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Daily Archives: January 26, 2021

They Found a Way to Limit Big Tech’s Power: Using the Design of Bitcoin

The New York Times – “Companies inspired by the cryptocurrency are creating social networks, storing online content and hosting websites without any central authority…When YouTube and Facebook barred tens of thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters and white supremacists this month, many flocked to alternative apps such as LBRY, Minds and Sessions. What those sites had in common was that they were also inspired by the design of Bitcoin. The twin developments were part of a growing movement by technologists, investors and everyday users to replace some of the internet’s fundamental building blocks in ways that would be harder for tech giants like Facebook and Google to control. To do so, they are increasingly focused on new technological ideas introduced by Bitcoin, which was built atop an online network designed, at the most basic level, to decentralize power. Unlike other types of digital money, Bitcoin are created and moved around not by a central bank or financial institution but by a broad and disparate network of computers. It’s similar to the way Wikipedia is edited by anyone who wants to help, rather than a single publishing house. That underlying technology is called the blockchain, a reference to the shared ledger on which all of Bitcoin’s records are kept. Companies are now finding ways to use blockchains, and similar technology inspired by it, to create social media networks, store online content and host websites without any central authority in charge. Doing so makes it much harder for any government or company to ban accounts or delete content…”

See also The New York Times – What is a Blockchain? Is It Hype? A technology based on a decentralized network may offer more control over what people do online.

Why Is Big Tech Policing Speech?

The New York Times – “Because the Government Isn’t. Deplatforming President Trump showed that the First Amendment is broken — but not in the way his supporters think….The giants of social media — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram — had more stringent rules. And while they still amplified huge amounts of far-right content, they had started… Continue Reading

Tax return vs. tax refund: How they’re different, what’s changed this year

CNet – “A tax return and a tax refund. They sound similar and sometimes go together, but they’re not the same. And this year, there are more nuances than ever, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and stimulus checks. So what’s the difference between the two and what are the biggest changes you need… Continue Reading

Considering a Quarantine Pod for 2021

Consumer Reports – “With widespread vaccination on the horizon, here’s what you should know about safely socializing until then..Though there’s no official guidance on the concept from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a quarantine “pod” or “bubble” is a small group of people who agree to interact without safety measures only with each other,… Continue Reading

Online Holocaust Denial Report Card

An Investigation of Online Platforms’ Policies and Enforcement – “The Holocaust, the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews and several million others by the Nazis, is one of history’s most painstakingly examined and well-documented genocides. Nevertheless, in the decades since World War II, a small group of antisemites has repeatedly attempted to cast doubt… Continue Reading

Worrisome New Coronavirus Strains Are Emerging. Why Now?

Wired – “Across the globe, SARS-CoV-2 is evolving ways to evade the immune system and become more infectious. Blown pandemic response plans are to blame…All viruses mutate. They are, after all, just autonomous bits of protein-encased, self-replicating strings of code equipped with imperfect internal spell-checkers. Make enough copies and there are bound to be mistakes.… Continue Reading

Enabling the future of academic research with the Twitter API

Twitter Developer Blog: “…With the new Academic Research product track, qualified researchers will have access to all v2 endpoints released to date, as well as: Free access to the full history of public conversation via the full-archive search endpoint, which was previously limited to paid premium or enterprise customers Higher levels of access to the… Continue Reading

NYU Professor Creates COVID-19 Dashboard to Compare Country and State Data

“A new online dashboard, created by NYU Professor Alexej Jerschow, brings together COVID-19 data from U.S. states and countries around the world to compare cases, deaths, vaccines, and testing in a visual, user-friendly format.  The tool also integrates a range of policies governments have implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19—including school closings, stay-at-home orders,… Continue Reading

Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

“Welcome to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. This work-in-progress is a comprehensive quotation-based dictionary of the language of science fiction. The HD/SF is an offshoot of a project begun by the Oxford English Dictionary (though it is no longer formally affiliated with it). It is edited by Jesse Sheidlower. Please explore the menu links to learn more.” Continue Reading