Category : Blogging & the Internet

(NYT) Teddy Wane–Are My Friends Really My Friends?

…digital media channels “don’t distinguish between quality of relationships,” he said. “They allow you to maintain relationships that would otherwise decay. Our data shows that if you don’t meet people at the requisite frequencies, you’ll drop down through the layers until eventually you drop out of the 150 and become ‘somebody you once knew.’ What we think is happening is that, if you don’t meet sometime face to face, social media is slowing down the rate of decay.”

The result, then, can be a glut of old acquaintances that are not as easily forgotten online and which therefore stifle the development of newer, in-person friendships.

“Your available social time is limited, and you can either spend it face to face or on the internet,” Dr. Dunbar said. If it’s spent with people who are “remote,” whether geographically or just because they’re represented digitally, “you don’t have time to invest in new relationships where you are.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Guardian) Log in, break up – the new ‘easy’ way to get a divorce online

Breaking up is never easy, as Abba sang, but the Ministry of Justice is so pleased with its online divorce pilot that it has launched the scheme nationwide this month.

The latest initiative in the department’s £1bn modernisation programme enables couples splitting up across England and Wales to complete their applications on a website without going to court.

Language has been simplified for the digital form, allowing payments and evidence to be uploaded from home. More than 1,000 petitions were issued through the system during its test phase, with 91% of users, according to the MoJ, reporting that they were satisfied with the service. Sir James Munby, the judge in charge of the high court’s family division, recently described online divorce as a “triumphant success” and “final proof positive that whatever people think, government can do IT [information technology]”.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Recode) Facebook is launching a new dating service

Facebook is getting into the dating game.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday morning that Facebook is building a dating product to “help people find partners.” Zuckerberg says there are 200 million users on Facebook who list their relationship status as “single.”

“If we’re focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, then this is perhaps the most meaningful of all,” Zuckerberg said.

“This is going to be for building real long-term relationships,” he added, “not just for hookups.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

NYMag talks to VR pioneer Jaron Lanier on Silicon Valley–‘One Has This Feeling of Having Contributed to Something That’s Gone Very Wrong’

In November, you told Maureen Dowd that it’s scary and awful how out of touch Silicon Valley people have become. It’s a pretty forward remark. I’m kind of curious what you mean by that.

To me, one of the patterns we see that makes the world go wrong is when somebody acts as if they aren’t powerful when they actually are powerful. So if you’re still reacting against whatever you used to struggle for, but actually you’re in control, then you end up creating great damage in the world. Like, oh, I don’t know, I could give you many examples. But let’s say like Russia’s still acting as if it’s being destroyed when it isn’t, and it’s creating great damage in the world. And Silicon Valley’s kind of like that.

We used to be kind of rebels, like, if you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.

We have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness having won. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves, which is preposterous. And so in doing that we really kind of turn into assholes, you know?

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match

As Facebook pushes into developing countries, it tends to be initially received as a force for good.

In Sri Lanka, it keeps families in touch even as many work abroad. It provides for unprecedented open expression and access to information. Government officials say it was essential for the democratic transition that swept them into office in 2015.

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.

In the Western countries for which Facebook was designed, this leads to online arguments, angry identity politics and polarization. But in developing countries, Facebook is often perceived as synonymous with the internet and reputable sources are scarce, allowing emotionally charged rumors to run rampant. Shared among trusted friends and family members, they can become conventional wisdom.

And where people do not feel they can rely on the police or courts to keep them safe, research shows, panic over a perceived threat can lead some to take matters into their own hands — to lynch.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Buddhism, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

(AFP) China enforces ban on online Bible sales

Bibles have been pulled from Chinese online retailers in “recent days”, merchants told AFP on Friday, as Communist authorities ramp up control over religious worship.

The clamp down on “illegally published books” also comes as the Vatican and Beijing negotiate a historic agreement on the appointment of bishops in China

“Bibles and books without publication numbers have all been removed in recent days,” a merchant on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao told AFP, without giving details on how authorities have enforced the ban.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Books, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Rod Dreher–Is Christianity Too Violent For Facebook?

Let’s give Facebook’s nameless content editor credit: he or she may well understand the Crucifixion more truly than do Christians for whom the murder of the incarnate God on a cross has gone from being a scandal to a banality. Facebook is right: the image is shocking, sensational, and excessively violent, because that’s what a crucifixion is! Yesterday in his Palm Sunday sermon (we Orthodox Christians observe Easter a week later this year), my priest said, “We don’t spend this week saying, ‘Those Jews did that to Our Lord.’ We spend it accusing ourselves. We did it to Christ. Every time we sin, we crucify Him. This is on us.” He’s right about that. It’s not a bad thing to be reminded how much He suffered in His body to liberate us from death. What the San Damiano Cross depicts is a murder. But for Christians, it also depicts the defeat of all murder and death, and the necessary prelude to eternal life for all. As we Orthodox sing on Pascha (Easter): “Christ is risen from the dead/Trampling down death by death/And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

A Christian culture would know that for the people who revere this symbol, they are looking at an image of death’s defeat, and of eternal life.

But we are no longer a Christian culture, and are becoming less so by the day.

This incident is alarming because of what it reveals about the kind of world that Christians are going to live in. Facebook is one of the most powerful media companies on the planet. If it decides that it will not approve Christian content because it finds that content violent, bigoted, or what have you, then that will have a tremendous potential effect, not only on the ability of Christians to communicate, but (more importantly) on shaping the way the Christian faith is regarded widely in this post-Christian culture.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Blog Transition for the Triduum 2018

As is our custom, we aim to let go of the cares and concerns of this world until Monday and to focus on the great, awesome, solemn and holy events of the next three days. I would ask people to concentrate their comments on the personal, devotional, and theological aspects of these days which will be our focal point here. Many thanks–KSH.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Holy Week

(Independent) How the world of death and funerals has become fashionable through digital culture

It’s one of the more blood-curdling things about Facebook – the social media death notice. You know the score: the recently deceased star of Top of the Pops, sitcom or stage is commemorated by way of a YouTube video and a deluge of weepy RIPs and “part of my life” eulogies, a phenomenon derided as “tearleading”. The high-water mark for this was who “taught us how to live, then taught us how to die” two years ago.

Of course, entrepreneurs have noticed this spectacle, which writer and psychologist Elaine Kasket brackets as “the data of the dead”. It’s part of a digital-led revolution in dying and death and it’s changing the way we see people pass into the ineffable digital afterlife. “We’re developing an entirely new mentality about death and dying,” she says.

​Kasket (yes, she knows) is the author of an upcoming book about digital death called All the Ghosts in the Machine, and has observed a huge rise of interest. “I was at a recent SXSW festival and was introduced to someone who put on a super-serious voice and told me: ‘I’m in the death-tech space’.” As a subject, dying has become fashionable, with investors pouring money into startups, bolstering thought leadership and inspirational TED Talks on “new ways to think about death”.

There are so many new death-tech sites that they break up into different types….

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(The Drum) Exeter Cathedral spreads its message online with new portal

Exeter Cathedral is aiming to lead the way in how religious institutions market themselves online, following a complete refresh of its online portal by digital marketing agency AB.

The new site was required to meet the varied requirements of the Cathedral’s churchgoers, hirers, the local community as well as tourists and potential visitors. The new site features a centralised events calendar and also raises the profile of the Cathedral’s fundraising efforts, including its current Big Lego Build project.

Laurence Blyth of Exeter Cathedral explained that the Cathedral’s previous site was no longer fit for purpose, which has led to the need for the commission. “It told the story of the Cathedral from a religious point of view, but hadn’t kept pace with how the Cathedral needs to fundraise and attract tourist visitors. The portal developed and delivered by AB has been very well received and we expect to see a significant uplift in visitor numbers this year as a result of our enhanced digital presence.”

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Boston Globe) Niall Ferguson–George Orwell would be awed by Facebook’s Surveillance Tools

As with Google, it was advertising that made Facebook money. The crucial difference was that Google simply helped people find the things they had already decided to buy, whereas Facebook enabled advertisers to deliver targeted messages to users, tailored to meet the preferences they had already revealed through their Facebook activity. Once ads were seamlessly inserted into users’ News Feeds on the Facebook mobile phone app, the company was on the path to vast profits, propelled forward by the explosion of smartphone usage.

The smartphone is our telescreen. And, thanks to it, Big Zucker is watching you — night and day, wherever you go. Unlike the telescreen, your phone is always with you. Unlike the telescreen, it can read your thoughts, predicting your actions before you even carry them out. It’s just that Big Zucker’s 24/7 surveillance isn’t designed to maintain a repressive regime. It’s just designed to make money.

The only law of history is the law of unintended consequences. Is anyone — apart from Zuckerberg, that is — really surprised that, during the seven-year period when app developers had free access to Facebook users’ data, unscrupulous people downloaded as much as they could? Do we seriously believe that Cambridge Analytica are the only people who did this? Can you give me one good reason why, after Barack Obama and his minions smugly boasted about their use of Facebook in his 2012 reelection campaign, Donald Trump’s campaign was not entitled to try similar methods four years later?

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(1st Things) John Waters on the #MeToo Movement–Summer’s Last Sting

…this is true of the #MeToo movement. It is a quasi-voluntary response to the drift of things, from deep in the conscience of society. It is, fundamentally, a cultural adjustment, necessary and inevitable though not overtly willed. And, although for the moment quite sincerely explaining itself in other terms, it is the bust to end the 1960s boom in sexual permissiveness.

Sixties libertinism is now more problematic for our societies than even ELP’s noodlings were in ’76. Together with its cultural offshoots—industrial abortion, fatherlessness, the evisceration of marriage—it is, beneath the radar of conventional mainstream discourse, the cause of immense damage. And yet, to speak against it publicly is still to announce oneself a puritan. With such double-binds in play, cultures subject to the laws of evolution find roundabout ways of introducing necessary ameliorations.

Rarely has a generation of ideologues been less honest about the consequences of its agenda than the 1960s Peace & Love generation, which sold its prescriptions as the apogee of freedom and attributed all inadequacies and negative side-effects to a surfeit of false shame or overdeveloped user-conscience. Sexual licentiousness was presented as liberty, cost-free fun, the surrogate of the infinite, as though the human body were a complimentary resource, adrift from its situation in the humanity of the ensouled being. The wastages and casualties of this misunderstanding were swept up by psychotherapists and placed in the bin marked “indeterminate symptoms.”

The agenda had been inadequately measured against life’s iron law that the pursuit of selfish desires leads to chaos and grief, first for those misused in the pursuit of reductive desires—and ultimately for the misuser. Privately, individually, the children of the 1960s found that their pursuit of the chimera of freedom did not deliver as promised, but they had invested too much of themselves in the project to admit as much publicly. Thus was the revolution allowed to persist beyond logical limits and appear to render naturalistic a degree of license that was self-evidently unsustainable.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(CEN) Church Chatbot on the Way

A Chatbot and a new site to share digital resources with lay people and clergy were the two winners of the Church of England’s ‘Digital Labs’ this week.

The event brought together Christian coders, techies and creatives to present their best ideas for helping the Church develop its technology.

One idea to win was Ask the Church, a chatbot to enable people enquiring about faith to ask the Church questions through Facebook Messenger, Twitter and the new www.churchofengland.org website and, in future phases, Alexa, Google Home and Siri.

Meanwhile CofE House will be a site to allow the sharing of high quality new and existing resources and digital assets, to support lay leaders and clergy across the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(II)–yesterday’s New York Times

The video, which appeared on the online forum Reddit, was what’s known as a “deepfake” — an ultrarealistic fake video made with artificial intelligence software. It was created using a program called FakeApp, which superimposed Mrs. Obama’s face onto the body of a pornographic film actress. The hybrid was uncanny — if you didn’t know better, you might have thought it was really her.

Until recently, realistic computer-generated video was a laborious pursuit available only to big-budget Hollywood productions or cutting-edge researchers. Social media apps like Snapchat include some rudimentary face-morphing technology.

But in recent months, a community of hobbyists has begun experimenting with more powerful tools, including FakeApp — a program that was built by an anonymous developer using open-source software written by Google. FakeApp makes it free and relatively easy to create realistic face swaps and leave few traces of manipulation. Since a version of the app appeared on Reddit in January, it has been downloaded more than 120,000 times, according to its creator.

Deepfakes are one of the newest forms of digital media manipulation, and one of the most obviously mischief-prone.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology

The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(I)–a Radiolab Podcast from last summer

Simon Adler takes us down a technological rabbit hole of strangely contorted faces and words made out of thin air. And a wonderland full of computer scientists, journalists, and digital detectives forces us to rethink even the things we see with our very own eyes.

Oh, and by the way, we decided to put the dark secrets we learned into action, and unleash this on the internet.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology