New York Times: With Coercion and Black Boxes, Russia Installs a Digital Iron Curtain

New York Times: With Coercion and Black Boxes, Russia Installs a Digital Iron Curtain. “Russia’s boldest moves to censor the internet began in the most mundane of ways — with a series of bureaucratic emails and forms. The messages, sent by Russia’s powerful internet regulator, demanded technical details — like traffic numbers, equipment specifications and connection speeds — from companies that provide internet and telecommunications services across the country. Then the black boxes arrived. The telecom companies had no choice but to step aside as government-approved technicians installed the equipment alongside their own computer systems and servers.”

The MIT Press Reader: A History of the Data-Tracked User

The MIT Press Reader: A History of the Data-Tracked User. “The following article, adapted from Tanya Kant’s case study ‘Identity, Advertising, and Algorithmic Targeting: Or How (Not) to Target Your “Ideal User”,’ maps a brief history of the commercially targeted user, beginning with ‘identity scoring’ in the 1940s and ending with the targeted advertising of today.”

Wired: Facebook and Google’s new plan? Own the internet

Wired: Facebook and Google’s new plan? Own the internet. “The name ‘cloud’ is a linguistic trick – a way of hiding who controls the underlying technology of the internet – and the huge power they wield. Stop to think about it for a moment and the whole notion is bizarre. The cloud is, in fact, a network of cables and servers that cover the world: once the preserve of obscure telecoms firms, it is now, increasingly, owned and controlled by Big Tech – with Google and Facebook claiming a lion’s share.”

Ars Technica: “Wayforward Machine” provides a glimpse into the future of the web

Ars Technica: “Wayforward Machine” provides a glimpse into the future of the web. “What could the future of the Internet look like? With the digital world of the 21st century becoming a pit of unwanted ads, tracking, paywalls, unsafe content, and legal threats, ‘Wayforward Machine’ has a dystopian picture in mind. Behind the clickbaity name, Wayforward Machine is an attempt by the Internet Archive to preview the chaos the world wide web is about to become.”

Associated Press: Africa internet riches plundered, contested by China broker

Associated Press: Africa internet riches plundered, contested by China broker. “Millions of internet addresses assigned to Africa have been waylaid, some fraudulently, including through insider machinations linked to a former top employee of the nonprofit that assigns the continent’s addresses. Instead of serving Africa’s internet development, many have benefited spammers and scammers, while others satiate Chinese appetites for pornography and gambling. New leadership at the nonprofit, AFRINIC, is working to reclaim the lost addresses. But a legal challenge by a deep-pocketed Chinese businessman is threatening the body’s very existence.”

Techdirt: Should Information Flows Be Controlled By The Internet Plumbers?

Techdirt: Should Information Flows Be Controlled By The Internet Plumbers?. “Content moderation is a can of worms. For Internet infrastructure intermediaries, it’s a can of worms that they are particularly poorly positioned to tackle. And yet Internet infrastructure elements are increasingly being called on to moderate content—content they may have very little insight into as it passes through their systems.”

New York Times: The Melting Face Emoji Has Already Won Us Over

New York Times: The Melting Face Emoji Has Already Won Us Over. “There are times when words feel inadequate — when one’s dread, shame, exhaustion or discomfort seems too immense to be captured in written language. That’s where the melting face emoji comes in. The face, fixed with a content half-smile even as it dissolves into a puddle, is one of 37 new emojis approved this year by the Unicode Consortium, the organization that maintains the standards for digital text.”

Freedom House: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech

Freedom House: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech. “Global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year. The greatest deteriorations were documented in Myanmar, Belarus, and Uganda, where state forces cracked down amid electoral and constitutional crises. Myanmar’s 14-point score decline is the largest registered since the Freedom on the Net project began.”

New York Times: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?

New York Times: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?. “Dictionaries heighten my senses, almost like certain mind-altering substances: They direct my attention outward, into a conversation with language. They make me wonder what other things I’m blind to because I haven’t taught myself to notice them yet. Recently spotted specimens include orrery, ‘a mechanical model, usually clockwork, devised to represent the motions of the earth and moon (and sometimes also the planets) around the sun.’ The Oxford English Dictionary also tells me that the word comes from the fourth Earl of Orrery, for whom a copy of the first machine was made, around 1700. Useful? Obviously not. Satisfying? Deeply.”

BBC: Would a reboot make social media a nicer place?

BBC: Would a reboot make social media a nicer place?. “One of the most popular cures for an ailing computer or Hollywood movie franchise is often a reboot. Could this also prove a remedy for fixing toxic social media? A rethink is what the Institute for Rebooting Social Media proposes to do over the next three years. The institute, a new initiative of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, is being funded with $2m (£1.5m) from the John S. and John L. Knight Foundation, as well as Craig Newmark Philanthropies.”

Slate: How Wikipedia Grew Up With the War on Terror

Slate: How Wikipedia Grew Up With the War on Terror. “On Sept. 4, 2001, the MIT Technology Review published an article titled ‘Free the Encyclopedias!’ introducing Wikipedia, the free web-based encyclopedia. The article described Wikipedia, which had started in January of that year, as ‘intellectual anarchy extruded into encyclopedia form’ and proclaimed that Wikipedia ‘will probably never dethrone Britannica.’ One week after the MIT Technology Review story, the Wikipedia community responded to the spectacular tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by kicking into encyclopedia-editing overdrive.”

Laughing Squid: An Explanation of Medieval Art Memes

Laughing Squid: An Explanation of Medieval Art Memes. “The Archivist at Curious Archive digs into the origins of some of the oddest art images from the Medieval era that have since become popular as modern memes. He notes that while a number of pieces reflected such trends as ‘homunculus’ (‘little man’), the ‘Danse Macabre’ (‘Dance of Death’), and ‘The Vitalis of Milan’, many others were created with a sense of humor, perhaps to make their audience laugh.”