Broadcast Social Media Are for the Olds

Quartz writing about teens abandoning Facebook and Twitter:

Today, however, the newest data increasingly support the idea that young people are actually transitioning out of using what we might term broadcast social media—like Facebook and Twitter—and switching instead to using narrowcast tools—like Messenger or Snapchat. Instead of posting generic and sanitized updates for all to see, they are sharing their transient goofy selfies and blow-by-blow descriptions of class with only their closest friends.

Makes sense. Part of the initial appeal of Google+ was the ease with which recipients of messages could be controlled by using circles. Eventually it became a way to narrowcast to your two or three friends who happened to still be using it. And while Facebook has implemented a similar idea, it’s never felt very easy to use – or worth the time to set up.

The Internet Would Be Great Without All of the People

Asking people to interact with something online this week was like dipping a strawberry into a fondu pot full of shit.

  1. The British Internet tried its best to name an important new research vessel “Boaty McBoatface.” 

    “The polar research ship represents a leap forward in securing Britain’s place as a world leader in marine and climate change science — and illustrates this government’s commitment to invest in research facilities on a record scale,”
    “It’s only when I got home and someone tweeted me and said Boaty McBoatface is leading by 500, and then by Friday night it was leading by a couple of thousand. Then, by the time the site eventually crashed yesterday, it was leading by about eight thousand,” Hand said. “It’s been quite a strange weekend.”

  2. Microsoft’s AI, Tay, was let loose on Twitter to learn from humanity, it was put down later in the day after becoming a sex crazy nazi-bot.  

    A day after Microsoft introduced an innocent Artificial Intelligence chat robot to Twitter it has had to delete it after it transformed into an evil Hitler-loving, incestual sex-promoting, ‘Bush did 9/11’-proclaiming robot. 

  3. Engadget relaunched their comments section, only to have to take it away again.

    But we can’t take pride in a comment system that isn’t offering you the features you need to participate; that runs amok with racist, sexist or homophobic slurs and threats; or that takes joy in in-fighting and provoking fights.

The Curse of the People Who Can’t Stop Making Puns

From the Beeb:

Paradoxically, this brain damage seems to “disinhibit” some of the signalling between those frontal lobes and the pleasure centres. So while others’ jokes may leave them cold, their own thoughts and feelings – stemming from any random connection or association – may end up triggering the dopamine kick as they collapse in fits of giggles.

My wife will be glad to know there’s a medical explanation for my sense of humor.

Concision Improves Writing

CGP Grey on editing by hand rather than keyboard:

Writing by hand mode-shifts the brain. A keyboard under the fingers makes it easy to add more and more — the click of the keys is the wind at your back. But the constrains of the printed page make adding indefinitely an impossibility, while subtracting is simplicity, slashing is satisfying.

Teaching invariably means reading more writing by people who aren’t professional writers. The result is a sharpened awareness of writing gone awry: typos, extra words, bloated sentences, meaningless filler, adverbs.

(Yes, my writing has improved, but it is far from perfect.)

There are numerous causes, but the solution usually involves what Grey recommends above.

Well, step one is getting writers to read what they’ve written in the first place.

The next level is printing it to read with pen-in-hand.

Reduce. Simplify. Clarify.

Slash away

No Mercy.

It also helps to read what you’ve written aloud. That’s an old David Sedaris trick, and a great way to find problems with rhythm, clarity, or structure.

NB: For the record, I’m not printing this or reading it aloud.