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Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?

Not a day goes by without The Girl reminding us that everyone else her age has a phone — but she also compares her desire for a phone to Gollum’s desire for The Ring. Many adults have told her she’s lucky not to carry around the burden of social media updates, though part of her is convinced she could resist the temptation, and that she would only use her phone…

Boston Herald Guild Members Boycotting Twitter After Reporter Suspended

Members of the Herald’s editorial guild are boycotting Twitter this week after reporter Chris Villani was suspended without pay for three days for violating the company’s social media policy. Villani’s misstep? An April 20 tweet stating, “The notes found in #AaronHernandez cell were letters to his daughter & fiancee, saying he loved them & would see them in heaven, per source.” It was a legitimate scoop in the highly competitive national…

How Facebook – the Wal-Mart of the internet – dismantled online subcultures

Facebook wants you to spend more time on Facebook, so why should they promote links pointing to content that exists outside of Facebook? Facebook’s approach to content control means that communities that use Facebook have to play by Facebook’s rules. Users have limited ability to communicate with Facebook’s administrators when there’s a problem, as we’ve seen when drag queens demanded changes to the “real name” policy, when nursing mothers rejected censorship…

First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia

When my son was about five, I sat him on my lap and let him explore the world of Riven (the sequel to the point-and-click adventure Myst). I remember feeling his back muscles tense up when he approached a cave and the music got creepy. “Can I go in?” he asked. I told him he could do whatever he wanted. He turned to look at me, as if to assess…

Hacking the Attention Economy

The techniques that are unfolding are hard to manage and combat. Some of them look like harassment, prompting people to self-censor out of fear. Others look like “fake news”, highlighting the messiness surrounding bias, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda. There is hate speech that is explicit, but there’s also suggestive content that prompts people to frame the world in particular ways. Dog whistle politics have emerged in a new form of…