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AI Lobbying Group Launches Campaign Defending Tech

"Chamber of Progress, a tech industry coalition whose members include Amazon, Apple and Meta, is launching a campaign to defend the legality of using copyrighted works to train artificial intelligence systems."

I understand why they're making this push, but I don't know that it's the right PR move for some of the wealthiest corporations in the world to push back on independent artists. I wish they were actually reaching out and finding stronger ways to support the people who make creative work.

The net impression I'm left with is not support of user freedom, but bullying. Left out of the equation is the scope of fair use, which is painted here as being under attack as a principle by the artists rather than by large companies that seek to use peoples' work for free to make products that they will make billions of dollars from.

The whole thing is disingenuous and disappointing, and is likely to backfire. It's particularly sad to see Apple participate in this mess. So much for bicycles of the mind.

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A Guide to VC “Congrats” Tweets, From 🤑 to 😐

“Tweet: Thrilled to have represented [VC firm] in our work with [company]. Huge outcome!”

"Translation: A partner we fired actually did the deal, and no one serviced it well until it was clear it was going to be a homerun. Then we all fought over it and rewrote history in a ‘congrats’ blogpost that never mentioned the original GP."

Hunter didn't come to play.

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Bluesky and Mastodon users can now talk to each other with Bridgy Fed

"An important step toward a more interoperable “fediverse” — the broader network of decentralized social media apps like Mastodon, Bluesky and others — has been achieved."

Bridgy has always been a useful product; Bridgy Fed is an easy way for folks on the fediverse and on Bluesky to be able to interact with each other. I've opted in and I expect many other people to do the same.

Ideally it wouldn't be an opt-in - I think this kind of bridge is incredibly useful in its own right. I know it's been fraught on the Mastodon side because of Bluesky's provenance and former relationship to both Twitter and Jack Dorsey. I personally don't see the issue at all: the more the merrier.

Ryan Barrett is brilliant: I really appreciate his ability to quietly add value by creating user-first technology solutions that speak for themselves.

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Building another big fediverse platform

1 min read

Purely hypothetically, I wonder what it would take to raise enough money to build another first-class fediverse platform for the mass market.

Not because there’s anything wrong with Mastodon (or Threads or Flipboard), but I think the fediverse would be healthier with another big platform in the mix.

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A computer can never be held accountable

Therefore a computer must never make a management decision

1 min read

I love this IBM slide circa 1979, which is more relevant today than ever:

A computer can never be held accountable; therefore a computer must never make a management decision

Simon Willison asked about the provenance. Jonty Wareing weighed in:

It was found by someone going through their father's work documents, and subsequently destroyed in a flood.

I spent some time corresponding with the IBM archives but they can't locate it. Apparently it was common for branch offices to produce things that were not archived.

The original source confirmed this a few years ago.

Still, it’s a really pertinent message, which is proving to be more timeless than expected.

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A jab back at Brexit (or a kick in the teeth)

The UK general election on July 4 is a symbol.

4 min read

Nigel bloody Farage

I grew up in Britain, but I was able to be there because of my European citizenship. When I moved to the US it was because my mother was terminally ill; I’d always assumed that I would go back. When the Brexit vote happened, I took it extremely personally: in lots of ways, the British public voted to throw people like me out.

In the interim, some people have assured me that, no, it’s not people like me. After all, I have a British accent, and if you didn’t actually know, you’d be forgiven for assuming that I was British. Of course, that’s a hugely xenophobic reflex: my British accent makes me okay, but someone else’s Polish accent means that they’re not. I stand with the people who more obviously come from somewhere else; I do, too. All of us are (or, I suppose, were) an active part of British society, integral parts of communities, and so on.

Brexit was offensive, stupid, counterproductive, and xenophobic. I’m not glad that Britain has been suffering the consequences of this own-goal, because so many of my friends still live there, and so many communities are suffering. Spitefully wishing ill on people who are hurting isn’t a good look. But I certainly have no love for the people who voted for this travesty.

It’s not fun to be barred from living in the place I called home. It happened at a time in my life when it was becoming apparent that there was a terminal, genetic disease that runs in my family; multiple family members had it, and I hadn’t yet had the genetic test that suggested my sister and I weren’t going to get it. It was the same year that Trump became President on a similarly anti-immigrant platform. Overall, it was A Bad Time.

Oddly, then, I’m not unhappy to see Nigel Farage run for Prime Minister. Obviously, he’s among the worst people alive, as if the worst impulses of British society had been congealed, Doctor Who style, into a comic book villain with an angry toad for a face. Two of his children are even dual European citizens, because the hypocrisy is part of the schtick for these people. But because he’s running, he’s going to split the Conservative vote, with the hard right voting for Farage and the people who claim they’re not hard right voting for whoever the Conservative leader of the week will be on — who picked this day?! — July 4th. (It’ll be Rishi Sunak or a slowly-decomposing head of iceberg lettuce. Let’s see.)

Keir Starmer is not a giant leap of an improvement: a John Major impersonator who would have comfortably been a Tory candidate in 1995. But at least he’s not one of the guys who brought about Brexit and all of the ludicrous policies that followed. It’s something. A jab back for all the people who have been hurt over the last 14 years since hog aficionado David Cameron was first elected with the help of a last-minute coalition assist from Nick Clegg, who, of course, now leads international face-saving for Meta.

A Conservative loss is the foothills of the foothills of the foothills of the work to be done to rebuild. But it would, at least, be a baby step forward. And even then, I’m ready to be disappointed, because, really, nothing in this arena has gone well since forever, and I, for one, have lost the ability to be really optimistic.

 

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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Is Microsoft trying to commit suicide?

Microsoft's Recall software seems like a horrible idea:

"Surprise! It turns out that the unencrypted database and the stored images may contain your user credentials and passwords. And other stuff. Got a porn habit? Congratulations, anyone with access to your user account can see what you've been seeing. Use a password manager like 1Password? Sorry, your 1Password passwords are probably visible via Recall, now."

Worse, it's going to be built into Windows 11 for all compatible hardware, in a way that will make it hard or impossible to disable. This doesn't make sense to me: which privacy-conscious CIO (just for example, one working in a well-regulated industry where privacy is a legal requirement) would allow this to roll out? This is yet another reason for Windows 10 to remain the most popular version.

It also seems like nobody at Microsoft (or nobody at Microsoft with power) has considered the potentially serious social implications of what they're building:

"Victims of domestic abuse are at risk of their abuser trawling their PC for any signs that they're looking for help. Anyone who's fallen for a scam that gave criminals access to their PC is also completely at risk."

I'm increasingly concerned about what Apple will be rolling out on Monday. We're hearing quite believable rumors that it'll be AI-based, but is it going to be Apple's take on the same thing? That, too, has the potential to be a disaster.

Once again, I can't believe that the only way to get away from this stuff will be to run Linux on the desktop.

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Online Privacy and Overfishing

"The pervasive nature of modern technology makes surveillance easier than ever before, while each successive generation of the public is accustomed to the privacy status quo of their youth."

The key, as Bruce Schneier argues here, is not to compare with our own baselines, but to take a step back and consider what a healthy ecosystem would look like in its own right.

The underlying story here is that Microsoft caught state-backed hackers using its generative AI tools to help with their attacks, and people were less worried about the attacks themselves than about how Microsoft found out about them. It's a reasonable worry, and I thought the same thing: if Microsoft found this, then they're likely more aware of the contextual uses of their platform than we might assume.

This is certainly less private than computing was twenty or thirty years ago. But it's not a major iteration on where we were five years ago, and without intervention we're likely to see more erosion of user privacy over the next five years.

So what should our standards for privacy be overall? How should we expect a company like Microsoft to treat our potentially sensitive data? Should we pay more for more security, or should it just be a blanket expectation? These are all valid questions - although I also have ready, opinionated answers.

Perhaps the more important question is: who has the right to come to a conclusion about these questions, and how will they be enforced? As of now, it's still open.

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Columbia Law Review Board Nukes Website Over Palestine Article

"Eghbariah’s paper for the Columbia Law Review, or CLR, was published on its website in the early hours of Monday morning. The journal’s board of directors responded by pulling the entire website offline. [...] According to Eghbariah, he worked with editors at the Columbia Law Review for over five months on the 100-plus-page text."

Regardless of your perspective on the ongoing crisis in Israel and Palestine, this seems like a remarkable action: removing a heavily-reviewed, 100+ page legal analysis because it discusses the Nakba, the mass-displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 Palestine war.

The right thing to do would be to publish it - as the editors tried to do - and allow legal discussion to ensue. Instead, the board of directors chose to simply pull the plug on the website.

As one Columbia professor put it:

“When Columbia Law Professor Herbert Weschler published his important article questioning the underlying justification for Brown v. Board of Education in 1959 it was regarded by many as blasphemous, but is now regarded as canonical. This is what legal scholarship should do at its best, challenge us to think hard about hard things, even when it is uncomfortable doing so.”

If nothing else, this is a reflection of how sensitive these issues are in the current era, whose voices are allowed to be heard, and the conflicts between different ideologies, even on university campuses.

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How Tony Stubblebine turned Medium around in the AI era

This is a lovely piece about Tony Stubblebine, who, as it rightly says, is doing an excellent job as the new CEO of Medium.

"Under Stubblebine’s direction, Medium, a site known for its many pivots, is finally being strategic about what it wants and where it’s headed. Last year, it launched a Mastodon server for premium users, and in March it demonetized AI-generated content on its platform. It is solidly on the side of team human and is finally starting to see that pay off."

I worked at Medium in 2016-2017, and I've known Tony since 2007. I genuinely like Ev, too, but I think Tony was a fantastic choice of leader, and that's really bearing out in his choices over the last few years. I was particularly happy when Medium launched its own Mastodon instance to check out the network and help give it some cloud in certain circles.

"It’s hard not to want to root for Medium. The assumption for more than a decade has been that the way the internet has to work will be determined by what makes the most money for a handful of companies. They wanted us to post content, then they wanted us to share content, then they wanted us to watch it endlessly, and now they want us to use their AI, which will create a bubble we’ll live in forever."

I agree.

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UK broadcasters trade ad airtime for advertisers’ shares

This is an interesting business model: UK broadcasters are trading unused ad space for equity in digital media startups, turning them into venture-scale investors.

"The move comes as broadcasters continue to face a tough economic downturn where corporate clients have slashed spending on advertising – which is traditionally seen as a bellwether of the economic climate."

The thing about venture investing is that it doesn't have a short time horizon: exits could easily be a decade away. So this is either a deliberately long game or a really short-sighted move on behalf of the broadcasters, who might not be prepared to hold a basket of liabilities for that long. Of course, they could presumably sell the equity, but that pressure on the secondary market would have the potential to drive the startups' share prices down. Really the broadcasters need to hold onto their portfolios.

I'm very curious to see how this plays out. It's definitely an innovative way to use an otherwise illiquid asset (unsold ad space). I want these broadcasters to survive, and I like the ecosystem-building aspect of this, so I hope it all works out for everyone involved.

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Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wants AI clones in meetings

Eric Yuan has a really bizarre vision of what the future should look like:

"Today for this session, ideally, I do not need to join. I can send a digital version of myself to join so I can go to the beach. Or I do not need to check my emails; the digital version of myself can read most of the emails. Maybe one or two emails will tell me, “Eric, it’s hard for the digital version to reply. Can you do that?” Again, today we all spend a lot of time either making phone calls, joining meetings, sending emails, deleting some spam emails and replying to some text messages, still very busy. How [do we] leverage AI, how do we leverage Zoom Workplace, to fully automate that kind of work? That’s something that is very important for us."

The solution to having too many meetings that you don't really need to attend, and too many emails that are informational only, is to not have the meetings and emails. It's not to let AI do it for you, which in effect creates a world where our avatars are doing a bunch of makework drudgery for no reason.

Instead of building better business cultures and reinventing our work rhythms to adapt to information overload and an abundance of busywork, the vision here is to let the busywork happen between AI. It's an office full of ghosts, speaking to each other on our behalf, going to standup meetings with each other just because.

I mean, I get it. Meetings are Zoom's business. But count me out.

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Protecting artists on the fediverse

OpenAI

Over the weekend, I started to notice a bunch of artists moving to Cara, a social network for artists founded by Jingna Zhang, herself an accomplished photographer.

The fediverse is a decentralized cooperative of social networks that can interact with each other: a user on one network can follow, reply, like, and re-share content from a user on another network. The whole thing depends on an open standard called ActivityPub, shared community norms, and a cooperative culture.

Of course, my first reaction was that Cara should be compatible with the fediverse so that its content could be more easily discoverable by users on social networks like Threads, Flipboard, and Mastodon. Cara is explicitly set up to be a network for human artists, with no AI-generated content, which will be increasingly valuable as the web becomes flooded with machine-made art. The fediverse would allow them to publish on sites like Cara that are set up to support their needs, while finding a broad audience across the entire web.

From its About page:

With the widespread use of generative AI, we decided to build a place that filters out generative AI images so that people who want to find authentic creatives and artwork can do so easily.

[…] We do not agree with generative AI tools in their current unethical form, and we won’t host AI-generated portfolios unless the rampant ethical and data privacy issues around datasets are resolved via regulation.

I’d love to follow artists on Cara from my Mastodon or Threads accounts. But how does Cara’s AI stance square with the fediverse? How might artists on Cara find a broad audience for their work across the web without risking that art being used as training data without permission?

The first thing a site can do to prevent its content from being used as training data is to add exclusion rules to its robots.txt file. These theoretically prevent crawlers owned by model vendors like OpenAI from directly accessing art from the site. There is nothing that legally binds crawlers from obeying robots.txt; it’s less enforceable than a handshake agreement. Still, most claim that they voluntarily do.

But even if robots.txt was an ironclad agreement, content published to the fediverse doesn’t solely live on its originating server. If Cara was connected to the fediverse, images posted there could still be found on its servers, but they would also be syndicated to the home servers of anyone who followed its users. If a user on Threads followed a Cara user, the Cara user’s images would be copied to Threads; if a user on a Mastodon instance followed that user, the images would be copied to that Mastodon instance. The images are copied across the web as soon as they are published; even if Cara protects its servers from being accessed by AI crawlers, these other downstream fediverse servers are not guaranteed to be protected.

By connecting to the fediverse, one might argue that servers implicitly license their content to be reused across different services. This is markedly different from RSS, where this is explicitly not the case: there is legal precedent that says my RSS feed cannot be used to republish my content elsewhere without my permission (although you can, of course, access its content in a private feed reader; that’s the point). But on the fediverse, the ability to reshare across platforms is core functionality.

The following things are all true:

  • Content published to the fediverse may be both re-copied to and served from other peoples’ servers
  • Those servers may have different policies regarding content use
  • In the absence of a robots.txt directive, AI crawlers will scrape a website’s data, even if they don’t have the legal right to
  • Some servers may themselves be owned by AI vendors and may use federated content to train generative models even without the use of a scraper

As a result, there is no way an author can protect it from being used in an AI training set. The owners of a fediverse site wouldn’t have the right to make a deal with an AI vendor to sell the content it hosted because they wouldn’t have the copyright to all of that content in the first place. But because AI crawlers greedily scrape content without asking for permission, unless the site explicitly opts out with robots.txt, it doesn’t matter.

This leads me to a few conclusions:

  • It is a moral obligation for every fediverse site to prevent crawling of federated content by robustly setting robots.txt directives at a minimum
  • Discussions about adding content licensing support to the fediverse are even more important than they appear
  • Someone needs to legally prevent AI vendors from using all available data as training fodder

A fediverse (and a web!) where Cara can safely join while adhering to its principles is a more functional, safer network. To build it we’ll need to support explicit licensing on the fediverse, create a stronger standard for user protections across fediverse sites, and seek more robust legal protections against AI crawler activity. While these are ambitious goals, I believe they’re achievable — and necessary to support the artists and content creators who make the web their home.

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Known fizzled

2 min read

One of my biggest regrets is how the Known hosted service declined. The paid subscriptions came to an end, and eventually the hosting whimpered out. Behind the scenes, the database cluster was in need of more maintenance than I was able to provide.

Known itself has required more maintenance than I’ve been able to provide for quite some time. I wish I could spend more bandwidth on it, but the state of my life right now is that it’s just not possible for me to dedicate the coding time for something that isn’t paying my bills and isn’t having the impact I wanted it to.

I wish we’d sent out a strong email at the end and allowed everyone to export their data automatically. I also wish Known had import/export that was reliable so that people could explore other platforms.

After attempting to claw the time to do it myself, I’d like to hire someone to build the latter, and then apply it to everyone who had a hosted account. The export function could be built into the Known UI or as a CLI tool. If this seems like something you might be able to do, let me know.

Overall, I have a ton of regrets about Known — something for a future post (or series of posts), maybe. This site is still powered by it, though, and I know other people still use it, too. So it’s not dead — just small.

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The 21 best science fiction books of all time – according to New Scientist writers

This list of the New Scientist's favorite science fiction books is brilliant. The books I've read that are included here are some of my favorites of all time; the others are on my to-read list. What's your favorite?

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How Black Lives Became The Hidden Cost of Clean Energy

"The nation, fractured by war, disease, and famine, has seen more than 6 million people die since the mid-1990s, making the conflict the deadliest since World War II. But, in recent years, the death and destruction have been aided by the growing number of electric vehicles humming down American streets."

A good reminder that our desire for batteries and power has a human impact, no matter which path we take. Renewable energy is still a far better choice, but we run the risk of thinking that "clean" tech is truly clean without doing the work necessary to ensure that everyone in the supply chain is well taken care of.

Solidarity campaigns and activism to protect peoples' lives are good, but it's notable that we never really get to hear about them, and this issue is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the tech press.

As the piece points out:

"“We’re always on the menu, but we’re never at the table,” he said. “The space of transportation planning and climate change is mostly white people, or people of color that aren’t Black, so these discussions about exploitation aren’t happening in those spaces — it is almost like a second form of colonialism.”"

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“The way we raise the money at The Guardian is different than any place I’ve ever been”

"The way we raise the money at The Guardian is different than any place I’ve ever been. This is truly a jointly owned responsibility among the business side and editorial."

Every non-profit newsroom needs to move their center of gravity from large contributions to smaller, distributed support from its reader base. The Guardian is doing it incredibly well, and there's a lot to learn from how it's going about things.

I'm not sure about the idea of tracking revenue per article, but the idea of making the whole newsroom involved in its continued existence doesn't seem bad to me (even if it goes against accepted orthodoxy). The trick is not taking it too far, and being open to secondary or tertiary effects. There are some stories that are vitally important even if they aren't obvious moneymakers, and newsrooms must retain a strong argument for running them.

The Guardian's "epic" at the bottom of every article drives a ton of revenue for them, and I'd love to learn more about how they optimize it in practice.

Finally, this seems right to me, and something for all news (for-profit and non-profit alike) to emulate:

"Nine or 10 years ago, we did a lot of work to decide whether we should have a paywall or not. And we decided that we would both fulfill our mission better, but we would also generate more revenue, if there were no paywall. Now it’s part of our DNA and we talk about it every day."

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User Research Is Storytelling

I shared this with my team and one of them said they had to check that I didn't write it. This is exactly how I think about (and ask my team to think about) rooting software development in human needs.

"All the elements of a good story are there in the three-act structure of user research." And if I'd written a post about it, it might look a little bit like this one.

There's a reason for the closeness: both our processes were informed by Nancy Duarte, who is very clear about the role of the three act structure. The details of my approach are a little bit different to what’s laid out in this post - something I may write about in a future post.

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Unexpected Anti-Patterns for Engineering Leaders

"The key to effective engineering leadership lies in figuring out which scenarios are worth deliberately defying conventional logic, and when to simply follow the rules."

Lots of good food for thought here. I've definitely been guilty of some of the anti-patterns here - particularly trying to be an umbrella for my team, which can leave people out of the loop and let them feel like they're lacking needed transparency.

The key is being able to jump in and get into the weeds when it's helpful, get out when it's not, and give everybody the context, culture, information, and resources they need in order to do their best work in service of the mission, vision, and strategy.

Speaking of, I love this:

"There’s this pervasive belief that there’s no strategy anywhere, but that’s not true. There is strategy everywhere, it’s just rarely written."

That's been true of every organization I've joined, and - if I'm honest with myself - every organization I've started.

"Complicating things even further, Larson also has found that many companies do have a habit of writing things down, they just aren’t the right things. “It’s the small decisions that end up getting documented,” Larson says. “You’d think it would be the opposite, but in my experience, the answers to important questions like, ‘Why did we go into this business? Why are we shutting down this business line? Why are we doing this services migration that's going to take five years?’ literally aren't written down anywhere.”"

Encouraging people to write reflections, to capture the "why" of decisions that were made, and, essentially, to journal the journey of the team and the company is rarely done, but I think forms part of a solution to many problems.

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Can we at least agree that killing is wrong?

4 min read

I don’t think it’s possible to morally support the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, but that’s too weak a statement. What’s happening there seems to be — based on what I’ve read through the news, what I’ve seen in video, the stories that have been sent back to us — an atrocity. The latest story, from Rafah, is of an airstrike on a civilian evacuation zone where displaced families were sheltering in tents:

Images showed the area engulfed in flames as screaming Palestinians fled for safety, with some video shared on social media showing disturbing images, including severely burned corpses and a man holding what appeared to be the headless body of a small child.

There’s nothing flippant to say about this. This isn’t sports, where you root for a team. It’s not a theoretical debate: certainly not for the families who have no way to escape, kettled as they are into a small strip of land under constant military bombardment.

The bombardment on Gaza is disproportionate and indefensible. Thirteen thousand children alone have been killed. A quarter of surviving children have acute malnutrition. There’s nowhere for them to go, and nowhere for them to get the care they need. In the face of these conditions, there must be a ceasefire. Obviously there must be a ceasefire.

Making statements like this is fraught. It sometimes seems like we’re being asked to fall into weird ideological lines that have little to do with the humanity of the people involved. Following the events of October 7, I unfollowed multiple progressive Instagram accounts that not only described the attack and kidnappings as the necessary work of de-colonization, but applauded the action. It’s clear to me that Palestine has been annexed, its land illegally settled, and its people made to suffer at the hands of increasingly-conservative Israeli policy. Protest and resistance are inevitable and justifiable. Regardless, I can’t support the killing and kidnapping of civilians, let alone accept cheerleading for it. Not ever.

By the same token, I see some people online call for an end to the state of Israel. What would that entail, exactly? Assuming it was a desirable goal, how might one go about achieving that? Dismantling it would involve unthinkable bloodshed.

Some people talk about how Hamas is the local government, and how the people there voted for them, so they deserve what’s happening to them. That it’s okay to bomb hospitals because Hamas is hiding out in them — regardless of international law related to protecting the lives of human shields.

The history, today’s political issues, and the road to a solution are far more complicated than can be conveyed by memes and soundbites. I have no solutions to the problems in this region or how to get to a lasting peace.

But some things are not complicated at all.

Don’t kill. Don’t subjugate. Don’t dehumanize. Don’t reduce lives, in all their complexity and beauty, to points and sides.

The core of this issue right now is — or should be — concern for human life. Everyone, regardless of nationality or political affiliation, should be appalled when children burn to death or are decapitated (whether they’re in an evacuation zone or not). The ruining of cities should never yield applause.

The protests on university campuses are the latest in a long line of campus anti-war protests, and I’m strongly in favor of them. Except, because of course this is true, there are people there who conflate the protest over policy with protests of anyone who is Israeli, or even anyone who is a Jew. I’ve personally heard stories of at least one person being spat on, not because of any rhetoric they were espousing, but simply because of who they were.

This all has the potential to escalate. I worry that it will. This is all already so horrific.

These are human beings. The Palestinian people are human beings. The Israeli people are human beings. Arabs are human beings. Jews are human beings. They are not their leaders; they are not their circumstances. They all - like all people - deserve to live, and live well. The death of any human being is never something to celebrate or to praise as a strategy. It’s all just endless tragedy.

Stop the killing. Find another way.

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Who actually uses Instagram’s Threads app? Taiwanese protestors

"While young Taiwanese users discuss everything from relationships to celebrity gossip on Threads, the app has gradually become a gathering space for progressives, who favor independence from China to defend the island’s democracy."

Threads has an official stance of not promoting political use. This is an example, though, of how any social platform will be political whether you want it to be or not - and therefore how the challenges and responsibilities surrounding that speech will present themselves regardless of whether you want them to.

I think there's no alternative: every mass social platform must assume that it will host political content from vulnerable groups (as well as powerful ones) and staff up appropriately.

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Study Finds That 52 Percent of ChatGPT Answers to Programming Questions Are Wrong

On answering programming questions: "We found that 52 percent of ChatGPT answers contain misinformation, 77 percent of the answers are more verbose than human answers, and 78 percent of the answers suffer from different degrees of inconsistency to human answers."

To be fair, I do expect AI answers to get better over time, but it's certainly premature to use it as a trusted toolkit for software development today. One might argue that its answers are more like suggestions for an engineer to check and adapt as appropriate, but will they really be used that way?

I think it's more likely that AI agents will be used to build software by people who want to avoid engaging with a real, human engineer, or people who want to cut corners for one reason or another. So I think the warnings are appropriate: LLMs are bad at coding and we shouldn't trust what they say.

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Nostr Journalism Accelerator

Nos is running a "journalism accelerator", which onboards independent journalists and publications onto Nostr with guaranteed promotion and 1:1 help.

Nostr is a different kind of open network, in the sense that it's decentralized rather than federated. Famously, Jack Dorsey defected there from Bluesky, in part because Bluesky started offering service-level features like community moderation rather than just focusing on the protocol. It's also much more closely tied to crypto communities than either the fediverse or Bluesky.

I'm curious about the kinds of journalists who might sign up for this. I spotted The Conversation there while I was nosing around, but I haven't found any other publishers I recognized; the network really is very open to build on, so I wonder if more might follow - and if they skew in any particular direction.

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Why publishers are preparing to federate their sites

"At least two digital media companies are exploring the fediverse as a way to take more control over their referral traffic and onsite audience engagement."

The Verge and 404 Media will both support ActivityPub (a protocol, not a "plugin", as the article calls it) and plug into the fediverse.

This dovetails with what I've been talking about for some time: "Instead of spending time building a presence on other platforms for their benefit, a publisher can do that on their own sites — while giving readers the ability to see those posts on other federated platforms." And while the fediverse is still in an early, growing stage, it's worth taking a bet on.

As Flipboard's Mike McCue says further into the piece, "What The Verge is doing is definitely pioneering the future for media." I'm hopeful that more publishers follow suit - with this and other experiments that have the potential to help them build more direct first-party relationships with their audiences.

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The Fatal Flaw in Publishers' OpenAI Deals

"It’s simply too early to get into bed with the companies that trained their models on professional content without permission and have no compelling case for how they will help build the news business."

This piece ends on the most important point: nobody is coming to save the news industry, and certainly not the AI vendors. Software companies don't care about news. They don't think your content is more valuable because it's fact-checked and edited. They don't have a vested interest in ensuring you survive. They just want the training data - all of it, in order to build what they consider to be the best product possible. Everything else is irrelevant.

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