Trolling is too mainstream | Taking back the internet

Trolling is too mainstream | Taking back the internet

A trolling era People seem to think they’re sparking some sort of revolution by trolling; people who adhere to Milo Yiannoupolouos’ idea that trolls are the “only people that tell the the truth these days,” or  believe that trolling is an art. But you’ve got Time Magazine complaining how trolls are ruining the internet. And there’s even a book out on the subject: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. It’s just another tactic to try and exhibit power on the internet. Everyone is doing it now. And very poorly, usually. And, more importantly, as a result the average person is now less willing or able to be trolled. It’s lame. You’re a lame duck if you do it. Like the kid who thinks it’s still cool to pull on girls’ pigtails. Outdated. You and every other twelve year old can try and rile people up online. Lulz. But anyone with half a brain; anyone who knows two things about where the world is headed no longer falls for childish trickery. But that’s not the whole story. And it certainly doesn’t stop there.   So, what now? So where do the 4chan, 8chan, Breitbart trolls go when their caves have been raided? Where can they find darkness after being brought out into the light? To be fair, trolls are often nonpartisan. Like “Thor83” played by Patton Oswalt (amen.) trolling party invites in this Portlandia sketch.   But of course, when it’s not messing with people’s lives, it’s not really worth writing about or reporting on. So, especially on the sites just mentioned, the loudest and most obvious trolls, like Milo, have...
Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back

For years we’ve heard that the U.S. is losing jobs to countries that get things done quicker and cheaper. President-elect Trump had this issue at the forefront of his campaign. As he said in an early Republican debate, “I will bring jobs back from China. I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico. I’m going to bring jobs back and I’ll start bringing them back very fast.” But in trying to bring back the jobs we’ve outsourced, we miss a simpler reason as to why these jobs have disappeared: They are out of date, and obsolete for humans. Trump has promised manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs that simply do not exist anymore. Technology is coming for, or has already taken, as many jobs as have been sent abroad. The blue-collar, benefits-laden work that allowed for a down payment on a nice, two-story home in an American suburb and the means to start a family have now been handed over to R2D2.   Those damn robots are taking our jobs! Recall the 1964 Twilight Zone episode The Brain Center at Whipple’s in which robots replace all workers at a factory, including, in the end, the boss himself. This is what we are dealing with now. We have millions of Americans scrambling because Happy Days-era jobs don’t exist anymore, and too many people are unwilling or unable to retrain, stuck with a skill set better utilized by robots. As Rice University professor of computational engineering Moche Vardi told Factor earlier this year, “US factories are not disappearing; they simply aren’t employing human workers. Job losses due to automation and robotics are often overlooked...
Real websites, fake news

Real websites, fake news

Fake news has existed from the earliest days of journalism, long before Bat Boy became Hillary Clinton’s alien baby. In 1835, Richard A. Locke published a series of six fake articles about the discovery of life on the moon, now known as the Great Moon Hoax, in The Sun newspaper. Sales of The Sun went through the roof. Writing false news stories and calling them real is generally protected by the first (and 14th) amendment (though libel can be prosecuted, and harassment). A groundbreaking 1931 case here in Minnesota defined journalistic freedom for the decades to come. The Near v. Minnesota case, dealing with a small newspaper that attempted to report corruption in the Twin Cities, went all the way to the Supreme Court. It set a precedent for recognizing freedom of the press by disallowing prior restraint on publication. (If you want to know the full story, read Minnesota Rag by Fred W. Friendly) This isn’t satire we’re talking about. We all know The Onion, or the New Yorker’s Borowitz Report, as reliable sources of satire. The number of humor-free sites attempting to convince an audience of authenticity without any real truth or foundation in them has been growing. As has their audience. At first these sites were easily identifiable. They were cheaply made and clearly unprofessional. But it was only a matter of time before duplicity got a makeover and began looking a lot more legitimate. The Big Hoax Facebook is perhaps the biggest offender. 66% of Facebook users get news from the site, and falsehoods have spread there like the plague. As outlined in the Select All article Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem? the ability to generate income through ads...
Obama to prove, beyond doubt, he is the coolest POTUS of all time

Obama to prove, beyond doubt, he is the coolest POTUS of all time

‎Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, and the first African-American president of the United States, has worked hard to cultivate an image of accessibility. He tweets, he jokes, he sings, he laughs. He made a Spotify playlist. He stopped by St. Paul’s Union Depot for a rally of rock star proportions. He cooled off with ice cream from St. Paul’s Grand Ol’ Creamery. And he ate at The Bachelor Farmer, one of the Twin Cities’ coolest restaurants. What Tiger Woods did for golf, President Obama did for government. Say what you will about his policy and politics, one thing is undeniable, Obama made the White House cool. But those are pretty minor things. He’s always been cool, and that’s not something that switches off when you become president. It’s his avid enthusiasm for the advancements and progress in science and technology that makes him truly stand out. Obama’s South by South Lawn turned grass that was once kept tidy by hungry cows into a celebration of technology, ideas, creativity, and, in a word, the future. According to the official www.whitehouse.gov, it was, “…a festival to celebrate the spirit of innovation and bring together creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to discuss how we can tackle some of our biggest challenges.” A fusion of art and tech, science and music, #SXSL brought out some of the nation’s best and brightest for a day of revelry and fun, of ideas and innovation, and for an opportunity to eat cookies with the president. Leonardo Dicaprio came out to talk climate change and saving the environment. Rapper Common wore VR glasses. The preteen cast of...
You’re an @sshole: Being right in the Digital Age

You’re an @sshole: Being right in the Digital Age

The Digital Age is the current period of human history in which we moved  from the industry-based society of the Industrial Revolution to a focus on computerizing information and creating a knowledge-based society. Also known as the Age of Information, the Digital Age’s greatest achievement is the internet. With the internet (connecting computers through a series of networks) comes access to things we may never have gotten our hands on, and certainly not all at once. Information has, throughout human history, been a priceless commodity and has never before been so readily available as it is today. So when we ask the question, Have we become more intelligent or less in the Digital Age? the knee jerk response is of course we’re smarter now. We have access to a wealth of information (a seemingly unlimited amount). We can connect cultures, and all of the learning therein, with the click of a button. And what’s more, we have the opportunity to share/spread that knowledge in the most revolutionary way since the printing press. But as has also been discussed (in the article Why facts won’t help win an argument, for example), we often latch only onto the things that we agree with, or, more importantly, the things that agree with us. With the amount of half-truths, unfounded claims, and falsehoods on the internet, it has become too easy to trade truth for misinformation. We’re not always getting the truth or the right information, and then we pass it along thinking we’re doing the world a favor. And, even if we are more informed, we’re not necessarily smarter. The convergence of computer ability, data storage, and network ubiquity have...
Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Minnesota was named the fastest-growing state for tech jobs in the country by Forbes in 2015. CNET also championed the Minnesota tech scene for startups seeking funding, and Huffington Post listed Minneapolis as one of the top 10 cities for techies should move to earlier this year. Quietly, the North Star State has emerged as a leader in tech jobs and startups. But, even with all the positive press, “quietly” is still the operative word. Minnesota still isn’t known, or respected, as a tech hub.   Minnesota’s issues with tech One possible reason for this is Minnesota’s wariness when moving forward with the speed required to keep up with the industry. It took only a year for California to change legislation and allow the testing of driverless cars. Would/could the same thing happen in Minnesota, a state notorious for spending ample time, money, resources “studying” before enacting change? As the Star Tribune identified: “For a state known for innovation (think 3M or Best Buy), there’s also a confounding resistance to change that interferes with making improvements or exploring new ideas at work.” It was also noted by the Strib, back in 2014, that the lack of a major tech firm (a Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.) was causing many of Minnesota’s startups to head west; the problem isn’t founding startups, the problem is keeping them here. We may have a plethora of Fortune 500 companies hiring tech workers, but when a startup looks to sell out or merge, they must do it outside of the state. To go even further back, you’ll find that Minnesota was once a major presence in America’s growing...