Liked Five things we learned from Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook hearing by Alex Hern (the Guardian)
By the end of the second hearing, we had learned the areas Facebook wanted to avoid. Questions about its profiling prowess, for instance, were generally answered through misdirection. Asked who owns “the virtual you”, Zuckerberg’s favoured response was to note that you own all the “content” you upload, and can delete it at will. That does not answer the question, of course: the advertising profile that Facebook builds up about you cannot be deleted, and you have no control over it.
Listened Why I’m suing over my dream internship – podcast by Amalia Illgner from the Guardian
... winning not by being better, but by rigging the competition in your favour. Erecting economic barriers to employment via the high cost of taking an internship is just one more way to reserve the highest-status jobs for the elite.
Listened Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand – podcast by Mark O'Connell from the Guardian
How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies – written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father – inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacific


A text version can be found here.

Listened Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet? – podcast by Andrew Dickson from the Guardian
For centuries, lexicographers have attempted to capture the entire English language. Technology might soon turn this dream into reality – but will it spell the end for dictionaries?
This is an intriguing insight into the effort to organise language. It is interesting to think about this exercise in regards to Google Books and machine learning. I feel that this is as much about world views and perspective.

The text version can be found here.

Listened The male glance: how we fail to take women’s stories seriously – podcast by Lili Loofbourow from the Guardian
Consider this a rational corrective to centuries of dismissive shrugs, then: look for the gorilla. Do what we already automatically do with male art: assume there is something worthy and interesting hiding there. If you find it, admire it. And outline it, so that others will see it too. Once you point it out, we’ll never miss it again. And we will be better for seeing as obvious and inevitable something that previously – absent the instructions – we simply couldn’t perceive.
Lili Loofbourow tries to rewrite the wrong that has male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful, while Women’s creations as domestic, emotional and trivial. This critique of gender has ramifications far beyond fiction. When I think of music and the world of producers, it is another field dominated by males.

One interesting quote to come out of the piece was from Susan Sontag:

A famous Susan Sontag meditation on this aesthetic paradigm bears repeating: “The great advantage men have is that our culture allows two standards of male beauty: the boy and the man. The beauty of a boy resembles the beauty of a girl. In both sexes, it is a fragile kind of beauty and flourishes naturally only in the early part of the life cycle. Happily, men are able to accept themselves under another standard of good looks – heavier, rougher, more thickly built … There is no equivalent of this second standard for women. The single standard of beauty for women dictates that they must go on having clear skin. Every wrinkle, every line, every grey hair, is a defeat.”

Listened ‘I could hear things, and I could feel terrible pain’: when anaesthesia fails – podcast by Kate Cole-Adams from the Guardian
if you have an operation, although it is your surgeon who manages the moist, intricate mechanics of the matter, it is your anaesthetist who keeps you alive.
Kate Cole-Adams explains that anaesthesia remains a mysterious and inexact science, with thousands of patients still waking up on the operating table every year.

Figures vary (sometimes wildly, depending in part on how they are gathered) but big American and European studies using structured post-operative interviews have shown that one to two patients in 1,000 report waking under anaesthesia. More, it seems, in China. More again in Spain. Twenty to forty thousand people are estimated to remember waking each year in the US alone. Of these, only a small proportion are likely to feel pain, let alone the sort of agonies described above. But the impact can be devastating.

Cole-Adams suggests that the answer maybe a personal touch:

So if you were my anaesthetist and I your patient, there are some other things I’d hope you would do in the operating theatre. Things that many already do. Be kind. Talk to me. Just a bit of information and reassurance. Use my name.

For some argue that there should be care that goes beyond consciousness:

Japanese anaesthetist Jiro Kurata calls this “care of the soul”. In an unusual and rather lovely paper delivered at the Ninth International Symposium on Memory and Awareness in Anaesthesia in 2015, he wondered if there might be “part of our existence that cannot ever be shut down, which we cannot even conceive by ourselves” – a “subconscious self” that might be resistant to even high doses of anaesthetics. He called this the hard problem of anaesthesia awareness.

You can read the text version here.

Listened Searching for an Alzheimer’s cure while my father slips away – podcast by Peter Savodnik from the Guardian
Science might be able to return my father (or, more to the point, future Alzheimer’s patients) to his pre-Alzheimer’s state, but it could not undo the sea change that had taken place in the people who loved him. For that to happen, we would have to forget everything that had happened in the past decade – and our memory, for better and worse, is perfectly intact.
Bookmarked Fake news has a long history. Beware the state being keeper of ‘the truth’ | Kenan Malik by Kenan Malik (the Guardian)
Tempting as it is to legislate against manipulated ‘facts’, it both misguided and dangerous
It would seem that many states are trying to clamp down on the problem of ‘fake News’. Kenan Malik explains that not only is this not a new problem, but the solution does not involve the state, rather it involves trust:

There is another change, too. In the past, those with power manipulated facts so as to present lies as truth. Today, lies are often accepted as truth because the very notion of truth is fragmenting. “Truth” often has little more meaning than: “This is what I believe” or: “This is what I think should be true”. On issues from Brexit to same-sex marriage, all sides cling to their view as the truth, refusing to engage with “alternate” views. As Donald Trump has so ably demonstrated, the cry of “fake news” has become a way of dismissing inconvenient truths. And from China to the Philippines, repressive regimes use the charge of “fake news” to impose censorship and crush dissent.

This is why Mike Caulfield’s work is so important. Rather than pushing solutions onto citizens, we need to build the capacity of people to dig further.

Listened Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs – podcast by Andy Beckett from the Guardian
Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative
This long read provides a dive into the world of work and what it might mean to live in a ‘post-work’ world.

Post-work is about the future, but it is also bursting with the past’s lost possibilities.

Read the text version here.

Bookmarked The punk rock internet – how DIY ​​rebels ​are working to ​replace the tech giants by John Harris (the Guardian)
Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative ​online ​future​.​ ​Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way that’s egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping​?​
John Harris speaks with a number of people about alternatives to today’s dependence on super nodes and silos. Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag talk about their concept of a indienet where users control their data:

Using the blueprint of Heartbeat, they want to create a new kind of internet they call the indienet – in which people control their data, are not tracked and each own an equal space online. This would be a radical alternative to what we have now: giant “supernodes” that have made a few men in northern California unimaginable amounts of money thanks to the ocean of lucrative personal information billions of people hand over in exchange for their services.

While David Irvine discusses the idea of a distributed SAFE network built on blockchain technology:

The acronym SAFE stands for “Safe Access for Everyone”. In this model, rather than being stored on distant servers, people’s data – files, documents, social-media interactions – will be broken into fragments, encrypted and scattered around other people’s computers and smartphones, meaning that hacking and data theft will become impossible. Thanks to a system of self-authentication in which a Safe user’s encrypted information would only be put back together and unlocked on their own devices, there will be no centrally held passwords.

No one will leave data trails, so there will be nothing for big online companies to harvest. The financial lubricant, Irvine says, will be a cryptocurrency called Safecoin: users will pay to store data on the network, and also be rewarded for storing other people’s (encrypted) information on their devices. Software developers, meanwhile, will be rewarded with Safecoin according to the popularity of their apps. There is a community of around 7,000 interested people already working on services that will work on the Safe network, including alternatives to platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

It is interesting to consider these ideas alongside that of the #IndieWeb community. I think both are aspiring to create a demonstrably better web. It will be interesting to see where all of this goes.