April 07, 2017

The Crowd Was Cloned And Brought Back To Life [#272]

Hi Crowd!

You’ll be pleased to know that while many people rage-unsubscribed after my last newsletter an exact same number of people subscribed, presumably on accident but regardless this is the first time in almost 300 of these that two consecutive letters have gone out to the same number of people. I’m sure that was a fascinating bit of trivia for you.

If you are into data or open data or environmental data or the environment or any combination of those and near or able to be near MIT at the end of this month you should really consider joining us for a Safecast/MIT co-hosted event called OUR WORLD OUR DATA. I made cool challenge coins that will only be available to people who attend, there are a few slots left so go RSVP!


The latest challenger to the Twitter throne is Mastodon. There’s been a lot of talk about it this week, including this piece that I wrote (also on Medium) going into some of the promises and problems I see with it. I really do like it and have high hopes for it, so the concerns I detailed here are with the hopes of improvement. Honestly, if Mastodon can address these issues I think it’s got real potential, and if it can’t perhaps it’s a kick in the nuts for Twitter to address some of it’s own issues. If you are using it you can follow me here. I’m using Amaroq on iOS to use Mastodon mobile, and it’s working well.


I don’t write about that kind of stuff as much as I used to because there’s only so many times you can say the same thing without wanting to eat a bullet, but as some of you know I was one of the first hundred or so people to join Twitter and these things are near and dear to my heart, so I genuinely do want them to be better.


Speaking of social media, if you aren’t American and plan to visit the US, get ready to hand over all your accounts and passwords. This is disgusting, and I would outright refuse to visit any country that required something like this. Super lame.


I’m also checking out the new browser Brave which has a bunch of anti-tracking and privacy options built in which I think is nice, and despite how many politicians vote it seems most Americans still value privacy over security which is good to hear. Of course that could change 10 seconds after the next terrorist attack or threat, but still. Speaking of attacks, it seems that a vast majority of the “Bernie Bros” that caused such a rift between folks on the left were actually Russian bots. That doesn’t undo the hate I received from many people I considered friends for posting pro-Bernie stuff during the primaries, however. And speaking of bots, apparently Russian bots are hammering Trump’s twitter account with replies during hours when he is known to be hanging out on twitter effectively taking over his notifications page. This is a really fascinating look at how people’s opinions of various statements change based on if they think the statement came from Trump or not.


For some good news, I’m really excited about this Netflix news, so excited for my friend Daniel, and my friend Wil published a really cool ebook that you should buy immediately. Here’s an interesting take on building a democracy on the blockchain.


If you are going to disappear this is absolutely the way to do it, and conversely if you are going to be found this is about as good a way as any. I love the idea of a super minimal dumb phone, but no caller ID pretty much assures that I’d never answer a single call on this phone. That said, i really want a 3G dumb phone with no apps and just voice and text. Surprisingly, there’s nothing like that available.

Also, if you are in LA I'm having a giant garage sale this weekend, come buy my shit.