for W3c validation
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
The Danger of Thinking We’re All ‘Addicted’ to Tech
Anne says: Addiction versus I can’t stop using my phone…
This article aligns with previous Friday Fave articles ( 22 February & 12 July 2019 ) where I’ve been looking into digital distraction versus addiction. The subtitle: Telling ourselves that devices and platforms “hijack” our brains plays right into Big Tech’s hands – hints at the opinions that are explored. For me, there are two themes equally weighted: the way language shapes our beliefs and behaviours, and the true meaning of addiction (in physiological terms).
In an era where unsubstantiated claims quickly become the truth, addiction is too easily blamed for the use of technology and devices. The article reminds us of previous claims, such as:
“Not only does the idea that technology “hijacks” our brains smack of the same moral panics leveled at previous pastimes—Novels corrupt women’s minds! Pinball machines create an unstoppable compulsion!”
In contrast, addiction is defined in the article as:
“…addiction is a compulsive dependency that harms the affected individual. It is a behavior or substance the person has a very difficult time stopping, even when someone wants to… Addiction is a pathology. It is not simply liking something a lot…”
Understanding the behaviours associated with addiction is key to determining how to manage and counterbalance the claims that devices are hijacking our brains – for the majority of people they’re not addicted. The article discusses the issue of allowing addiction to be blamed for overuse – this claim of addiction is limiting our ability to respond (language can shape our behaviours and responses). If we believe we’re addicted, we’re conceding we have little or no agency to change that behaviour. If, on the other hand, we decide we’re being distracted or overusing technology, we are empowered to look for strategies to change our patterns of overuse.
As the article develops its argument, the author shifts the focus on to the tech companies (as the did the article cited in my 12 July Friday Fave). The suggestion is based on the use of data to create a “use and abuse policy,” companies could reach out to the people who spend an inordinate amount of time on their sites with a simple message: “Can we help?”
To counterbalance the negative of overuse, the author reminds us of the value – they’re entertaining, they’re useful, we stay in touch with friends and family – it can’t be ALL bad, right? The design is intended to be engaging – why is that a problem?
So – stop blaming addiction for your behaviours of distraction or overuse, take back control, stop spreading #fakenews and let’s get some control back!
Now – back to my apps and their updates – see you online!
Virtual reality collaboration aims to bring opera star Dame Joan Sutherland to a new generation
Joel says: The ABC published an interesting article today talking about an industry collaboration that could change the way we experience museums, art and iconic locations in the future.
The CADET Virtual Reality Lab located in Melbourne’s Deakin University has teamed up with curators from the Arts Centre to create digital 3D copies of Dame Joan’s iconic outfits. While that is a pretty interesting story on its own, the thing that interested me the most about the process is that they’re doing so with technology normally used by dermatologists.
The ultra-high-resolution scanner that is able to scan these highly detailed costumes in seconds is the same as those normally used to scan the skin and identify cancers. Once they develop the methods to digitise the captured models, Lab Director Ben Horan said they plan on implementing the models into a virtual reality experience, possibly allowing users the opportunity to see these costumes up close, or perhaps even wear them and feel what it would be like to be Dame Joan Sutherland on stage.
As with many of the articles I talk about here, the thing that excites me the most about these new technologies is their potential uses. While the goal here may be to digitise and preserve an art museum, it may not be long before we’re able to visit some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, cities or experiences right from our home using just an internet connection and a capable VR headset.
Imagine if the technology advances to a point where a whole room or city can be scanned with relative ease – would you be interested in jumping in and wandering around, taking in the sites in virtual reality? Could we soon see a rise in virtual tourism?
The fantasy of opting out
Jakkii says: I know I’m not alone in my concerns about surveillance. The risks inherent in data collection and protection, the ethics and morality surrounding the practices, the desire for safety (or the perception of it) over the right to liberty. I watched the Netflix film Anon this week, and while it seemingly borrows from a Black Mirror episode and is a clumsy look at a future in which we’re all instantly recognised while our every moment is recorded, stored and accessible to police at any time, others by our choosing, and ‘hackers’ without consent, it tries to imagine the harm technology can do when every moment is surveillable and, if hacked, what happens when we can no longer separate fact from fiction because of, essentially, highly sophisticated deepfakes. Scary, no?
For me, the idea of constant surveillance, particularly combined with facial recognition technology, is deeply troubling. At scale and sophistication of facial rec, no longer can you be unknown, let alone forgotten. I am a strong believer in liberty and a person’s right to exist, privately and without police surveillance, and that there must be a reasonable basis for suspicion before that is given up. It should be the default setting and, indeed, in most democracies that is the case. However, little by little we have seen laws implemented that erode that premise because, in part, of technology – both on the citizen side, and on the law enforcement side. The idea that one must have something to hide in order to resist this kind of invasive erosion of liberty is outrageous – not least because we ought to be able to just be, but because while today your life and behaviours might not be of interest or governmentally unacceptable – what’s to say tomorrow they won’t be?
As this article describes in the opening setup: we are, in most large cities, under near-constant surveillance from the moment we leave the house. It’s not just the cameras everywhere; for most of us, we’re participating in our own surveillance just by carrying a smartphone with us wherever we go, nevermind the apps we choose to use to operate and share our lives through each day. The point is clear: we are opting in to this surveillance through our choices every day. But, can we actually opt-out?
… the costs of refusal are high and getting higher: A life lived in social isolation means living far from centers of business and commerce, without access to many forms of credit, insurance, or other significant financial instruments, not to mention the minor inconveniences and disadvantages — long waits at road toll cash lines, higher prices at grocery stores, inferior seating on airline flights.
In short: not really. Not practically, for most of us. The idea of opting out is, in effect, an illusion. But if we can’t opt out, what can we do about it? The author of the article suggests obfuscation is our primary defence – indeed, we’ve seen obfuscation efforts recently during the Hong Kong protests, with protestors cutting down ‘smart lamps’, using lasers and trying to stop their faces being used against them. The article provides a few ways in which we can implement obfuscation ourselves; however, the piece ends on a more philosophical note about the nature and the problem of privacy. The article is well worth a read and, if you’re like me, you’ll be reflecting on it for a while.
This Week in Social Media
Politics, democracy and regulation
- Information gerrymandering in social networks skews collective decision-making
- “intense democracy”: how two academics are trying to break the outrage cycle
- Governments still struggling to contend with weaponized social media platforms
- Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg visits lawmakers to discuss tech industry regulation
- GOP activists just formed a dark money group to go to war with Big Tech
- TikTok—yes, TikToK—is the latest window Into China’s police state
- In Latin America, the business of trolling threatens Twitter’s disruptive power
- Inside Elizabeth Warren’s selfie strategy
Privacy and data
- It’s scarily easy to track someone around a city via their Instagram Stories
- The techlash isn’t big enough to stop Facebook from selling video chat devices for your living room
- Facebook suspends tens of thousands of apps in privacy investigation
- How to erase your personal information from the internet (it’s not impossible!)
- Your smart devices listening to you, explained
- YouTube Influencers are oversharing their surgeries
- Privacy in the digital age – how old posts can come back to bite you
Cybersecurity and safety
- YouTube pledged to disable comments on videos with young kids. It hasn’t
- How to keep hackers out of your social media accounts
- Security warning for 23 million YouTube creators following ‘massive’ hack attack
- Twitter details new policies designed to crack down on financial scams
- WhatsApp’s ‘Delete for Everyone’ doesn’t delete media files from iPhones
- People are looking at your LinkedIn profile. They might be Chinese spies
- For China’s Muslim minority, the internet was a safe haven—until it wasn’t
Society and culture
- The other side of social media: how online communities help us access support and How social media impacts the lives of seniors
- Meet the Navy chief helping suicidal sailors on Reddit
- Can social media save lives? Leveraging the power of social media in natural disasters
- Why ‘cancel culture’ doesn’t always work (related: Changing your mind makes you seem more intelligent)
- How these women on TikTok are using 15 seconds to build successful careers and make money
- Why Jacie deHoop co-created an accessible online sports community for women
- How YouTube continues to alienate the LGBTQ community
- How TikTok holds our attention and is changing the face of pop
- 13 computer-generated influencers you should be following on Instagram
- Meet the Snackbeasts of Instagram
- Facebook users have raised over $2B for nonprofits and causes since 2015
Extremism and hate speech
- Reddit and Gab’s most toxic communities inadvertently train AI to combat hate speech
- I’ve spoken to some of the world’s worst trolls. Here’s what can help keep your kids safe online
Moderation and misinformation
- The internet has made dupes—and cynics—of us all
- Burt’s bush and XXXTentacion’s death: why Facebook moderators fail
- New AI program better at detecting depressive language in social media
- Twitter rolls out ‘hide replies’ to let you tame toxic discussions
- TikTok’s moderation guidelines penalized political criticism and ‘controversial topics’
- Facebook promises not to stop politicians’ lies & hate, while YouTube won’t ban politicians
- Twitter discloses another 10,000 accounts suspended for fomenting political discord globally
Marketing, media, advertising and PR
- Government must ‘rein in global monopolies’ Facebook and Google: TV lobby
- Nine slams Facebook, Google for ‘ignoring’ harm caused to news publishers
- Facebook secures exclusive digital rights for ICC cricket events
- YouTube taps machine learning to serve the best contextual ads for each user
- Facebook publishes new guide to effective brand building, so Twitter publishes one too
- U Mobile and WeChat to draw Chinese tourists with personalised digital travel experience
- YouTube is going all in on connected TV advertising while TV is the fastest growing screen for YouTube in Australia
- Reddit’s Chief Operating Officer on how the platform is doubling ad revenue
- Instagram shares tips on how to maximize Instagram Stories from Vice Media
- Why Reddit is leaning into the idea of ‘community’
- Facebook’s ambitions for the brain are coming into focus
- Twitter updates lists as it pushes users toward ‘interests’
- Snap’s ‘Project Voldemort’ dossier detailed Facebook’s copycat moves
- Oculus will add new social features powered by Facebook, and will build AR glasses and ‘map the world’
- Instagram is reportedly testing dark mode, here’s what it looks like
- Facebook to shut down its group stories feature
- Pinterest adds new emoji reactions and chat features to group boards and dark mode
- YouTube CEO apologizes over verification removal, admits they ‘missed the mark’
Facebook’s Libra and Calibra
- Facebook’s Libra currency will get half its backing from the US dollar
- Facebook met UK officials three times before Libra announcement
- Facebook has acquired Servicefriend, which builds ‘hybrid’ chatbots, for Calibra customer service
- IBM says it’s ready to work with Facebook on blockchain
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
This week: What can we do to save the planet? And how will the world end? Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.
Our guest this week: Professor Christopher Wright.
The stories this week
Other stories we bring up