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How white supremacists are thriving on YouTube

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What role do major institutions play in the promotion of extremism? Two days into this week, we’ve already gotten two important looks at the issue.

On Monday I told you about a report from danah boyd about the media’s role in amplifying “digital martyrs” like Alex Jones. (I pasted the wrong link into the newsletter yesterday — come on, Newton! — and so if you haven’t read it yet, there you go.)

Today comes a report from Rebecca Lewis looking at another kind of amplification: the closely linked network of conservative YouTube personalities who collaborate in videos and advance an extremist ideology. (Both reports, incidentally, come from the New York-based nonprofit Data and Society.)

Lewis set out to understand how YouTube in particular...

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jhamill
1 day ago
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White supremacists were not giving a voice in traditional media so they used new media (YouTube) to give themselves a voice. They did the thing that the new media set out to do.
"You were so concerned if you could do a thing. You never stopped to consider whether you should."
California
MotherHydra
4 days ago
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Translation: "people on YouTube made fun of us for our shit-tier "how to build a pc" video and we want YouTube to ban these people." YAWN. More deplatforming tactics from the same bunch of asshats that won't own their shit. This is classic DARVO.
Space City, USA
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Bonus Quote of the Day

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“This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water. Rarely have we had an experience like it and it certainly is not good.”

— President Trump, quoted by the HuffPost, on Hurricane Florence.

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jhamill
3 days ago
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He sounds like a fucking moron.

"one of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water"?

How about 'we've seen record amounts of rainfall'? I don't care if it's true or not but, at least sound like a person and not a robot playing at being a child trying to be an adult.
California
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A New Twitter Feature: Smart Accounts

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Last night, Twitter gave its users the option to switch back to a purely chronological timeline.

Meanwhile, today we updated the “Show the best Tweets first” setting. When off, you’ll only see Tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Previously when turned off, you’d also see “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people you don’t follow.

That’s good! Most users probably benefit from the algorithmic timeline, but not everyone wants to use the service that way (I certainly don’t).

Whenever Twitter changes their mind like this, it always reminds me of a missed opportunity by the company to give people more ways to discover new things on Twitter while keeping the service simple. They’ve tried the Discover feature, sticking likes from friends in the timeline, “in case you missed it”, recommended followers, Moments, Trends, etc. etc. And despite these things being at least somewhat interesting some of the time, many people freak out because they don’t have any control over whether this stuff pops up in their timelines.

What Twitter should do instead1 is use the same simple mechanism people already use to control their timelines: following and unfollowing. Instead of adding tabs to the interface or throwing random stuff into everyone’s timeline for the greater good, those things should be accounts you can follow. Call them Smart Accounts because they would be based on each user’s particular activity. Then users would be able to have a fully chronological timeline but also see tweets from their Smart Accounts according to their particular preferences.

Here’s an example. Seeing likes from people you follow is fun and interesting…the serendipity and relevance factors are high.1 The “Likes from Friends” Smart Account would post tweets that your friends have liked recently and you could set how many you wanted to see each day.

More examples:

- In Case You Missed It. Just like the current feature, except you can follow/unfollow and control the frequency.

- Trends. An account that posts tweets related to trending stories…or maybe it just alerts you that “Mario Kart” is trending. You can see global trends, location-based, or tailored just for you.

- Threads. See X number of the most popular threads posted in my extended network each day.

- Who to Follow. Every day (or X number of times/day), this account would suggest an account to follow.

- Moments. I never ever go to the Moments tab but I would definitely follow an account that periodically tweeted out the five best Moments from my extended network each day.

- Promoted Tweets. This is a Smart Account everyone would have to follow. But maybe you could pay a subscription fee to be able to unfollow?

I would pretty much follow all of those accounts in some way…and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Twitter has all kinds of interest data that you could slice up in interesting ways and feed back into the system. A “Longreads” account that tweets out a long magazine or newspaper article that’s bubbling up in your network each day before your commute home? A “Book Stack” account that recommends books that people in your network have tweeted about recently. A “Smart Smart Accounts” account that recommends new Smart Accounts to follow (*Inception Horn*). A “Random Follow” account that automagically follows a different recommended account each day…then unfollows them and follows a new account the next day. Likes from My Friends’ Friends. Trending Videos. Meme Factory. Check Out My Soundcloud. So many possibilities.

Twitter wouldn’t want these accounts to get lost in the shuffle — they need to keep that engagement high — so maybe they’d have special status in the app somewhere: a tab that replaces Moments and they’re listed first on the Following page? Perhaps a few Smart Accounts are turned on by default when you make a new account. Maybe users could pin the tweets from select Smart Accounts to the tops of their timelines (much like Twitter was forcing on people with the algorithmic timeline).

But the point of all this is that Twitter would have a way to deliver new & engaging features powered by their algorithmic special sauce to their users in a very familiar and simple way without always mucking up people’s expectations: by simply clicking the follow button.

  1. I mean, besides banning Nazis.

  2. I should know, I ran a beloved service called Stellar for a few years where people could follow each others likes. Many people miss it and I really do too. In fact, the whole Smart Accounts idea came from Stellar. There were “house” accounts you could follow that fed interesting posts and links back into the system. It kept things simple — every feature is just a followable account — but also gave everyone controlled access to different interesting parts of the data set, increasing the level of serendipity. If I’d had the time and the money and a more stable Twitter API, Stellar would have been very Smart Accounts-driven. And it would have been fucking amazing. (Can you tell how much I like this idea?!)

Tags: Twitter
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jhamill
4 days ago
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I miss Stellar. It was so good.
California
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The Gerber Dime

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Among the Everyday Carry (EDC) community there’s one stand out of multi-tools which everyone seems to own: Gerber’s Dime. Now, before you read any further we need to talk about the price of this little multi-tool because it is an absurd $16 on Amazon at the time of writing. So when it comes to things I talk about on this site, it would be hard to say this is not among the most affordable.

But the Gerber Dime is also a very odd multi-tool. For one, it’s not super high quality, it’s not a piece of shit, but it’s not going to last a life time. It’s also tiny, to the point where it will be smaller than anything you think when you get it — taking up about as much volume as AirPods will.

But, having said all that, it’s actually not useless. Which is why I am writing about it today.

What It Does

For such a tiny tool, it is chalked full of handy tools. Always at the ready is a bottle opener, because it seems the EDC community is really concerned about not being able to quickly open bottles — though this one does seems to work well. There’s a small pair of scissors, a flat tip screw driver, a uselessly sized file with maybe a little pry bar thing at the tip. A sheepsfoot styled knife blade, and a tool to aid in opening those plastic bubble packages which everyone hates. Opening the tool reveals a small pair of needle nose pliers with somewhat of a wire cutter on them. The pliers themselves are also spring loaded.

Where it Falls Short

The knife blade is terrible, and the pliers are pretty hit and miss. The pliers have a very small area at the tip where they can grab onto finer things, but the diminutive size of the tool means you really reach for these when there are small things to grip. This is a bit frustrating.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have though, is that it feels as though my finger nail is going to get chipped trying to pull out the different tools. Hopefully this alleviates over time with break in, but right now it’s borderline a deal breaker.

Where it Excels

That bubble package opener I mentioned is simply fantastic. I had heard it was really good, and that’s why I bought the tool — but it’s better than really good. It tears through a bubble package with ease, and control. Never will you feel like you are are about to cut your hand off, or be frustrated with those packages again.

The size is also amazing. This is really why the Dime is so popular: it’s the perfect size. It can fit in your pocket, and yet still be large enough to be useful.

Overall

I don’t like a ton about the Gerber Dime — I think it mostly offers sub-par tools. However, for $16 and for the size of it, it makes a no-brainer to have on hand. It’s worth the price of admission alone just to have the package opening tool on it.

I won’t buy a ton more, I have many other multi-tools for “just in case” but I don’t regret buying it — after all it offers low cost tools at a low cost and it’s rather hard to fault it for that.

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jhamill
6 days ago
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Buy this $16 tool that doesn't do anything that well but, has 1 useful tool you might need once in awhile.

From the "we've got to publish something today" desk.
California
wreichard
6 days ago
I bought a Leatherman Micro and found it didn't really do anything very well either. Looks great, but you mostly need something else. The Gerber Clutch I had was closer to ideal.
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This house & it’s vines 😍

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This house & it’s vines 😍

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jhamill
6 days ago
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That's impressive.
California
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There’s one big problem with the new iPhone (if you’re a woman)

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My wife has small hands and has an issue with the size of her hand-me-down 6 Plus. But does Apple have a “responsibility” to make phones that fit every hand size? Where does it end?

∞ Read this on The Loop

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jhamill
8 days ago
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Apple doesn't "have a responsibility to make" any size phone except the one that they think will bring the most profit. Should they? Yes, they should. But, they don't have to make smaller sized phones.
California
angelchrys
8 days ago
But it is certainly one of many reasons why I'd never get myself an iPhone
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