Friday Reading S06E11
Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Social and New Formats Editor Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology. It is also available as an email newsletter – sign up here
I blogged about this earlier in the week, but if you missed it, then Jim Waterson’s “The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media” is an essential read.
“When you look at systems like Facebook, all the hints and nudges that the website gives you are towards sharing your data so it can be sold to the advertisers. They’re all towards making you feel that you’re in a much safer and warmer place than you actually are. Under those circumstances, it’s entirely understandable that people end up sharing information in ways that they later regret and which end up being exploited.”
An interesting nugget, but just one of many quotes I could have pulled out from “The Threat“, a lengthy and absorbing conversation with computer security expert Ross Anderson. He’s been in the game long enough to have seen the field move from when it was just about securing military and banking infrastructure, to just about every device in the world having some kind of chip in it.
“When I look at Snapchat as a product, I don’t see a chat app, a social media app. I see a tool specifically designed for storytelling.”
“Why using Snapchat can make you a better storyteller” – Catalina Albeanu reporting from RTE’s Mojocon event in Ireland.
Matt McAlister of Kaleida asking the question: “How much is a Facebook partnership worth?”
“That leaves us with articles that have earned between 80 and 10,000 organic shares. Publisher X here had 1.1M Facebook referrals for that sample from over 240K shares. So, in this case, one share on Facebook counts for about 4.5 page views.”
Decent back-to-basics overview if you keep reading things about robots taking your job and artificial intelligence and machine-learning and all that jazz: “AI: Still not clever enough to be allowed out on its own”
“Just last year, there was a beauty contest manned by Beauty.AI. Beauty.AI only identified white women as beautiful. Why? Because it was working off the data it was fed and the AI algorithm determined that only white women were beautiful. Bottom line, if we don’t have diversity in the AI world, more of this is going to happen.”
The robot revolution will be sexist and racist by default if it is built by white men.
Fake news isn’t just teenagers in Moldova using WordPress:
“In 2013-15, I foolishly doctored images, inexcusably lied about others’ work being my own and then buried these wrongdoings in the years that followed. Now these images are resurfacing, they threaten to undermine any work I have legitimately pursued since and, crucially, all the trust that the people in my photos, my collaborators and supporting institutions placed in me.”
Award-winning photographer Souvid Datta doctored images. This is a fascinating profile interview with him on how and why.
Twitter got a bit obsessed this week with the story of a dude claiming his 13 year old son had bet on Le Pen to win. But it turned out to be rather more complicated than that – with a different dude using someone’s real identity to set up the hoax. Bit of a dick move tbh.
I liked this from Gavin Kelly and false zombie-narratives that just can’t be killed.
It also serves as a great chance to re-link to this Tom Coates blog post from over a decade ago:
“My sense of these media organisations that use this argument of incredibly rapid technology change is that they’re screaming that they’re being pursued by a snail and yet they cannot get away! ‘The snail! The snail!’, they cry. ‘How can we possibly escape!?”
“As a hypnotist, I understand the power of repetition in communicating ideas and in changing people’s beliefs” – an unusual sentence in an analysis of the Tory campaign message of ‘strong and stable’ and why it is an example of a Keats Heuristic. Who knew?
“I Told You So. Are You Going To Listen To Me Now? (SPOILER: No)” – passionate Gary Bainbridge column about voting Labour despite misgivings over Corbyn. Excel Pope was also very readable in similar territory.
Abi Wilkinson good on how Theresa May is playing ‘identity politics’ more adeptly than the left. It just doesn’t get called ‘identity politics’ when you float the idea of bringing back blue passports and fox-hunting.
Some scientists are trying to prove that leave voters and remain voters literally think differently about a ton of stuff: “Participants expressing an intent to vote to leave the EU reported significantly higher levels of authoritarianism and conscientiousness, and lower levels of openness and neuroticism than voters expressing an intent to vote to remain.”
“‘The word gay describes a whole cultural and political movement that promotes anti-male feminism, victim mentality, and leftist politics.’ [Jack Donovan] appropriated a new term, androphile, to describe a man whose love of masculinity includes sex with other men.”
“The Philosophical Fascists of the Gay Alt-Right” by Maureen O’Connor. This line nails it:
“And so androphiles like Donovan have found common ground with the gender-traditionalists and male-advocacy groups elsewhere in the messy carnival of the new right, where reactions to women range from outright hostility to benign disinterest.”
Loved this from Janan Ganesh: “Did South Park accidentally invent the alt-right?”
Trump is Cartman, but who is Kenny?
Given the number of times I get called it a day, I’m surprised I have not previously recommended this piece: “Why angry white men love calling people ‘cucks’”
“Younger Muslim women have said to me they feel under pressure to appear in an over styled, hypersexualized way in order to fit in — to wear flawless make up, a certain style of clothing and a certain style of hijab.”
Really interesting from Nesrine Malik – “I am not your Muslim”
Brandon Ambrosino on how our definition of “heterosexuality” has shifted over the last century, which may surprise you.
“They made the most of the perk, wearing their good dresses to the plant so they’d shine in the dance halls at night, and even painting radium onto their teeth for a smile that would knock their suitors dead.”
Absolutely stunning long read about the health impact on the “radium girls” of working with the dangerous element.
The magic substance that would be too black even for Spinal Tap. Still not entirely convinced this isn’t just a wind-up tbh.
Intriguing editorial from The Economist on the ‘data is the new oil’ theme:
“The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required”
Oh it’s just your standard story of girls meet girls, form football team, join boys league, win it.
Kate Gray is excellent here on “Why is motherhood so poorly portrayed in video games?”
I managed to get a Nicky Wire quote and a Manics video into this Guardian article about Donald Trump. Don’t @ me.
Marie is leaving Buzzfeed and going freelance and you should get her to write for you
In-depth look at the prop-making behind the Daleks appearing in “The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End”, including the lovely bit where original 60’s Dalek designer Ray Cusick visited the 2008 set.
“It actually was a gift, to me and Susie, but most importantly, to Arthur. It gave Arthur’s absence, his silence, a voice. This shifted something hugely in me. I mean, Susie and I were like birds trapped in an oil slick. We were incapable of moving. And this film had a freeing sort of effect on us. So the film has become really important to me, because of the kind of community that’s arisen around the film. The potential it has had as a force of healing has been extraordinary for me and Susie, but for other people too. This was Andrew’s astonishing gift. It was completely unexpected.”
This is from another long Nick Cave feature/interview, but, given that this is his first big round of doing them since his son’s death, they are all worth reading.
“It feels like we’ve experienced a whole life in two months. There are so many things that people don’t see – but it’s the everyday things that get affected. Some of us were left worrying and thinking how they were going to pay their mortgages, cars – even things like petrol.”
Brave over-the-parapet interview with one of Orient’s 18 year old players who has been thrust into the limelight by the crisis at the club
If you like politics, and you like swearing, you will love Mushybeestees hand screen printed t-shirts
Also for lovers of swearing, the very excellent @swearclock