Friday Reading S05E03

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam covering journalism, media and technology.

Friday Reading 18/11/2016

I got to go to the Borderline Club today to see REM get interviewed about their “Out Of Time” album. Here’s what happened.

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Fake news is the thing this week – or at least soul-searching about it is. I must say one of my favourite things on the web is the National Museum of Scotland’s collection of 17th century “Broadsides”, the pamphlets sold on the street. People loved stories about bad criminals and evil foreigners and true mermaid sightings then too.

So it’s not just a new “ZOMG ECHO CHAMBER” technology thing. But post-Trump and post-truth, that’s where we are.

This Washington Post interview with a fake news provider excited lots of interest.

I’m a bit sceptical myself: “I’ve spent the last 6 years making $$$ by trolling people, but to you, Dear Mr Journalist, I will tell the GOD’S HONEST TRUTH™”

Jeff Jarvis was worth reading:

“Instead of complaining that Facebook doesn’t send enough traffic to our 1,000-word articles that countless lost customers have demonstrated they don’t want to read, we should be going to the social platforms, speaking the language there, respecting their context, and using the devices they provide — memes, video, photos, dancing GIFs if that’s what it takes — to bring journalistic value to the conversations that now occur without us.”

Here’s a feature looking at Melissa Zimdars who has been compiling a public list of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources” which is yet to name and shame martinbelam dot com but there’s still time I guess

But then disappear down a wormhole as Dan Barker explains how some stats on the fake news Facebook problem were themselves fake news.

*screaming forever gif goes here*

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Hashtag Awkward. Facebook has calculated some of its metrics wrong again, leading to a bit of a flap. Although, as someone pointed out, we’re still quite happy with other industries basing their numbers on a few people filling in a diary of what TV or radio they listened to.

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Abi Wilkinson is excellent as ever here, talking about how the alt-right manosphere has poisoned politics.

I left a comment under it, which did #numbers on Twitter:

“Oh this very much chimes with my experience. I started hanging out on a MGTOW forum (‘Men Going Their Own Way’ – men trying to live with as little contact with women as possible except to use them for sex) forum as part of research into something – and after a while I began to look at it like it was a grooming operation. At the bottom were a load of lonely teenage boys who had never had a girlfriend and who were sexually frustrated and angry about it. There was a middle tier of older guys, who’d maybe experienced a really difficult break-up or painful divorce, and had started projecting all the problems they had experienced in life on to women in general, rather than just that one woman or one relationship. But at the top tier there were a small hardcore group of ringleaders who were effectively working to turn the younger lads into a woman-hating online army. Honestly, if you study it closely, it is essentially an online radicalisation process.”

Incidentally, someone replied to one of my tweets about this article saying that the media and culture had become so hostile to white men that it was no wonder people had reacted against it. I looked around the room where I work, and I looked around the internet, and at the TV, and at the radio, and it still appeared to be pretty much wall-to-wall white men. How f***ing precious are these right-wing meninist man-baby snowflakes who say they don’t want identity politics, but actually cannot bear to see or hear from anybody with a different identity to “generic white man”

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I’m not saying be paranoid now that Trump and his Breitbart cronies have access to the US state apparatus, but I’m just gonna leave this here: “How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour

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Oh, here’s utter hypocrite, Brendan O’Neill, who was 100% happy to support GamerGate, but now says Stop Funding Hate is “a sly, sinister effort to chill and tame the press”

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Stop Funding Hate. And why?

Well, because it’s exactly the same tactic GamerGate used in trying to make commercial pressure damage editorial independence, in this case, remember, because they didn’t like some video game reviews.

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Well worth a read, this blogpost from someone dismayed at the way the old school civil service is getting a grip back on government web services provision in the UK

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Bruce Lawson is leaving Opera.

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“I wish I could tell you that when I first saw those requirements they bothered me. I wish I could tell you that it felt wrong to code something that was basically designed to trick young girls. But the truth is, I didn’t think much of it at the time. I had a job to do, and I did it.”

The code I’m still ashamed of” – Bill Sourour

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As I’ve said before, I think in total the lack of diversity in hiring is a bigger long-term threat to the news industry than anything the ad-funded model or tech giants are causing. It limits the types of stories we tell and crucially, it limits the way we choose to tell them. But this is another angle worth thinking about – the attrition rate that working in news causes among parents, especially women. Long hours cultures are not good for mums or dads.

Of course, you know my grand unifying theory of the universe is that everything is f***ed because most organisational and institutional decisions are made by a tier of permanently exhausted middle managers who have small people living in their houses.

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I really fancy the look of ‘Small Radios Big Televisions’…

“Perhaps it’s a reaction to gaming’s long-standing love of post-industrial dystopia, its grim backdrops of decay, annihilation and rot. Like the Romantic poets who rebelled against the dark satanic mills springing up around them, game developers are looking towards an age of innocence for inspiration.”

Video games and the romantic yearning for nature” – Colin Campbell

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An interesting read on “Why Chatbots are Disrupting UX” although to be honest, our Guardian chatbot is mostly disrupting not my UX but my sleep by making me get up at silly o’clock to write the news summary for it.

[MARKETING SEGUE] By the, have you signed up to our chatbot? Please do it by sending it a message, and make my early morning starts worthwhile… [/MARKETING]

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People got excited about there being a new Quidditch Premier League but frankly, instead of running around with a broomstick between their legs, they should just play a proper sport like roller derby.

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Someone appears to have made a working piano out of Lego.

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Wimpy expert Ed Jefferson looks at what happens to underground, subway and metro carriages when they die, and manages to fit in a decent Paul McCartney joke as well.

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Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology. Martin is Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian in London. And very, very hungover, emotional and tired today.