Ted Talk from Tristan Harris
Ted Talk from Tristan Harris
Can social media conversations contribute to productive outcomes? Yale students tried. (Vanity Fair)
But this being 2017, a familiar drama began. A student posted an image of the flyer on Overheard at Yale, an intra-college Facebook group with over 20,000 members and one of the grand student hubs on campus. The “Reform the Savages” announcement was peppered with inane jokes about colonialism, and capped with a picture of a generic Native American chieftain in a headdress. The Party’s chairman, Quinn Shepherd, attempted to apologize, in private, to the Association of Native Americans at Yale, but the overture was rejected, according to a screenshot of the conversation posted by the student.(“So can we apologize…. but like in /private/[?]” The student described the interaction.) Within minutes, the comments section exploded.
NYT writer, Jesse Singal, uses the purposeful misuse by the right and the left of Steven Pinker’s talk on the alt-right and ideologies. She argued that it is a case-study in how social media is making society gleefully misinformed.
Bloomberg article about how the seemingly always innovative Snapchat swims upstream against the tide of automation and algorithms.
The secret? “Humans,” says Nick Bell, Snap’s vice president for content. “We only work with authoritative and credible media companies, and we unashamedly have a significant team of producers, creators, and journalists.”
A compelling argument that part of the problem with tech and social media infrastructure is that those who create and control it do not have any background in liberal arts.
It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid? The cynical answer is they knew about the potential dark side all along and didn’t care, because to acknowledge it might have undermined the aforementioned licenses to print money…
So what else could explain the astonishing naivety of the tech crowd? My hunch is it has something to do with their educational backgrounds.
Will there be a cultural learning process with technology? Placing the spread of bad ideas and the threats of social media in a historical context alongside disease in early communities. Full post here
(In Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, the elites of the future consume their news on paper, and send each other handwritten notes; electronic communication is for the plebes.) But that will take time.
Nevertheless, I signed up anyway, tweeted a few times, and was fairly close to deleting it a few times as well. Until one morning, I was in a cab headed to therapy, which meant I was in a mood and I absent-mindedly tweeted out “I’ve been shot!” then turned my phone off and went to talk to my therapist about becoming a well-adjusted human being.
…When I turned my phone back on I had about 20 new messages. Texts, voicemails, and a bunch of tweet replies. Including my now-wife, wondering what hospital I was at. That’s the day I discovered what Twitter was for. It was for having fun. And telling jokes. (BTW, my wife still doesn’t think this was a good joke.) That’s when I was hooked.