This week's notable links
This is my regular digest of links and media I found notable over the last week. Did I miss something? Let me know!
Not just a retelling but a complete recasting of 1984. It's helpful to consider this as a separate work: a response to 1984, in a way, rather than a layering on top or a direct sequel. It's a criticism, an extension, a modernization, and a deep appreciation for the ideas all in one - and I was hooked. There's so much I want to write about here, but I don't want to spoil it. The ending, in particular, is perfect. #Fiction
Every single one of these titles looks beautiful: I'm excited to put them on my want-to-read list. I don't think I read a single graphic novel last year, and I love them.
I'm grateful to Ritesh Babu for putting this list together. It's the kind of thing that makes a genre accessible: someone's subjective deep dive into something they love that other people might not have had the time or exposure to get into as much. Just lovely. #Culture
Molly White, who has been one of the most important voices on technology and society, has moved her newsletter from Substack to Ghost because of the Nazi problem.
As she points out:
"To be very clear, we're talking about Substacks that are using swastikas, sonnenrads, and photos of Hitler in their branding, and publishing screeds about "white genocide" and other things I'd frankly rather not reprint. There are certainly conversations that can be had about content moderation and the difficulty of defining exactly where to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable content, but the Substacks identified in the open letter and in The Atlantic piece were nowhere close to any reasonable line."
I have resubscribed. #Media
Pascal was my first real programming language. I'd learned BASIC first, but I never built a full software application in it. Pascal allowed me to build and release software for the first time. It was magical.
What I didn't know: Niklaus Wirth was from Winterthur, Switzerland, which is right next door to Elgg. #Technology
"Your career is not your job. It’s the humans you help along the way."
I feel this in my bones. The people who have helped me in my career have made an outsize difference to my life, and I hope to make the same kind of difference in other peoples'.
The best kind of leadership is servant leadership, which is what I try to embody in my roles: not just to the people who report to me, but the people around me. I want to be helpful. I want to push great people along. And I'm eternally grateful to the people who did that for me. #Business
"Until Substack, I was not aware of any major US consumer internet platform that stated it would not remove or even demonetize Nazi accounts. Even in a polarized world, there remains broad agreement that the slaughter of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust was an atrocity. The Nazis did not commit the only atrocity in history, but a platform that declines to remove their supporters is telling you something important about itself."
I'm one of the people who canceled their Platformer membership - not because I don't appreciate Casey Newton's great work, but because I don't want to support a platform that behaves in this way. I'm hopeful that he'll relocate and that I can subscribe again - or that Substack will recant. #Media
Charles Stross on tech oligarchs trying to build the torment nexus:
"SF authors such as myself are popular entertainers who work to amuse an audience that is trained on what to expect by previous generations of science-fiction authors. We are not trying to accurately predict possible futures but to earn a living: any foresight is strictly coincidental."
The CIA famously funded the Iowa Writers' Workshop to guide American literature in a non-didactic, less revolutionary direction. I wonder if there's a future in funding science fiction writers to create stories with more utopian themes for leaders to draw inspiration from in the future. #Culture
Among other things, this campaign site has a useful list of US retail stores that use facial recognition right now (for example, Home Depot) as well as some that are thinking about it - and some that definitely won't (thank you, Costco).
"Your face should not be scanned, stored, or sold just because you walk into or work at a store. Retailers justify using facial recognition to protect and predict their profits, but this technology puts workers in danger, exacerbates bias, and amasses personal data. Retailers across the country that are exploring this invasive technology should know that prioritizing profit over privacy is wrong."
I really like this exploration of what it might mean to build a sense of ambient togetherness on the web.
"We currently have no visual, audible, tactile, spatial, or embodied awareness of one another. We also have no awareness of the other people reading this post, even if they're doing it at the exact same moment."
Some of these demos are distracting or not quite right, but they're experiments - and experimentation is exactly what we need. Relatedly, I'm excited about PartyKit as a way to easily build these kinds of experiences.
Maybe I should build something into my own website? #Technology
"Of course there will be examples of AI-generated misinformation, bots, and deepfakes during various elections next year. But the key question is how politicians will be using these tools."
This is it: misinformation and disinformation threats are not some nameless force. Sure, there are people out there who will gamify outrage for profit, regardless of truthfulness - but that's always been true. The real harm is conducted by people with power. It's a human, societal problem, not something that can be fixed with technology.
The best fix? Great journalism that speaks truth to power and actually calls politicians out - both on their claims and on their truthless strategies. #Media
"Meta’s policies and practices have been silencing voices in support of Palestine and Palestinian human rights on Instagram and Facebook in a wave of heightened censorship of social media amid the hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups that began on October 7, 2023."
This includes posts about human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch found that this censorship was "systemic and global", and often led to removal of content that didn't contravene any content policy.
This isn't new: "In a 2021 report, Human Rights Watch documented Facebook’s censorship of the discussion of rights issues pertaining to Israel and Palestine and warned that Meta was “silencing many people arbitrarily and without explanation, replicating online some of the same power imbalances and rights abuses that we see on the ground.”"
Following that and other reports at the time, Meta promised to address these concerns. It appears that it's fallen far short of doing so. #Technology
Some said it would never happen: Mickey Mouse is in the public domain. Or, at least, the very earliest version of him is.
As the BBC points out: "It means creatives like cartoonists can now rework and use the earliest versions of Mickey and Minnie." Disney warns that it'll still protect its copyright on more modern versions, so artists will need to be really creative - but I expect to see some pretty subversive work over the next year. #Media