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Claude Shannon, American mathematician, a stern but somewhat kind dark look in his eyes, defined information as the measure of novelty or surprise one can expect in a message - and with a couple of other deeper observations founded the entire field of information theory in the late 1940's. 
In everything we read and watch and listen to, some eighty years later, novelty is an ever-diminishing quantity. Scandals and catastrophes have become the truly information-rich genres of the day. Few other things really surprise us down the rabbit-holes of our bespoke algorithmic feeds - because they mostly confirm what we already want to believe. It's more than a filter bubble, because it defines and distorts personal worldviews and global geopolitics alike. When everything is possible and nothing is ever really true, what is the name of the informational paradigm we're operating under? One where science, rumor, legend and fear contribute equally to the making of history. A dark and occult moment, defined by tribal beliefs, and the overwhelming ubiquitous influence of mysterious code. 

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Why clever people say silly things

on Aug 02, 2020 02:39 pm

More knowledge is touted as the vaccine against ‘alternative facts’, half truths and misconceptions. But what if our brains are the problem, not the solution?

These answers are no longer about the truth, Kahan argued. They demonstrate concern for protecting your identity or belonging to your “tribe”. And those people who were skilled at maths, Kahan also found, were all the better at this. Often completely subconsciously, by the way. In reaching their answers, it was their psyche that played tricks on them.

Time and again, when people know more facts or have more skills, they have more resources from which to draw when deluding themselves. Our brain works like a lawyer; it will find the arguments to defend our convictions, whatever the cost or the facts.

This habit is maintained even if your convictions change or seem too contradictory. You can believe one thing at one point, then another thing later on. There are conservative farmers in the US, who deny the existence of climate change but take all kinds of measures to protect their business from the effects of a changing climate.

Hajj 2020: A Hajj Like No Other for the Select Few Invited by Allah

on Aug 02, 2020 01:39 pm

Hajj 2020, small, scaled back and limited numbers, all diametrically opposite the descriptions and scenes we’ve witnessed year upon year.

It’s very much a unique moment in history for Muslims where only a select few of the Ummah have been granted permission to perform Hajj with socially distanced measures. Approximately 10,000 pilgrims have been granted Hajj this year in comparison to a whopping 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019.

This Is Not the End of Cities

on Aug 02, 2020 11:39 am

Both the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement create opportunities to reshape cities in more equitable ways.

As overwhelming as the current overlapping crises may seem now, cities have suffered and survived far worse. Over the long course of history, cities have weathered all manner of pandemics and economic crashes, not to mention natural and unnatural disasters like wars, hurricanes, and earthquakes, none of which has permanently staunched their growth. Urbanization has always proven the greater force — stronger than the devastating Black Plagues that began in the fourteenth century, the deadly cholera outbreaks in nineteenth century London, and the horrific tragedy of the Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1920. Each and every time, the economic power of cities — their ability to compound innovation and productivity by compounding the talent of ambitious and creative people — has been more than enough to offset the destructive power of infectious disease.

Madame Gandhi is running her music career just like a startup

on Aug 01, 2020 04:39 pm

Kiran Gandhi spent her first term at Harvard Business School on tour with the rapper M.I.A.

Her management style is inspired by classes on collaborative leadership; the way she diversifies her income streams reflects her entrepreneurial mindset, and she’s pioneered the use of data to inform some of her strategic choices as an artist. In short, she’s running her career like a startup.

Spotify’s Daniel Ek Talks Covid-19, Universal Deal, Launching in Russia and Moving Ahead

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

Ahead of Spotify’s earnings call for its 2020 second-quarter results on Wednesday morning, the company’s cofounder and CEO Daniel Ek and CFO Paul Vogel got on the phone for a short call with Variety’s Jem Aswad and Todd Spangler. The conversation follows in full.

Spotify CEO talks Covid-19, artist incomes and podcasting (interview)

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

Spotify announced its latest financial results yesterday, with growth in listeners and subscribers at the top end of its forecasts, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. CEO Daniel Ek talked to Music Ally after the financials were announced, starting with his view on the growth.


on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

loading_bot.f5a286bbTheirtube is a Youtube filter bubble simulator that provides a look into how videos are recommended on other people’s YouTube. Users can experience how the YouTube home page would look for six different personas.

Each persona simulates the viewing environment of real Youtube users who experienced being inside a recommendation bubble through recreating a Youtube account with a similar viewing history.

TheirTube shows how YouTube’s recommendations can drastically shape someone’s experience on the platform and, as a result, shape their worldview.

World War II-Era Obstacle Is Curbing French Startup Diversity

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

The startup scene in France has the same problem that plagues the industry everywhere — too little diversity. Trouble is, in France you can’t measure it.

‘Cocktails and Masks Don’t Really Go Together’

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

Young Russians are partying again, seeking a return to normal life and willing to risk a coronavirus surge. “We are people, not robots, and want to have a life,” said a bar patron (and doctor).

The Gig Economy Is Failing. Say Hello to the Hustle Economy.

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

Such products range from ebooks and meal plan templates to online classes, podcasts, membership clubs, newsletters, and porn. They proliferate on platforms including Patreon, Twitch, Substack, Etsy, Teachable, Knowable, Podia, Thinkific, Supercast, Lulu, Smashwords, Outschool, OnlyFans, and Gumroad.

These platforms generally take a cut of each sale made, ranging from 5% to 50%, or charge a recurring fee to sellers for accessing their market. Tech investors have dubbed this the “passion economy,” a place where anyone can profit doing what she loves. But because that term risks both exaggerating the payoffs of this work and obscuring its ties to the gig economy, the last great labor “disruption,” we might better call it the “hustle economy:” an online labor market in which platform-dependent workers create and monetize their own digital products. Like Uber drivers or Instacart shoppers, workers in the hustle economy need a platform to succeed. But their work is individualized, self-directed, and on their own schedule — one “creator” can’t substitute for another.

Why Protest Tactics Spread Like Memes

on Aug 01, 2020 11:39 am

When items like umbrellas and leaf blowers are subverted into objects of resistance, they become very shareable. A video frame captured in Hong Kong in August 2019 shows a group of pro-democracy protesters, smoke pluming toward them, racing to place an orange traffic cone over a tear-gas canister.

Belarus TV shows arrest of ‘Russian mercenaries’

on Jul 31, 2020 05:39 pm

Annotation 2020-08-02 222547

Belarus police arrested 32 Russians at a sanatorium, alleged to be members of the Wagner mercenary group.

State channel Belaruskaja Tele-Radio showed the arrests, near the capital Minsk, on 29 July.

Russia denies any links to the group – but wants Belarus to explain its actions.

Tensions are high as Belarus heads for a presidential election on 9 August.

New White Paper on China’s Full-Spectrum Information Operations

on Jul 29, 2020 12:39 am

Today the Stanford Internet Observatory published a joint white paper with the Hoover Institution examining China’s covert and overt capabilities in the context of modern information operations.

Want to buy a parrot? Please login via Facebook.

on Jul 29, 2020 12:39 am

In Bangladesh, there is no Amazon. There is no eBay. If you want to buy a dress or a crested finch from the comfort of your home, you have to use Facebook.

The phenomenon has grown so much over the years that the number of stores on Facebook now eclipse the number of sellers on local e-commerce websites like Evaly, Ajkerdeal, or the Alibaba-acquired Daraz. No one knows exactly how many of these businesses exist, but the most recent estimates suggest that Bangladesh has over 300,000. The low barriers to entry — all an aspiring entrepreneur needs is an internet connection and around $350 to cover startup costs — present a tremendous opportunity for a generation of young Bangladeshis reeling from mass layoffs and fear of rising unemployment rates, which are projected to impact at least 15% of the working population. It also has opened other doors: in a country where just over 15 percent of women have mobile internet access, half of Facebook sellers are female.

By and large, these Facebook stores are usually window fronts for click-and-order shopping. Unlike in formal marketplaces, most sellers are not licensed, store their inventory at home, and partner with third-party logistics companies for last-mile delivery. It’s all very simple: after a buyer makes a selection, payments are arranged via off- or online methods, and items are delivered by mail. No equivalent exists in the West, where Facebook’s forays into commerce have been met with a muted response. For a 162-million-strong country struggling with poverty and limited job growth, this new model of business is illustrative of the South Asian concept of jugaad — making do with what’s available. And it already has a name: F-commerce.


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