The following is a video from Youtube channel Pop Culture Detective discussing the recruitment methods used by the US in Holywood films:

The sequel to the 1996 mega-blockbuster “Independence Day” hit theaters this summer but there was something a little strange about many of the trailers. What looks like a clever marketing campaign centered on joining the fictional “Earth Space Defense” was actually a cross-branded recruitment tool for the US Army. It’s part of a multi-million dollar joint advertising venture between 20th Century Fox and the United States Military.

In this older article from Dave Young he writes about the change of how we interact with computers and their filesystems. He notes how the hierarchical structure of files and folders is being replaced by an app-centric interface.

In the present though, it has become increasingly clear that the interface bias of the smart OS prioritises data-access and content-delivery, focusing on consumption rather than production […] we can’t easily understand the behaviour of an app and the data it produces/accesses, we can’t explore what logs exist on our devices, and what personal data is potentially exposed to typical threats such as viruses, malware, hacks, and thieves. The perspective we have is simplified, and in this case, to simplify is to remove options, alternatives, and user-agency. The use-possibilities of our devices are parametrised, governed, and constrained by the overarching system of app-centricity, while opportunities for subversive intervention and creative misuse are reduced as we are obliged to act and respond within the increasingly powerful context of app store regimes.

This reminds me of a Twitter thread I recently saw in which teachers were complaining about their students no longer having enough knowlegde about “traditional” file management using hierarchical file systems. There seems to be a major paradigm shift in file retrieval: from knowing where your files are located (and using our own file structures), to retrieval through the use of search.

In the following scientific article on the use of data sets in AI research the authors found that there is an “increasing concentration on fewer and fewer datasets introduced by a few elite institutions”:

We find increasing concentration on fewer and fewer datasets within most task communities. Consistent with this finding, the majority of papers within most tasks use datasets that were originally created for other tasks, instead of ones explicitly created for their own task—even though most tasks have created more datasets than they have imported. Lastly, we find that these dominant datasets have been introduced by researchers at just a handful of elite institutions.

Found via this article shared on HackerNews.

Two interesting quotes from Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde concerning file-sharing in an article at TorrentFreak. First, he mentions how file-sharing “paved the way for legal streaming services”:

“File-sharing has definitely helped the rise of services like Spotify and Netflix,” Sunde told M3, noting that this wasn’t what the Pirate Bay team envisioned. Instead, they wanted to move the power back from large companies to individual artists.”

Second, the importance of file-sharing for people around the world:

“I constantly meet people all over the world who tell me how important it has been (and is) for them to have access to materials. People who otherwise could not have the profession they have or who have learned the language and culture,” Sunde said.

An interesting report on the deployments of biometric and behavioural mass surveillance in EU Member States was recently published. The report was commissioned by the commissioned by the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament.

The online report furthermore includes a clever visualization of a network showing connections between MS authorities and public and private partners.

In an opinion piece at The Financial Times, Izabella Kaminska compares the creation of Meta/Facebook’s metaverse to the creation of Las Vegas during The Great Depression of the 1930:

In the long run, if there is any moral to the Las Vegas story it’s that if you want to bootstrap a fantasy realm for the purpose of enriching a small elite at the expense of users, it helps to have a repressed, desperate and captured demographic within your proximity. With the metaverse it’s unlikely to be any different. You’re still going to be the product. You may be more accepting of it, but only because base reality is getting more and more like historic Boulder City by the day.

Two interesting articles from MIT Technology Review:

An article from Slate.com describes photography technique used by photographer Jay Mark Johnson to “emphasize time over space”:

[H]e uses a slit camera that emphasizes time over space. Whatever remains still is smeared into stripes, while the motion of crashing waves, cars and a Tai Chi master’s hands are registered moment by moment, as they pass his camera by. Like an EKG showing successive heartbeats, the width of an object corresponds not to distance or size, but the rate of movement. Viewing the left side of the picture is not looking leftward in space but backward in time.

In an article at The Atlantic Ian Bogost writes about the differences between the Facebook Papers and older leaked documents:

The Facebook Papers are, in aggregate, a supersensory supply of materials about a social network, produced on its own, internal social network, prima facie assumed to have meaning whose depth exceeds their surface, and mustered as rapidly as possible to generate emotions. They’re a tiny outrage machine, sucking the exhaust from a much bigger one.

Furthermore, he notes that the analysis of these documents reflects the discourses on social media platforms themselves:

This dance between Facebook’s internal debates and journalists’ interpretation of them as withering revelations repeats the ritual that online debate has normalized: Posts beget discourse that begets ever more posts that take the place of action, let alone knowledge. Depth and surface become indistinguishable, always implying that there’s more to the story, only to recede back into the shadows moments later.

Facebook/Meta is shutting down its facial recognition system. They explain their choice in this blog post.

But the many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole. There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.

The Markup has investigated the shadowy industry of collecting and selling location data. The article details some worrisome examples of very invasive practices.