This makes a lot of sense

‘I think that Byrne is missing another nuance when he talks about social isolation and filter bubbles: the companies that create social media platforms optimize them for “engagement” (which can be measured) and not by “pleasure,” “satisfaction,” “utility” etc. They’re all designing engagement-maximizing slot machines, and there’s nothing that says they couldn’t be designing marketplaces of ideas, meditation chambers, or deliberative systems.’ From: David Byrne: The secret appeal of technology is that it takes away the need to talk to people / Boing Boing

I sometimes forget that David Byrne is a smart person, and I don’t know why that is.


The horrors of this weekend were terrifying enough (and our hearts go out to the victims and their families). The prez’s tacit, crypto-approvel of them does not ease our mind in any way. Why is it so hard for a sitting president to condemn n*zis?

I have a guess, not that it’ll help anyone.

Let’s look at Twitter for a second. They’ve had their own problem with n*zis. They infest the platform, and they make the overall experience of using Twitter worse than it would be if they found somewhere else to hang out. Why is it so hard for Twitter to drive them out?

Well, the only thing Twitter has going for it — the one thing that makes it attractive to other businesses — is it’s large userbase. That number is very important, since it’s the thing it uses to sell itself to advertisers and other businesses, and the last thing Twitter is willing to do is go out of its way to make that number smaller.

And it’s not just that they’d lose n*zi users if they drove the n*zi ones. They’d lose the free speech-zealots; they’d lose the people who never actually say any n*zi stuff, but who actively follow people who are n*zis; and so on. Twitter’s important number could drop in a big way.

Now, back to the prez. He’s got his own important numbers to worry about. If he were to make an immediate, unforced, and vehement statement condemning a group that represents a large fraction of his supporters, he runs the risk of losing them, which makes his important numbers go down. As with Twitter, he’d not only lose the out-and-out n*zis, he’d also lose people who are less active, less devout, but who nevertheless grumble when they see things they believe are counter to the interests of their racial and ethnic groups. Not n*zis per se, but they’re at least a little concerned about the status of the white man in America, and they don’t trust anyone who refuses to put that concern above all others.

He’d also lose people who hate Democrats above all else, who would no doubt see any condemnation of hate groups as a conciliatory gesture towards the Democrats’ beloved hobby-horses, civil rights and social justice.

The difference here, I think, is that I don’t believe Twitter sympathizes with the ethos it’s enabling; on the other hand, I think the president does. He shares the same unsupportable sense of wounded victimhood, born out of a narrowed worldview that focuses on its own pains while ignoring everyone else’s, that the white ethno-nationalist community does.

“If I got all this race-based privilege, then why is my life so hard?”

“I may be a rich man born into a rich family, but my life is really hard!”

So it’s probably not just a case where racists have to be appeased in order to garner their support, which is what most Republicans tend to do. It’s very likely that the president’s tacit support of racists is coming from a genuine sense of simpatico. Which is just super fucked up.