counts | TechCrunch
acebook today announced it’s correcting a few more issues with its metrics in areas like audience estimation for ads, live video reaction counts and its Like and Share buttons. Though the fixes are referencing several of Facebook’s more high-profile products, the issues being addressed aren’t as significant as the ones Facebook identified earlier in 2016, when it discovered that the figures for average video view time had been inflated for years.
Facebook  platformization  advertising 
10 weeks ago
Forget AT&T. The Real Monopolies Are Google and Facebook. - The New York Times
In the past decade, an enormous reallocation of revenue of perhaps $50 billion a year has taken place, with economic value moving from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms.

I reached this conclusion from the following statistics: Since 2000, recorded music revenues in the United States have fallen to $7.2 billion per year from $19.8 billion. Home entertainment video revenue fell to $18 billion in 2014 from $24.2 billion in 2006. United States newspaper ad revenue fell to $23.6 billion in 2013 from $65.8 billion in 2000.

And yet, by every available metric, people are consuming more music, video, news and books. During that same period, Google’s revenue grew to $74.5 billion from $400 million.
facebook  google  platformization 
10 weeks ago
How Do Software Developers in New York, San Francisco, London and Bangalore Differ? – Stack Overflow Blog – A destination for all things related to development at Stack Overflow
London has the highest percentage of developers using the Microsoft stack: while New York had more Microsoft-related traffic than San Francisco, here we see London with a still greater proportion. Since both London and New York are financial hubs, this suggests we were right that Microsoft technologies tend to be associated with financial professionals.
New York leads in several data analysis tools, including pandas (a Python data science library) and R. This is probably due to a combination of finance, academic research, and data science at tech companies. It's not a huge lead, but as an R user in New York I'm still personally happy to see it!
Bangalore has the most Android development, with two to three times as much traffic to Android-related tags as the other three cities. Bangalore is sometimes called the "Silicon Valley of India" for its thriving software export industry, with Android development playing the largest role.
San Francisco leads in the same technologies as it did in the comparison with New York (except for Android). In particular (thanks to Mountain View), it's indisputably the "Go capital of the world." (This is true even if we look at the 50 highest-traffic cities rather than just the top 4).
data_science  siliconvalley 
10 weeks ago
Education Technology and the 'New' For-Profit Higher Education
industry. If nothing else, it seemed as though for-profit higher ed was poised to rebrand itself, embracing “coding bootcamps” as the new vocational education and career training.
10 weeks ago
Facebook and Google make lies as pretty as truth - The Verge
While feed formatting isn’t anything new, platforms like Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News are also further breaking down the relationship between good design and credibility. In a platform world, all publishers end up looking more similar than different. That makes separating the real from the fake even harder.
google  facebook  polarization  trump 
11 weeks ago
Facebook begins asking users to rate articles’ use of ‘misleading language’ | TechCrunch
“To what extent do you think that this link’s title uses misleading language?” asks the “survey,” which appears directly below the article. Response choices range from “Not at all” to “Completely,” though users can also choose to dismiss it or just scroll past.

Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that this is an official effort, though it did not answer several probing questions about how it works, how the data is used and retained, and so on. The company uses surveys somewhat like this to test the general quality of the news feed, and it has used other metrics to attempt to define rules for finding clickbait and fake stories. This appears to be the first direct coupling of those two practices: old parts doing a new job.

Related Articles
Facebook blocks links to B.S. Detector, fake news warning plugin
President Obama on fake news problem: "We won't know what to fight for"
Disrupt Hackathon app Notim.press/ed algorithmically detects fake news
The feature could be seen as Facebook being transparent in how it is training its algorithms to detect misleading headlines, but is also an example of using its user base as, essentially, a rich well of free data into which it can dip its bucket any time it wants and on its own terms. And what it does with the contents of that bucket is anyone’s guess.
Furthermore, because users are the ones propagating the fake news to begin with, it’s a curious decision to entrust them with its classification. The inmates are being invited to run the asylum, it seems, or at least there’s going to be a bit of A/B testing.
facebook  polarization  platformization  trump 
11 weeks ago
A Jane Austen Row Erupts in Britain
Last week, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that £7.6m — or about $9.48 million — had been earmarked for repairs to Wentworth Woodhouse, Britain’s biggest private estate. In extolling the historical virtues of the behemoth house (with over 300 bedrooms), Mr. Hammond repeated the rumor that Wentworth was the inspiration for Mr. Darcy’s famous “Pemberley,” in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A little puffery, you say? Well, the Guardian didn’t think so, not with all those taxpayer pounds on the line. The newspaper reached out to the Jane Austen Society, which responded through a spokesperson: “There is absolutely no evidence that Jane Austen ever travelled further north than Lichfield in Staffordshire… There are other places such as Chatsworth, which lay claim to be the model for Pemberley.” Wentworth Woodhouse, of course, lies 70 miles north of Lichfield (of course!). That means it’s highly unlikely Austen used the home as the prototype for Darcy’s fictional estate.
But what about the upkeep, the proud history, the 300+ beds to make?
If only to put the nail in the coffin, the Society’s statement continued:
“Jane Austen, herself only too keenly aware of the value of money, and of the need for veracity, would have been savvy enough to know that a building the size of Wentworth Woodhouse… could not possibly have been supported on Mr. Darcy’s reported income of a mere £10,000 per annum.”
That’s some Emma-level shade.
11 weeks ago
How the war against fake news backfired - The Washington Post
The idea that the mainstream media is to blame for fake news stories gets a lot of promotion in the Donald Trump-supporting Internet. As concerns escalated among the mainstream media and Silicon Valley about the impact of fabricated stories on the election results, some Trump supporters saw the coming crackdown as a gambit to silence conservative voices. So, they borrowed from the old rubber-and-glue children’s rhyme and started relabeling the mainstream media as the real “fake news.”

[This is how Facebook’s fake-news writers make money]

Andrew Torba, the founder of a new social network called Gab, has posted about turning down interview requests from phony news outlets — by which he means CNN and other mainstream news sources. Gab, which was founded as a “free speech” social network, is popular with conservatives and white nationalists who deeply distrust platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and much of the mainstream media. (Pizzagate, the outlandish conspiracy theory about child trafficking in a D.C. pizza restaurant, is a regular trending topic among Gab’s users.)

Infowars’ Alex Jones, a notorious conspiracy theorist who has questioned whether the December 2012 massacre of children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School really happened, now says that the entire worry about “fake news” is really just a strategy to force Americans to accept only the “establishment’s” viewpoint.


Now the urgent campaign to stop the spread of fake news and the response to it have almost rendered the term itself meaningless. For certain conservatives, “fake news” now means “liberal bias,” even as the other side uses it to describe an exaggerated or completely untrue statement from the president-elect.
facebook  platformization  polarization  trump 
11 weeks ago
How to build a new majority in American politics - Vox
Lee Drutman says the US should have six parties and he classifies them according to six issues in a graphic. Good read
trump  polarization  politics 
11 weeks ago
What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class
One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.
trump  politics  economics 
11 weeks ago
We missed what was so effective about Donald Trump’s campaign speeches - Vox
There was a time I assumed if the Democrats “moved left” they could win over the working class, even those who don’t usually vote. Now I realize that this move is far more complicated than simply getting past neoliberalism. With Trump at the helm of the conservative movement for the foreseeable future, creating effective agendas and messages that hit home will be even harder.

Watching Trump with fresh eyes shows that we need to think more clearly about how Democratic proposals assume people will accede to changing social norms, how to convey to voters that the policies pursued by the rich are a problem, how to have clear messaging, how to deal with trade, and how to deal with questions involving wages and power. I don’t have the answers, certainly not here and now; but getting the questions right is the first step.

Trump never blames the rich for people’s problems. He doesn’t mention corporations, or anything relating to class struggle. His economic enemies are Washington elites, media, other countries, and immigrants. Even when financial elites and corporations do something, they are a combination of pawns and partners of DC elites.

It’s important to watch that trick, it conceals who has agency under runaway inequality. From a June speech in western Pennsylvania: “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.” The rich buy politicians (and Trump, of course, can’t be bought!) but he doesn’t turn around and denigrate those rich people.
trump  polarization  politics 
11 weeks ago
Russia's role in this year's presidential election, explained by a media historian
I'm not sure. I'm inclined to believe this is more a problem for Facebook and Twitter to solve than it is for states. Fake news and misinformation spreads as a result of social media algorithms, and I think that's more significant than the subversive activity of states. What we're seeing now would not be possible without social media networks.
polarization  platformization  socialmedia 
11 weeks ago
The Agency - NYTimes.com
As Savchuk and other former employees describe it, the Internet Research Agency had industrialized the art of trolling. Management was obsessed with statistics — page views, number of posts, a blog’s place on LiveJournal’s traffic charts — and team leaders compelled hard work through a system of bonuses and fines. “It was a very strong corporate feeling,” Savchuk says. Her schedule gave her two 12-hour days in a row, followed by two days off. Over those two shifts she had to meet a quota of five political posts, 10 nonpolitical posts and 150 to 200 comments on other workers’ posts. The grueling schedule wore her down. She began to feel queasy, she said, posting vitriol about opposition leaders of whom she had no actual opinion, or writing nasty words about Ukrainians when some of her closest acquaintances, including her own ex-husband, were Ukrainian.
trump  polarization 
11 weeks ago
Alexa, Tell Me Where You’re Going Next
On the other hand, you are obviously hiring AI talent, competing with with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and even traditional companies. What’s the pitch that you give potential recruits to come to Amazon? I don’t think I should answer that, because those other companies will copy it. Actually, if you answer it well, those people might read it here and apply to work at Amazon. What’s unique about research in a company like Amazon is the combination of data, computing power, and the best minds in the world all coming together to solve a customer-facing problem. Working on a customer-facing problem doesn’t take away the innovation — it actually accelerates innovation. The problems we try to solve at Amazon are all super, super hard. When Alexa started, solving speech recognition and natural language understanding across many different domains was clearly a very, very hard problem. Today you are announcing new tools that will help developers, right? Yes. One of the key things we want to make simple for developers is what we call “built-in intent” and “slot types.” Explain, please. In most skills, people will want to say things like, “Alexa, stop.” Or “cancel.” You want those commands, or intents, to be exposed to the developer, rather than trying to tell developers to build customized versions of things like the cancel/stop intent. Slot types are things like city names, vocabulary items. We had previously done a handful of them, things developers use quite often — around 10 intents and 15 slot types. So as part of third-party skills we’re announcing a larger set of hundreds built-in functions — slot types — across different domains, like books, video, or local businesses. And also a large set of intents as well, which help answer queries that people ask Alexa. So in other words, if I’m the developer, I can rely on your built-in vocabulary and your interpretation of synonyms, in order to make my skill smarter off the bat. And you’re doing more. Exactly. It gives you a much better starting point for interaction with skills. We’re announcing this as a developer preview, because of two reasons. One is, we want to see how people use these in their intents, because we have a certain mindset of how these intents and types should be used. But the developer may have a slightly different mindset. And the customer may use it slightly differently as well. We want to make sure that we get some feedback from the developers and continually improve these, and we will keep adding more and more built-ins.
Amazon  artificial_intelligence 
11 weeks ago
Why Snapchat And Apple Don't Have A Fake News Problem
Rob Fishman, co-founder of Niche, a company that connects brands with social media influencers, told BuzzFeed News. “Snapchat makes discovery of people who aren’t in your phone book extremely difficult because they believe peer-to-peer sharing is stickier than a so-called influencer model,” said Fishman, whose company was acquired by Twitter in 2015. “They do see value in premium and traditional publishers, but they’ve created a stand-alone experience to capture that kind of content.” "It’s impossible for somebody to go rogue in Discover." This is a huge difference from other social networks, where publishers and brands are “basically identical to individual users,” Fishman said. “It’s impossible for somebody to go rogue in Discover because everything in there is seen and vetted by Snapchat.”
Platformization  polarization  trump 
11 weeks ago
Solving the Problem of Fake News - The New Yorker
Only in the twentieth century, as the United States became a complex modern society with mass media and professional journalism, did people begin to worry about the fake-news problem, and when they did they usually came down either on the side of restricting democracy or restricting the media. (As American democracy came to include a greater number of people—former slaves, immigrants, and women—élites, including liberal élites, began to find it more worrisome.) Walter Lippmann began “Public Opinion,” published in 1922, with a long quotation from Plato’s cave parable, and wound up abandoning the idea that the press or the public could discern and then pay attention to the truth. Instead, he wanted to create “political observatories”—what we’d now call think tanks—that would feed expert advice to grateful, overwhelmed politicians, relegating both the press and the public to secondary roles in government policymaking.

In the nineteen-twenties, when radio was as new and vastly influential as the Internet is today, the United States decided not to create a government-funded news network like the British Broadcasting Corporation, but instead to turn broadcasting over to private industry and to regulate it heavily. The American news world that many people are nostalgic for had only three networks, which were required to speak in a nonpartisan voice and to do money-losing public-service journalism in return for the renewal of their valuable government licenses. That world disappeared when Ronald Reagan deregulated broadcasting, in the nineteen-eighties. When cable television and the Internet came along, they were structured on the more libertarian idea that everybody should have a voice and everybody should have free access to all forms of information, including misinformation. It shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of people, both creators and consumers of journalism, prefer fake news to real news.

So what should we do about journalism’s role in non-reality-based politics? The easy part—which won’t be all that easy, because of the current economic troubles of journalism—is to expand the real-news ecosystem as much as possible, by training people in how to do that work and by strengthening the institutions that will publish and broadcast it. (Along with this goes enhancing the smaller ecosystem for correcting fake news: snopes.com, PolitiFact, factcheck.org, and so on.) The hard part is figuring out what to do about the proliferation and influence of fake news. It’s a sign of our anti-government times that the solution proposed most often is that Facebook should regulate it. Think about what that means: one relatively new private company, which isn’t in journalism, has become the dominant provider of journalism to the public, and the only way people can think of to address what they see as a terrifying crisis in politics and public life is to ask the company’s billionaire C.E.O. to fix it.
trump  polarization  platformization 
12 weeks ago
Inside the Trump Bunker, With 12 Days to Go - Bloomberg
“I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine,” says Bannon. “Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.”

With Trump atop the GOP ticket, Kushner was eager to grow fast. “When we won the nomination, we decided we were going to do digital fundraising and really ramp this thing up to the next level,” says a senior official. Kushner, this official continued, “reached out to some Silicon Valley people who are kind of covert Trump fans and experts in digital marketing. They taught us about scaling. There’s really not that much of a difference between politics and regular marketing.”
platformization  trump  polarization 
12 weeks ago
The Propaganda About Russian Propaganda - The New Yorker
The most striking issue is the overly broad criteria used to identify which outlets spread propaganda. According to PropOrNot’s recounting of its methodology, the third step it uses is to check if a site has a history of “generally echoing the Russian propaganda ‘line’,” which includes praise for Putin, Trump, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Iran, China, and “radical political parties in the US and Europe.” When not praising, Russian propaganda includes criticism of the United States, Barack Obama, Clinton, the European Union, Angela Merkel, nato, Ukraine, “Jewish people,” U.S. allies, the mainstream media, Democrats, and “the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes.”

These criteria, of course, could include not only Russian state-controlled media organizations, such as Russia Today, but nearly every news outlet in the world, including the Post itself. Yet PropOrNot claims to be uninterested in differentiating between organizations that are explicit tools of the Russian state and so-called “useful idiots,” which echo Russian propaganda out of sincerely held beliefs. “We focus on behavior, not motivation,” they write.
12 weeks ago
why obama won 53 counties in iowa and clinton won 6
The book is based on ethnographic and interview data collected over a period of several years in two Rust-Belt Iowa cities of similar size, one traditionally Republican, and the other traditionally Democratic. Both of these cities saw a transformation in their politics in the 1980s. Until the 1970s, urban politics were organized around a partisan divide closely associated with local business elites, on the Republican side, and union leaders, on the Democratic side. Politics was highly oppositional, and the party that won local elections got to distribute a lot of spoils. But it was not polarized in the sense it is today—while there were fundamental differences between the parties, particularly on economic issues, positions on social issues were less rigidly defined. During the 1980s, something changed. Pacewicz calls that something “neoliberal reforms”; I might argue that those are just one piece of a bigger economic transformation that was happening. But either way, the political environment shifted. Regulatory changes encouraged corporate mergers and buyouts. This put control of local industry in distant cities and hollowed out both business elites and union power. The federal government shifted from simply handing cities pots of money that the party in power could control, to requiring cities to compete for funds, putting together applications that would compete with those of other cities. This environmental change facilitated the decline of the old “partisans”—the business and labor elites—and the rise of a new group of local power brokers—the “partners”. The partners were more technocratic and pragmatic. They did not have strong party allegiances, nor did they see politics as being fundamentally about competition between the incompatible interests of business and labor. Instead, they focused on building temporary alliances among diverse groups with often-conflicting interests. Think business-labor roundtables, public-private partnerships, and the like. This is what was needed to attract industry from other places (look how smooth our labor relations are!) and to compete for federal grants and incentives (cities with obviously oppositional politics tended to lose out). The end of politics. Sounds great, right? The problem was that these dynamics also hollowed out local parties. The old partisans had lost power. Partners didn’t want to be active in party politics. This left parties to activists, who over time came to represent increasingly extreme positions—a new wave of partisans.
Trump  polarization 
12 weeks ago
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