the new luddites

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@Rhappe“So much data. So little insight.”

@deewhock“An intelligent, motivated person in a bureaucracy is like a long haired hunting dog in a patch of cockle burrs. Energy and capacity are diverted from the hunt to removal of the impediments.”

@lukewsavage“Billionaires like Bezos and Musk are obsessed with space travel because it helps them maintain the illusion that they’re technological prometheans at the vanguard of civilizational progress, rather than greedy plutocrats who happen to own expensive bits of paper.”

@jatodaro — “So you’ve got a huge campus where employees can roam around and find a comfortable space to work. No one can locate you and everyone uses Slack to communicate, Zoom to talk, and Dropbox to share files. You’re already working remotely, you’re just driving to an office to do it.”

Why the Luddites Matter

“We are in the midst of a moment in time when many people are emphasizing how important it is for people to think seriously about history. So let us think about the history of technology. And let us think about the Luddites not as caricatures, but as real people.

The Luddites were not ‘anti-technology’. They were skilled craft workers who believed that the new machinery being deployed by factory owners would impoverish, disempower, and immiserate them. They were right. They didn’t want ‘zero technology’, they wanted to feed their families. If they had their way we wouldn’t be living in a world with ‘no technology’, we’d be living in a world where communities have a say in the technological decisions that will impact them.”

Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match

“A reconstruction of Sri Lanka’s descent into violence, based on interviews with officials, victims and ordinary users caught up in online anger, found that Facebook’s newsfeed played a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing. Facebook officials, they say, ignored repeated warnings of the potential for violence, resisting pressure to hire moderators or establish emergency points of contact.

But where institutions are weak or undeveloped, Facebook’s newsfeed can inadvertently amplify dangerous tendencies. Designed to maximize user time on site, it promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.”

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