Line Riders – Blue Danube

DoodleChaos has a new Line Riders upload on YouTube. Be sure to watch to the very end – best chuckle of the day!

The DoodleChaos artist, Mark Robbins, draws with Line Rider, an online application that allows you to make videos by drawing lines on which, Bosh, a little person on a sleigh, slides along the path you draw.

Mark matches the movement of the Line Rider with the music he has chosen. If you want to understand just how difficult and time consuming this is, go to the Line Rider site (click play to start) and try drawing a few lines! See if you can keep the little sledder from crashing!

This is the track I drew (after a lot of tries…)
And this is what happened to the Line Rider as he attempted that last climb…

Crash…

The Internet is Watching You

What if this was a dialogue between you and Google?
You: Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza?
Google: No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza.

Did I dial the wrong number?
Google: No sir, Google bought the pizza store.

Oh, alright – then I’d like to place an order please.
Google: Okay sir, do you want the usual?

The usual? You know what my usual is?
Google: According to the caller ID, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage, and thick crust.

Okay – that’s what I want this time too.
Google: May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice with ricotta, arugula, and tomato instead?

No, I hate vegetables.
Google: But your cholesterol is not good.

How do you know?
Google: Through the subscriber’s guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years.

Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol.
Google: But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from Drugsale Network a box of only 30 tablets.

I bought more from another drugstore.
Google: It’s not showing on your credit card, sir.

I paid in cash.
Google: But according to your bank statement, you did not withdraw that much cash.

I have another source of cash.
Google: This is not showing on your last tax form unless you got it from an undeclared income source.

WHAT THE HELL? ENOUGH! I’m sick of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. I’m going to an island without the internet, where there’s no cell phone line, and no one to spy on me …
Google: I understand sir, but you’ll need to renew your passport … it expired 5 weeks ago.
– Author Unknown –

Who Collects Your Data?

Social media platforms come with a price tag. You have given the “Zuck’s” people full permission to collect almost anything from your cache of info. Why are we suddenly surprised that data was collected, sold, exchanged, and shared?
Don’t hold only Facebook responsible for collecting because every app you added to your phone is already doing the same thing. You scroll through after installation and agree to each little pop-up screen and then wonder why they can take your information without permission.
You gave it up willingly, and some was shared illegally, we all could take stock in being a little more cautious…
Don’t get me started about the folks who are angry about everyone knowing their business just before they yell to Alexa to play something from the Little River Band. Let that sink in for a few minutes.
She already knows where you are making reservation for dinner, and that you probably are wearing the new pants and shirt you purchased through Amazon.
– TC, Bangor Maine Police Department –

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

Limiting the Information Flow.

Those lists we keep seeing — like Google’s “autocomplete” search suggestions or the news feeds on Facebook — those determine what content we will see and what content we will never see — in other words, what content will be censored. That, as George Orwell warned and as Chinese officials know well, is how you control people: by limiting the information flow.
– Robert Epstein, Daily Caller – Google and Facebook Are the Problem –

Are You Gullible?

… the idea that a “targeted” bleat from a campaign basement to a functional adult will bring that person to vote a certain way can only lead to one of two conclusions: such a person should never go on the internet, or, should not be allowed to vote.
– Rex Murphy, Facebook Made Me Do It, Nationalpost –

They’re Watching You

Facebook: “The notion of being handed a multimedia pass to all your friends, wherever they might be, for free, holds immense appeal — even if “free” turns out to mean “we’re watching you and making money and maybe pulling some of your psychological chains to our own ends.”
– Ted Anthony, Facebook – Should You Leave it, Financial Post –

Auto-Refill

News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.
It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing.
– Tristan Harris, How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind, Thrive Global –

If We do Nothing

If we do nothing about Google and Facebook, we will get more of the same: more hyper-targeting, more algorithmic bias, less competition and the further erosion of collateral industries, like media. Enough is enough.
-Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, CNBC –

How to ‘Avoid’ Google


Yahoo and or Outlook email instead of G-Mail.
WordPress.com blogs instead of Blogger – (though frankly WordPress P*$$ me off a bit now that they are cancelling Photo Challenge.)
Firefox instead of Chrome.
DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search.
Dropbox instead of Google Drive.

What have you done to limit how much of your data is ‘mined’ by one company?

Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

The Quippery
When you ask Google or Bing or Duck Duck Go to find something for you, how does ‘it’ filter the results? How do advertisers, retailers and financial markets make  decisions on what product to offer you? How do banks decide who to offer a loan or a bank card to? How do insurance companies determine how to assess risk and set prices? How do employers and dating sites use personality tests to find matches? The answer is, they use Algorithms!

An Algorithm is a set of detailed instructions that are fed into a computer program to deliver a result, or set of results from the information that it is given.

On the internet, Algorithms determine what we see first, or most. For example, when I input the letters ‘do’  into Google search, the autocomplete algorithm suggests ‘donald trump, ‘dominos’ and ‘donald trump news’. The search engine Duck Duck Go  and Yahoo suggest ‘domino’s pizza’, ‘dorothea hurley bongiovi’ and ‘donald trump’. Bing suggests ‘domino s’, download chrome’ and ‘download google chrome’ before getting to ‘donald trump twitter’.

Why do they all choose such similar suggestions? It is because search engines look for what they believe is most relevant – which is the highest frequency of a search term and the way that pages containing that term link to other pages in the Web.

There are other factors at work too. Because Algorithms are written by people, it is not uncommon for those people to write their personal bias into the algorithms:

The dustup over Facebook’s “trending topics” list and its possible liberal bias hit such a nerve that the U.S. Senate called on the company to come up with an official explanation, and this week COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company will begin training employees to identify and control their political leanings.
– Nanette Byrnes, Why We Should Expect Algorithms to Be Biased, MIT Technology Review, June 24, 2016 –

Sometimes algorithms are simply mercenary in nature. Facebook may claim that its algorithm is personalized for your benefit, but it would be fair to say that Facebook’s algorithm is also optimized for Facebook, and thus for the advertisers.

More disturbing – it has been demonstrated that people’s emotions can be controlled by algorithms built into their social feeds. In 2012, Facebook  and data scientists from two Universities (in a study that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) tweaked the news feed algorithms of roughly 0.04 percent of Facebook users, or 698,003 people, for one week in January. During the experiment, half of these people saw fewer positive posts than usual, while half  saw fewer negative ones. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced  more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite occurred. (In a note of contrition, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the decision to manipulate the content without the users consent might have violated some principles of academic research…)

It is one thing to know and accept that sites like Google or Facebook (both are primary news sources for people under 35) can manipulate what you see and potentially control how you feel. Are you also willing to accept that they could also be isolating you from other viewpoints, thus exacerbating your biases?

If you believe, as I do, that trending news can often be incomplete news –  will you search for better information if you see ‘Red Flags’ like the following?

– does the story  contain facts that seem to be inflated?

Example from Greenpeace USA: “The Arctic is one of the most unique places on Earth. It spans eight countries, is home to more than 13 million people… Fact check: The National Snow and Ice Data Centre, which is supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says “In total, only about 4 million people live in the Arctic worldwide.”

– is the story attempting to appeal to your emotions, or to the emotions of young people who may not be old enough to understand the inaccuracy of the story?

Example: Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, soliciting donations for the Suzuki Foundation, did a “live from the North Pole” broadcast in front of some faux Arctic scenery in 2011. “Santa’s workshop is sinking! Climate change is melting the snow and ice and the rising water is getting too close for comfort. Santa must relocate – fast – to make sure all the nice boys and girls still have a happy holiday.”

– does the headline contain exaggerated language that attempts to make you fearful?

Example: “Sir John A. Macdonald: 5 Frightening Facts About Our First Prime Minister” – Rachel Décoste, Huffpost –

– does the story swear at someone or make derogatory comments?

Example: “Soon enough, he will be alone, surrounded only by his admiring fellow racists. But he will still be governing from the Oval Office. It bears repeating. Americans got what they asked for. And it oozes.” Opinion piece on Donald Trump from Neil Macdonald, for CBC News

Who is to blame for the dismal state of journalism today? Do you think Algorithms  have played a role in forming your opinions or  have they impacted your life in other ways?