intriguing story and helpful explainer:
…after much deliberation and hand-wringing, in the aftermath of a multimillion-dollar swindle from his automated, algorithm-driven, supposedly foolproof corporation, Vitalik Buterin, then 22 years old, announced the ‘hard fork’ of the cryptocurrency Ethereum. By making that announcement, Buterin shattered certain tightly held assumptions about the future of trust and the nature of many vital institutions that make modern life possible. He also really pissed off a lot of people.
A team at Stanford finds reasons to question the effectiveness of targeting influencers to spread info.
While tackling this question, a team of Stanford researchers found a remarkable result: Simply seeding a few more people at random avoids the challenge of mapping a network’s contours and can spread information in a way that is essentially indistinguishable from cases involving careful analysis; seeding seven people randomly may result in roughly the same reach as seeding five people optimally. (The results are available in their online working paper, “Just a Few Seeds More: Value of Network Information for Diffusion.”) finds reason to question influencer effectiveness at spreading information…
Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari discusses the features of technologies, once thought to be friendly towards democracy, as tools of the tyrants. In the Atlantic here.
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.