I social network aiutano a diffondere le teorie cospirazioniste

I social network — ottimizzati per mostrarci cose che ci piacciono — stanno contribuendo alla diffusione di cospirazioni e teorie imbecilli. Una volta che un utente si iscrive a un gruppo contro gli OGM, per fare un esempio, finisce in un circolo vizioso in cui gli vengono suggerite e presentate varie notizie e opinioni altrettanto opinabili — come i gruppi anti vaccini, o i vari metodi naturali e “ingiustamente” non riconosciuti per curare una malattia.

Scrive Fast Company:

In his 1962 book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin describes a world where our ability to technologically shape reality is so sophisticated, it overcomes reality itself. “We risk being the first people in history,” he writes, “to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.” […]

Rather than pulling a user out of the rabbit hole, the recommendation engine pushes them further in. We are long past merely partisan filter bubbles and well into the realm of siloed communities that experience their own reality and operate with their own fact.

Per dimostrare questo effetto, il Wall Street Journal ha creato due differenti versioni del news feed di Facebook: in un caso il news feed raccoglie le notizie che vedono e vengono consigliate ai sostenitori del partito democratico, nell’altro quelle che vengono proposte alle persone che votano i repubblicani.

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Un treppiede per iPhone che sta nel portafogli

Davvero carino e di dimensioni ridotte. Può anche fare da stand, per guardare video in un’angolazione ottimale.

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Come la tipografia può salvarti la vita

Scrivere una frase TUTTA IN MAIUSCOLO, CON L’INTENTO DI ENFATIZZARLA, può in realtà rivelarsi controproducente, risultando meno leggibile:

Because we see words as shapes, big rectangular blocks of all caps take us much longer to process. In an emergency, that extra time to decipher an urgent message may come at a cost. […]

So why do we use all caps instead of bold or italic or even highlighted? Because back when lawyers used typewriters, the only simple way to emphasize anything was to use ALL CAPS. And while today our fancy post-typewriter machines could certainly render the text in other “conspicuous” ways, tradition is hard to break. Just ask the weather service.

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Il non fotografabile

There was the sense of diminishment I always get from our culture of images: no matter how finely you chop life into a sequence of photographs, no matter how closely in time the photographs are spaced, what the sequence always ends up conveying to me most strongly is what it leaves out. — Jonathan Franzen, A Voyage to the End of the World

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Il social network che dimentica

Scrive il New York Times, riguardo a Snapchat:

If we are to believe the theories about how people want to communicate nowadays — largely through anesthetized, hypermediated and impersonal ex­­changes — Snapchat’s recent surge in popularity makes little sense. […]

Its entire aesthetic flies in the face of how most people behave on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — as if we’re waiting to be plucked from obscurity by a talent agent or model scout. But Snapchat isn’t the place where you go to be pretty. It’s the place where you go to be yourself, and that is made easy thanks to the app’s inbuilt ephemerality. Away from the fave-based economies of mainstream social media, there’s less pressure to be dolled up, or funny. For all the advances in tech that let us try on various guises to play around with who we are, it seems that we just want new ways to be ourselves. As it turns out, the mundanity of our regular lives is the most captivating thing we could share with one another.

Aggiungetemi, se volete.

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Supporta Bicycle Mind — se ti piace, ovvio, eh — così: acquistando su Amazon (partendo da qua), abbonandoti alla membership o con una donazione. Leggi di più

Google ha messo una piccola tastiera QWERTY su Android Wear

Buona idea, mettere una tastiera nell’orologio.

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Le applicazioni istantanee di Android

Google ha fatto delle app istantanee, che si possono aprire senza prima doverle scaricare:

Someone sends you a “deep link” from an app—that’s a link that might go all the way to a product or piece of media—and when you tap it, the app just appears on your phone in that exact spot. So it will take you right to, say, a pair of shoes on Zappos. The UI is fully functional, too—its buttons will actually work. And your payment information is even stored inside Google, so you can feasibly buy those shoes without entering your credit card or shipping info.

Serve in quei casi in cui l’applicazione ha un singolo scopo o una singola funzionalità — normalmente, app di questo tipo vengono scaricate per venire utilizzate due o tre volte. Oppure quando un link sul web tenta di aprire una parte di un’app (come nel caso di Medium o YouTube).

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Il Regno Unito sta lavorando per mettere la patente nell’iPhone

Andrebbe a finire in Wallet (ex Passbook), riporta 9to5mac:

It looks like drivers in the UK could soon be able to store their driver’s license within Apple’s Wallet app on iPhones as CEO of the country’s Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) today shared the image of the work in progress feature above.

Nel momento in cui avrò anche un documento d’identità sempre a portata di mano, nell’iPhone, potrei davvero fare a meno del portafogli.

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David Pogue: ora capisco Snapchat

David Pogue (guardate anche il video):

Usually, what you post online is there forever. It can come back to haunt you. Everything on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the Web, text messages, email — it will always be there for people to judge you. Your parents might see it. A college admissions officer. A prospective employer.

But Snapchat takes the pressure off. If your snap is goofy or badly framed or embarrassing or incriminating — you don’t care! Post it anyway. No employer or principal or parent will ever find it and disapprove.

Furthermore, there are no comments, no Like buttons, no counts of how many friends you have. No judgment.

All of this gives Snapchat an honesty, an authenticity, an immediacy that the other social media apps lack — and that millennials love.

Concordo pienamente: il fatto che qualsiasi contenuto condiviso via Snapchat prima o poi scompaia serve ad alleggerire la condivisione — a renderla più piacevole e spontanea — più che a condividere foto di nudi.

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I bellissimi computer di 50 anni fa

Immagine

I bellissimi computer di 50 anni fa

Docubyte ha fotografato computer come l’IBM 1401 e il Pilot ACE a cui lavorò anche Alan Turing — computer enormi di più di 50 anni fa insomma.

Pur non avendo il design di un iPhone o di uno dei Macbook odierni, c’è qualcosa di bellissimo in queste macchine.

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Abbiamo bisogno di più Firefox

EFF:

We need more Firefoxes.

We need more browsers that treat their users, rather than publishers, as their customers. It’s the natural cycle of concentration-disruption-renewal that has kept the Web vibrant for nearly 20 years (eons, in web-years).

We may never get another one, though.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), once the force for open standards that kept browsers from locking publishers to their proprietary capabilities, has changed its mission. Since 2013, the organization has provided a forum where today’s dominant browser companies and the dominant entertainment companies can collaborate on a system to let our browsers control our behavior, rather than the other way.

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Sul nuovo logo di Instagram

Video

Sul nuovo logo di Instagram

Tobias van Schneider:

The only thing that I personally don’t like — I’m not a big fan of the gradient, I do think the gradient is kind of obsolete. The gradient is the most generic thing about the whole branding piece. I’ve seen this gradient so many times and there’s nothing wrong in seeing a thing many times as long as it is not part of your core ingredients of your visual identity. The gradient isn’t really ownable. It isn’t really an ownable element and that’s what the problem is with the gradient.

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.blog

Automattic, l’azienda dietro WordPress, ha acquistato il dominio di primo livello .blog. Dal prossimo autunno inizieranno le registrazioni — dicono che i prezzi saranno in linea a quelli di altri domini di primo livello, e che saranno aperte a tutti (non servirà, ad esempio, avere un sito che risiede su WordPress.com per farne uso)

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Il problema di Facebook con le notizie

Si discute molto in questi giorni della sezione trending topics di Facebook, che a differenza del news feed — nel quale la priorità di una notizia rispetto a un’altra viene determinata da un algoritmo — ha delle persone dietro che scelgono a quali notizie dare rilevanza. Pare, stando alle dichiarazioni di uno dei giornalisti che lavora a Facebook, che il social network abbia optato più volte per censurare una notizia a supporto del partito conservatore in favore del partito democratico.

In realtà, trending topics è una sezione piccola di Facebook che vive nella sidebar del sito. Facebook può sì influenzare i suoi utenti scegliendo a quali notizie dare risalto, ma che sicuramente ha più impatto sulle loro idee e scelte politiche è il news feed — e il news feed ahimè ha un problema ben più grosso: ci mostra solo quello che ci dà ragione, contribuendo a una polarizzazione generale delle nostre opinioni. È editoriale ma meno esplicitamente: non ha un gruppo di persone dietro che ne curano il contenuto — come trending topics —, ma ha un algoritmo basato comunque su un principio: suggerirci cose che ci piacciono.

Come scrive Ben Thompson, è il news feed che rischia di fare un danno maggiore alla società:

This, then, is the deep irony of this controversy: Facebook is receiving a huge amount of criticism for allegedly biasing the news via the empowerment of a team of human curators to make editorial decisions, as opposed to relying on what was previously thought to be an algorithm; it is an algorithm, though — the algorithm that powers the News Feed, with the goal of driving engagement — that is arguably doing more damage to our politics than the most biased human editor ever could. The fact of the matter is that, on the part of Facebook people actually see — the News Feed, not Trending News — conservatives see conservative stories, and liberals see liberal ones; the middle of the road is as hard to find as a viable business model for journalism (these things are not disconnected).

La verità è che il problema risiede nella premessa di Facebook di essere neutrale: né l’algoritmo che determina cosa mostrarci nel news feed, né la sezione curata manualmente da un gruppo di giornalisti, lo sono. Entrambi sono editoriali — ed è il news feed, l’idea che solo quello che ci piace ed è in sintonia con le nostre opinioni debba interessarci — che dovrebbe preoccuparci maggiormente.

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Le emoji bianche si possono usare?

The Atlantic:

The folks I talked to before writing this story said it felt awkward to use an affirmatively white emoji; at a time when skin-tone modifiers are used to assert racial identity, proclaiming whiteness felt uncomfortably close to displaying “white pride,” with all the baggage of intolerance that carries. At the same time, they said, it feels like co-opting something that doesn’t exactly belong to white people—weren’t skin-tone modifiers designed so people of color would be represented online?

Last year, the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, debated whether white people can use darker skin tones when sending emoji, or if that amounts to cultural appropriation.

Eli Schiff:

It was at this point that the troubling nature of the situation became more clear. It is not simply that it is problematic for whites to use the white emoji, but so too is it racist for them to use the brown shades and the yellow default. In sum, it is racist for whites to use any emoji.

There are two choices going forward: either white users should refrain from using emoji, or an alternative default must be drawn. Perhaps green, blue or purple would be an ideal choice as they don’t have racial connotations.

In effetti non ho mai considerato l’uso di un emoji che non fosse gialla. Come conseguenza — e anche per via del fatto che il giallo è stato adottato da serie TV come i Simpson — il colore di default del sistema finisce con il venire associato a sua volta ai bianchi — quasi a voler sottointendere che non hanno un colore.

Come sottolinea Eli, sarebbe stato possibile evitare questo problema optando per delle emoji blu o verdi come default. Scrive sempre il The Atlantic:

This seems to be the crux of the matter. White people don’t have to use racemoji or risk denying their identity; the default works fine. Perhaps the squeamishness on the part of whites has more to do with the acknowledgement that only white people hold this special privilege; to use the white emoji is to express a solidarity with people of color that does not exist.

So it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle. When white people opt out of racemoji in favor of the “default” yellow, those symbols become even more closely associated with whiteness—and the notion that white is the only raceless color.

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Cosa ne pensa Facebook dei giornalisti?

Gizmodo:

But if you really want to know what Facebook thinks of journalists and their craft, all you need to do is look at what happened when the company quietly assembled some to work on its secretive “trending news” project. The results aren’t pretty: According to five former members of Facebook’s trending news team—“news curators” as they’re known internally—Zuckerberg & Co. take a downright dim view of the industry and its talent. In interviews with Gizmodo, these former curators described grueling work conditions, humiliating treatment, and a secretive, imperious culture in which they were treated as disposable outsiders. After doing a tour in Facebook’s news trenches, almost all of them came to believe that they were there not to work, but to serve as training modules for Facebook’s algorithm.

Pare che utilizziamo meno Facebook per le cose personali, o meglio: le cose personali si sono spostate da Facebook — un luogo pubblico dove, data la massa d’utenti, è quasi impossibile prevedere la reazione degli utenti a un post — a Messenger — un po’ più appartato e sicuro. Di conseguenza, mentre Facebook migliora Messenger, tenta anche di cambiare lo scopo del news feed incentrandolo più sulle notizie e sull’attualità che sulla nostra cerchia d’amicizie.

L’articolo di Gizmodo descrive come le notizie proposte vengono selezionate, ricordandoci ancora una volta di una cosa ovvia: non esiste un algoritmo neutrale — ma a Facebook, così come a Twitter e agli altri aggregatori di contenuti, piace farci credere che il loro lo sia.

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Come disegnare un’interfaccia — nel 1987

Le Human Interface Guidelines sono delle linee guida scritte da Apple che spiegano come deve essere l’interfaccia di un’app per iOS o Mac — affinché risulti usabile e abbia una buona UX.

Bryant Hodson ha postato su Medium alcuni estratti dalle Human Interface Guidelines del 1987:

People appreciate visual effects, such as animation, that show that a requested action is being carried out. This is why, when a window is closed, it appears to shrink into a folder or icon. Visual Effects can also add entertainment and excitement to programs that might otherwise seem dull. Why shouldn’t using a computer be fun?

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Confezionare un prodotto per l’Apple Store

Marc Barros, il fondatore di Moment Lens, descrive le precide guideline che la scatola di un prodotto deve rispettare, se vuole finire fra le mensole di un Apple Store:

Moment had to work within Apple’s color spec, the majority of the box had to be white, and the product itself had to “be the primary focus of the package.” (Yes, those guidelines are strongly reminiscent of the company’s own white boxes that just read “iPhone” or “iPad.”)

“In traditional packaging, the front of the box would be about selling the “why”—why would you want this thing,” Barros says. “But to Apple it’s about the ‘what.’ The front of the box says ‘Mobile Photography Kit.'”

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Come trovare l’iPhone al buio, con l’Apple Watch

Nella prima schermata di Glances dell’Apple Watch — quella con vari bottoni, per attivare/disattivare bluetooth, modalità aereo, audio, etc. — c’è un bottone per far squillare l’iPhone, utile per ritrovarlo quando non si riesce a capire dove lo si è lasciato.

Mac Kung Fu ha un piccolo tip: tenendolo premuto si attiva il flash dell’iPhone, in modo da rendere la ricerca ancora più facile.

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Il feed cronologico sta morendo

La cascata d’informazione non filtrata e ordinata cronologicamente a cui ci ha abituato Twitter, Instagr.am, i blog prima e Facebook poi è un modo sempre più inefficace di processare e organizzare l’informazione online, scrive Casey Johnston:

The feed arose as a simple way to take advantage of the new possibilities of the web. How should information be sorted when it’s being created continually, and not in packaged issues or editions? Early on, putting content in a long list according to the time it was posted made the most sense. It’s the easiest way to organize anything, ever: You just make a pile, and the oldest stuff is at the bottom. It was a perfect paradigm for social networks: It’s transparent, so you don’t need to explain to your users how it works. It fits nicely on a smartphone. Best of all, it encourages people to constantly refresh, which reads as a certain kind of engagement.

Unfortunately, chronological order doesn’t scale well. Once a medium or platform has had its here-comes-everyone moment, the stuff you actually want to see gets buried in an undifferentiated stream — imagine a library organized chronologically, or even the morning edition of a newspaper. People are doing too many things and they are happening all at once, and the once-coherent experience of people using a platform unravels into noise.

Nel momento in cui un servizio raggiunge un numero considerevole di utenti, il rumore diventa troppo forte e non solo si fa fatica a tenersi aggiornati ma si fa anche fatica a capire con chi si ha a che fare — con chi si sta comunicando:

And, as it turns out, the same neutrality and transparency that made time-based sorting so appealing can be a particular liability for social media. It’s an established fact of social media services that, once they reach enough size that the potential audience for a post becomes nebulous, people shy from posting on them, because they can’t predict what reaction they’ll get. This — called “context collapse” — is why we’ve seen group messaging services boom as broader social media ones have flattened; in your Slack or HipChat or GroupMe, you know how your friends or family will react to a link you post. On an open and unfiltered social media feed, the outcome of posting to a public is far too unpredictable.

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