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The Big Goodbye (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 11)

The first of (far too) many “trapped on the holodeck” episodes. Exhausted while preparing for a high-stakes diplomatic ritual, Picard takes a break in a virtual-reality simulation of a 1940s detective novel. I remembered enjoying Brent Spiner’s portrayal of Data adapting to the noir setting, but on my rewatch I was delighted by Gates McFadden’s physical comedy when Dr. Crusher joins the party. Picard dominates a staff meeting by enthusing…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu
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Do you get your news mostly from social media? I check NPR, Drudge, and news.google.com.

Do you have a regular news-consumption routine? Facebook doesn’t want you to leave Facebook, so it’s algorithm favors posts that will keep you on Facebook, rather than links that will send you elsewhere. I listen to a 5-minute podcast from NPR News Now about once a day, usually while I am doing my morning exercises. NPR leans left; it’s also great radio. Listening to a podcast curated by a human…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi abuse blamed on Russian trolls and ‘political agendas’

More than half of the hostile responses to The Last Jedi, episode eight of the Star Wars saga, were politically motivated trolling or the result of non-human bot activity, according to an academic paper published by a US digital media expert. Morten Bay, a research fellow at the University of Southern California (USC), analysed Twitter activity about the film and concluded that more than 50% of posts are by “bots, trolls/sockpuppets or political…

Jean M. Twenge: "Nearly all phone activities are linked to less happiness, and nearly all non-phone activities are linked to more happiness."

What Do Happy Teens Do? Hint: It doesn’t involve their phones.

I was surprised to see how closely happiness maps to non-phone activities, and unhappiness maps to phone-related activities. The author notes that this is a study of correlation, not causation. When I went through moody phases as a teen, I wrote, or worked, or did theater, or church youth group activities.  When I was busy, I had less time to write. When I didn’t feel like going out, and chose…

Social Media Companies Aren’t Liberal or Conservative. They’re capitalist.

Facebook cares more about scalability—that is, the ability to serve billions of users with a minimum of human labor—than it does about making the right call in every case. It would rather get lots of things wrong, but do it with a veneer of consistency and neutrality, than entertain nuance or exercise human judgment. (It would also, in the long run, prefer to do it via machine-learning software, to keep…