Mother with crying baby says she wasn’t kicked out of Trump rally, still supports him

A message from Devan Cierra Ebert, who other attendees confirmed to be the mother at the Ashburn rally, was shared on Facebook. In her statement, she said, “Mr. Trump NEVER kicked me or my child out of the Briar Woods High School, Trump rally.”

“The media has severely blown this out of proportion and made it out to be something that it wasn’t and is clearly using this as political gain for the Democratic Party. I hope this message sheds light to what really happened,” she said.

No one from the press spoke with the mother before running their stories, and if they did, they would have learned she is still a vocal Trump supporter. “I fully support Mr. Trump,” the statement reads.

She says she’d already left the rally voluntarily when Trump made the comment about kicking her out, and she understood him to be joking.

(Ron Meyer/Redalertpolitcs)

My blogging experiment: How I think about what and where to post

I’ve been blogging at my own self-hosted WordPress blog for a few months. Before that, I did it on Google+, and before that various other platforms. I simultaneously post to Facebook, Tumblr, Medium, Twitter, and Google+. Here’s how I think about what to post:

Almost all of my blog posts are links to external content, with comments of my own. They’re short, sometimes just a sentence or two. Many of my blog posts are just an embedded tweet, image, YouTube video, or Tumblr post.

This kind of thing used to be called “tumble blogging.” There used to be several services for tumble blogging. Tumblr is the last man standing there.

Tumble blogging means posting a lot of fast, frictionless, off-the-cuff posts. Just say what’s on your mind, no matter how long or short the post might be.

In the past few years, I’ve seen people say they don’t think they can blog because they don’t have the energy to write long, organized, coherent articles. That makes my teeth hurt. Long, organized coherent essays are not required for blogging. Those essays are called “articles,” and they go on “magazines” or “news sites.” Blogging can include long, coherent, thoughtful essays, but it’s meant to be fast and off the cuff.

Personal blogging has mostly moved to Facebook nowadays. Which is great, because it brings people together and opens up blogging to people who would not otherwise do it. But it’s not entirely great because it gives Facebook far too much control of the situation. Remember a short time ago when Facebook employees suggested the company should block a Donald Trump Presidency? And remember when Facebook said nope nope nope we don’t do that. What happens next time if Facebook says yes? And they do it to a candidate or issue you like?

Facebook isn’t the only blogging platform, of course. It’s not the only social media platform either. But Facebook has the vast majority of users. Everybody else is by comparison a niche.

Earlier:

My blogging experiment: The history (which some of you already know about) and a status report

I’m blogging again. Blogging is cool.

 

Historians look to preserve what’s said on social media for future generations

We look to the journals, notebooks, and private letters of past generations to find out what people were really thinking and doing. Now, social media serves that purpose. But preserving it is tricky, both technically and ethically.

Jenna Wortham, The New York Times:

In August 2014, Bergis Jules, an archivist at the University of California, Riverside, traveled to Washington for the annual meet-up of the Society of American Archivists. The day before the conference began, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Jules, along with millions of others, found himself glued to Twitter for news, reactions and commentary. In the days that followed, hashtags like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenged the narratives presented by the mainstream media and prompted a national dialogue about racial stereotypes and police brutality. Jules teamed up with Ed Summers, a software developer in attendance, and started collecting tweets that included the word “Ferguson.”

As an archivist, Jules was struck by the way Twitter — and all social media, for that matter — is permanently altering the way we think about history. “We’re thinking ahead to how we’ll look back,” Jules says. He offered the example of how their project, DocNow, collected tweets tagged with #SayHerName, a campaign that emerged within the Black Lives Matter movement to make the movement more gender inclusive. For now, DocNow is focused mainly on Twitter, but Jules hopes it may be built out in the future to work elsewhere.

Social media might one day offer a dazzling, and even overwhelming, array of source material for historians. Such an abundance presents a logistical challenge (the total number of tweets ever written is nearing half a trillion) as well as an ethical one (will people get to opt out of having ephemeral thoughts entered into the historical record?). But this plethora of new media and materials may function as a totally new type of archive: a multidimensional ledger of events that academics, scholars, researchers and the general public can parse to generate a more prismatic recollection of history.

In March, I participated in a talk at the Museum of Modern Art about racial and gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors and how it influences the texture of the site. (Roughly 80 percent are men, and minorities are underrepresented.) Print out everything about the “Star Wars” universe, and you’ll have a heavy tome, but many notable abolitionists and female scientists are practically nonexistent. Considering that Wikipedia is the sixth-­most-­visited site in the world and increasingly treated like the encyclopedia of record, this problem seems worth considering. After the discussion, Kyra Gaunt, a professor and social-­media researcher, approached me. In her spare time, she maintains the “twerking” entry on Wikipedia, which is embroiled in a never-­ending debate about how to define the dance move. Is it more crucial to highlight its roots in black culture or Miley Cyrus’s impact on its mainstream popularity? Even new historical records like Wikipedia can be derailed by old biases reasserting themselves. At least Wikipedia publishes each page’s edit history, so as long as it can keep its servers running, there will be a rich catalog for future historians to see what we argued about and why.

The internet is pushing us ­— in good ways and in bad — to realize that the official version of events shouldn’t always be trusted or accepted without question. And historians are constantly updating the record by looking for primary sources that were overlooked in earlier eras, often from marginalized figures.

How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History

Closing the Web to keep it open

The Forrest Gump of the Internet

Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic profiles social media's least-well-known billionaire, Evan Williams. Williams founded Medium, and co-founded Twitter and Blogger.

Williams wants to keep Facebook and other closed, for-profit media silos from eating the Internet. So Williams launched Medium — a closed, for-profit social media silo. But Medium is attempting to preserve the freedom of the open Web.

The dangers of corporate consolidation dominate [Williams'] metaphors. A favorite idea is that the web’s current state resembles the factory-farmed food system. “If your job was to feed people, but you were only measured by the efficiency of calories delivered, you may learn over time that high-calorie, high-processed foods were the most efficient ways to deliver calories,” he says. They would be the most margin-friendly way to deliver calories. But the food still wouldn’t be good—because the original metric didn’t take into account “sustainability, or health, or nourishment, or happiness of the people.”

I proposed that Medium is trying to be the Whole Foods of content. He laughed.

“Maybe we are,” he said. “Not that Whole Foods is perfect, and we’re not perfect either, but we are trying to figure out how to optimize for satisfaction and nourishment, not just activity or calories.” …

Williams still comes off like a cheerleader for this better world. He told me that a Medium user wrote an open letter to him, saying that though they had posted to the site every day for a month, they had not gotten more than 100 “recommends” on their post yet. (Every social network has its atomic unit of dopamine-like recognition: Facebook has likes, Twitter has hearts, Medium has the recommend.) He said he wanted to reply and tell the guy to step back.

“Think about what you’re doing,” he says. “You’re playing this game for attention that half of humanity is playing. And you’re competing for not only the thousands of people who publish on Medium the same day, the millions of people who publish on websites that have ever published, the billion videos on YouTube, every book in the world, not to mention what’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, everything else, right now—it’s amazing any people are reading your stuff!”

That this can still happen—that any subset of readers can still find and read an amateur writer’s work—is what excites him most about Medium. Talking about the centralization of the web, he continually returns to the “bad world.”

“The worst world, the scary version, is if the tricks to get attention are a skill developed and owned primarily by profit-driven companies,” he told me. “I’d go back to the food analogy. What are people going to be consuming most of the time? They’re optimizing for clicks and dollars. Can a person who has a unique perspective play that game? Are they just going to get trounced?”

In response to this article, Dave Winer says the open Web is like Central Park, and Facebook, Twitter, etc. are like the exclusive, expensive apartment buildings that surround it.

Apple is becoming like Microsoft in the late 90s

Google, Amazon, and Facebook are betting big on AI and virtual assistants. If those are the wave of the future – and it seems likely they are – then Apple is screwed, says Marco Arment. Apple is lagging badly in those areas, and it’s not the kind of thing you can develop in secret and spring in a keynote.

Arment is not only a smart industry observer, but he’s also an Apple enthusiast and iPhone app developer. He’s the opposite of an Apple hater.

In 2007, BlackBerry was the pinnacle of mobile email and voice devices, which was what mobile phones were for. But the market moved on and BlackBerry didn’t. Apple is at risk of the same here in 2016, Arment says.

Avoiding BlackBerry’s fate – Marco Arment

Related: I recently had my first experience with Apple CarPlay and was delighted. Pairing your iPhone to the car is accomplished with a single tap, and after that you can get your Maps, messaging, phone calls, and listen to podcasts on the screen on the car’s dashboard and using the car’s speakers. Like the Apple slogan used to go: “It just works.” And, quoting another old Apple slogan, “you already know how to use it” – even if, like me, you’ve never used it before, have never read about it, and have had no training.

And that reminds me of how so many Apple tools don’t “just work” anymore. My MacBook Air freezes up sometimes. It seems to not do that if I don’t use Safari and I reboot every day. Not sure though. Haven’t found a cause. And recently I was getting quite exasperated figuring out how to share an album in Apple Photos. I’m still not sure I did it right.

Hence the title of this post.

I’m still on Facebook double secret probation

Facebook isn’t letting me post links most of the time. It does let me post them some of the time. I don’t have time to deal with this right now so I’m just going to wait it out and hope Facebook takes me off its naughty list on its own.
 
I’m pretty sure I don’t have malware. I’ve scanned my Mac twice using two separate products, and it comes up clean. Nor do I see any other clear indications that I’m infected. There has been some weird behavior — including one incident that might indicate a possible failed attack — but I don’t THINK this machine has malware. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
 
I think that what’s going on here is that I’ve been trying some automated tools for posting to Facebook and Facebook has interpreted that behavior as a possible infection, like how your credit card company will flag your account if you take a sudden trip out of town and try to use your card there.
C-26FBFF86-29AF-4BCB-9100-E00AF2DF6AAF

I’m on Facebook double secret probation!

I just got flagged for abuse by Facebook, in a message that doesn’t explain what my behavior was or how I need to change it.

I received an email from Facebook that says I’m “temporarily restricted from creating Open Graph actions” until 9:54 am tomorrow. Apparently I’ve been abusing the privilege. The notice doesn’t say how I’ve been abusive and what behavior I need to change.

I know Open Graph is how Facebook decides what images to use with a post, and that it probably does other things too. I’m no Open Graph expert.

Also, why send the notice to me on email – where I might mistake it for a phishing attempt – rather than as a Facebook message?

Actually, I can’t swear that it’s not a phishing attempt. I’m pretty sure it’s not, but who can be 100% sure.

Really poor communications, Facebook.

Update 10:46 am: I also received the notice as a Facebook notification. Still, the main part of my complaint stands: Facebook doesn’t explain what I did wrong and how I should correct this behavior.

How Facebook flubbed bringing free Internet to India

The inside story of Facebook’s biggest setback – Rahul Bhatia, The Guardian

From Zuckerberg’s vantage point, high above the connected world he had helped create, India was a largely blank map. Many of its citizens – hundreds of millions of people – were clueless about the internet’s powers. If only they could see how easily they could form a community, how quickly they could turn into buyers and sellers of anything, how effortlessly they could find anything they needed – and so much more that they didn’t. Zuckerberg was convinced that Facebook could win them over, and even more convinced that this would change their lives for the better. He would bring India’s rural poor online quickly, and in great numbers, with an irresistible proposition: users would pay nothing at all to access a version of the internet curated by Facebook.

But where Zuckerberg saw the endless promise of a digital future, Indians came to see something more sinister. Seventeen months later, Facebook’s grand plans to bring India online had been halted by overwhelming local opposition – the biggest stumbling block the company had hit in its 12-year-history. In the end, it seemed, Facebook had acted as if it was giving India a gift. But it was not a gift Indians wanted.

From a business standpoint, Facebook wanted to get India online faster because growth in Europe and America was slowing down. People who were going to go online on those two continents were already online. China was a huge market where Facebook was blocked. That left India, with a potential of 700 million to 800 million new users.

Facebook conceived Internet.org, later renamed as Free Basics, as a way of getting India’s poorest citizens a limited version of the Internet for free.

Osama Manzar, of India’s Digital Empowerment Foundation, was initially enthralled with the plan.

But Manzar’s optimism soured when he saw what Internet.org actually looked like: a threadbare platform that only allowed access to 36 bookmarked sites and Facebook, which was naturally the only social network available. There was one weather app, three sites for women’s issues, and the search engine Bing. Facebook’s stripped-down internet was reminiscent of old search engines that listed the early web on one page, when it was small enough to be categorised, like books in a library.

Crucially, Facebook itself would decide which sites were included on the platform. The company had positioned Internet.org as a philanthropic endeavour – backed by Zuckerberg’s lofty pronouncements that “connectivity is a human right” – but retained total control of the platform….

“There was tone-deafness in the people who carried out the campaign,” Nitin Pai, the co-founder of an influential policy thinktank named the Takshashila Institution, told me. “You know that foreigners talking down to Indians and telling them what is good for them is going to backfire.”

It glued the Web together

The rise and fall of FriendFeed, that social network that brought you the 'Like' button – Corinne Litchfield, The Kernel

Launched in beta in 2007, founded by four ex-Googlers – Bret Taylor, Paul Buchheit, Jim Norris, and Sanjeev Singh – FriendFeed's mission was to glue together other social networks, consolidating activity from 23 social networks into a single feed.

In addition to pioneering the Like button, it also pioneered the realtime feed, the ability to share or embed items from the feed in the wider web, and more. It had a thriving community too.

Facebook bought FriendFeed, incorporated many of its ideas in the News Feed, and killed FriendFeed in 2015.

I liked FriendFeed a lot.

“I’m calling it: Social networking is over”

People are using messaging apps for updates from friends and family about their lives – in other words, people use those apps for “social networking,” says Mike Elgan on Computerworld. The former social networks are now social media, overwhelmed by professional media organizations sharing their content.

Another nail in the coffin for social networking: “the general world of online distractions, including YouTube videos, games, articles, podcasts and more.”

My blogging experiment: The history (which some of you already know about) and a status report

In late February I decided I wanted to control the posts I make to social media. For several years before then, I posted to Google+, and used a service called Friends+Me to copy, or syndicate, those posts to Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

This Google+-first strategy worked out well in a few ways. It was fun for me – and that’s the primary reason I do this, for fun, although I do get some professional benefits. I accreted a modest but decent-sized community. I got in some great conversations. I got in touch with old friends and stayed in touch with them, and made a few new friends.

But I was unsatisfied in that I didn’t control my posts. If Google+, Facebook, or those other guys disappeared or changed their business model to exclude me, I’d be screwed. Also, I couldn’t control the layout of posts. I couldn’t insert a simple link, or image, or video. And it was hard to find old posts when I wanted to refer back to something I’d written about in the past. Annoying.

I decided to go back to blogging, something I’d done sporadically before the social media era. I’d made a return to blogging once before in 2014, but went back to the Google+/Friends+Me method after a couple of months because I noticed all the conversations were happening on Google+, Facebook, and so on, so I figured there was no point in doing it on a blog.

This time, I had a reason to do it on the blog: Because it gave me control over my work. I hoped people would come to the blog to read and comment, but I’d be fine if the conversations continued on social media. Indeed, I’d be fine if the number of conversations reduced, because I was starting to get Internet-famous enough to attract rude strangers to my posts.

It’s been more than two months of the experiment. How’s it going so far?

Quite well, actually.

I still get in a lot of good conversations on social media and I have the blog, mitchwagner.com, as a hub. In addition to the pleasure of posting and conversations, I can fiddle around with WordPress, and its plugins and themes and stuff, which I like.

Yes they am

This drove us crazy. Right across the aisle at the London Review of Books.

Posted by Richard Peabody on Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg Went All In On Live Video

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… what’s hot now in social are raw, unfiltered windows into the lives of others.

Wasn’t this a trend around 2000? People mounted webcams in the corners of their houses and we got to watch them eat, poop, and have sex all day. Anybody remember JenniCam?

I expect the Mitch Stares Slack-Jawed at Screens for 10 Hours a Day channel to be a MEGA-HIT.

Soon to be followed by a spinoff: Jesus, How Old Are You And You Still Haven’t Learned To Chew With Your Mouth Closed?

Why Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg Went All In On Live Video [Mat Honan – BuzzFeed]

I’m blogging again. Blogging is cool.

I’ve been blogging on social media for years. Recently I’ve been using Google+ first, and then automatically distributing those links to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

But I’ve increasingly become dissatisfied with that arrangement. Those platforms are owned by other people – Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Those companies control the format of my posts, and who gets to comment on them. Those companies can make changes to their service, or even shut down entirely, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

All of that was something I was willing to live with for the trade-off of connecting with other people. But in recent months, the kinds of connections I get through those services have been unsatisfying. I’m getting more comments from jerks and other unpleasant randos, and getting tired of blocking them.

So now I’m posting my links and kibitzing here. Because I own this site, I have greater control over the platform than I do over what happens on social media.

A blog is a home. Social media is couch-surfing.

Does this mean I’m leaving social media?

Not at all. I’ll continue sharing my posts from here to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and watching discussions there as before. Indeed, I’m looking for better ways to share on those platforms without taking up a lot of my time. Because this thing I do here is just a hobby.

I did this experiment once before, for five months in 2014, and ended up going back to social media. But now it’s different. At that time I was still concerned with increasing the numbers of people following me on social media – the size of my communities there. I’m less concerned now. My community numbers have been flat recently on all the services I use, and I don’t mind it. The noise from jerks and unpleasant randos is loud enough to make my social media experience less pleasant. More followers = more noise.

Also, social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are starting to become public squares. We’ve always talked about them that way, but I’m seeing that myself now and it’s a mixed blessing. We’re not individuals there, we’re just part of the group. I’ve had people commenting on my posts and refer to me in the third person – not even by name, just as “OP” (for “original poster” – a shorthand I first saw on Reddit). They start calling each other names. When I ask them to be civil with each other, they want to know who the hell I am to tell them what to do. I don’t bother to ask anymore. I just block them when they get too annoying. It’s tedious. It makes social media too much like work.

By moving off of social media to a blog platform, I make it harder for people to find and read my posts. Not a lot, just a tiny bit. And I like it that way. I’m hoping that tiny little speed bump will improve the quality of conversation. Anybody willing to make that tiny bit of effort to get here is welcome. But they have to make that tiny little bit of effort.

If my follower numbers grow by a little or a lot, I’ll be happy about that. But if they don’t, I’m fine with that too. I don’t plan to take any special steps to grow my follower numbers – no ads or search engine optimization or suchlike shenanigans. I want people to be able to find me easily if that’s what they want, and if they’re not interested, that’s fine too. 1 

Also: I recently read a blog post by a friend who’s taking a Facebook break. She values her privacy so I won’t link to it. But she, like me, is an introvert. And like me she finds social media connections to be a substitute for real life connections. She was finding going on Facebook often made her feel bad. I can relate.

I hope that by taking this baby step back from social media, I can understand better the extent to which I value personal connections, and how much I need of them, and to what extent I’m happy to be my introverted self. 2

If you’re interested in continuing to read my links and posts, thank you! Just keep on following me on social media, as you were, and click over here to read anything you find interesting. Or don’t – that’s OK too. Or you bookmark this site and come back regularly. Or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Also, you can get a daily email newsletter of my posts. I think the newsletter option is nifty and I’m surprised more people don’t take advantage of it. Perhaps I haven’t spread the word enough?

By the way, my blogging here might be temporary. I get infatuated with one technology or another and then lose interest rapidly and move on, much to the annoyance of a few friends who look to me as a technology bellwether.

On the other hand, I do stay with some things. I’ve been an online enthusiast for 27 years, longer than the Internet has been popular with the general public. I’ve been in the Appleverse for nine years now and am still satisfied. And I’ve been blogging like I do here for about nine years as well. So don’t be surprised if this blog is still up and running in some form 10 years from now, and don’t be surprised if I give it up in a few months either.

I do expect that if I stick with this for years I won’t always be on WordPress. But I do think whatever platform I’m using, I’ll continue blogging, continue doing it here at this URL, and hopefully all the archives will be in the same place too.

  1. Even friends and family should feel no obligation to connect with me online. This is my peculiar hobby that I’m happy to share with anyone, but have no interest in inflicting on people unwillingly. ↩︎
  2. “Introvert” has become such an overused word on the Internet. It makes me feel like an annoying hipster to proclaim myself to be one. On the other hand, maybe I’m missing out on an opportunity to ride the hype. I could start introvert clubs! Host an introvert conference! Just send me money and stay home and do whatever you want without interacting with other people. ↩︎

Elizabeth Warren: “Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is a loser”

The US Senator lets it rip on Facebook:

Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is a loser. Count all his failed businesses. See how he kept his father’s empire afloat by cheating people with scams like Trump University and by using strategic corporate bankruptcy (excuse me, bankruptcies) to skip out on debt. Listen to the experts who’ve concluded he’s so bad at business that he might have more money today if he’d put his entire inheritance into an index fund and just left it alone.

Trump seems to know he’s a loser. His embarrassing insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, and flagrant narcissism. But just because Trump is a loser everywhere else doesn’t mean he’ll lose this election. People have been underestimating his campaign for nearly a year – and it’s time to wake up.

More on Facebook.

The right tool for the right job

The right tool for the right job

I was doing an experiment for a couple of months sharing links and off-the-cuff posts on this blog. It’s the kind of thing people usually post nowadays to social media. But I liked the idea of having my own little corner of the internet for “tumble blogging.”

Turns out people aren’t interested in that kind of thing here. They want to see it on social media. So I’m going back to that.

Find me…

View On WordPress

The right tool for the right job

For a short time I experimented sharing links and off-the-cuff posts on this blog.

Turns out people aren’t interested in that kind of thing here. They want to see it on social media. So I’m going back to that.

Find me daily on:

My email newsletter – a daily spam-free roundup of my posts.

Also:

plus.google.com

Facebook.com

Twitter.com

mitchwagner.tumblr.com

I post the same things on all those places. Pick whichever you like best and follow me there.

And you’ll find my best work on Light Reading, for news and insights about the telecom industry.

This blog isn’t going away, but it will update slowly.

New Orleans newsroom, around 1900
New Orleans newsroom, around 1900

Facial recognition and other imaging AI will tear new holes in privacy

These advances have huge implications for our privacy, since we now document our lives with so many pictures. Facebook alone already has over 200 billion photos. So far this hasn’t had a massive impact on privacy because there’s been no good way to search and analyze those pictures, but advances in image recognition are changing all that. It’s now possible to not only reliably spot you in photos, but also tell what you’re doing. Creating an algorithm to spot common objects, whether they’re bikes or bongs, is now so easy. Imagine all your photos being processed into a data profile for advertisers or law enforcement, showing how much you party, who you’re with, and which demonstrations you attended.

You might think this is science fiction, but the mayor of Peoria managed to justify a raid on the apartment of a critic by citing a Twitter photo appearing to depict cocaine. Police departments across the country monitor YouTube videos that gang members upload of themselves threatening rivals and posing with guns. Right now, this is done manually, but it could be taken much further with easy-to-use object recognition software.

All of us have become used to uploading photos and videos safe in the knowledge that we have privacy through obscurity, but as data-mining images becomes easy, they could come back to haunt us.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence Will Let Software Extract Personal Data from Our Online Photos

Even if you delete your Facebook account, or never had one, Facebook can still find out a lot about you.