A few weeks ago, while our car honked its way through dense traffic in Delhi, I imagined an Onion headline: American Visitor Seeks To Explain What He’ll Never Understand About India.
By the norms of traffic laws in countries where people’s tendency is largely to obey them, vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the dense parts of Indian cities appears to be chaotic to an extreme. Yet it’s clearly at least … well, organic. People do seem to go where they want, individually and collectively. Somehow. Some way. Or ways. Many of them. Alone and together. Never mind that a four-lane divided highway will have traffic moving constantly, occasionally in both directions on both sides—and that it includes humans, dogs, cattle, rickshaws and bikes, some laden with bags of cargo that look like they belong in a truck, in addition to cars, trucks and motorcycles, all packed together and honking constantly.
Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.”
Giant Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: surveillance-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They treat them as naked beings whose necks are bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all ostensibly so those persons can be served with “interest-based” advertising.
With no control by readers (beyond tracking protection which relatively few know how to use), and damn little care or control by the publishers who bare those readers’ necks to the vampires,
When rains locals called “biblical” hit in the darkest hours last Tuesday morning, debris flows gooped down the mountainside canyons that feed creeks that weave downhill across Montecito, depositing lots of geology on top of what was already there. At last count twenty people were dead and another three missing.
Our home, one zip code west of Montecito, was fine. But we can’t count how many people we know who are affected directly. Some victims were friends of friends. It’s pretty damn awful.
We all process tragedies like this in the ways we know best, and mine is
Fire adtech (tracking-based advertising), which is full of fraud and malware, clogs data pipes, spies on people (which will soon be illegal in the EU thanks to the GDPR), and carries enormous operational and cognitive overhead for everybody. This will—
Imagine you’re on a busy city street where everybody who disagrees with you disappears.
We have that city now. It’s called media—especially the social kind.
You can see how this works on Wall Street Journal‘s Blue Feed, Red Feed page. Here’s a screen shot of the feed for “Hillary Clinton” (one among eight polarized topics):
Both invisible to the other.
We didn’t have that in the old print and broadcast worlds, and still don’t, where they persist. (For example, on news stands, or when you hit SCAN on a car radio.)
But we have it in digital media.
Here’s another difference: a lot of the stuff that gets shared is outright fake. There’s a lot of concern about that right now:
Why? Well, there’s a business in it. More eyeballs, more advertising, more money, for more eyeballs for more advertising. And so on.
Those ads are aimed
After accumulating more than a thousand tabs (in OneTab) over the last few months, I whittled the collection down to a couple hundred, which I’ll post at a rate of a couple dozen or so at a time.
I’ll start by highlighting two new posts in Stephen Lewis’ excellent Bubkes.Org:
Okay, today I’m going to try outlining the links I piled up before 8:45am this morning. (#VRM request to @Wordpress: put an outliner in the composing window, or whatever you call the space where I’m writing this. Also, quit putting slashes through the @ when @-handles are copied and pasted in Visual mode from @Twitter. Example: @nzn. Thanks.)
Take a look at any ad, for anything, online.
Do you know whether or not it’s meant for you personally — meaning that you’ve been tracked somehow, and that tracking has been used to aim the ad at you? Chances are you don’t, and that’s a problem.
Sometimes the tracking is obvious, especially with retargeted ads. (Those are the shoes or hats or fishing poles that follow you to sites B, C and D after you looked at something like them at site A.) But most of the time it’s not.
Being followed around the Web is not among the things most of us want when we visit a website. Nor is it what we expect from most advertising.
Yet much of today’s advertising online comes with privacy-invading tracking files that slows page loads,drives up data use on our mobile devices and sometimes carries a bonus payload of
Here is the current perimeter of the Valley Fire, according to the USGS’ GEOMAC viewer:
As you see, no places are identified there. One in particular, however, is of extremely special interest to me: Harbin Hot Springs. It is where I met my wife and more friends than I can count. It is also one of the most lovely places on Earth, inhabited and lovingly maintained by wonderful people.
I just matched up a section of the map above with Google Maps’ Earth view, and see that Harbin and its neighborhood are in the perimeter:
Still we’re talking about a perimeter here. Not everything within one burns. Harbin is mostly in a valley. Could be the fire jumped from ridge to ridge and missed it. But I suspect that instead we are looking at very sad news here, especially after seeing this picture here, which looks northwest
Look where Meerkat and Periscope point. I mean, historically. They vector toward a future where anybody anywhere can send live video out to the glowing rectangles of the world.
If you’ve looked at the output of either, several things become clear about their inevitable evolutionary path:
Mobile phone/data systems will get their gears stripped, in both directions. And it will get worse before it gets better.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve been quiet here for a bit. One reason is that I’ve been traveling almost constantly, and not always in the best position to blog (or even tweet). Another is that I’ve been liveblogging instead. So here, latest first, is a list of liveblog postings since my last post here:
Most are lists of links: tabs I’m closing. Many contain bloggy additional notes. Some are more extensive, such as my liveblog notes on @janelgw‘s talk in New York on May 6.
I’ll get back to more regular blogging here, while still liveblogging, after I get back in the States from Australia, where I am now. I fly tomorrow (Saturday in Oz, Friday in the Americas).