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09 August 2016 @ 08:34 pm
Linky links  
Blockchain really only does one thing well
The Conversation has been running lots of articles on the blockchain (or blockchains) recently but this is the first that has actually made some kind of sense to me.
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How Jeremy Corbyn won Facebook
Facebook creates opinion bubbles (we all know this). This article starts prizing the lid off the problem but stops short of a detailed analysis, but touches on a lot of issues I know a variety of academics are interested in tackling.
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More United
I see this and I think it's all very well but they say they will fund parliamentary candidates who sign up to their principles. But how do they propose enforcing compliance to their principles and, given the vagueness of their principles, who gets to decide if someone is complying with their principles and how will they manage change to their principles?
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LessUnited | Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!
Not quite the critique I'd have made, but highlights several points that contribute to my view that MoreUnited, as it stands, is ill thought out with a surprising lack of attention to necessary practicalities.
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Are white, working class boys the least likely to go to university? - Full Fact
The answer is essentially yes with a couple of caveats.
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Why Trump voters are not “complete idiots” — Medium
A lot of this seems to make sense (in application to Brexit voters as well as Trump voters), particularly the observation that, at the bottom end of the value scale, particularly at the moment, you are more likely to benefit from volatility in the system than stability.
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You're wrong about Leave voters - four surprising facts about the 52 per cent
However, following on from the above, this is one of several articles I've seen in the past week or two that attempts to cast a more careful eye over the exit-polling data from Brexit and draws more nuanced conclusions than that the haves voted Remain and the have-nots voted Leave.

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Are internet populists ruining democracy for the rest of us?
Having recently hand-wrung on this blog about the tendency of the Internet to polarise and simplify debate, it is interesting to see an article discussing this, albeit in a straightforward way and without offering any answers.
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Traumatic breastfeeding experiences are the reason we must continue to promote it
I'm not sure I'd describe my breastfeeding experience as "traumatic" per se, but we definitely discovered a shocking lack of actual support for breastfeeding when I was having difficulty with it, in sharp contrast to the breastfeeding propaganda that was pushed on us before G was born. As a result I find even now, 13 years later, I get quite irrationally upset by Internet memes and the like that suggest that if you don't breastfeed you are somehow lazy, or don't really care about your child.
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Jeremy Corbyn's media strategy is smarter than his critics realise
I've been thinking a lot, recently, about the apparent paradox of a media space in which traditional, specifically print, media is rapidly losing readers (or at least paying readers) and yet which seems increasingly powerful on the political stage. This article, while mostly focused upon Corbyn, does at least attempt to disentangle this a bit.
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This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/202593.html.
philmophlegm: 3D Monster Mazephilmophlegm on August 9th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
The second article links to the first...
louisedennislouisedennis on August 9th, 2016 09:08 pm (UTC)
Oh fiddlesticks! Fixed now! I must iron out the kinks in the bookmarking process so it stores the links formatted properly so I don't have to resort to cut-and-paste at the end.
May: battle eyelinerrain_sleet_snow on August 9th, 2016 08:13 pm (UTC)
I am not a mother - and have no intention of becoming one - but I am the daughter of a woman who occasionally becomes terrifically insecure about whether she's a good mother. Not because either I or my brother have gone off any rails, but because some wanker, lo these many years ago, introduced her to a charming French phrase that translates as 'unworthy mother', to be applied to all women who do not stay at home and devote every ounce of their being to raising their offspring. Those potential failings for unworthy mothers, by the way, include not breastfeeding until toddlerhood. My understanding of the current evidence is that the positive effects of breastfeeding are significant on a population level, but if individuals can't do it for whatever reason, the sky won't fall in and your kid isn't doomed.

I have had twenty years of watching my mother worry her heart out over whether she could do, or have done, anything to be a better mother. I am 200% not here for people whose idea of being a good citizen is guilt-tripping women with kids who already have 99 problems and don't need another one.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 9th, 2016 09:18 pm (UTC)
A friend's husband, who had done a lot of youth work and, at some point, been trained in what to look for, described the process by which breastfeeding was pushed in the ante-natal classes they attended as more or less indistinguishable from brainwashing. I find that a terribly interesting observation in the light of the very intense reaction I have to breastfeeding memes. I stopped breastfeeding on the advice of all the healthcare professionals involved and because G had failed to put on any weight for two weeks so it was clearly and obviously urgently in her best interests to switch to formula. So I absolutely know rationally that I did the right thing; and I know those memes are not aimed at me; and I know that the 6 weeks I did breastfeed for is considerably longer than my mother breastfed me (even though she is very proud of having breastfed successfully) and counts as a success by many measures; and she's disgustingly robustly healthy so clearly dodged the statistical bullet - but clearly something was going on in those ante-natal classes that means my emotional brain can't move beyond the idea that I failed somewhere. Though I think the fact that we never found out what the problem was (see lack of support mentioned above) also doesn't help since it leaves a nagging doubt that maybe there was something that could have been done to head off the problem before a crisis was reached.
daniel_saunders: Marxistdaniel_saunders on August 9th, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC)
I haven't got the time to read all this, but the Trump voter analysis was very interesting. I think Trump and Corbyn are in many ways two sides of the same coin (the same goes for Bernie Sanders): the candidates for people who want extreme measures that will deliberately disrupt The System. Hence, supported by people who feel disenfranchised and loathed by those with a stake in the system even if nominally from the same party, i.e. Republican bigwigs like the Bushes who hate Trump and Blairites in Labour who hate Corbyn.

Just curious: your blog seems to have become more political lately. Have you become more political (as a result of Brexit?) or do you just link/write about it more. If you don't mind me asking!
louisedennislouisedennis on August 10th, 2016 10:43 am (UTC)
I agree that there seem to be a lot of equivalences between Trump and Corbyn/Saunders. Many on the left would argue that this is a symptom of a shift in perception about where the centre ground is in politics, which is an incredibly subjective argument. In some ways, I find the equivalence a little bit comforting since, as someone naturally left leaning I tend to view Corbyn as a bit further to the left than I would like but not inherently evil or disastrous so I hope that my view of Trump as deeply scary is more a factor of my biases than a reality.

Hmm... I definitely read more political news than I did back when I started this blog though that's more a result of observing a few years ago that my Facebook page had become a Guardian ghetto and determining that I needed to read more widely than that. I wouldn't say I am any more active politically beyond reading up on it more. The sudden appearance of link dumps has more to do with my decision to try to shift my blogging habits to incorporate more posts that were comparatively formulaic and easy to generate, just to ensure that posting happened more often.

Linkdumps happen on Tuesdays when a) I'm not too busy and b) have nothing else to say for myself.

Edited at 2016-08-10 10:50 am (UTC)
daniel_saundersdaniel_saunders on August 10th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
Just got around to reading the post about white working class boys not going to university. Interesting. I was wondering if they were counting 'Jewish' as an ethnic group - I suspect not, as anecdotal evidence suggests there is very strong university attendance from the Jewish community - certainly there are universities that have large Jewish populations (Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham being the main ones; Nottingham joined them for a while but apparently is falling behind again).
bunnbunn on August 10th, 2016 08:18 am (UTC)
I wonder if studying Facebook use in the context of politics is a time-sensitive? Facebook seems to be evolving very fast, both in terms of technology but also in terms of how people use it. The Political Meme phase may go the way of Hampsterdance...
louisedennislouisedennis on August 10th, 2016 10:49 am (UTC)
Hard to say, my subjective impression is that the Hamster Dance had come and gone in the space of a year or so, while I'd say that my Facebook has been pretty much a Guardian dominated filter bubble for at least five years. Pictures of politicians with simplistic and often incorrect political "facts" over the top may be a phase (oh please let it be a phase!).

I think it's certainly plausible to suggest that the rise of social media contributes to the filter bubble effect quite strongly and seems fairly inherent to the way social media platforms are constructed. The question, at least Matryoshka, is asking is whether the platforms can be constructed to actively mitigate against filter bubbles (though she keeps ignoring our questions over whether it would be ethical to do so, even if you knew how).
bunnbunn on August 10th, 2016 11:48 am (UTC)
I wrote a reply to this .... and then accidentally closed the window. Oh well!

I think the gist was: I mostly only see politics on Facebook at election times, apart from recently, the Corbynistas, who share endlessly and I am fairly sure believe that their movement is bigger than it is because only people who agree with them react to their sharing at all.

Over 5 years, you'd think that Facebook filtering which shows me stuff I am most likely to interact with would have more data about me than it did five years ago, so would make better guesses about the stuff it shows me. But I have not studied the stuff it doesn't show me, so it's hard to tell...

Regardless of whether it was ethical to deliberately challenge people's ideas, I wonder if it would be commercial. Facebook is addictive, supposedly, because of its ability to show you stuff you want to see. If it shows you stuff you don't want to know, I wonder if it would become less popular?
louisedennislouisedennis on August 11th, 2016 09:49 am (UTC)
Hmm... maybe I'm not as quick as you to hit the "do not want button" on FB. I see quite a lot of politics, though possibly only from a handful of people (that's harder to judge).

Commercial rarely worries academics - we tend to be more interested in the "is it possible". I think Matryoshka's idea is to somehow insert dissenting opinion into a narrative in order to encourage those within a social group to speak up if their own opinion is dissenting, based on research showing there is a cascade effect that causes a perception that "everyone I know thinks this" when in fact the majority actually think something else but think that everyone else disagrees with them...
bunnbunn on August 11th, 2016 10:29 am (UTC)
I don't think their filtering system only considers the 'do not want' button? Surely it also considers what you interact with, comment on, which pictures you click to see larger, how fast you scroll past things, whether you move the mouse over them, whether you expand longer sections to see the end, whether they are posted by people/organisations with whom you otherwise interact, whether other people in your groups interacted with them?

Of course they also run comment and tracking scripts across a lot of the non-Facebook web, so probably they could relate that data to your profile if they wanted to, although I guess there are legal issues with that.

Facebook would surely put up strong opposition to the idea of injecting dissent if it looked like it might reduce the addiction potential. They do want to show people stuff that might not perfectly fit their 'stuff I want to see' model of course, but they want advertisers paying for it - and not to the point where it puts people off using the thing or drives them to another service.