tech

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Mirrored shade.

In the startup world, you work hard and you move fast in order to make other people rich.

Other people. Not you.

You’re a small elite of very smart young people who are working very hard for an even smaller elite of mostly Baby Boomer financiers … so they can buy national governments, shut the governments down, destroy the middle class and the nation-state.

Bruce Sterling’s big dragon.

Relatedly, it’s totally wild that there seems to be this entire genre of inviting keynote speakers to tech conferences to berate the audience and remind them of how they’re ruining the world. And all the attendees can nod along solemnly, guilt draining from their pores… and then, when the lights come up, wander off to enjoy the rest of their multi-million dollar, corporate-branded and -sponsored networking event, and change exactly not a goddamn thing.

2019-12-12T07:52:02+11:0023rd March, 2020|Tags: tech|

Will it work?

Connecting an iPhone to a floppy disk.

I mean, asides from the lol factor I do think videos like this are kind of an answer to at least some of those “digital media goes obsolete too fast won’t someone think of the archivists!” hot takes…

2019-12-08T08:19:37+11:0019th March, 2020|Tags: tech|

Hoarders.

Moreover, billionaires’ extravagant wealth is by and large not spent, as Zuckerberg suggests, on cutting edge research and philanthropic efforts. After they’ve bought up enough yachts and private jets they mainly invest in making themselves richer through casino-style financial speculation and in luxury real estate in starkly unequal cities like San Francisco, Miami and New York, where mostly vacant homes act as safety deposit boxes to shield wealth from taxation. Their money might also end up in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, where it can sit undisturbed by the long arm of the state. Very little of that ever trickles down to the 99%, where inequality has skyrocketed and wages have stagnated.

Zuckerberg’s plea for the billionaire class is above all else deeply anti-democratic, casting doubt on the huddled masses’ ability to decide what’s best for themselves while repeating myths that the public sector is doomed to be wasteful and stagnant

Kate Aronoff on innovation.

I always think it’s worth pointing out Zuckerberg and Facebook have contributed exactly zero in the form of “innovation”; social media existed prior to Facebook, and the closest new technology the site has contributed to the industry is React (which… yeech). I suppose you could argue Facebook “innovated” the data collection/resale and adtech industries but… honestly if that’s what you’re reaching for… ye-ee-ee-eah. Nah.

2019-12-04T11:17:00+11:0018th March, 2020|Tags: economics, tech|

Passed over.

This is one of the overpasses Robert Moses built on the Long Island Parkway. Moses specified that the height of these overpasses must be low, some with clearances as low as 7’7”. That’s about the height I can reach if I raise my hand above my head, if that gives you an idea of how low that is.

Why so low? Moses wanted to ensure that buses would never be able to pass beneath these overpasses. In other words, you could access the beautiful parks of Long Island if you owned a car—which, in the middle of the twentieth century, meant that you were fairly affluent, and almost certainly white.

Moses’ design of these overpasses meant that if you relied on mass transit—in other words, if you were Black, or poor, or both—you would be prevented from accessing the parkways, and the lovely parks they led to.

Throughout history, there are many, many instances of design being used much as Robert Moses did—as a means to encode racist and classist biases, as a vehicle through which vulnerable communities are harmed.

Ethan Marcotte on the power of design.

The rest of the post is about how these sorts of issues manifest in the tech industry, which has been historically terrible at even acknowledging them, let alone addressing them.1

  1. I mean say what you want about Robert Moses, but at least he was actively racist in his city planning, not just racist because he’d never bothered to think about the implications of his actions… []
2019-12-03T10:43:00+11:0016th March, 2020|Tags: culture, design, tech|

Regulate, regulate, regulate!

There are clear laws about what companies can and can’t do in the realm of biological weapons. The FDA ensures drugs are tested for efficacy and safety before they can be sold. The USDA ensures new food research is done with care. We don’t let anybody frack or drill for oil or build nuclear power plants wherever they like. We don’t let just anybody make and sell cars or airplanes or guns.

So the assertion that technology companies can’t possibly be shaped or restrained with the public’s interest in mind is to argue that they are fundamentally different from any other industry. They’re not.

  Rose Eveleth knows tech is not special.

2019-12-02T09:22:40+11:0011th March, 2020|Tags: tech|

And I oop (sksksksksksksk).

At the same time, high-level former employees are publicly repenting or expressing remorse for their role in making these companies [Facebook, Twitter, et al.] so powerful. These former founders and designers have taken to apologizing in the pages of Forbes, The Guardian, and the Washington Post (to name just a few venues) in what I like to call the Oopsie Circuit.

Ostensibly, this Oopsie Circuit serves as a check to powerful institutions, from a credible source. But this apology tour serves the rich and remorseful former tech executives first by allowing them to repent and be forgiven for breaking the world, and second by reaffirming Silicon Valley’s all-powerful view of itself. It’s important to note, of course, that each apology tour begins much after the person apologizing has already become rich from the actions they regret.

Ashwin Rodrigues on the anti-whistleblowers of Silicon Valley.

See also: MCU!Iron Man, whose literal whole entire character arc is just propaganda for the real-world Oopsies…

2019-10-30T09:07:07+11:0026th February, 2020|Tags: culture, tech|

Kinda sorta.

Have you ever been in that situation where you kii-ii-ii-inda know your password, but not exactly? Like, you know it’s probably the name of a Naruto character but you can’t remember exactly which one, and that it’s got some 1337-speak in it but you can’t remember exactly where?

Well. There’s now an app (script) for that.

Of course the actual real-world use of this script will be password hacking based on recon about a target’s life. So if you know someone has three kids and a wife—or that they love Naruto—and you know their names and birthdays and anniversaries, you plug those values into this and… bam. Quicker than rainbow tables.

(And this is why you never base your passwords on things like your pets, hobbies, and/or family members, kids!)

2019-10-30T08:58:56+11:0025th February, 2020|Tags: infosec, tech|