Riveting Reads: Wednesday 21st March, 2018

Back in the early 20-teens when I blogged a little more regularly, one of the things I most looked forward to was putting together the weekly 'LINKS, LINKS, LINKS' piece.  It was a collection of links to articles and books that I had recently come across and found interesting, asking readers to join in on the discussion. These days, I tend to post most things on Facebook or Twitter, but I thought I might try bring my 'Riveting Reads' series back. Let me know if you think it's useful!

Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Dhakshy Sooriyakumaran preparing for a panel at Nexus Australia, March 2018

A heart warming story: “Bilo” – the little country town that is roaring in defence of asylum seekers

In central Queensland you can easily feel forgotten by and disconnected from the machinations of politicians in Canberra. But over the past week or so, the residents of Biloela have proved that the personal is indeed political. This is a town that looks out for its own.


Food for thought: How Identity Became A Weapon Against The Left

Any statement about what “black people” think or support automatically discounts the perspective of very large numbers of us, because—as is often said but rarely internalized—black people are not a monolith. Identity is, at best, a loose proxy for a person’s political commitments, and individual identity groups contain incredibly diverse perspectives. Failure to recognize that fact can result in dangerous consequences: it can lead us to support policies contrary to the best interests of a community simply because of optics, and it can turn us into a “firewall” to lean on, rather than a constituency to be won.

(YAM's comment) In short: the interest in Hillary as a woman candidate trumped interest in having the best candidate for women.


I'm always talking about this: How Amazon’s Bottomless Appetite Became Corporate America’s Nightmare

The company has grown so large and difficult to comprehend that it’s worth taking stock of why and how it’s left corporate America so thoroughly freaked out. Executives at the biggest U.S. companies mentioned Amazon thousands of times during investor calls last year, according to transcripts—more than President Trump and almost as often as taxes. Other companies become verbs because of their products: to Google or to Xerox. Amazon became a verb because of the damage it can inflict on other companies. To be Amazoned means to have your business crushed because the company got into your industry. And fear of being Amazoned has become such a defining feature of commerce, it’s easy to forget the phenomenon has arisen mostly in about three years.


There's been a lot of chat about data recently: Facebook, Big Data and You (audio) and this is a good explainer about Cambridge Analytica

Late on Friday, Facebook made an unexpected announcement: The data firm Cambridge Analytica, hyped as integral to President Trump’s election, was suspended from the social network for using data collected improperly from Facebook users.

It is a complicated issue that many people might have missed, given the timing of the announcement. With that in mind, here is an overview of the groups involved, what happened — and what it means.


But GDPR is on the case(ish): Europe's New Privacy Law Will Change the Web, and More

On May 25, however, the power balance will shift towards consumers, thanks to a European privacy law that restricts how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up.


If you want to do something about it: Here’s how to check which apps have access to your Facebook account—and delete them


The EU is getting into the ethics in tech space: EC begins AI ethics push


SIGH: Extremism pays. That’s why Silicon Valley isn’t shutting it down

This doesn’t mean that YouTube’s owner (Google) is hell-bent on furthering extremism of all stripes. It isn’t. All it’s interested in is maximising advertising revenues. And underpinning the implicit logic of its recommender algorithms is evidence that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with – or perhaps to incendiary content in general.