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Preview: Epeus' epigone

Epeus' epigone

Edifying exquisite equine entrapments

Updated: 2017-03-13T20:05:34.532-07:00


Could Apple make premium devices in the USA?


Brief summary for tweet length attention spansWe can get back the much-mourned favorite star on twitter by an 'add a comment' retweet with a 🌟 emoji eg: 🌟— Kevin Marks (@kevinmarks) November 4, 2015executive summary in bullet formThis has the following advantages: Lets you use star again, or any other emoji that better expresses nuance. Notifies the person starred, just as 'like' does shows up in your feed (but not in your favorites list) works in all twitter clients as it shows the emoji and link by default, and the linked-to tweet in official ones can be liked and retweeted in its own right and some drawbacks: is not counted as a like or a retweet (this is true for all quoted tweets) is a bit more obtrusive than the old favorite takes more than one click to create Historical exegesis and discussion of semioticsBack in the dawn of twitter, new ways of using it were created by users, sporadically adopted, and then reified first by the vibrant client ecosystem, and eventually by official Twitter clients. Hashtags, @ replies and retweets started this way, as microsyntax or picoformats. Favorites were added early on and had a favstar-like top ten list with the lovely url slug 'favourings'. Your favorites were always public, and obviously so (unlike Google reader's which scared users). But when they caused notifications and showed up in timelines as actions, people were disconcerted. The very opacity of the star meant that people could imbue it with its own meaning, and the nuances of what faving meant have been long-discussed - see Jessica Roy in Time for an example. Hence the immense hand-wringing over Twitter's change from star to heart and favorite to like. Perhaps they were led by AirBnB's 30% engagement boost when they made the change? The difference is one of semiotics though - when you apply a heart to a place to stay that is clearer than applying it to a tweet; it may still be a nuanced note on the host, or ironic, but the layers of meaning are more limited than in a tweet. With a tweet there are many more possible signifiers you may be indicating favour or attention to. Who saying it, who's @-tagged, hashtags, links, embedded media, the threads extending before or after, can all be grist for that little pointer. However, there is another user-driven pattern that Twitter has not paid much attention to - emoji as replies. If you look through emojitracker there are nearly a billion uses of the 😂 emoji and over a billion of the various hearts. This is a way people use to express the missing nuance that a single system-chosen glyph doesn't convey. Now you can reply to people with this directly, but that doesn't have the right effect; it is directly responding to the person, not the tweet, and relying on twitter threading to handle it. Twitter's new 'quote tweet' option, hidden under the retweet button, gives a better way: 🌟— Kevin Marks (@kevinmarks) November 3, 2015Shown in twitter with the quoted tweet inlined: Shown in classic clients as a star and a link. This is a public post, clear in intent, and directed at the tweet with its associated media and nuance, just as a favorite was. There is more flexibility here - repeated emoji; multiple emoji ☑ ✅ 💯— Kevin Marks (@kevinmarks) November 4, 2015@zeynep Maybe Twitter should add a checkmark -- ✔-- to signal things like "noted" and "save for later" etc. Keep the heart for "likes" etc.— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) November 3, 2015In fact, had twitter thought this through they could have saved time on the disappointing new "polls" feature by emulating Slack's 'reacji' voting instead. In the meantime, join me and the billions of other emoji tweeters in using a star reply to indicate your favoring. originally published on kevinmarks.comSo here's my proposition for Tim Cook:Reopen the Elk Grove Apple factory to sell top-line Apple products, designed for those who want 'designer' luxury goods, and are willing to pay more for excl[...]

Translation from sanctimonious bluster to English of Chris Dodd's statement on the internet blackout protests


WASHINGTON —The following is a statement by Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on the so-called “Blackout Day” protesting anti-piracy legislation:

Senator and CEO - let's lead with the revolving door promises to politicians

“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together,

Why are my former colleagues listening to their constituents about legislation? Don't they stay bought?

some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

Maybe if we keep saying copyright infringement is a real problem without evidence, they'll believe it.

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services.

How dare they edit their sites unless we force them to under penalty of perjury and felony convictions?

It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today.

Tomorrow was supposed to be different, that's why we bought this legislation.

It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

Being the gateways and skewing the facts is our job, dammit.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.

I am high as a kite

It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

What have the Romans done for us? Apart from instantaneous global communications, digital audio and video editing, the DVD, Blu-ray, Digital projection, movie playback devices in everyone's pockets and handbags...

How to fight this nonsense

(with apologies to John Gruber and Mark Pilgrim)

Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus shun HTML, causing the infographic plague.


By choosing images over links, and by restricting markup, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are hostile to HTML. This is leading to the plague of infographics crowding out text, and of video used to convey minimal information.

The rise of so-called infographics has been out of control this year, though the term was unknown a couple of years ago. I attribute this to the favourable presentation that image links get within Facebook, followed by Twitter and Google plus, and of course though other referral sites like Reddit. By showing a preview of the image, the item is given extra weight over a textual link; indeed even for a url link, Facebook and G+ will show an image preview by default.

Consequently, the dominant form of expression has become the image. This was already happening with LOLcats and other meme generators like Rage Comics, where a trite observation can be dressed up with an image or series of images.

Before this, in the blogging age, there was a weight given to prose pieces, and Facebook and Google preserve some of this, but the expressiveness of HTML through linking, quoting, using images inline, changing font weight and so on, is filtered out by the crude editing tools they make available.

Feeds and feed readers started out this way too, but rapidly gained the ability to include HTML markup. Twitter went back to the beginning, and added the extra constrain of 140 characters because of it's initial SMS focus. Now it is painfully reinventing markup, though the gigantic envelope and wrapper of metadata that accompanies every tweet. This now has an edit list for entities pointing into it, and instructions for how to parse this to regain the author's intent is part of the overhead of working with their API.

Image links, however — at least those from recognised partners — are given privileged treatment. Facebook and Google have emulated this too, leading to the 'trite quote as image' trope. The spillover of this to news organisations became complete this year, with blogs and newspapers falling over themselves to link to often-tendentious information presented in all-caps and crude histogram form.

So here's my plea for 2012: Twitter, Facebook, Google+: please provide equal space for HTML. And for authors and designers everywhere, stop making giant bitmaps when well-written text with charts that are worth the bytes spent on them could convey your message better.

Update: My son made a Rage Comic version of this post (with an explanation) why.

Our brains make the social graph real


Brilliant web essayist Maciej Cegłowski of Two Steaks and Pinboard fame has focused his considerable insight on the area of web standards I've been involved with for the past few years. You should go and read his The Social Graph is Neither now.Maciej is spot on in his criticisms:This obsession with modeling has led us into a social version of the Uncanny Valley, that weird phenomenon from computer graphics where the more faithfully you try to represent something human, the creepier it becomes. As the model becomes more expressive, we really start to notice the places where it fails.Personally, I think finding an adequate data model for the totality of interpersonal connections is an AI-hard problem. But even if you disagree, it's clear that a plain old graph is not going to cut it.Clearly you can't model human relationships exactly in software. Keeping track of a few hundred of them in all their nuanced subtlety is why our brains are so huge compared to other animals. As Douglas Adams put it:Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do.It is an act of hubris to attempt to represent such vital things as human relationships in a database, and those who have done so often do resemble Maciej's Mormon bartender - Orkut Büyükkökten, Mark Zuckerberg and Jonathan Abrams do seem to have made what danah boyd has called Autistic Social Software.The thing is, people seem to find these attempts helpful. As Maciej points out, we're good at forming subcultures and relationships even around the most primitive of tools. He pokes fun at opensocial.Enum.Drinker.HEAVILY, but when we were compiling the OpenSocial Person fields, we found a high degree of convergence between the 20 or so social network sites we reviewed. Despite their crudity, the billions of people using these sites do find something of interest in them.People choose to model different relationships on different sites and applications, but being able to avoid re-entering them anew each time by importing some or all from another source makes this easier. The Social Graph API may return results that are a little frayed or out of date, but humans can cope with that and smart social sites will let them edit the lists and selectively connect the new account to the web. Having a common data representation doesn't mean that all data is revealed to all who ask; we have OAuth to reveal different subsets to different apps, if need be.The real value comes from combining these imperfect, scrappy computerized representations of relationships with the rich, nuanced understandings we have stored away in our cerebella. With the face of your friend, acquaintance or crush next to what they are saying, your brain is instantly engaged and can decide whether they are joking, flirting or just being a grumpy poet again, and choose whether to signal that you have seen it or not.As danah says:While we want perfect reliability for our own needs, we also want there to be failures in the system so that we can blame technology when we don’t want to admit to our own weaknesses. In other words, we want plausible deniability. We want to be able to blame our spam filters when we failed to respond to an email that someone sent that we didn’t feel like answering. We want to blame cell phone reception when we’ve had enough of a conversation and “accidentally” hang up. The more reliable technology gets, the more we have to find new ways for blaming the technology so that we don’t have to do the socially rude thing.So here's to approximate, incomplete social web standards.[...]