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  • VA2SFX 12:23 am on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tech   

    I know it sounds super boring, but here’s why the GDPR is actually really revolutionary af 

    Data Protection

    I figure the next step after passing my EU GDPR F course would be, you know, actually reading the regulation. Because why not, right?

    So yeah, it’s important to preface this series (yes, this will be a series — so unfollow me now) with a strong disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. But I am pretty hardcore into “citizen” style DIY research — so, I figure, this is as good a reason as any to explore the themes, articles and questions around the regulation here and maybe generate some conversations around it. The principles it builds out on are fr*&cking huge.

    Anyway, this is the hard copy book I have (if for some reason, you’re a psycho like me who needs to have a copy of this in print), which for some reason has suuuuuuper small type, but oh well:

    I’m still in Chapter I — General Provisions. But these two Recitals are, in my humble opinion, amazing af. af. af.

    Article 1: Recital (4) begins:

    “The processing of personal data should be designed to serve mankind.”

    I mean, is the hair on your arms tingling? Cause mine is!

    Tbh, I’m not 100% sure yet what the role of the Recitals is: they seem to guide somehow interpretation of the articles of the regulation (according to source linked above). But either way, the above is still pretty amazing as a principle to include, even if it may be (?) “aspirational” to some degree.

    Also fascinating is this Recital 7, which includes (excerpted):

    “Natural persons should have control of their own personal data.”


    I know…

    I know there’s an argument to be made that the EU regulation is crazy/naive/unrealistic because it doesn’t take into account how the internet actually works. But as prominent voices are saying, it might be time we admit that how the internet works is fundamentally broken.

    And though I’m still in diapers when it comes to learning about emerging global data protection and privacy laws, regulations and business trends, it’s impressive to me that the European Union has been busily re-envisioning how an internet and tech economy that actually protects its citizens not just might work, but how it will work: a legally binding playbook even companies outside the EU (extra-territoirality) will be obligated to comply with if they target EU citizens as data subjects, whether or not they are paying customers. Or face a huge fine! [Europe is juuust getting warmed up with its fines against tech companies — GDPR isn’t even in force yet.]

    Let me ask you straight out —

    Is this what it will take to fix the internet? Or at least part of the puzzle… Putting technology at the service of humankind, instead of the other way around. So crazy, we might just give it a chance.

    But don’t take my word for it, America. Here’s how Walt Mossberg in his final weekly column for Re/code put it:

    “My best answer is that, if we are really going to turn over our homes, our cars, our health and more to private tech companies, on a scale never imagined, we need much, much stronger standards for security and privacy than now exist. Especially in the U.S., it’s time to stop dancing around the privacy and security issues and pass real, binding laws. […]

    The tech industry, which has long styled itself as a disruptor, will need to work hand in hand with government to craft these policies. And that might be a bigger challenge than developing the technology in the first place.”

  • VA2SFX 11:25 pm on June 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gdpr, , Tech, Trust   

    Review of GDPR F Distance Learning Course & Exam 

    Notes on the remote course & exam offered by IT Governance

    The most important thing you should know about the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation is that:

    One cannot simply “explain” the GDPR. To understand the GDPR, you must become the GDPR.

    So, I’ve been studying the infamous (depending who you are) EU GDPR. It is an over-arching European privacy framework which comes into force the end of May 2018, has extra-territoriality, and which will have big implications for tech companies targeting EU citizens.

    This morning I passed my GDPR F (Foundation) exam — pending review of the video file associated with my remotely proctored examination. This exam is a culmination of a course offered by IT Governance, a UK company:



    Now, as far as I can tell, there is no singular “official” sanctioned exam which certifies you in accordance with the GDPR. There are two that I’ve spotted in the wild. One is an exam by IAPP, called CIPP/E. The other is this EU GDPR F & EU GDPR P exam offered by IT Governance.

    So anyway, the Foundation course I took consists of around 7 hours of videos which consist of an outline delivered Powerpoint-style with a man narrating them. It costs $360 USD, and comes with a voucher to take the test through a third party, GASQ out of Nuremberg, Germany.

    The course is a pre-requisite for their ED GDPR P (Practitioner) course and linked exam. The Practitioner course costs $990 USD and is supposed to be much more detailed.

    The Foundation course itself was fine. If you have no experience or understanding of what the GDPR is, you might have a bit of a learning curve. Personally, I’ve done probably more than 50 hours of independent research into this regulation and it’s many implications, but it was useful to have a formalized structure and presentation to put it all together.

    Taking the exam remotely

    There is a bit of an issue with the actual examination itself. I was drawn to it because they offer a remote proctoring system, so you can sit the exam from home or work, etc. This is unlike the CIPP exams where you must go into a registered testing center and sit the exam in person. [Sidenote: the CIPP/US exam that I looked at costs more than $600 and doesn’t include any preparation materials. I’ve also seen claims online by both tech people and lawyers saying the CIPP/US in particular is the “hardest test they’ve ever taken.”]

    While IT Governance offers the course materials via the web, accessible on any platform, the remote proctoring app only works on Windows. If you’re working for a US tech company (e.g. someone who is going to be heavily impacted by the regulation) it’s very possible you only use Mac, like myself. So this lack of Mac support is a bit insufficient and will limit the exam’s potential clientele, in my opinion. But perhaps it’s not insurmountable either for the determined.

    Mac users can set up a Windows Virtual Machine (free)

    Luckily, Mac users can set up a Windows virtual machine and sit the exam that way. I followed this guide to get started, and used VirtualBox as my VM controller.


    Link to VirtualBox:


    You can download free 90-day limited virtual machines from Microsoft:


    And to get the Mac webcam to work on your Windows VM, you will need to install the VirtualBox extension pack, following these instructions:


    The rules around taking the test via the remote proctoring system are fairly strict. I won’t paste them in here as I don’t want to agitate the Privacy Gods. Suffice it to say, you must remain in the frame of the camera, show your ID when you begin, must not allow anyone else in the frame, must not use books or take screenshots of the exam, etc.

    My results

    I scored a 77.5% out of the 40 questions (you’re given 60 minutes), which means I got around 9 questions wrong.

    Evidently, they have someone review your video session before the results are finalized, which they say can take up to a week.

    Overall, I feel that even though I technically passed (required 65%) the course materials combined with my 50+ hours of independent study should have gotten me a higher score than 77.5%. Given that I paid for the course, the level of preparation offered, in my humble opinion, should be result in higher competency.

    Other issues

    As according to the IT Governance website:

    “Buyers receive a complimentary e-book copy of EU GDPR & EU-US Privacy Shield — A Pocket Guide when they buy this course, ensuring they have long-term access to essential GDPR reference materials.”

    Unfortunately, the electronic versions of this book are DRM protected, so you must use proprietary Adobe Reader app. This is a disappointment to me because I need to be able to consult this book on my Amazon Kindle and this is not supported.

    Also, inappropriately listed under “What you will learn” on the site, it says:

    “International data transfers, including under the EU-US Privacy Shield.”

    This is inaccurate, and I’ve left that feedback for the company. The EU-US (and US-Swiss) Privacy Shield program and its requirements are expressly not covered by this course. If that is an absolute requirement for your learning, you will need to supplement this information elsewhere. I feel that IT Governance should remove or amend these statements from their course description.

    Becoming a Data Protection Officer

    I’m interested in potentially becoming a Data Protection Officer (DPO) so I plan to continue along with my studies by taking the next level up in this program, the Practitioner course and exam.

    Currently, there is no real formal process for how someone becomes a DPO. DPO’s are covered in Article 37 of the GDPR:


    More specifically:

    1. The controller and the processor shall designate a data protection officer in any case where: […]

    (b) the core activities of the controller or the processor consist of processing operations which, by virtue of their nature, their scope and/or their purposes, require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale;

    So this is an interesting opportunity for tech professionals working in or interested in Trust & Safety, Security and Privacy fields to ‘level up’ their knowledge and experience. IT Governance’s course and exam, while imperfect, are still I think a good leg up on the competition and a way for you to prove you’re committed professionally to mastering these emerging topics which will only become more important as the years progress and global Privacy compliance opens internationally-minded companies up to many new risks.

    Happy to answer any questions about my experiences studying this so far, though I am far from being an expert on the topic.


  • VA2SFX 3:05 pm on March 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tech   

    Beginning with Software Defined Radio 

    Observation and exploration with gqrx for Mac

    I bought a Nooelec NESDR Smart, which is a USB dongle that allow you to connect an antenna to your computer so you can listen to RF (radio frequency) signals over the air.

    It’s really cool but also daunting for new users without much experience or understanding of RF technology. I’m on Mac, so I finally settled on gqrx as my app to interface with the SDR dongle. The main app view looks like this:

    The above screenshot appears to depict a broadcast FM station at 96.185 mHz.

    Tuning into broadcast FM stations is the easy part of tinkering with SDR, whatever app you’re using. It’s all the stuff outside of that where it gets complicated.

    Check, for example, this 2014 Radio Spectrum Allocations chart for Canada:

    Depending on what band you’re looking at, the whole thing gets pretty complicated — and fast.

    I’ve used a little bit as a guide the RadioReference site, Canada section, to help me figure out some broad strokes of what areas to go hunting for what kinds of signals (ie, what frequencies in mHz to try monitoring). Things like local police, for example, though I haven’t had huge success with that. But as a result of my experiments, I’ve come up with a sort of generalized “listening protocol” as I work my way blindly through the mass of RF frequencies out there.


    Since I only rarely know what a signal is, I’ve started simply taking notes on what I observe, and in some cases recording samples of signals I hear.

    Generally, what I will do is choose a specific frequency band that I’ve heard works on SDR (you can’t get all bands on an unmodified SDR unit), like I read that 400–500 mHz is supposed to contain walkie-talkie traffic. Now, it’s tough when you read something like that online, as the same band might be allocated differently depending on the country you live in. I don’t even know if that’s valid for Canada, but I gave it a shot and starting at 400 mHz incremented 1 mHz at a time upwards and simply wrote down what I observed in the app.

    For example, at 406.536, exactly at the stroke of 5pm, I heard a man’s voice in French say “dix-sept heure” (five o’clock).

    At 406.588 400 mhz (NFM — narrow-band FM), I recorded the following signal:


    Now, I don’t actually know what this signal is, nor “what it means” in the grand scheme of things. I simply noted it, described it, and recorded it. On a piano, I also tested until I found the two initial notes or tones (e.g., frequencies), which begin the segment, F → C (F3 → C3, I think). [Tone generator, to test and determine freq.]

    Again, I have almost no idea of what the above frequency is. Sounds like “data” of some kind, but I’m not advanced enough to know what exactly. Or even to begin looking. However, I believe there is great utility in using this kind of observational method and careful listening to uncover patterns in just about *any* domain of knowledge, but especially in RF. I figure, with enough practice and research, I’ll be able to hear a signal, check the band its on, and eventually with a certain degree of accuracy figure out what’s going on.

    It may seem like a kind of “why bother” activity, but I’ve set myself to learn all about RF technology, and so far it’s really fun for me. It’s a way to participate in a sort of “secret internet” of signals that surround us every day without having to go through my wifi router, my internet service provider, etc. Without being exposed to ads and trolls and fake news and bad news. To just experience the raw signals and hopefully, eventually, to understand them.

  • VA2SFX 2:23 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Moderation, Stack Exchange, Tech   

    Stack Exchange feels cruel to new users 

    Dear Stack Overflow, I don’t know if you’re monitoring this channel or how much your org values this sort of thing, but I just wanted to convey some feedback as an occasional user of various Stack Exchange forums.

    I love the idea of SE, that I can go to a forum, ask a question and get answers from both qualified experts and interested amateurs alike. For me, it speaks very much to the original promise of the internet. However, most of my real “boots on the ground” experience with the site has been pretty negative.

    It may differ on a forum-by-forum basis, but I’ve often found myself in the following pattern of interactions:

    • I’m new to a given forum and field of hobbyist interest. I post what appears to me to be a legitimate question to further my understanding of the topics involved.
    • Some community moderator of the forum (or similar — I don’t honestly get how the mod system works) will come in and close my question or put me on hold, saying that I’m not allowed to ask this kind of question here.
    • This will either result in them telling me to ask on a completely separate forum, or more usually with an elaborate back and forth about why my question is not good enough to be answered. (See also: rules lawyer)
    • More often than not, this user will eventually edit my original question — without my permission — to make it fit in with what they consider to be the rules of the forum.
    • End result: user frustration and a lack of motivation to continue using the SE system, and if the frustration is high enough (which it often is after these exchanges), potentially a lack of motivation to continue participating in the hobby.

    I won’t link to examples, because my purpose here is not to point fingers at any specific user(s) of the platform. I believe the problem to be systemic — because I’ve encountered it many times of multiple forums across the system. Obviously, I understand the need to cultivate quality questions and answers, but I find the system in its current configuration to be really unwelcoming and arbitrary to interested newcomers. I can’t imagine I’m the only person to have had this experience, and I hope you’ll consider ways this pattern of behavior toward new users might be improved in the future.

  • VA2SFX 10:22 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Entertainment, , Tech   

    Talking back to headlines, 1/23/17 edition 

    Post-Truth Contextless Environment News Roundup

    “Huge crack.”

    100 years sounds really far away…


    “Kisspeptin?” Come on. I hate New Scientist cause their site always tries to get me to accept notifications.

    A lot of things are going through changes right now. Hang in there, little buddy.

    Good for him. Who the fuck cares.


    Do monkeys have “liberal tears?”

  • VA2SFX 5:32 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Culture, , , Tech   

    Hate is a cheap algorithm 

    Taking back the internet

    You’ve heard it all before: comments on the internet are broken. Trolls are proliferating. Civil discourse is dead. Blah blah blah. Liberal tears and other assorted hand-wringing.

    I’m here to call bullshit.

    Hate, it turns out, is just another cheap algorithm.

    Highlight Hate

    Over the weekend, I installed a Chrome browser extension (even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Firefox guy since forever), called “Highlight This.” Highlight This is an unassuming extension which allows you to set up multiple word lists, assign each list a color, and any time it finds one of those matching words on a web page, the results are automatically highlighted.

    Some examples from /r/the_donald on Reddit:

    It’s a scanner’s dream come true.

    Or should I say an SJW libtard cuck’s dream come true?

    Previously, as a casual surfer on the web, I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of profane, hateful and in some cases violent speech I was being exposed to on a daily basis on the internet.

    That shit is not healthy.

    But I spent a few short hours cobbling together five word lists from a few public sources, and a few more hours scouring sites like /r/the_donald where people aren’t afraid to be raging assholes, and voila

    A revolution in web browsing:

    (What you see if you click on the plugin while ona web page)

    Another “fun” Reddit example:

    Tech companies combat hate speech online

    Last year we heard about how Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc were compelled by the European Union to pledge to curb hate speech online:


    Via the Verge link above:

    “…[the companies] agreed to European regulations that require them to review “the majority of” hateful online content within 24 hours of being notified — and to remove it, if necessary — as part of a new “code of conduct” aimed at combating hate speech and terrorist propaganda across the EU. The new rules, announced Tuesday by the European Commission, also oblige the tech companies to identify and promote “independent counter-narratives” to hate speech and propaganda published online.”

    From what I’ve gathered in my research on the subject, one of Google’s initiatives in this area is a sub-company called Jigsaw, which leverages something they’re calling Conversational AI to automatically detect and neutralize hate speech at scale:


    The Wired article linked above is worth a read if the subject is of interest to you. The long and short of it is that Google has developed an algorithm to catch trolls, and they trained it on a corpus of some 17 million comments from the New York Times.

    Which is all well and good for them, but I’m not yet seeing results on the ground as a web user.

    I’m still daily afflicted by trolls and people acting like bots, who appear to be only too happy to spout and repeat ad nauseum loathsome beliefs online without any apparent repercussions.

    This is not a sustainable future.

    Bad words lists

    In researching this subject, I found a few decent starter corpora (fancy name for a word list) of swear words, curse words, risky keywords, racial and ethnic slurs, etc.

    A few others:

    How to make a flagged word list

    1. Paste all your words into a single Excel spreadsheet column.
    2. Select the column, go to the data tab, and remove duplicates.
    3. Still selecting the column, sort alphabetically.
    4. Split your words into different categories.
    5. Input your categories and assign them each a color in Highlight This browser extension.

    Example from my Excel spreadsheet:

    (Before final edits)

    Organization: Taxonomy of Hate

    I use five approximate categories, which I’m still working out.

    You can see, download and fork my categories on Github by clicking through the links below.

    • “Profanity” words:
      (not all of which are always bad in and of themselves, but many of which are frequently used abusively online).
    • Slurs & potential “hate speech”: 
      includes some ethnic and racist slurs, derogatory terms for social groups, anti-gay stuff, some disabilities, etc.
    • Negative emotion words: pretty self-explanatory.
    • Socio-political keywords
      popular terms for social and political issues of the day, not all of which I consider “bad” in and of themselves, but which often are used in abusive patterns online.
    • Possible “danger” words
      words that are explicitly violent, that have graphic connotations possibly indicative of harm.

    These are still pretty loose/fuzzy definitions, and remain the result of only two days of tinkering as an amateur. I plan to continue working on them more.

    Note: inclusion of terms in these lists is not intended as a negative value judgement, but relates more to patterns of abuse I’ve seen “in the wild” — and I encourage you to change these to suit your own needs/agenda.

    SPECIAL BONUS: “You” Words
    My last category of experimental analysis is 'you', 'your', 'you’re', etc. 
    My hypothesis is that clustering of color-coded words in proximity to a 'you' word helps to quickly determine if a given message is likely to be an attack. 

    My goal is to take the power back.

    Trolls gonna troll. I get that. I have no expectations of stopping them.

    And free speech, something-something—

    But while we’re waiting for a deus ex machina solution from somebody like Google Jigsaw to the proliferation of inhumanity and incivility on the internet, it’s surprising just how effective using a browser plugin with a few simple color-coded word lists can be on a day-to-day basis.

    For example: sample Twitter usage…

    Isn’t this censorship?

    My philosophy is that everyone has a right to manage their own experience. If your desired experience is to block hateful speech on your site or in your browser wherever you go, these lists can help you do that.

    You could always, if you wanted, set the background and foreground colors in the Highlight This Chrome Extension to the same for a particular list so that those words will vanish, or appear black as in a redacted document:

    (If you go that route, you could always double-click to highlight and see the word underneath.)

    “Colorful” language

    Personally, I find color-coding more useful than blocking

    It shows just how robotic, cheap, formulaic and uncreative hate actually is when you break it down.

    Once armed with all my pretty libtard snowflake colors, I can then make an objectively-informed decision whether or not reading someone’s comments online is actually worth my time.

    And if not, I can easily tune them out.

    It’s funny, actually:

    Hate is so weak a weapon that a simple list of words can overcome it.

    How sad and futile for its perpetuators. How lucky for us who toil against it.

    End Note:

    Before I climb down off my high-horse, it should be noted that alt-right trolls, upon the publicization of Google Jigsaw’s Conversational AI began using crypto-code words to avoid automated detection and removal. They started swapping in “google” for “nigger,” “bing” for “asian,” “skype” for “jew,” and so on. 
    Good for them I guess; obviously they understand what really matters

    Further resources:



  • VA2SFX 2:20 pm on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Design, , Tech,   

    Product Design from a Support Perspective 

    The Five Step Method

    It seems like web products are rarely designed with Support in mind.

    Which is ironic, since it’s Support who, as Simon Ouderkirk explains, performs last mile delivery on just about everything related to Product. (Not to mention, many things quite unrelated as well)

    So when things in the real world aren’t as obvious as they seemed in a design meeting, it’s Support who has to pick up the pieces and try to explain it to confused users…

    “Just press the button next to the thing at the top. No, the other thing. Not that one, that one! Okay, now in the menu, tap the star and then the 4-leaf clover, spin around three times and make a wish…”

    Which is why I’d like to propose a new metric for Product development:

    Can you explain it easily in words?

    Not just in words, but in a only a few words. More specifically, can you explain it in five numbered steps or less where it’s completely obvious what is meant?

    Why five steps or less?

    I landed on this number of five steps as an average based on researching how-to statements looked up in Google.

    View story at Medium.com

    Google has started pulling “rich snippet” summaries out of especially how-to related content from web-pages. This means that when a user looks up how to do something (for example, use your Product feature), they may never actually go to your help center or knowledge base at all. They may very well just look at the step-by-step summary Google provides and that’s it.

    Or, imagine this is the future, and users are doing searches via voice, for example (Alexa, Siri, etc) or over a bot/conversational UI. You don’t have the ability to add explanatory screenshots or videos to help documentation which all users are guaranteed to be able to see equally. Or, more simply, you’re a realist who understands that most people simply don’t read long elaborate explanatory text when they just want to do a simple task.

    Are you able to convey more or less how product features work in the tiny space allotted below? Because you’ll have to.

    Of course, it’s a challenge. Complex tasks can’t be broken down easily like this. I’m not sure I follow complete the “tie shoes” one above. Or take, for example, sailing:

    Note: Google uses “…” to signify there is text that has been clipped in summarizing from full page.

    Obviously though, your product is easier to use than a sailboat (or should be). The variables are much more controlled. The paths to action much simpler and more clearly laid out.

    Because this is what a web product is, or should be in the end: a method whereby complex actions become accessible and simplified for users.

    Building, then, and conveying that elegance and simplicity isn’t just a job that falls onto the shoulders of Support once the product is finished. It’s the responsibility of everyone who touches Product.

    Or should be.

  • VA2SFX 1:41 am on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brainwaves, , Drunk, , Tech   

    Tell me about it… 

    Via Feedly.

  • VA2SFX 1:19 am on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tech   

    Environmental news headlines that bore me 

    Where I skim the news feeds so you don’t have to.


    Note: wtf are those shapes around the windmill pic at left?

    Double yawn.


    Oh my god, are we?

    We’ll never know because I’m not clicking…

    How bout all of them?


    God, I feel so cheerful now. Whee.

    No shit, heard this a billion times already thank you.

    Wow, another asshole appointed to something. Huh. Whodathunkit. Gee whiz! By golly!


    I didn’t finish reading that headline either. Jesus.

    Wait, the guy from Journey? His hair looks different.

    Nice idea, not gonna happen. Wait, is that Jim Croce?

    Should but doesn’t.

    UPDATE: why we can’t trust anybody on fracking.

    I’m sure.

    Does he have a way to escape from tomorrow?

    That’s one way to fight pollution. Pretend it’s not happening. That’s my plan for tomorrow too, actually.

  • VA2SFX 5:01 pm on January 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Marketing, , Tech,   

    I’m done scrolling thru ur damn feeds 

    UX of social media is broken

    Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky (just turned 37 🎂), but I’m feeling maxed out by endlessly scrolling through social media feeds.

    Is it just me?

    I feel like I’m not getting anywhere —

    Like I’m moving without traveling…

    What’s the point of it all?

    The classical marketing position relative to social media has to do with chasing and reinforcing an alleged “dopamine high,” according to the American Marketing Association:

    “You don’t even have to go through the physical exertion of clicking “like” to feel the rush, Delgado adds.

    “Often, if you have the earliest predictor of a reward — a sign of a social media alert, like your phone buzzing — you get a rush of dopamine from that condition stimulus. That might trigger you to go check out the outcome, to see what it is.

    That type of reinforcement is something that you now seek out.”

    But building addictive behaviors modeled around drug use patterns is fucking shitty.

    THIS is why we have clickbait > growth-hacking > and fake news.

    THIS is why we’re in the “post-truth” era where the gifiest asshole wins, and people no longer find it weird to check Facebook while driving.

    For what?

    A bunch of flashing images…

    Dog GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    For a high that gets lower and lower through repetition, as the “user’s” nerves become frayed from relentlessly searching like a junkie for smaller and smaller dopamine payoffs.

    This is not a sustainable business model.

    But but but…

    Something something, “the network effect.”

    “The News Feed embodies the very concept of the network effect. It shows that the network effect isn’t simply a function of the number of other nodes you are connected to but also of the nature of the links that connect you with them. A user’s past interaction with other nodes is a great determiner of the strength of ties between nodes. A real world network would have certain ties stronger than others. The news feed captures this and creates a user-centric view of the network.”


    Blah blah blah, Like me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, Click the Heart, Buy my Ebook. OMG VALIDATE ME!!!

    Users are eventually going to wake up (or get old).

    Endless repetitive behaviors with dopamine highs will no longer be enough.

    So what might replace it? Or at least augment it?

    I had a look recently at Amazon Mechanical Turk, where you can register as a “worker” and perform HITs, human intelligence tasks. It’s all repetitive, boring tasks (like so much of social media interactions), but you actually get paid to do it.

    Here’s one example where you can earn ten cents per task.

    The task: “Indicate your willingness to purchase one item at Amazon instead of another.”

    This is crazy. Imagine you got ten cents for EVERY INTERACTION with your social media feeds which could be used for market research. Or even five cents per interaction. Or one cent.

    You’d have your Universal Basic Income right there: Spend time on our network, get paid to make it better.

    Paying users to interact with (and train) your algorithm makes a mere dopamine rush seem like the shitty reward it actually is.

    Compare that tantalizing monetary payoff to the listless jargon spouted by the American Marketing Association:

    “When a consumer shares something from a brand — whether it’s a funny video, a coupon or a white paper from a B-to-B thought leader — she’s made that content her own, and is thus invested in that content and that brand.”

    Sorry, what were we talking about? I got so bored I started scrolling through social media feeds and then fell into an anxious daze…

    My point is:

    Users re-posting your marketing message to their network nodes does not make them invested in your brand. It’s not directed, purposeful behavior. It’s just fluff. They are just killing time before the world ends. This is not how value is generated in the “Real World” (if that even exists anymore).

    Takeaways —

    1. I don’t want more junk to look at.
    2. I want less.
    3. I don’t want another pointless way to pass time.
    4. I want to do real things that add value to my life.

    Instead of another feed that makes my eyes glaze over, let’s experiment with something new that up-ends the current fatiguing “feed” model:

    • Offer a queue of tasks to complete with tangible payoffs that improves the network and enhances my future usage.
    • Condense new interesting items selected for me into some other visual/sequential/video format which I can consume without all this goddamned scrolling.
    • Anything, anything else…
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