The Atlantic: Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse As We Know It. “Presidential-campaign season is officially, officially, upon us now, which means it’s time to confront the weird and insidious ways in which technology is warping politics. One of the biggest threats on the horizon: Artificial personas are coming, and they’re poised to take over political debate. The risk arises from two separate threads coming together: artificial-intelligence-driven text generation and social-media chatbots. These computer-generated ‘people’ will drown out actual human discussions on the internet.”
Newswise: ‘Throwaway’ social profiles may have a place on some platforms, with some topics. “We’ve heard of them in the world of online dating, with teens trying to avoid the watchful eyes of mom and dad, and with scammers and foreign accounts trying to cheat us or convince us of a lie to gain profit or our vote. Social media companies have promised to crack down when they are able to identify these temporary accounts. Now, new research from the University of Michigan shows that so-called throwaway profiles on some platforms can be good for adults who need to open up and test the waters on subjects that might cause them shame or pain if they were to share as themselves.”
The Map Room: H-Maps, a New Discussion List About Map History. “H-Net, that venerable purveyor of academic discussion lists since I was in academia, has, with the collaboration of the International Society for the History of the Map, launched H-Maps, ‘an international digital forum in the historical study of the making, circulation, use and preservation of maps from the ancient to the contemporary period.'”
BBC: How a social network could save democracy from deadlock. “Whether it is the daily Brexit face-offs, the endless scandals on Capitol Hill or the yellow vests of France, the space for meaningful compromise has dramatically shrunk. Instead, it’s a time of digging in, fighting your corner, staying the course. No surrender. It signals a deeper malaise – as electorates become more polarised, democracies become more paralysed. Yet what if it doesn’t need to be this way? What if new ways can be found to break deadlocks and bring electorates back together?”
Columbia Journalism Review: India had its first ‘WhatsApp election.’ We have a million messages from it. “At the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we used the Indian election cycle, which ran between April 11 and May 19, 2019, as a case study for assessing both general political discourse and information manipulation on WhatsApp. With no APIs, tools, or best practices in place to help outsiders tap into ongoing activity inside closed groups, we devised a strategy to monitor a subset of the political conversation, over a period of three and a half months. The study’s resulting data set—which grew to over a terabyte in size—contains 1.09 million messages, retrieved by joining 1,400 chat groups related to politics in the country.”
South China Morning Post: Older Hongkongers taking to online apps and social media for latest updates on protests, and some may join rallies too . “Retired schoolteacher Bill Lau, 66, first learned about the messaging app Telegram and online forum LIHKG – platforms popular with protesters – from his friends and younger daughter respectively. Curious, he downloaded Telegram and started checking out LIHKG links from his daughter, and now spends at least half an hour on them each day.”
Harvard Business Review: How to Create an Online Community That People Will Pay For. “Since 2016 I’ve run an online community for members of my Recognized Expert course, and I’ve written extensively about building online revenue streams. If you or your company is considering launching an online membership site, here are six principles I’ve identified to maximize the benefit to your members and ensure they view your site as something worth paying for.” The headline made me cringe and the only reason I read it was because it came from HBR. (The cringing comes from my hangups, not anything pejorative about the author.) But this is a solid overview of things foundational to ANY online community, paid or not, so in it goes.