Recent Posts

The Mozilla Foundation On A Healthy Internet

Sean Gallagher over at Ars Technica reported yesterday on the 2018 Internet Health Report, which Mozilla puts together. I'm linking the article in addition to the report itself because Sean does such a great job summarizing it. Of course I also think the Report itself is important, and I particularly like the metrics it uses to gauge how healthy the Internet is.

Gallagher summarizes the report's concerns this way:

Of particular concern were three issues:

  • Consolidation of power over the Internet, particularly by Facebook, Google, Tencent, and Amazon.
  • The spread of "fake news," which the report attributes in part to the "broken online advertising economy" that provides financial incentive for fraud, misinformation, and abuse.
  • The threat to privacy posed by the poor security of the Internet of Things.

I'd point out that the Report itself alludes to another concern, and it's one that I hope to give a lot of attention to in my writing here, and that's the topic of Web literacy. As I hope to explain in future posts, I think there's a reciprocal relationship between the problems above and Web literacy, which is to say the problems above are both made worse by Web illiteracy, and at the same time make Web illiteracy worse.

For now I'll put that out there as food for thought.

Structural Problems With For-Profit Social Media

Many of you who know me personally know that I've become increasingly concerned with online privacy over the past few years. It's a topic that is near and dear to my heart, because I think the privacy, including online privacy, is very important to a healthy civic life. I hope to write a lot more about that going forward, but for now I want to introduce you to someone whose work I'm only beginning to dig into myself, but who has an awful lot of really smart things to say on the topic of online privacy (among other things): Zeynep Tufekci.

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Traveling With The Good and The Bad

Things I'm Thankful For When Traveling

  • Online check-in and ticketing
  • Random acts of kindness to help calm a screaming toddler
  • Regarding above: The Netflix series Llama Llama
  • Also regarding above: The children's series Paw Patrol
  • Car rentals with CarPlay support, and that Apple finally got it's crap together re: Maps
  • Staying with family rather than at a hotel
  • A toddler sleeping mid-flight
  • Getting to show my family new places or, as the case may be, places that are old to me but new to them
  • The folks I'll get to see at the destination
  • People watching on the way

Things I Would Prefer Be Different When Traveling

  • Lackadaisical bag-check attendants, who one might think are duty bound to not care about people's boarding times, etc.
  • The feeling of panic between when your toddler starts screaming like a banshee and when the aforementioned acts of kindness are perpetrated by various other passengers/Good Samaritans
  • The mild sense dehumanization that accompanies any trip through the TSA line, but especially the ones with long waits and grumpy uniforms
  • Turbulence
  • That heartless master, the airplane seatbelt light
  • $4 cans of soda
  • However much a well drink costs mid-flight (I won't pay it unless the Mrs. tells me that I'm being insufferable and I should have a drink for her sake)
  • My own crankiness and overall unpleasantness toward others, especially my wife

A Eulogy For My Grandmother

Jane Marie Moch, who I had the privilege for the past 35 years of calling Gram, was born March 11, 1937 and died this past Sunday on her 81st birthday, March 11, 2018. She's survived by two siblings, her three children, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She joins her husband, Norman Moch, who passed from this life a little over ten years ago. Her death comes at the end of an eighteen month battle with cancer. That battle would consume her energy, and challenge her spirit, in the final season of her life. Her family rallied around her, as did her friends. And the first thing I was asked to say was to convey our thanks to everyone who either visited her, sent cards, or otherwise extended their well wishes to her. Those kindnesses were received, and they were an encouragement to us, and most importantly to Jane.

If I had to pick one word to describe my grandmother, that word would be kind. Kindness is not a flashy or impressive word, but it's the one I keep coming back to as I've reflected since her passing. Jane showed kindness to everyone she encountered. She forged long-lasting relationships in this community in part through her kindness. She was a force of kindness in my life and the lives of so many others. I'd like to share with you a couple of stories that exemplify Jane's kindness.

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How Sadness Could Save The World

Anger is my first response when things go wrong. If that surprises you, the shock will wear off as soon as I tell you that I grew up in New York State, where it was totally normal to get in a shouting match with someone you didn’t know. I would see people yell at servers or fast food workers only to be yelled at in return. And I have that same instinct—which I attribute to both the environment where I grew up and genetic predisposition. Nature and nurture.

But it’s not just me. It seems like everywhere I turn people are angry. Have you read your Twitter feed lately? Because mine is full of people incensed about something: the refugee ban, the fact that people are upset by the refugee ban, or tweets punched out with no goal but to stir people up.

And that's the thing about anger: it has become such a commodity that the most powerful person in the world got to his position in part by harnessing people’s anger. On the campaign trail, President Trump saw people angry about how globalization is threatening their values and economic well-being. He saw this anger, harnessed it, and mobilized it. But he also exploited the anger of his detractors by building a furor that dominated the news cycle, drowning out other voices and galvanizing his supporters.

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