The term "meritocracy" was popularized in the UK sociologist Michael Young's 1958 novel, "The Rise of the Meritocracy," in which aristocrats insist that they are the natural rulers of their society based on "objective" measures of worth ("merit" + "aristocracy" = "meritocracy") that are obviously tilted to favor them, a fact that they are conveniently blind to.
Read the rest “Believing in "meritocracy" makes you act like a dick”
David Perell's 13,000 word essay, "What the Hell is Going On?" presents a reassuring -- and contrarian -- view on how our current dysfunction in politics, media, and business has come to pass, drawing on orthodox economic theories about "information asymmetry" in a way that makes the whole thing seem like a kind of adjustment period between a middling old world and a fine new one.
Read the rest “What's wrong with blaming "information" for political chaos”
A year ago, smarting over public criticism of its role in promoting division and stoking racism, Facebook announced a major shift in its newsfeed algorithm which would downrank posts from media organizations and uprank the things sent by your friends on the network, in the name of promotion a gentler form of "engagement" that would emphasize discourse over clickbait, which founder Mark Zuckerberg promised would be "time well spent."
Read the rest “Facebook's year-old "improvements" to the newsfeed have elevated enraging Fox News posts to the service's dominant form”
Daren Schwenke's 3D printed blooming rose embeds a capacitive touch sensor -- a magnetic wire -- in one of the leaves, which trips an Arduino-controlled actuator that changes the rose's lighting and causes the petals -- 3D printed and then shaped over a hot chandelier bulb -- to splay open or fold closed.
Read the rest “A glowing, 3D printed rose that "blooms" when you touch its petals”
In 2009, the bipartisan HITECH Act pledged $36 billion to subsidize the adoption of Electronic Health Records throughout America's fragmented, profit-driven health system, promising that the system would modernize American health care, save $80 billion (and countless lives), and deliver a host of other benefits; a decade later, the EHR industry has blossomed from $2B to $13B, and adoption is up from 9% to 96%, and it's a catastrophe.
Read the rest “Electronic Health Records: a murderous, publicly subsidized, $13B/year grift by way of shitty software”
It's been a year since the music links on Myspace stopped working; at first the company insisted that they were working on it, but now they've admitted that all those files are lost: "As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your back up copies. If you would like more information, please contact our Data Protection Officer, Dr. Jana Jentzsch at [email protected]"
Read the rest “Myspace lost all the music its users uploaded between 2003 and 2015”
Property developers in London built more than 1,900 luxury flats in 2018, the majority of which have so far failed to sell; all told, there are 3,000 luxury flats on the market, a high-water mark for a city whose property market was hijacked by offshore oligarchs and criminals who converted much of the housing stock into empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky.
Read the rest “Majority of London's newly built luxury flats are unsold, raising the spectre of "posh ghost towers"”
[Editor's note: I'm on the advisory board for Free Machine, a nonprofit that describes itself as an "LA-based collective of UX designers, artists, urban planners, and policy wonks. By using the tools of culture to shift the conversation around tech and society, we aim to shape a hi-tech future that is equitable, sustainable, and abundant." The following is from Ben Gansky, Free Machine's executive Director]
I'd like to invite you to join me at Free Machine's Future Perfect: A Postcapitalist Adventure on Sunday March 24th at 4pm at Manny's in the Mission, co-presented by Institute for the Future! What is Future Perfect? Who is Free Machine? Where is Manny's? Read on!
Read the rest “To do in San Francisco: Future Perfect: A Postcapitalist Adventure from Free Machine on March 24”
After Lenovo bought out IBM's Thinkpad business, they began to tinker with the classic and famously immutable laptop designs: in small ways at first, and then in much larger ones. I buy a new Thinkpad every year (I promised myself a new laptop every year as a dividend from the savings when I stopped smoking) and the first decade's worth were practically perfect: they ran various GNU/Linux flavors without a hitch, the hard-drives were swappable in two minutes by removing a single screw, and the keyboard could be replaced without any tools in less than a minute.
Read the rest “Chinese enthusiasts are serving global Thinkpad fans by making modern motherboards that fit in classic chassis from the Golden Age of the Thinkpad”
"Fruit Belt" is a 150-year-old predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo that has faced a series of systemic hurdles, each worsening the next, with the latest being the erasure of its very name, with the Big Tech platforms unilaterally renaming the area "Medical Park."
Read the rest “The story of how Buffalo's oldest, best-established Black neighborhood was literally wiped off the map is a perfect parable about systemic bias”
In reports of China's looming debt crisis, it's common to see references to the "shadow finance" or "shadow banking" system, but it's not always clear what these terms mean.
Read the rest “China's "pawn shops" have loaned $43B, mostly secured by real-estate”
The second Lego movie includes a memorable scene in Apocalypseburg, an homage to the final scene in Planet of the Apes, complete with a Beyond Thurderdome-style settlement in Lady Liberty's tilted shadow; this is now immortalized as a $300 Lego set. (via Beyond the Beyond)
Read the rest “The Lego Apocalypseburg Set: YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP!”
The Right to Repair movement is gaining so much ground that the corporations whose profits it threatens are making tiny, symbolic concessions in the hopes of diffusing the energy behind it.
Read the rest “The latest Right to Repair battle: fake, corporate co-option of Right to Repair measures”
Investigative tech journalist Joseph Menn's (previously) next book is a history of the Cult of the Dead Cow (previously) the legendary hacker/prankster group that is considered to be "America's oldest hacking group."
Read the rest “Beto O'Rourke was in the Cult of the Dead Cow and his t-files are still online”
Using software-defined radios, researchers from Trend Micro were able to reverse-engineer the commands used to control massive industrial machines, including cranes, excavators and scrapers; most of these commands were unencrypted, but even the encrypted systems were vulnerable to "replay attacks" that allowed the researchers to bypass the encryption.
Read the rest “Security researchers reveal defects that allow wireless hijacking of giant construction cranes, scrapers and excavators”