A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

[LINK] “Facebook flags aboriginal names as not ‘authentic'”

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CBC’s John Bowman notes how Facebook’s policies requiring the use of actual names is, after getting transgendered people, harming First Nations people.

Facebook requires its users to use a profile name that’s the same as the name they use in real life, but some indigenous people say the social network is rejecting their real names because they don’t conform to its standards.

Earlier this month, Dana Lone Hill, a member of the Lakota people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, tried to log in to her Facebook account. She was met with an error message asking her to change her name.

The message read: “It looks like the name on your Facebook account may not be your authentic name.”

Lone Hill’s name is one she shares with her mother. Facebook required her to send in three pieces of identification to prove that her real name is real. Eventually, the social network reactivated her account.

Lone Hill wrote about her experience on the Last Real Indians blog, and she found she wasn’t the only aboriginal person to who had run afoul of Facebook’s “real name” policy.

In October, a number of people — with names like Lance Browneyes and Shane Creepingbear — had had their accounts suspended because of their names.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2015 at 12:10 am

[LINK] “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life”

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In an article taken from his new book and published in The New York Times Magazine, Jon Ronson does an interesting job of humanizing Justine Sacco, the woman whose famous tweet about not getting AIDS in Africa because she was white made her a trending topic on Twitter. To what extent was her tweet misinterpreted? To what extent was the reaction justified? He suggests that mercy would be humane.

Late one afternoon last year, I met Justine Sacco in New York, at a restaurant in Chelsea called Cookshop. Dressed in rather chic business attire, Sacco ordered a glass of white wine. Just three weeks had passed since her trip to Africa, and she was still a person of interest to the media. Websites had already ransacked her Twitter feed for more horrors. (For example, “I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night,” from 2012, was unearthed by BuzzFeed in the article “16 Tweets Justine Sacco Regrets.”) A New York Post photographer had been following her to the gym.

“Only an insane person would think that white people don’t get AIDS,” she told me. It was about the first thing she said to me when we sat down.

Sacco had been three hours or so into her flight when retweets of her joke began to overwhelm my Twitter feed. I could understand why some people found it offensive. Read literally, she said that white people don’t get AIDS, but it seems doubtful many interpreted it that way. More likely it was her apparently gleeful flaunting of her privilege that angered people. But after thinking about her tweet for a few seconds more, I began to suspect that it wasn’t racist but a reflexive critique of white privilege — on our tendency to naïvely imagine ourselves immune from life’s horrors. Sacco, like Stone, had been yanked violently out of the context of her small social circle. Right?

“To me it was so insane of a comment for anyone to make,” she said. “I thought there was no way that anyone could possibly think it was literal.” (She would later write me an email to elaborate on this point. “Unfortunately, I am not a character on ‘South Park’ or a comedian, so I had no business commenting on the epidemic in such a politically incorrect manner on a public platform,” she wrote. “To put it simply, I wasn’t trying to raise awareness of AIDS or piss off the world or ruin my life. Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the third world. I was making fun of that bubble.”)

I would be the only person she spoke to on the record about what happened to her, she said. It was just too harrowing — and “as a publicist,” inadvisable — but she felt it was necessary, to show how “crazy” her situation was, how her punishment simply didn’t fit the crime.

“I cried out my body weight in the first 24 hours,” she told me. “It was incredibly traumatic. You don’t sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are.” She released an apology statement and cut short her vacation. Workers were threatening to strike at the hotels she had booked if she showed up. She was told no one could guarantee her safety.

Her extended family in South Africa were African National Congress supporters — the party of Nelson Mandela. They were longtime activists for racial equality. When Justine arrived at the family home from the airport, one of the first things her aunt said to her was: “This is not what our family stands for. And now, by association, you’ve almost tarnished the family.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Big Picture has photos of the winter snowtowns in New England.
  • blogTO has old photos of various Toronto intersections.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how atmospheres can break the tidal locks of close-orbiting planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze suggests Fomalhaut b is a false positive, speculates on the evaporation time of hot Jupiters, and wonders if planetoids impacting on white dwarfs can trigger Type Ia supernovas.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the status of the Brazilian navy, notes the Egyptian purchase of 24 Rafale fighters from France, and observes that Russia no longer has early-warning satellites.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the sociology of the red carpet.
  • Far Outliers assesses the achievements and problems of Chiang Kai-shek.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes intra-European negotiations over Greece.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the progress of a same-sex marriage bill in Slovenia.
  • Languages of the World argues that of all of the minority languages of Russia, Tuvan is the least endangered.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the Confederate diaspora in Brazil.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the larger the American state the more likely it is to be unequal, notes that South Korean wages have exceeded Japanese wages for the first time, and looks at anti-Valentine’s Day men in Japan.
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  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane notes how a German translator of her Star Trek novels put subtle advertisements for soup in.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Rosetta of its target comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is skeptical about the Nicaragua Canal, wonders about Greece in the Eurozone, looks at instability in Venezuela, and suggests an inverse relationship between social networking platforms–mass media, even–and social capital.
  • Spacing Toronto wonders if the Scarborough subway will survive.
  • Towleroad notes popular American-born Russian actor Odin Biron’s coming out and observes that Antonin Scalia doesn’t want people to call him anti-gay.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at the forces which lead to the split of communtiies.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the non-Russian republics of Russia will survive, argues that Putin’s Russia is already fascist, and notes that Russians overwhelmingly support non-traditional families.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on a small satellite observatory, Twinkle, which will be studying exoplanet atmospheres.
  • D-Brief notes the magnetism of the Earth’s inner core.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze has links to two papers cataloguing ten thousand potential exoplanets found by Kepler.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the age of some features on the surface of Mars.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Madonna is going to promote her new album by chatting with fans on Grindr.
  • Language Log notes that people have been complaining about the impact of foreigners on the English language since at least the 14th century (Danes and Normans, then).
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the bizarre suits against Obamacare.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders if the tendency among philosophers to immediately classify new events as examples of an established trend is a way to silence discussion.
  • Otto Pohl links to a paper of his describing how deported peoples lost and regained social capital in the former Soviet Union.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders if China might support the Nicaragua Canal for security’s sake in the case of war.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog lists the dates on which the Russian Federation’s national territories (Tatarstan, Chechnya, et cetera) were created in the early 20th century.
  • Towleroad notes that a same-sex male couple was the first chosen to welcome the U.S.S. San Francisco to its home port, with a kiss.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the spread of Ukraine-related violence into Russia and looks at regionalism in the Kuban area of Russia.

[LINK] “Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet”

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Leo Mirani’s Quartz article suggesting that, for an increasing number of people, Facebook so dominates their online usage that they see the Internet as something entirely different from Facebook. This, obviously, has consequences.

Indonesians surveyed by [Helena Galpaya three years ago] told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and now CEO) with LIRNEasia, a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded.

In Africa, Christoph Stork stumbled upon something similar. Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa, Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those who said they used the internet. The discrepancy accounted for some 3% to 4% of mobile phone users, he says.

Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people it is connecting have no idea they are using the internet? And what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?

This is more than a matter of semantics. The expectations and behaviors of the next billion people to come online will have profound effects on how the internet evolves. If the majority of the world’s online population spends time on Facebook, then policymakers, businesses, startups, developers, nonprofits, publishers, and anyone else interested in communicating with them will also, if they are to be effective, go to Facebook. That means they, too, must then play by the rules of one company. And that has implications for us all.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2015 at 11:42 pm

[LINK] What are the best known books of the countries of the world?

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Livejournaler Nicholas Whyte has started an interesting series of posts, examining book-related social networking sites to see which books are cited most often in reference to particular countries.

I was very interested by this list of the most famous books set in each US state which I saw last week, to the extent of thinking about how I might measure the best known book set in neach European country. As ever in these matters, I have turned to my trusty friends LibraryThing and GoodReads, each of which allows users to record the books that they own and also to tag (LT) or shelve (GR) by key words such as setting. I did a quick response on Twitter using those figures for the four main divisions of the British Isles.

But in fact that only records how often people reading a particular book thoguht to tag it as set in a particular country. They may be wrong about its setting; the book itself may be have a universal appeal that transcends its location. With a little more effort, one can dig into the numbers and find which books that are (sometimes) tagged as being set in a particular country are also the most widely owned among users of both websites.

The results have been interesting. In more than half of all cases that I have looked at so far, LibraryThing and GoodReads users agree on a particular book that has Country X as a setting and is particularly well-known. In a couple of cases – three Shakespeare plays, to take a convenient example – the actual presentation of country X in the work is rather different from the reality; it’s as if the author had never been there but just chose to write a story that was set there. In those cases I shall also strive to present an alternative book more firmly grounded in that country’s setting than you might get if you were adapting an obscure sixteenth-century novella or historical chronicle for the stage.

I hope you will find the results interesting.

Whyte began by looking at the statistics for England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, and has since gone further afield.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2015 at 2:05 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO reports on a very futuristic and upscale condo planned to be built in North York.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper arguing that Kepler-93b is likely a super-Earth, not a mini-Neptune.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at a spectrographic study of part of Mars’ Valles Marineris.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a business district in Fire Island is going up for sale at an unexpectedly low price.
  • Language Log notes the declining usage of the definite article “the” and increasing use of the indefinite “a”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money calculates how much money Yale spent on educating The Great Gatsby‘s racist boor Tom Buchanan.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a 1991 paper suggesting international terrorism is rare because it is costly.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that American oil exports to Mexico aren’t noteworthy, being relatively low-volume and of fuel Mexico can’t manufacture.
  • Savage Minds follows an anthropologist in Bulgaria as she reacts to the death of one of her informants.
  • Torontoist and blogTO both report on the three new charges of sexual assault brought against Jian Ghomeshi.
  • Towleroad has a funny video of gay couples reading Grindr exchanges to each other.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Estonian criticism of Russian assimilation of Finno-Ugric minorities, and predicts crisis in the North Caucasus.
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