This week, we were thinking about data post-language, reading the tea leaves of algorithms, and wondering how to protect the first principles of the web. As always, if you want to keep up with what we’re reading/thinking about on a weekly basis, the best way is to subscribe to the “else” feed, either as an email newsletter or through RSS. And tweet us links!
We’re Leaving — The Bygone BureauI like this take on the discussion of the “post-verbal” in Her as suggesting a time when data supplants language. It was a very brief moment in the movie, but I think it’s at the crux of how we will relate to our machines going forward.
Your Eyes or My Words — Joanne McNeil
In a talk she gave at Lift, Joanne McNeil explores reading the “tea leaves” guess work of understanding algorithms. “Sometimes the information was surprising and made you wonder why that person spends so much time thinking of you. This is information that was never designed for a human to see.”
You Can Now Edit Your Cheesy Facebook “Look Back” Video — Slate
Facebook’s look back videos were poignant and nostalgic, but sometimes the algorithms were missing the mark, so it exposed the ability to edit. This is what happens when we let algorithms tell our stories for us.
How Facebook Has Changed in 10 Years — Courtesy of an Ex-Employee —Re/code
There were plenty of retrospectives celebrating Facebook last week, but this insight from a former employee exploring the “capital-R rules” shows exactly how much the normative rules of a system evolve in the span of ten short years. “No, you can’t let moms join Facebook because Facebook is for students.” to “No, you can’t allow anonymity because Facebook is built on real identity.”
Attempting to Code the Human Brain — WSJ.com
Facebook-backed Vicarious is teaching algorithms to imagine the shape of cows. “If you invent artificial intelligence, that’s the last invention you’ll ever have to invent.”
As Technology Gets Better, Will Society Get Worse? — The New Yorker
Tim Wu questions what “progress” means if it results in comforts that eventually kill us.
Tim Berners-Lee: we need to re-decentralise the web — Wired UK
Post-NSA, TBL warns against localized internet: “I want a web that’s open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based.”
#recap: Defending an Unowned Internet — Cyborgology
Whitney Erin Boesel posted a nice recap of this Berkman talk discussing the consolidation of most of the web into corporate ownership (ex AWS). Video from the conversation is here in full.