From the dust jacket of “A Short History of the Future”
I was going to write a long blog post about how the internet has made music better.
But pictures and sound speak louder than words:
CDs are a rubbish way of listening to music aren’t they. Bits of plastic tat. No wonder vinyl is making a comeback. I’m only got my @TheCoathangers CD at Christmas and already it’s scratched on one of my favorite tracks. This one:
So which of these bands am I going to be lucky enough to see next?
Death Valley Girls say they’ll be back in May, a The Coathangers UK tour is rumored, and The Darts are in France in May which is not that far… But it might be easiest to see @ppeachclubb as they come from Norwich, not LA…
It’s too late to stop now!
2017 gets off to rousing start with DJ Southwold‘s magical sophisticated rhythms and some elderly geezer “singing”…
punk’s not dead!
Let’s be diplomatic and say that 2016 was… a missed opportunity.
As always I could not have done anything without the help and support of family, friends and colleagues.
So, if you happen to be reading this… best wishes for a hopeful 2017.
Merry Christmas!… (I make no apology for re-releasing my massive Christmas smash from last year)…
…And a happy Hogmanay! (it sounds a bit Scottish)…
The family “Best of 2016” playlist is now available!
Partially redacted text of email I have sent this morning to British Gas complaints department:
“I am a British Gas Homecare customer – account number XXXXXXXXXX
this email is to complain about the extremely poor service we have received around a simple job of replacing the transformers in our kitchen ceiling lights.
We have now had 9 (nine) appointments or visits in the past three months from British Gas to try and complete this simple job.
The first appointment was on the 11th of October. (reference XXXXXXXXXX) when the engineer said he couldn’t do the job as he needed more time.
On at least 3 of the subsequent occasions the appointment has been cancelled the previous day at very short notice.
One one occasion I took leave and waited for British Gas only for no one to come and to be told that the job had not been booked in.
My wife has taken leave on at least 2 occasions to be in when the engineer was supposed to call.
We have been told when some of the appointments were cancelled that “this is a two man job” which is why arranging it is so difficult. However on the 17th November one engineer turned up who had not been told what the job was. He was perfectly capable of doing the job on his own but and only managed to do half as he didn’t have enough of the right parts. The reference number for this appointment was XXXXXXXXXXX.
The final straw occurred on Monday 5th December. I had double checked the previous Friday (2nd December) by ringing your helpline and I was assured by your operator that the job was going ahead, the same engineer as previously had been booked in with the correct part. My wife stayed in but no one came. When she rang up she was told that the job had been booked in but not the engineer, a direct contradiction of what I had been told on the Friday.
We are now considering cancelling our British Gas Home Care Agreement. We have already complained about this matter and have standard letters from you dated 15th and 16th November.
This has caused us considerable disruption and stress…. I am now asking for you to compensate us financially for our inconvenience. We have already received a small amount from you but I am expecting a more significant amount of money as the job is still not completed and we will now have to pay someone else to do it.
I can be contacted on this email address or on XXXXXXXXXXXXXX”
This alarming picture of political clickbait on Facebook from @terrence_mccoy in the Washington Post prompted me to have a quick look at the history of “yellow journalism”.
- scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
- lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
- use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
- emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
- dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.”
My italics. A good definition of “clickbait”…
1. I don’t believe the robots are coming.
Because as soon as they got outside London they wouldn’t get a decent Wifi signal and would grid to a halt.
We are sold a shiny and/or scary vision of an automated future. Martin Geddes (@martingeddes) explains why on current infrastructure it won’t happen:
“The Internet’s security model is completely unsuitable for these connected devices. The default is that anyone can route to anyone, and that all routes are always active. This is completely backwards.”
I haven’t been dating for a long time, (in fact in those days we called it “going out”), but I thought that Julie’s analysis could apply more widely. Again we are promised a shiny world of efficiency. Often the reality is clunky and poor.
Is there a built in conflict of interest? App makers want you to carry on using their app, so its not in their interest for you to find what you want (whatever that is), because you would then stop using the app:
“So if there’s a fundamental problem with dating apps, one baked into their very nature, it is this: They facilitate our culture’s worst impulses for efficiency in the arena where we most need to resist those impulses. Research has shown that people who you aren’t necessarily attracted to at first sight, can become attractive to you over time, as you get to know them better. Evaluating someone’s fitness as a partner within the span of a single date—or a single swipe—eliminates this possibility.”
Perhaps another sign of a current mood of increasing skepticism with the digital world.
At what point did Assange change from hero to villain?
“In the case of WikiLeaks, this includes especially egregious cases like leaking the name of a Saudi man arrested for being gay, or the names of rape victims in the Kingdom. In the wake of the failed Turkish coup, meanwhile, Assange also recklessly published troves of information on nearly every woman in the country, as well as potentially outing anti-government demonstrators and rank and file government party voters—hardly wise in the wake of a violent coup attempt. The leak was supposed to be Premier Recep Erdogan’s private emails, exposing more of his increasingly authoritarian government; instead, the dump contained nothing from Erdogan and reams of sensitive information on private Turkish citizens.”
1. An entertaining summary of the story so far on Facebook’s news feed and algorithmic biases from the PBS ideas channel
2. “Facebook ‘overestimated’ video viewing time” from BBC News
3. “Low-income families face eviction as building ‘rebrands’ for Facebook workers” from the Guardian
4. “Facebook and Israel to work to monitor posts that incite violence” from the Guardian
Gulp… so Facebook is going to get involved in policing one of the most contentious conflicts in the world… good luck with that one…
In an in-depth qualitative study of 36 web users, upon seeing advertising for weight loss products on Facebook some female users reported that they assumed that Facebook had profiled them as overweight or fitness-oriented. In fact, these weight loss ads were delivered generically to women aged 24-30. However, because users can be unaware of the impersonal nature of some personalisation systems, such targeted ads can have a detrimental impact on how these users view themselves: to put it crudely, they must be overweight, because Facebook tells them they are.
So maybe Facebook has a lot of power… or maybe we think it has more power than it actually does…
…then uncensor it…
…but it can’t stop another picture of a naked girl appearing on Facebook…
…and it’s being used (among other social media platforms) by inmates in American prisons to co-ordinate prison strikes…
(echoes of a blog post I wrote two years ago)…
So Facebook is now a platform, a network and a media company…
“Norway is a big investor in Facebook. Its $891bn sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, had a stake of 0.52% in Facebook, worth $1.54bn at the start of 2016.”
So just to be clear to @Aelkus in case he’s reading…
Do I think Facebook has “undue power over information flow?“
Possibly… that’s a question for regulators…
Do I think Facebook is in danger of becoming a totalitarian control system?
Obviously not, since if it did have that kind of power, it wouldn’t be making these kinds of mistakes in public..
Rock ‘n’ roll.
Pronounced dead in 1959, but still alive and with a unique power to excite the senses and annoy people who should be annoyed…
1. “Glow in the Dark” by Death Valley Girls
Extract from their recent live set from Pressure Drop TV:
2. “Battle Cry” by Marvellous She
Sombre, sober, conscious rock music. Bearing in mind the bloody awful state of the planet, “on point“.
3. “Chihuahua” by MAGNO 800
A long, long time ago I was in a rock ‘n’ roll band with my friend Jack. Now, he’s in Spain, but he still knows how to play rock ‘n’ roll guitar, and he’s still very cool…