Most Popular | August

10 Most Popular Posts This Past Month:

  1. Straight Outta…

  2. #StoneMountain7

  3. Tom Hardy [Appreciation Post]

  4. If You Can’t Point Zimbabwe Out on this Map

  5. #StopBullying Poster Series

  6. Apollo 11 Flight Dynamics [Infographic]

  7. Ode To Chicken Lyrics

  8. We’re Having a Misunderstanding

  9. No end in sight for #StraightOutta

  10. #DearNonNatives

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Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots

fembots gizmodo articleToday Ashley Madison released a statement saying that I couldn’t have figured out how many active women are on the site based on the data dump. The company is right about that. It may still be true that a relatively small number of women are active on Ashley Madison, but the evidence that I thought supported my claims means something else entirely—more on that below.

What I have learned from examining the site’s the source code is that Ashley Madison’s army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud. The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site were plentiful and eager. Whatever the total number of real, active female Ashley Madison users is, the company was clearly on a desperate quest to design legions of fake women to interact with the men on the site. Continue reading

I’m a black activist. Here’s what people get wrong about Black Lives Matter

I study a speech that Julian Bond gave at Bowling Green, in 1968:

“What will be needed, in addition to an experienced and agitating group of young activists, will be more than just the confluence of people of mutual interest and mutual concern coming together. What will be needed is what the great black man, Frederick Douglass, called for in another speech about 116 years ago. “It is not the light that is needed,” Douglass said. “but fire. It is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened, the conscience of the nation must be startled, the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed, its crimes against God and man must be denounced.”

If Bond wasn’t prophesying the Black Lives Matter movement, he came close. They are a group of agitating young activists, gaining experience by the moment. They have improved upon the mistakes of their predecessors, something Reynolds acknowledges by noting how BLM is offering more space for women and members of the LGBTQ spectrum. Continue reading

Thoughts Thought after Periscope?!?!

Above is an actual headline & title from a blog post by Chris Brogan. One of the most irritating yet wildly “popular” social media people. Whose writing, and claim to be a NYT Best-Selling Author, despite the constant word-salads he calls sentences defies any sort of logic. Having just spent an hour looking at his new “Rainmaker Platform” website, listening to a podcast recorded in his car & finding so much garbage he calls advice it seemed to me that the Department of Sanitation in his city must be on strike and there was the overwhelming stench of something left out to rot.

This newest post completely typified to me why he is popular. The more popular you are, the less you are held accountable. Chris is not held accountable by his readers or listeners for the most part. Except when it comes to this episode which is his first time using Periscope. This perplexed him, and he entertains us with bon mots like:

  • “great opportunities to move an emotional needle further into the territory it already holds”
  • “build some relationship-like connectivity by showing people your live and wobbly face”
  • “People want to feel seen.”


It was an interesting experience, having a bunch of negative people show up to see what I’d talk about. They were mostly mad that I said I didn’t like a piece of software that they like. It’s really funny to me. Just because I have an opinion that’s counter to their opinion about a software …
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Facebook & Twitter Scrutinized Over Auto-Play 

“If I were Twitter or Facebook today, I’d start thinking about how to monitor this more closely,” says Christopher Finlay, an associate professor of communication at Loyola Marymount University. “Right now, safeguards are not in place.”

One solution, Finlay suggests, is to make auto-play a feature that users have to opt into, instead of the current opt-out system. But he adds that there’s no real solution for stopping sensitive content from spreading online. “There’s no way to get the genie back in the bottle,” he says.

via Facebook, Twitter Scrutinized Over Auto-Play After Virginia TV Shooting Clip Surfaces | Hollywood Reporter

Commentary:   There is a much broader conversation to be had around this subject than the above article touches on. The two below (and probably a host of others) do a good job of discussing journalistic ethics as we now each have to think of ourselves as editors to our own media outlets.

For the most part the other day was spent reporting or flagging the Shooter POV footage as violent, which kept cropping up on every site visited. It was like a grotesque game of whack-a-mole. Self-Reportage is not the way or even a feasible answer. The videos were removed somewhat quickly, but the damage in this case was already done. When a crisis of this magnitude unfolds on social media platforms, the companies have an obligation and a duty to respond quickly. Most if not all of them allow young people as old as 13 to join their sites and it would seem that aside from a moral imperative there remains an insidious fact that copy-cats were inspired by this tactic and there will be more attempts in months and years to come. Continue reading

Facebook Ready to Start Cracking Down on Freebooting?

After years of ignoring video, Facebook is now a major player, so this kind of effort was obvious and overdue.

“We’ve heard from some of our content partners that third parties too frequently misuse their content on Facebook,” Facebook said in a blog post today. “It’s not fair to those who work hard to create amazing videos. We want creators to get credit for the videos that they own.”

Over the past year Facebook has encouraged users to post and view videos on its own player, and in April it said Facebook users were watching four billion clips a day; industry observers assume the number is much bigger now.

via Facebook Starts Cracking Down on Video Piracy | Re/code


Ashley Madison vs Big Data Analysis

Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site

The question is, how do you find fakes in a sea of data? Answering that becomes more difficult when you consider that even real users of Ashley Madison were probably giving fake information at least some of the time. But wholesale fakery still leaves its traces in the profile data. I spoke with a data scientist who studies populations, who told me to compare the male and female profiles in aggregate, and look for anomalous patterns.

My analysis had to be entirely based on the profiles themselves, not the credit card data. There is no such thing as a “paid account” for women because women don’t have to pay for anything on Ashley Madison. As a result, I couldn’t use “paid account” as a proxy for “real,” the way analysts have done with the male data. Plus, the credit card data does not list gender — so it would have been impossible to be certain of gender ratios in the credit card information anyway. In the profile database, each Ashley Madison member has a number of data fields, including obvious things like nickname, gender, birthday, and turn-ons; but the member profile also contains data that is purely for administrative use, like the email address used to create the account, and when the person last checked their Ashley Madison inbox. Continue reading

Required Reading:

As Much As I Can, As Black As I Am: The Queer History of Grace Jones

by Barry Walters

That night, Grace Jones sang “I Need a Man” just like a man might—tough and lusty, she was a woman who was not just singing to them, but also for them, as them. She was as queer as a relatively straight person could get. Her image celebrated blackness and subverted gender norms; she presented something we had never seen before in pop performance—a woman who was lithe, sexy, and hyperfeminine while also exuding a ribald, butch swagger. In ’79, Ebony got her je ne sais quoi exactly right: “Grace Jones is a question mark followed by an exclamation point.”

Even now, her transgressive charisma remains bold. She still feels outré.

via As Much As I Can, As Black As I Am: The Queer History of Grace Jones | Pitchfork.

Note: Read every delicious word of this if you care anything at all about Grace Jones or history. It is a loving tribute from one person’s perspective to give much needed context to a trail-blazing tour de force artist who with this weekend’s AfroPunk perfomance showed that even at 67 she is still a force to be reckoned with. There will never ever be another performer like Grace Jones and this little background into how her music came to be, distills the essence of that. My hat is off to Barry Walters!


Gone responsive? Great! You’re halfway there.

The quicker the user can get to the things they’re looking for, the more they will love you for it. In mobile, this requires a degree of brutality. It means getting rid of all the “nice to haves” and focusing purely on the things your data is showing to be most meaningful to the user.

I hear my inner marketer whimpering as I write this, but the odds are that your user isn’t that interested in your latest campaign or the next conference you’re sponsoring. Even video content is a usability headache with mobile data connections (please, no auto-play!). When we design for a mobile audience, we need to be aware that any loss of user confidence is amplified as every unnecessary tap is an assault on their data plan.

So we need to simplify. Cut through the clutter. Use data. Decrease page load times. Rinse. Repeat.

via Guest Blog: Gone responsive? Great! You’re halfway there.  by Jan Fagernas | Humanising Technology Blog.


Grace Jones: Original #Afropunk

Unwilling, unlikely and perhaps even unable to conform, her success in music, as well as fashion and film, was a thumb in the eye of the Western world for its overly masculine tastes in Jamaican music and exaggeratedly feminine standards of beauty. A professional model since the age of 18, she was no doubt acutely aware that her physicality was a focal point and thus weaponized it accordingly.

via Grace Jones: Original Afropunk | NOISEY.

Commentary: Great read on the career of Grace Jones & her enigmatic performance at this weekend’s Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn. Do read the whole thing, it is mercifully short for a woman whose career has spanned many decades, but it is poignantly reverential about her impact and influence on music.