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Ralph Haygood

Ralph Haygood

I'm a software developer, biologist, and participant/observer of human evolution/devolution.

On The Diary of Samantha Pepys

This pleased me much!

Posted on October 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm 0

On Unrelenting Trauma: It's a Living

I've seen several pieces along these lines recently (e.g., http://gigaom.com/2014/08/08/meet-the-anonymous-app-police-fighting-bullies-and-porn-on-whisper-yik-yak-and-potentially-secret/). On the face of it, they don't make sense, at least with respect to Facebook. What keeps "dick pics and beheadings" out of my Facebook feed is simply that I don't "friend" people or "like" pages that post such things. To the extent Facebook respects my choices - which it doesn't fully, but it easily could - why would I ever see such things?

Fairly generally, online services shouldn't show you posts except by people and organizations whose posts you've told them you want to see. And if such a person or organization posts something you don't want to see, the solution should be simple: unfriend / unfollow / unwhatever, and that's the end of it. Comments are more troublesome, as commenters may be people whose posts you don't follow, but again, the solution should be simple: block, and that's the end of it. Regarding trolls, my motto is "block early and often", and as a result, even the comments in my Facebook feed are almost troll-free.

So I'm left wondering what's really going on. For sites like YouTube, most of whose content is public-facing, hiring an army of moderators makes some sense. What doesn't make sense is all the talk of "the Grandma Problem: Now that grandparents routinely use services like Facebook to connect with their kids and grandkids...[t]hey won’t continue to log on if they find their family photos sandwiched between a gruesome Russian highway accident and a hardcore porn video." But it shouldn't take an army of moderators to keep that from happening.

(There's also a legal puzzle regarding all this, about which I commented on the GigaOM post linked above. Basically, companies that "actively monitor" user-generated content are exposing themselves to potentially significant liability for said content, more than what they'd be exposed to if they just responded to complaints from users.)

Posted on October 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm 0

On We Chased Another Woman Off Twitter, Good Job Everyone

Hey, I quit Twitter before it was trendy!

I signed up in 2007, before anyone else I knew had even heard of it, and I soon concluded that all the hype was just hype. In the past seven years, I haven't seen any reason to revise that judgment.

Twitter has always struck me as absurdly optimistic about humanity. In particular, it's lunacy that, by default, anyone can @-mention anyone.

So yes, follow Ms. Teigen off Twitter, or if you insist on staying, block early and often!

Posted on October 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm 0

On The Sad Parents of #Gamergate

@Mike Hatley@facebook: Speaking of being "woefully incorrect when it comes to facts", The Awl is not Gawker or otherwise a department of the Denton empire. Never has been. Most likely never will be.

Herrman, you're a more moderate moderator than I would be.

Posted on October 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm 0

On The Homeland Generation

Two observations: (1) The word "Homeland" - note that the capital is mandatory - has long struck me and a good many other people as decidedly Orwellian, and not just because it was promulgated by the Dubya gang. To use it in the manner described here is, at best, stupendously tone-deaf. (2) All this has roughly the same relevance to reality as does astrology or numerology. It could, in fact, be considered a form of numerology.

Posted on October 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm 1

On Self Affirmed

I can hardly express how appalling it is that the president, who has rightly been hailed as an intellectual giant in comparison to his predecessor, nonetheless thinks Andrew Sullivan is smart.

All by itself, Sullivan's cheerleading of the Iraq war conclusively demonstrated otherwise. That is simply not a mistake smart people made.

I'm assuming, of course, that this characterization of the president's reading habits and his reasons for them isn't just B.S. But, of course, it might be.

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 11:07 pm 0

On The Ads We Deserve

"They seem *quite* excited. How do you feel?": Like I should stop reading The Awl right this instant and get back to work on the ad-, tracking-, and data-mining-free replacement for Facebook and Tumblr I'm developing. (No, I'm not joking. Yes, I realize that sounds absurd.) If Facebook keeps this up, which they undoubtedly will, the demand for my service is going to grow and grow and grow.

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm 0

On Time Spent

I'm here to remind you - tediously, yet again, don't I have anything better to do? - that if you sold subscriptions, you could ignore all this nonsense, at least as regards The Awl.

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm 1

On Facebook Reveals the Future of All Media

This too shall pass. Remember when MySpace bestrode the world like a colossus?

Posted on September 19, 2014 at 1:39 am 0

On The Mathematics of Re-Calibration

The funny thing is, I remember how, in The Time Before Reagan, many conservatives (radicals, really, but I'll retain the conventional terminology) felt like nobody represented them. I grew up among people whose politics were Birch-ish at a time when the Republican party was led by people like Gerald Ford. As far as they were concerned, no national politician spoke for them. Reagan was a big deal, because he at least kinda-sorta agreed with them. Still, most Republican politicians sadly failed to be True Conservatives, and even now, the rank and file continually grumble about RINOs and the urgent need to get rid of turncoats like, um, Thad Cochran, of all people. So it may be that many of the nation's poor, ignorant, and above all belligerent white men will hardly notice a difference in years to come, because In their minds, they're barely represented right now.

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 2:06 am 0