Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Is It Time to Quit Twitter?

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Aimée Lutkin wrote that it’s time we all quit Twitter. This Friday, August 17, some Twitter users are organizing a “social media walk out” using the hashtag #DEACTIDAY.

BoingBoing writer Mark Frauenfelder posted that his decision to leave is motivated largely by the platform’s refusal to ban Alex Jones, whom they’ve admitted has violated their official policies. Jones has long been spreading conspiracy theories to his many followers, and has encouraged the continued harassment of parents of Sandy Hook victims.

I tend to agree with Kara Swisher when she wrote, “Rules won’t save Twitter. Values will.”

The Story Behind Sci-Fi Infographic Untold AI

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There’s a sci-fi infographic called Untold AI that examines artificial intelligence, and we now have a behind-the-scenes glimpse from the creator.

Sci-Fi Interfaces is one of those websites the Internet was (originally) built for. It’s a passion project focusing on an incredibly niche subject, created and maintained by someone with real subject matter expertise.

Much of Chris Noessel’s professional work, academic study and enthusiasm for science fiction has come together in the creation of the Untold AI infographic. It’s breathtaking in both its scope, and as a graphic design achievement.

This Watch Wants to Curb Ocean Plastic Pollution

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There’s a watch that wants to help curb ocean plastic pollution. Awake Watch’s mission is to prove that there is a smarter and more sustainable way to consume goods. It wants to show that it can create objects with innovative design and very high quality, while still limiting its environmental impact as much as possible. And give people the opportunity to make a difference. The fabric the company uses for the strap is made from plastic waste, which has been collected from South East Asian seas and Japan. It turns the plastic into pellets, and then into nylon yarn. It creates the straps directly from rolls of this material, which is made using no chemical dyes, and is certified by the Global Recycled Standard label. The leather straps are made by a French company that uses Italian leather tanned in a vegetable tanning process. The Kickstarter was fully funded in an hour. To get a watch, rewards start at US$229.

This Watch Wants to Curb Ocean Plastic Pollution

Should Apple Create a Video Platform for Creators?

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In 9to5Mac‘s Reddit-esque Change My View series, Ben Lovejoy writes that Apple should have a video platform for creators.

What I’m proposing is that Apple create a platform for creators of original content. Like YouTube or Vimeo, but with greater control and focus…I’d love to see someone do YouTube properly. Take it back to its roots as a true platform for original content providers. And there are two reasons I think Apple could be the right company to do it.

I can’t decide if I agree or not. I don’t think Apple needs to do everything, and if there’s already a size-able contender like YouTube, it would be hard for Apple’s platform to compete. This is similar to why Apple doesn’t have its own search engine. It might be easier for Apple to just buy Vimeo than create a platform from the ground up.

Why are Powerful Women Still Rare in Google Images?

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So asks Melissa Locker. When you type in the word “CEO” for example, in Google Images, most of the results you see are men. Women “made up only 11% of the CEOs that show up in a Google Image search.”

Granted, Google Image search results are not frozen in time (they change based on things such as the news cycle, for instance), but the lack of women CEOs in these results raises important questions about the lack of representation of women leaders in media, and how that relates to their lack of representation in the real world.

Data Could Someday Fuel Most of the Economy

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Mark Mills writes that Apple is the new Exxon, and data is the new oil. Although I don’t it’s an apt analogy, he did write an interesting paragraph:

Even though we’re still in early days of digitalization of physical domains, data traffic associated with manufacturing, medicine and consumer “things” is already rivaling traffic associated with multimedia (TV, sports, movies, YouTube, etc.).

It’s something to think about. If technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and others become more ubiquitous, we could be living in a future where data fuels the economy, instead of physical goods.

Internet Trolls Have Won. Time to Give Up

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The New York Times writes how internet trolls have won, and there’s not much we can do about it.

Case in point: the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars. For years, the site distributed false information that inspired internet trolls to harass people who were close to victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. This week, after much hemming and hawing about whether to get involved, some giant tech firms banned content from Infowars. (Twitter did not, after determining Infowars had not violated its policies.)

What does that show us? That you as an internet user have little power over content you find offensive or harmful online. It’s the tech companies that hold the cards.

Maybe social networks should have decency laws like broadcasts radio and television do. That will only stop the most vitriolic of trolls, but at least people will be able to visit sites like Twitter without getting a flood of harassing DMs.

Roku Launches Free TV Service On the Web

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Roku is bringing its free TV service—The Roku Channel—to the web and select Samsung smart TVs. It’s an ad-supported service that will offer movies and TV shows. In addition Roku is updating the navigation on its devices to include a new featured called Featured Free. It will point people to free content from The Roku Channel, and other apps too like ABC, The CW, CW Seed, Fox, Freeform, Pluto TV, Sony Crackle, Tubi and more. The Roku Channel first launched last year in September. Movies include those from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Warner Brothers. Other partners include American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu.

Roku Launches Free TV Service On the Web

Apple: Privacy Hero or Privacy Villain?

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Bloomberg recently came out with a piece about Apple, asking if the company is really the privacy hero we think it is. Short answer: yes, but here’s a quote:

When developers get our information, and that of the acquaintances in our contacts list, it’s theirs to use and move around unseen by Apple. It can be sold to data brokers, shared with political campaigns, or posted on the internet. The new rule forbids that, but Apple does nothing to make it technically difficult for developers to harvest the information.

As we discussed on today’s TDO, my problem is that Ms. Frier tries and fails to compare this to the Cambridge-Analytica scandal. App permissions and developers with data access are entirely different to what Facebook and C/A did. Apple could improve the system to be sure, but there’s only so much companies can do before we realize that we need to be more proactive about these issues ourselves, not reactive.