Friday 25 June, 2021

Girl and grand piano

Quote of the Day

”My idea of a good picture is one that is in focus.”

  • Andy Warhol, 1979

And, boy, did it show.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Diana Krall | Fly Me to the Moon | Live in Paris


Long Read of the Day

 Whose Democracy Counts When Global Social Media Rules Are Set? 

What works for the United States may not work elsewhere, and a provision that seems benign in one national governance context can be anything but, in another.

Insightful essay by Heidi Tworek arguing that when we talk about the impact of social media on democracy, we spend most of the time talking about social media and very little about ‘democracy’ — as if it were a simple and uncontested concept.

Instead of talking about democracy as an abstract, ill-defined ideal, we can examine different definitions of democracy and consider the role of social media in each. By breaking down the components of democracy, we can piece together a more complete picture of how platform governance might address each issue. Perhaps even more crucially, we can follow a global thread to see how solutions that might seem to work in one democracy may prove harmful or extremely complicated in another.

She puts forward a neat idea — to think about democracy is as a Venn diagram of values. For different democracies, these values overlap in different ways.

Worth reading the whole thing.

Hypocrisy, Pulitzer prizes and the New York Times

Zaid Jilani asks whether the New York Times’s behaviour in forcing out a star reporter over claims of racism, only to reassure the Pulitzer Prize Board that he was innocent was hypocritical.

The answer, of course, is yes.

Don McNeil is the star reporter in question, and his treatment by the Times was, in my opinion, unforgivable. It provided a vivid confirmation of Naughton’s First Law of Organisations: All organisations are sociopathic. Which is why Facebook, say, could be entirely staffed by clones of Mahatma Gandhi and St Francis of Assisi and it would still be a toxic organisation — because it will do what it’s constituted to do, namely maximise shareholder value.

Jilani’s account of what happened to McNeil is worth reading, just to get chapter and verse of the case.

Is it time to ditch Chrome?

From Wired

Answer: yes. I did it long ago, and I get very cross when I come on websites which refuse to work properly if you access them with a less obnoxious browser.

Despite a poor reputation for privacy, Google’s Chrome browser continues to dominate. The web browser has around 65 per cent market share and two billion people are regularly using it. Its closest competitor, Apple’s Safari, lags far behind with under 20 per cent market share. That’s a lot of power, even before you consider Chrome’s data collection practices.

Is Google too big and powerful, and do you need to ditch Chrome for good? Privacy experts say yes. Chrome is tightly integrated with Google’s data gathering infrastructure, including services such as Google search and Gmail – and its market dominance gives it the power to help set new standards across the web. Chrome is one of Google’s most powerful data-gathering tools.

It’s dead simple to do: Other browsers — Brave, Firefox, Safari, to name just three — are just a click away. And they’re more protective of your privacy.

A Day at the Seaside in 1899

This is astonishing — a short movie filmed 132 years ago on the beaches of Étretat and Le Tréport in Normandy, possibly by George Mikes. It’s been enhanced using machine-learning technology and colorisation. The film begins with passengers arriving at Mers-Le Tréport train station. Interesting also to see the preposterous mobile beach huts for more adventurous women to change into swimming costumes. The huts were then rolled down to the water’s edge for a secluded dip in the water.

The ‘enhancements’ were:

  1. Cleaned noise artifacts
  2. Increased frame interpolation from 15 fps to 60 fps using Rife
  3. Increased resolution from 240p to 4000p.
  4. Colorised using Deoldify
  5. Created ambient soundtrack.


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