A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

[PHOTO] “One photo, less than 1,000 words: Ken Pagan vs. Everybody”

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Colin Horgan’s essay at MacLean’s, meditating on the power of photography and the dynamics of group identity and more in the story of one Blue Jay fan’s thrown beer, caught my attention.

Four rows from the bottom and one row to the left of Canadian Press photographer Frank Gunn’s shot from Tuesday is a woman wearing a backwards baseball cap and a blue sweatshirt. The sweatshirt is a limited Blue Jays run by Peace Collective, a Toronto fashion company. Printed across the front is the phrase it has recently popularized: Toronto Vs. Everybody.

In front of her, head bowed, staring straight ahead, stands a man now identified as Ken Pagan.

In the bottom of the seventh inning of the Blue Jays wild card game against the Baltimore Orioles, someone threw a mostly full king can of Bud Light onto the field during play, narrowly missing Orioles’ left fielder Hyun Soo Kim as he tracked a fly ball. A moment later, this photograph was taken. And in the days that have followed, the picture consumed Toronto—because of what it shows as much as because of what it might not show.

In the hours that followed the incident, the people in this photo came to reflect the city as a whole, the majority of the faces within it marked with either incredulity or confusion. Seconds after the beer can nearly hit Kim, social media filled in equal measure with regret and remorse. When it emerged that during the same game, others had tossed not beer but racial barbs, the apologies redoubled. Toronto, so accustomed to having the finger pointed its way, so accustomed to apologizing for itself, that someone made it into a T-shirt slogan, quickly tread a well-worn path. We are sorry, everybody. But you see, while that crowd is us, also it is not. Only some of us are racists. Only one of us is a beer thrower.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2016 at 9:59 pm

[FORUM] What social networking sites are you active on?

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Two weekends ago, I had to reset the passwords on my different social networks. My E-mail had somehow become compromised, and my Facebook was briefly used to post spam in a single discussion group, so everything had to be changed, immediately.

I had to go to Facebook; I had to go to Livejournal, that site that started everything; Google+ and my linked accounts at Blogger and YouTube had to go; Tumblr was followed by Instagram and then by Flickr; my Twitter and LinkedIn, more peripheral than not, had to be changed. Even the Dreamwidth that is basically a backup for Livejournal, and the other sites (Quora, Goodreads, Yelp) that are functionally closely linked to Facebook, had to be changed.

What about you? Where are you active?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait evaluates the doability of Elon Musk’s proposal for colonizing Mars.
  • blogTO notes that Casa Loma will be transformed into a haunted house for the month of October.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes NASA’s belief that Europa almost certainly has watery plumes.
  • False Steps shares an early American proposal for a lunar base.
  • Far Outliers notes the location of multiple massacres in Chinese military history.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a far-right group is unhappy Alabama judge Roy Moore has been suspended.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the acquisition of a British-era map of Detroit.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates as to whether a country’s VAT promotes exports.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the end of the Rosetta space probe.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog charts increases in maximum life expectancy over time.
  • Seriously Science notes a paper arguing that small talk diminishes happiness.
  • Towleroad reports on a gay Cameroonian asylum seeker in the United Kingdom at risk of deportation.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Instapundit’s departure from Twitter without noting why Reynolds is leaving.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the complexities surrounding the possibility of another Finno-Ugric festival.

[META] What blogs do you read?

What sites do you visit regularly? What are you into?

Let me know in the comments.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 16, 2016 at 11:58 pm

[WRITING] “The lost infrastructure of social media”

Some time ago, Bruce Sterling linked to Anil Dash’s essay (published at Medium) describing the many features of the early blogosphere that were lost in subsequent generations, but could plausibly be brought back.


As extraordinary as it seems now, there was a point when one could search most of the blogs in the world and get a reasonably complete and up-to-date set of results in return. Technorati was a pioneering service here, and started by actually attempting to crawl all of the blogs on the Internet each time they updated; later this architecture evolved to require a “ping” (see Updates, below) each time a site updated. On the current internet, we can see relatively complete search results for hashtags or terms within Twitter or some other closed networks, but the closure of Google Blog Search in 2011 marked the end of “blog search” as a discrete product separate from general web search or news search. It’s easy to imagine that modern search software and vastly cheaper hardware make it possible to recreate a search engine for frequently-updated sites like news sites and blogs, with domain-specific features that general tools like Google News don’t offer.


In the early days of blogging, not every publishing tool supported comments natively; as a result, third-party commenting services popped up to meet the need. As the major tools incorporated their own commenting features, comment services came to be used primarily by big publishers using unwieldy content management systems that didn’t natively support commenting features. In the earlier era, comment systems were built without anticipating the ways that online communities would grow, and these serious design flaws enabled the widespread abuse that we see online today. Newer tools seem to be trying to put the genie back in the bottle, but large publishers are increasingly shutting down comments entirely rather than investing in building a healthy community.


One category of interaction between sites that’s nearly disappeared is the idea of structured responses between different authors or even different sites. Though Medium supports a limited version of this feature today, early tools like Trackback and Pingback made it possible for almost any site to let another site know that their story or article had inspired a response. Typically, those responses were shown under an article, similar to comments, but once Google introduced its advertising platforms like AdSense, links between sites suddenly had monetary value and spam links soon followed. A modern reinvention of Trackback-style features could connect conversations on different websites in the same way that @ replies work on Twitter.

I would also mention, as Dash did, Friends pages like those of Livejournal.


Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[PHOTO] On how Graffiti Alley in Toronto has the world’s longest Instagram photo

blogTO has let me know that Toronto’s Graffiti Alley has led to a world record: It is the source of the world’s longest Instagram photo.

Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is one of the most Instagrammed spots in the city – it really does make a great background for broody, pseudo-gritty fashion shoots. But now this downtown laneway is a star in its own right thanks to a new project by Heritage Toronto and Havas Worldwide Canada, an advertising firm.

Called Instatour, this Instagram-based projects stitches together 1,300 separate posts to create the longest continuous Instagram photo in the world. The result is quite stunning, but make sure you check out graffitialley.to on mobile. Simply turn your phone sideways and scroll away.

Local photographer Justin Poulsen documented Graffiti Alley for three weeks earlier this year. His work gives viewers a glimpse at this iconic Toronto spot at a specific moment in time.

“Heritage Toronto is thrilled to be involved in this innovative project commemorating a key site in our city’s intangible cultural heritage,” says Heritage Toronto executive director Francisco Alvarez in a news release.

“It’s a reminder that even our recent past can be fleeting, and how important it is to celebrate moments of creation like Graffiti Alley that create a distinctive sense of place and pride in Toronto.”

The Instagram account, graffitialley.to, is worth checking out. For people not on mobile, the below video provides a taste.

Graffiti Alley Instatour from Havas Worldwide Canada on Vimeo.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg talks about Poland’s problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei’s progress in China.
  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito’s opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe’s soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals’ lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton’s in the Philippines.
  • The Guardian notes that Canada’s impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
  • MacLean’s notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar’s complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto’s dwarf planet status.
  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump’s tweets clearly show two authors at work.
  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders’ dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.