A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO notes the heavy level of pollution in Toronto Harbour following recent rains, and suggests Toronto is set to get gigabit Internet speeds.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her recent vacation in Donegal.
  • Centauri Dreams revisits Robert L. Forward’s Starwisp probe.
  • Crooked Timber speculates that there is hope for rapid action on climate change.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on an inflated hot Jupiter orbiting a F-class star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a vintage supercomputer pamphlet.
  • Far Outliers looks at the collapse of the Comanche empire in the 1860s.
  • Language Log looks at the controversial English test in France.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to an overly broad pulling of computer games with Confederate flags.
  • Steve Munro reacts to the state of streetcar switches.
  • Torontoist looks at a queer art exhibition at Bay and Wellesley on sex ed.
  • Towleroad shares a straight-married Scottish bishop’s tale of same-sex love.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that remembering the Civil War does not requite keeping the Confederate flag.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how few Crimeans identify with Russia and looks at Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian influence on Russia’s Finno-Ugric minorities.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Gerry Canavan shares his collection of links.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of a polar cap at Charon.
  • Language Log considers rhoticity and class in New York City.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from a productive intellectual property perspective.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if Wikipedia will survive the displacement of the personal computers used by contributors by mobiles.
  • Steve Munro looks at the latest on the Yonge relief line.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer compares Greece to the Baltic States and Slovakia, and notes the depth of the Greek collapse.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla shares the latest from New Horizons
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  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports on censuses in British India.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the intense anti-Americanism of Russia.

[CAT] “Study shows the paw-sitive effects of watching cat videos”

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At The Conversation, Jessica Gall Myrick considers the case for the cat video.

According to ReelSEO.com, a website about video marketing, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. People have watched these videos more than 25 billion times, which equates to an average of 12,000 views per cat video.

The statistics speak for themselves, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a dog lover with a cat allergy, but the staggering amount of cat media available to internet users came as a surprise to me. With numbers like that, I couldn’t help but wonder: who, exactly, is so drawn to this type of content? And what effects do cat-related media have on viewers?

These were the overarching question that spurred my initial quest to gather empirical data on the internet cat phenomenon. I scoured academic databases to see what the literature could tell me, but found no existing data about why people watched so many cat videos online, or what effects these videos might have on us.

So I decided to find out myself.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm

[PHOTO] “Google Photos and the Ideal of Passive Pervasive Documentation”

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The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas has an extended meditation on photography in an era of superabundant memory. Is there any way, he wonders, to get around the risk that to have memories so readily preserved and invoked will be to diminish them?

(I have more than three thousand pictures on my Flickr account and hundreds on Instagram, to say nothing of the thousands more I have saved on my computers. Should I worry?)

I’ve been thinking, recently, about the past and how we remember it. That this year marks the 20th anniversary of my high school graduation accounts for some of my reflective reminiscing. Flipping through my senior yearbook, I was surprised by what I didn’t remember. Seemingly memorable events alluded to by friends in their notes and more than one of the items I myself listed as “Best Memories” have altogether faded into oblivion. “I will never forget when …” is an apparently rash vow to make.

But my mind has not been entirely washed by Lethe’s waters. Memories, assorted and varied, do persist. Many of these are sustained and summoned by stuff, much of it useless, that I’ve saved for what we derisively call sentimental reasons. My wife and I are now in the business of unsentimentally trashing as much of this stuff as possible to make room for our first child. But it can be hard parting with the detritus of our lives because it is often the only tenuous link joining who we were to who we now are. It feels as if you risk losing a part of yourself forever if you were to throw away that last delicate link.

“Life without memory,” Luis Bunuel tells us, “is no life at all.” “Our memory,” he adds, “is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” Perhaps this accounts for why tech criticism was born in a debate about memory. In the Phaedrus, Plato’s Socrates tells a cautionary tale about the invention of writing in which writing is framed as a technology that undermines the mind’s power to remember. What we can write down, we will no longer know for ourselves–or so Socrates worried. He was, of course, right. But, as we all know, this was an incomplete assessment of writing. Writing did weaken memory in the way Plato feared, but it did much else besides. It would not be the last time critics contemplated the effects of a new technology on memory.

I’ve not written nearly as much about memory as I once did, but it continues to be an area of deep interest. That interest was recently renewed not only by personal circumstances but also by the rollout of Google Photos, a new photo storage app with cutting edge sorting and searching capabilities. According to Steven Levy, Google hopes that it will be received as a “visual equivalent to Gmail.” On the surface, this is just another digital tool designed to store and manipulate data. But the data in question is, in this case, intimately tied up with our experience and how we remember it. It is yet another tool designed to store and manipulate memory.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 9, 2015 at 9:46 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly comes out in favour of not trying to lead the life of an overachiever.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting the extent to which circumstellar habitable zones are influenced by the evolution of their stars.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the sociology of summer vacations. Who gets to take one?
  • Language Hat notes the complexities of Unicode.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the sweatshops of Argentina.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla shares the latest pictures of Pluto while Jason Davis shares the first photos taken from the interior of the Society’s solar sail.
  • Towleroad notes Caitlyn Jenner’s outpouring of support on Twitter.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the practical collapse of federalism in Russia.

[PHOTO] On losing my telephone landline

Bell, desperate for me to keep my unused landline #bell #telephone #internet

Last Friday, it took two phone calls and thirty minutes for me to cancel the landline I had with Bell Canada for the past decade. I had not used the line in months, I even tossed away the old broken telephone at the beginning of this billing cycle, and there was no reason for me not to opt for an Internet-only package with Bell. I have my cell phone on a different provider, and Skype if I want to phone from my apartment. What else do I need?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 7:31 pm

[LINK] “if you can’t spell this you might be a troll”

Earlier, I shared Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell’s post looking at a definition of trolling on Facebook.

Defining trolls as those who get banned for trolling, a pragmatic solution if nothing else, they obtained a large corpus of comments from three high-volume sources, CNN, a gamer news site, and Breitbart. (Clearly they weren’t about to risk not finding enough trolls.) They paid people to classify the comments on various metrics, and also derived a lot of algorithmic metrics, and used this to train a machine learning model to guess which users were likely to be banned down the line.

The results are pretty fascinating. For a start, there are two kinds of troll – ones who troll-out fast, explode, and get banned, and ones whose trollness develops gradually. But it always develops, getting worse over time.

In general, we can conclude that trolls of all kinds post too much, they obsess about relatively few topics, they are often off topic, and their prose is unreadable as measured by an automated index of readability. Readability was one of the strongest predictors they found. They also generate lots of replies and monopolise attention.

Not surprisingly, predictions are harder the further the moment of the ban is into the future. However, the classifier was most effective looking at the last 5 to 10 posts – it actually lost forecasting skill if you gave it more data. Fortunately, because trolling is a progressive condition that tends to get worse, scoring the last 10 comments on a rolling basis is a valid strategy.

A link to the paper, and more analysis of said including graphics, is available at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

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