Thought Experiments

This Plugin Lets You, Not Facebook, Decide How Your News Feed Makes You Feel

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A couple weeks ago Facebook came clean: it wasn’t just your ex and the photos of him and his new girlfriend that were playing with your emotions. It was an inside job. Facebook’s data scientists — or perhaps we should call them omnipotent puppeteers — had manipulated users’ feeds without their consent.

Now, after public outcry and a lackluster apology from Sheryl Sandberg, Brooklyn artist and programmer Lauren McCarthy is helping us reclaim our feelings. Her latest experiment is called the Facebook Mood Manipulator, a Google Chrome extension that allows users to adjust the content of their news feeds according to how they want to feel. Read More

Adventures in Social Media

Attorneys Now Officially Allowed to Cyber-Stalk Jurors’ Social Media Accounts

"Did you guyz find stuff on Twitter" (Wikipedia)

As if potential employers, college admissions offices and probing parents weren’t enough, now lawyers might also be scouring your every Facebook post.

After two years of deliberation, the American Bar Association (ABA) has determined it’s ethical for attorneys to scan the social media profiles of jurors, as well as those under consideration for jury duty, the Associated Press reports. The decision grants attorneys permission to search for information that might reveal jurors’ or potential jurors’ biases, as well as root out instances of juror misconduct. Read More

Expert Thoughts

If You Build It They Won’t Come: What’s Wrong With Tech’s Magical Thinking

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There’s a lot in this world we don’t know. You could get hit by a flaming toilet seat from outer space tomorrow and die. You don’t know. The future is one of those things we don’t know. So if you and I can agree that we don’t know what the future holds, why do so many of us in the world of tech believe the myth of, “If you build it, they will come” and not Walt Disney’s far superior, “If you dream it, you can do it”?

Fact: You could have the best idea ever and nobody may ever know. And that lack of awareness has nothing to do with competition. That’s just an excuse. And there are a million excuses. You know what the biggest product produced by tech companies is? Excuses.  Blame the developers. Blame the PR firm. Blame the intern. Read More

shorty awards 2014

Social Media Stars Interact IRL at the Shorty Awards

Ms. Leggero in the beginning of the show. (Photo: Shorty Awards)

Social media fame is strange. Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube celebrities are kind of like reality TV stars, but with even more of an everyman feel. They’ve got low budgets and lower inhibitions, and they play characters online who are an extension of their own identities. Reading tweet after tweet, we begin to feel like we know them.

But we don’t. And meeting them in real life can be awkward. They’re not professional socializers, after all, or even traditional entertainers. They’re just people who, from the privacy of their homes, consistently craft tiny bits of entertainment for our consumption. They’ve mastered the art of connecting with people bit by bit, every day — but only when separated by the distance between two given iPhones. Read More

Social Media

Mad Genius Creates Ello, the Elegant Anti-Facebook

Paul Budnitz — exhibiting photographer and filmmaker, artist, designer toy maker, bicycle enthusiast. Add: social media magnate?

Update #1: Be sure to check out our latest reporting of Ello’s sudden explosion in popularity here.

Update #2: For anyone concerned about the future of Ello, they’ve assured us that the site will remain ad-free and porn friendly!

Update #3: Overwhelmed by the deluge of new users, Ello almost choked off all access for new members, but have gone all-hands-on-deck to keep Ello alive and soldier on through the hype.

For tech entrepreneurs and investors, a social network is the great white whale of startups. Successful ones scale hard and fast, generating mountains of precious user data for advertising clients.

Paul Budnitz, an artist and designer toy maker, thinks that kind of marketer exploitation is downright evil, and has organized a supergroup of artists, programmers, and designers to build a safe haven. It’s called Ello, and it’s a social network with a manifesto. Read More