Category Archives: urls

Social media loves echo chambers, but the human brain helps create them — Quartz

This … does not make me particularly optimistic about the human tendency towards cognitive laziness.

Julia Shaw, a psychologist and author of The Memory Illusion, says memes “generally do win.” We’re exposed to so much information that digesting and remembering only the most succinct and appealing snippet—say, a misleading headline—becomes second-nature. Some politicians are already exploiting that dissonance by promoting an intentionally broad range of ideas, even including conflicting ones, so that supporters can cherry-pick the messages they prefer.

“By having a campaign that says lots of different and sometimes contradictory things, you give people the ability to only remember and care about things that match their worldview,” Shaw says.

Source: Social media loves echo chambers, but the human brain helps create them — Quartz

Charlie Stross on consistency in magic UX, and the diminishing of hackability

From the inimitable Chuck Stross, a short post that’s ringing in my head about modern SF/F writing and our collective expections of magic, given our tool-using nature: Not a Manifesto – Charlie’s Diary. (includes a quote from Max Gladstone, below)

Old-school fantasy is a genre of the unknowable. Magic in Tolkien’s works is big and vast and ancient. His characters relate to that magic with awe, with fear, and occasionally with love. No one tries to hack the One Ring. Certainly no one tries to build a new one! People acquire the One Ring, or the Palantir, and use each within its limits.

But consider the smartphone I have in my pocket.

No single human being knows how to make this phone. I acquired the phone, and I use it. People who know more about the phone can tell it to do more things than I can, but they’re still bound by the limits of the hardware. A few communities are dedicated to modding and hacking phones like mine, yes, but for most people most of the time a smartphone is a portable magic mirror. We make mystic passes before the glass, address the indwelling spirit with suitably respectful tones, and LEARN THE FUTURE. (“Siri, what will the weather be like tomorrow?”) The same thought experiment works for many modern technologies.


“This is why I read history.”

It turns out that back in the ’80s, when corporate executives came up with the idea of a “poison pill” to make their firms less attractive to hostile takeovers, they were lifting a page from Queen Elizabeth’s book. Four hundred years earlier, she had drafted the Bond of Association, signed by all the members of her privy council, as well as thousands of other volunteers from across her realm, in which they swore that, in the event of her murder, they would not only kill her killers, but anyone who laid claim to the throne as a result of her demise, regardless of their innocence, I’m looking at you, Mary Queen of Scots.

This is why I read history.

via Colin MacDonald – Poison Pill.

Everything is going up

One of Soul Coughing’s best, re-done by the song’s author and the band’s very-ex-frontman, the inimitable Mike Doughty. Stuck in my head this morning.

Everything is going up.
Everything is going as planned, yeah.
Everything moves along.
Everything is fine, fine, fine.

Oh I could be condemned to Hell for every sin but littering.
I could slip on the East River and crash into Queens all skittering.
I’ve seen the cops and the robbers, and I know they dance the same.
I’ve seen a half a zillion girls and haven’t spoken to a single one of them.

Batting in the light,
My reptile-lidded eyes.
And all this strung end to end,
Is wider than the mind.

And this cool I’ve been playing
I have been playing too long
Now my capacities are dwindling
’til they’re Gone Gone Gone.

Baby can I change my mind?
I just want to change my mind.