‘Be Fearless.’ Tim Cook’s Commencement Speech at Duke University


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“We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy. So we choose a different path: Collecting as little of your data as possible. Being thoughtful and respectful when it’s in our care. Because we know it belongs to you,” Cook said. “In every way, at every turn, the question we ask ourselves is not ‘what can we do’ but ‘what should we do’.”

The complete speech

Alix Langone — Time

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The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America


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Have you wondered what life would be like for a Facebook or YouTube moderator?

It’s a place where, in stark contrast to the perks lavished on Facebook employees, team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break; where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers; where people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave; and where the counseling that Cognizant offers them ends the moment they quit — or are simply let go.

The complete article

Casey Newton — The Verge

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Why Cellular Network Towers Get Disguised as Trees


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With the rise of mobile phones in the 1980s came ever more cellular network towers, and, of course, not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) criticisms from nearby residents who saw them as eyesores. Thus, an array of camouflage techniques emerged alongside this expanding technology. Towers were hidden inside church steeples, coupled with water towers, disguised as flagpoles and otherwise made to stand out less in their environments. Of course, there’s not always another structure handy to help hide a tower. So, in the early 1990s, a new idea took root and towers designed to look like trees began to crop up.

The complete article

Kurt Kohlstedt — 99% Invisible

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Digital Islam and the New Sheikhs


Technology and Religion.

Yet, and more significantly for our purposes, the video feud highlights a relationship between technology and religious authority, and indeed how changes in the former can serve to transform the latter. An early 20th Century Dawah Man certainly would not have been able to bypass traditional gatekeepers and speak directly to the masses at the scale enabled by the Internet. There are, of course, many precedents: from the printing presses that produced Martin Luther’s vernacular Bible to the local access channels that nurtured the Moral Majority; there is nothing static about the nature of religious authority. And while we often associate technological innovations with some form of democratization — as individuals gain the ability to access holy texts in an unmediated fashion, to do their own research, and to theoretically reach their own conclusions — this emancipatory narrative does not capture the complexity of these transformations.

The complete article

Suzanne Schneider — The Revealer

Bitcoin was cool until it sucked


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Suddenly no one seems to be talking about Bitcoin anymore.

As a general rule, things that are practical tend to be neither cool nor fun. This handy-dandy heuristic also provides some insight into why, as Bitcoin became more well-known, as more stuff sprung up around it, and as cryptocurrency in general became a “space” for “innovation,” Bitcoin itself went down the drain. It’s currently worth around $3,500 per coin, which is $1,000 less than the current electricity cost of mining one on your computer. (Disclosure: I own about $50 worth of Bitcoin because I am dumb as shit.)

The complete article

Drew Millard — The Outline

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Naked and Afraid


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Another one on Facebook, hopefully last for this year.

Admit you have a problem. Yes, over and over and over, Facebook executives have copped a plea. But they’ve never acknowledged the real problem is the company’s core DNA. More often than not, the company plays the pre-teen game of admitting a small sin so as to cover a larger one. The latest case in point is this post-modern gem: Elliot Schrage On Definers. The headline alone says all you need to know about Facebook’s latest disaster: Blame the guy who hired the firm, have him fall on a sword, add a bit of Sandbergian mea culpa, and move along. Nope, this time is different, Facebook. It’s time for fundamental change. And that means….

The Complete Article

John Battelle — New Co Shift

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Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek that ever lived


From The Otameal.

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The Complete article

The Oatmeal