When technology augments the natural limits of human communication, there are often unexpected side effects. When Sharp first decided to bundle together a phone and a camera into the same device, they didn’t know they’d laid the foundation for Instagram, or the rich visual ecosystem of mobile content. At the time, uploading images to the internet in a community of users was 10 years away. Similarly, when Casio created the first commercially successful answering machine capable of playing an outgoing message in 1971, they didn’t realize that they had effectively given a broadcasting platform to the answering machine owners.… [continue reading]
The architecture of a social network doesn’t just affect a bunch of invisible server-whirrings and documentation jargon. It’s directly responsible for how the network’s users interact — what they’re allowed to say, what they’re likely to see, and who controls these factors.
A good example to start my examination into centralized/decentralized social networks is Twitter.
The name “Twitter” and the platform’s relentless bird imagery isn’t an arbitrary choice — it actually makes a lot of sense with regard to how the network works.
Starlings, for example, flock in groups of 10,000 or more, unified and communicating as a network. Birds learn to sing by listening and imitating, which often means that groups of co-existing birds learn the same patterns, inflections, and memes.… [continue reading]
Since we first founded Secret Cave, an enormous amount of widely publicised terrorist attacks have taken place. Tributes and reactions drown social media in their wake. In tandem, mainstream news outlets explode with coverage. Obviously, both of these things are understandable. We need reports and trusted sources on events. Otherwise, we’d live in a medieval world of ignorance. Likewise, it can be affirming to see the support and solidarity that comes with sharing our despair through platforms like Twitter or Facebook. It provides a crutch of community that can negate the inherent fear and shock that affects us all.
Why, then, does Secret Cave choose to consciously eschew mention of any terrorist attacks?… [continue reading]
In March 2016, Twitter made the switch away from a purely chronological timeline to one partially ordered by algorithms. By looking at Twitter’s origins — a simple way to update groups of people — the switch away from ordering information chronologically is more interesting than it first seems, and represents the state of the internet and the way we use it in 2017.
The origins of Twitter
When it started, Twitter (or twttr as it was then called) was just an SMS service linked to a website.
When you talk about the filter bubble, you’re talking about something quite specific. It’s the heavily curated ecosystem of the internet. A set of rules that filter all of the world’s information and organize it into what algorithms expect you to want to see — algorithms that suggest your next video on YouTube, or show you an article on Facebook.
At first, it can seem like a user friendly way to prioritize and curate the internet according to a set of personalized boundaries. You only see relevant content, and it brings order to the sprawling, chaotic internet.
In the era where fake news and propaganda virally populates Facebook — the world’s biggest news aggregation platform — it’s gone from being a user-friendly convenience to a threat to how we perceive the world around us.… [continue reading]
This is written in response to an article here by Andy Tyrrell, my father.
Est Pater meus, cunnus; it is true that my father is a cunt. Puffed up by the bitter fats of aged failure, only a taxi driver could spit such vitriol at something he doesn’t understand. This is why, as a hackney carriage operator himself, Andy Tyrrell concentrates on pedantry for the base of his criticism. None of this is to denigrate his obvious intelligence either, which is clear from his rampant eloquence. Where my dad falls down, however, probably lies in the fact that he has no Twitter account.… [continue reading]
I’m 23, have written for major tech publications, and will freely admit that I find Snapchat’s design confusing. It took me ages to figure it out.
The thing is, the interface is not confusing because it’s illogical or random. It’s not badly designed at all. The weird thing is that it makes total sense. It’s just that we’ve grown to expect UIs to behave in a certain way.
We think in a hierarchical way thanks to every OS we’ve ever used: windows within windows, x’ing down the layers.
And that’s not how Snapchat works:
Its main menu is flat, like a deconstructed cardboard cube.… [continue reading]