Here are two things I think might be worth your time to read (next?) weekend.
Harper Simon talks to Jaron Lanier about his book “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”. I particularly found his discussion of social media and social justice near the end particularly fascinating
There are flourishing communities of marginalized people on social media, who say very clearly that they find comfort, solace, and companionship in these social media communities. I think there’s a good argument to be made that there are people who absolutely have benefit hugely from social media.
Yet, Lanier’s point about the callous amorality of engagement driven algorithms, and how they foment conflict feels like an accurate description of own experience on Twitter. I feel the siren song of these engagement driven algorithms regularly; perhaps the one that I wonder most about is Pocket, just due to the nearness of my work (Pocket is owned by Mozilla, my employer).
I have tried to reduce my own use of social media. Yet, I will ultimately post this blog post to my social media accounts; This is because I know so many people for whom social media is the only way they know things happen. Most of my friends won’t have my blog in an RSS reader; I’d be lucky if they would occasionally drop in. What does this mean? I don’t know. I’m a slave to the machine?
A couple of months ago a neighbourhood in Massachusetts exploded, seemingly out of nowhere. I remember reading some of the original coverage on it, but neglected to ever return to the subject to discover the root cause. In the linked piece, Brian Hayes writes a fascinating mini-history of gas, and discusses the cause from the NTSB report.