"A trench of jostling anglerfish, gaping and preening and starving for lack of prey"

There's too much to quote here; this is brutal: Burning Down The House:

The overheated register in which Silicon Valley types have tended to talk about Twitter -- as The Global Town Square, a horizonless agora in which all of humanity can meet to uh engage in free speech together or whatever -- is how they always talk about whatever they are selling, right before they move on to selling something else. For better and worse, these people like Twitter -- many people do -- but they can't say why, or call it what it is. And so it has to bring people together, for the future's sake.

You can see the problem. It is a miraculous thing, or anyway an impressive one, to invent a platform on which anyone can speak to anyone/everyone else, about anything. But because these people don't really value people or togetherness very highly, or have much to say, or consider the future as anything but a place where they will become richer, they don't really know what to do with that. "Bringing people together" is a value-neutral thing, and a mass of humanity does not become a community -- and is not prevented from becoming a mob -- simply because they're all in the same place. Silicon Valley types want whatever's next big because there might be money in it, but also they are fundamentally not very interested in inhabiting or maintaining the new realities they shape; it's too much like work. Maintaining things is hard, and requires much more care than making things does.

Over and over again, this limitation reveals itself. The capitalists forever engineering the future declare victory before the work is done, or even meaningfully begun, because they are bored and would like to cash out. It is bleakly funny to watch these recklessly wrought futures rise amid acclaim and then recede and recede to the size of their imagineers' actual vision. It's also a colossal waste. [...]

The various scammers and hustlers and aspiring drop-shipping magnates and inexplicably self-assured freelance life-coach types are all there, of course. They are drawn to Musk because they aspire to be rich and epic themselves, and post as if their livelihoods depend upon it, holding forth at great length and with little depth on whatever they think might redound to their benefit. As in all the worst online spaces, there is a sense that the hucksters outnumber the marks; a trench of jostling anglerfish, gaping and preening and starving for lack of prey.

Which is remarkable, actually, considering that the largest percentage of Twitter Blue subscribers are people whose identity as howlingly obvious marks seems to have supplanted virtually everything else about them. They are drawn to Elon for the same reason that moths crisp themselves on lightbulbs. It is difficult to imagine what kind of person would give money to the richest man in the world on pure servile principle, but observing them only confuses things more. [...]

It makes sense that these users would be drawn to Musk, even to the point of posting like him, because he resembles them in his sour incuriosity, and is aspirational in his impunity and wealth. As it happens, that type of rich authoritarian -- distractible, idly vicious, relatable in his proud pissy cretinousness -- already has an avatar in American politics. Musk sought out this population of blowhards and temporarily embarrassed grand inquisitors and armchair genocidaires, and they invariably found him, but this is a tough crowd. Where Musk has struggled to keep that constituency happy, it reflects less on his seemingly sincere receptiveness to their hair-trigger credulity, bigotry, and vengefulness and more on the fact that these people are fundamentally unappeasable, and fundamentally opposed to being appeased.

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Blue skies over Mastodon

Erin Kissane:

During the big waves of Twitter-to-Mastodon migrations, tons of people joined little local servers with no defederation policy and were instantly overwhelmed with gore and identity-based hate. A lot of those people, understandably, did not stick around, and plenty of them went back to their other social spaces and warned others that Mastodon wasn't safe. For people who lucked out and landed on a well-moderated instance, finding fun people to follow was hard and actually following each of them often involved three separate steps, depending on which link you happened to click. [...]

I -- a nerd -- actually really like Mastodon most of the time, but I would like it so much more and feel like it was doing a lot more good in the world if it were more welcoming and easier to use. When I raise these points on Mastodon, I get a steady stream of replies telling me that everything I'm whining about is actually great, that valuing a "pleasant UI" over the abstraction of federation is shallow and disqualifying, and that that people who find Mastodon difficult don't belong anyway, so I should "go join Spoutible" or whatever. [...]

I haven't mentioned the simplest and IMO best critique of Bluesky and most other big platforms, which is that they emerged out of venture-capital galaxy brain, which has the moral sense of an AI chatbot. After the past decade or so on Twitter, "I won't touch anything Jack Dorsey has touched" is a reasonable reaction. "I will only put my social labor into platforms that can never benefit billionaires" is fair.

But the missing step, to me, is when people with principled objections to other platforms are unwilling or unable to make the alternatives of their choosing more welcoming to more people. And there are absolutely people trying to do the work, but they're dependent on the choke-point of what Mastodon-the-company decides is valuable. (Almost like something...centralized?)

I have a lot of complaints about Mastodon, but I'm sticking with it because I am 100% in the "I won't touch anything Jack Dorsey has touched" camp. That is absolutely and forever disqualifying.

This guy. This fuckin' guy: "Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness."

(If you're going to "well actually" me on your opinions on his level of involvement with Blewsky, just stop now.)

Also -- despite its faults, which, again, are many -- I personally find Mastodon about a thousand times more pleasant and interesting than I ever found Twitter.

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Facebook owes you money

How to claim your share of $725 million Facebook privacy settlement:

The class-action suit began after the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal but eventually added a litany of other alleged Facebook data dealings, alleging that the platform broke the law by enabling third parties to access users' personal content and information without users' authorization. Facebook admitted no wrongdoing by agreeing to the settlement and says it has changed its user privacy practices. [...]

How much will the settlement's individual payouts be? That depends on two things: how many people submit claims and how long a claimant had an account on the platform. The settlement will distribute "points" to claimants for every month they had an account between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022, and then split the money (after lawyers' fees of up to 25% and cash for the class representatives) based on those numbers.

These shitheels make you use PayPal or submit banking info to receive your money. No option for a mailed check (suitable for framing).

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"I'm the Googlebot. I'm here to index you. Please hold still."

Let's see how much my copyrights have been infringed within the ChatGPT training data:

Rank Site Tokens Percent

Hey, I outrank Stormfront and 4Chan! So at least there's that.

See the websites that make AI bots like ChatGPT sound so smart:

Tech companies have grown secretive about what they feed the AI. So The Washington Post set out to analyze one of these data sets to fully reveal the types of proprietary, personal, and often offensive websites that go into an AI's training data.

The three biggest sites were patents.google.com; wikipedia.org; and scribd.com No. 3, a subscription-only digital library. Also high on the list: b-ok.org, a notorious market for pirated e-books that has since been seized by the U.S. Justice Department. At least 27 other sites identified by the U.S. government as markets for piracy and counterfeits were present in the data set.

Some top sites seemed arbitrary, like wowhead.com, a World of Warcraft player forum; thriveglobal.com, a product for beating burnout founded by Arianna Huffington; and at least 10 sites that sell dumpsters, including dumpsteroid.com, that no longer appear accessible. [...]

The data set contained more than half a million personal blogs, representing 3.8 percent of categorized tokens. [...] Social networks like Facebook and Twitter -- the heart of the modern web -- prohibit scraping, which means most data sets used to train AI cannot access them. Tech giants like Facebook and Google that are sitting on mammoth troves of conversational data have not been clear about how personal user information may be used to train AI models that are used internally or sold as products. [...]

The Post found that the filters failed to remove some troubling content, including the white supremacist site stormfront, the anti-trans site kiwifarms, and 4chan, the anonymous message board known for organizing targeted harassment campaigns against individuals.

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Three Thirty One

Twenty-Five years ago today, mozilla.org dropped the Netscape source code.

I covered most of this on my post in January about the 25th anniversary of mozilla.org itself, but I thought this date also deserved honorable mention.

Also, twenty-five years ago tomorrow was the first time that I rented a big nightclub and booked a bunch of DJs, bands and circus acts. Spoilers!


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Is this not a reasonable form of ID?

Back in June 2022, Facebook decided that my (vestigial) personal Facebook account would no longer be permitted to admin the DNA Lounge page unless I uploaded a photo of my ID. So I sent them this:

Things started working again about a month after that, but today -- nine months later -- they rejected it:

Do you think it's because the edges aren't clearly visible? Or do you think it's because, in the intervening nine months, the license has expired?

I understand that Facebook got some bad news today, and gosh, I'm all broken up over it.

In I-think-unrelated news, Instagram has suspended the DNA Lounge account again, and I again have no idea why. They're asking for yet another kidnapping-victim proof-of-life selfie.

Devon sent another one. He wore pants this time. Last time it took a week for them to get around to looking at it.

Note that our account "doesn't follow our Community Guidelines", but that our account can be brought back into compliance not with a change of behavior, but with a sexy selfie whose hand has the right number of fingers on it. For the second time in three weeks.

Sure, that makes all kinds of sense. Just give us a lock of your hair and we're good, all is forgiven, carry on.

Incidentally, do you know of a supplier of "novelty" IDs who won't sell my credit card to a Moldovan bot farm? Asking for a friend, pictured above.

Update: Well that was faster. Last time it took 5 days, but this time took only 2. And in an unexpectedly forthright display, they actually admitted fault --

Still passive voice, of course. "Mistakes were made." And still no indication of what led to these "mistakes" or how to avoid them in the future, or why the same "mistake" was made twice in three weeks, or even any way to ask. (They say "please let us know" but do so from a "no-reply' email address, as is traditional.)

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Mr. Incognito

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Stop Doing Threads



  • YEARS of POSTING yet NO REAL-WORLD USE FOUND for a low character limit
  • Wanted a low character limit anyway for a laugh? We had a tool for that: It was called "SMS"
  • "My post got so long that I had to split it into 10 parts. Stay tuned for the 20 part sequel" - Statements dreamed up by the utterly Deranged

LOOK at what Mastodon Users have been demanding your Respect for all this time, with all the Fediverse and protocols WE built for them:
(This is REAL Posting, done by REAL Mastodon Users)

  • Why communism will win, a 🧵 (1/255)
  • Why I should be allowed to index all your posts for profit, a thread (1/X)
  • The rise and fall of Twitter (283/185,781)

"Hello, I would like a 500 character limit please"
They have played us for absolute fools

I agree with this so much.

There are a number of interesting accounts that I keep trying to follow on Mastodon but their use of threads just makes it untenable for me to follow them.

They post these multi-thousand word essays -- essays that I am actually interested in reading -- but rather than posting a svelte 500 character thesis statement with a link to an actual blog post, they split the thing up into 20+ parts, which means that A) I'm reading the god damned thing backwards and B) they completely dominate my timeline to the extent that if I want to scroll back and find something else that I saw earlier in the day, I can't find it, because my timeline is 90% their-single-post by volume.

Fucking knock it off, people. Blogs exist for a reason. Stop being awful.

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Fucking Facebook

Looks like DNA Lounge no longer has an Instagram account. It was "disabled" without explanation of any kind, and then did this shit:

So that's all going really well.

I wish I could convince myself that not having an Instagram (or Facebook, or Twitter) account would not cause my business financial harm. Sadly, I am not yet able to convince myself of that.

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null Stars Still Burn

Get null Stars for this purchase. Enter your phone number to create a loyalty account. Redeem Stars for free rewards.

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