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News Tech

Filtering out clickbait

Filter wisely (via imgur)

Clickbait is the result of a 24/7 news cycle. Media companies create stories of unimportance so that they can get another click to drive up revenues. The entire operation intends to suck your attention and waste your time, along with depleting your brain cells.

In short, the news makes your brain fat. That’s why you have to step away from Twitter and reset your RSS feeds every six months. Delete the newsletters that contain links to useless articles. Or just read books. Consuming all the headlines makes none of them significant, leaving little room in your head for remembering what is actually important. Shane Parrish of the educational Farnam Street blog recently dissected the abundance of media in an article entitled ‘The Pot-Belly of Ignorance‘:

“Clickbait media is not a nutritious diet. Most people brush this off and say that it doesn’t matter … that it’s just harmless entertainment.

But it’s not harmless at all. Worse, it’s like cocaine. It causes our brains to light up and feel good. The more of it we consume, the more of it we want. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Be careful what you take in as it directly influences what you put back out. Even more, reflect on what you read since that’s where you connect ideas and start to develop your own. Of course, you need to identify the trustworthy sources. Start with the publication and curators you trust and make a list of potential resources based off of their hyperlinks.
Fill your mind with less, not more. And most importantly, work it off, trying to make sense of what you absorbed in the attempt to craft an original thought.

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Categories
Tech

Ray Kurzweil and Aziz Ansari on the modern information era

This is what computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil had to say about the effect of the modern information era:

People think the world is getting worse. … That’s the perception. What’s actually happening is our information about what’s wrong in the world is getting better. A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you’d never even hear about it. Now there’s an incident halfway around the globe and we not only hear about it, we experience it.

We are living in an information maelstrom where there’s always ‘breaking news.’ Every event feels like it is happening right outside our doorstep. The Turkish coup two weeks ago felt like the world was coming to an end. The teen that killed nine people in Munich felt like it could have been at any local McDonalds.

Paris and New York are nearly four thousand miles apart but joined at the hip. It is not just Isis; it is the always-on nature of the Internet that’s contributing to unnecessary anxiety.

We live in a world of urgency which often leads to aimless web surfing for the next story. I like what comedian Aziz Ansari said on the Freakonomics podcast about managing your Internet browsing.

“Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks. There’s a link to some article about a horse that found its owner somehow. It’s not that interesting.”

Internet addiction is real, and the incessant news is killing us.

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Uncategorized

Twitter On Tap

TV is too slow. Facebook’s algorithm takes at least a dozen hours to build up steam. It’s too hard to tell what’s live, archival, owned, and merely sourced on Instagram. Instagram also restricts rebloggability so the best-real time content never goes viral. It’s quite clear that the default tool for breaking and keeping up with news as evidenced Ferguson is Twitter.

Twitter thrives off breaking news. It’s the quickest microphone for people to spread awareness. Protestors in Turkey and Egypt turned to Twitter first to get the word about government corruption. So did the people in Ferguson in complaining about the local police, which appeared to represent the American military more than everyday police officers.

So as much as tech pundits slam Twitter for it’s torpid user growth, it’s still the best way to peek inside the lives of those on the ground. Sometimes the best social media is local.

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Uncategorized

Twitter is not dying. It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger.

But Wall Street—along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter because it has “a growth problem”—is making a mistake by comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks.

Twitter is all about the news, no different than any news network. But instead of following the entire channel you can follow individual anchors and get his or her own direct broadcasts without the pressure of friending them. Twitter is an influencer’s network where you learn; if you want to keep in touch with people you actually hit up Facebook.

It still frustrates me that Twitter missed out own owning Instagram. Instagram is the photographic lens for news.