As the events of 2016 unfolded with the subsequent impacts on 2017, I’ve been thinking about the phenomena that has been dubbed as “post truth” and the sacrifice of critical thinking in return for likes and retweets. Those thoughts have taken me back to my school days and an enlightened English Literature teacher who encouraged us to challenge and critique the information presented to us.
As a naive schoolchild, one imagined that newspapers, magazines and television spoke “the truth”. It was a revelation that this was not the case but simply comparing the same news story in two national newspapers, say, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, it became evident the political tendencies of each broadsheet became written into the narrative, and there was no such thing as objective truth.
And I will never forget the propaganda of news reporting during times of conflict. Our military are “heroes” or “liberators” whereas the other side are “jack-booted stormtroopers” and “thugs”. We launch “pre-emptive strikes”, they have “cowardly sneak attacks”. Once you know about it, you’ll see it in much war reporting, particularly if the news organisation is from a country involved in the conflict.
But of even greater value is not to ask, “Is this true or false?” but “Why do they want me to know this?” Substitute in the government, organisation or web site of your choice, and this question will serve you well.
For years, social sharing message board Reddit has carried the tagline “The Front Page of the Internet.” Thanks in part to Reddit’s “upvoting” system, which allows users to push items they like to its front page, Reddit has become a reliable source for bringing interesting things to a wider audience.
With this history in mind, Reddit will launch a dedicated news site. Cleverly called Upvoted, the new site will consist of a mixture of different topics, handpicked by a dedicated editorial team. Upvoted itself will actually work quite different from Reddit. Upvoted won’t have a user voting system of its own, nor will it allow for public comments.
The launch of Upvoted is being seen by many as an opportunity to make Reddit more “friendly.” Not just to users but also to advertisers. Reddit has had somewhat of a checkered past, having been embroiled in a number of controversies. Many of its users view Reddit as an “anything goes” zone, where they can post whatever they want. But this mentality can be problematic, as it may offend other users or drive potential sponsors away who don’t want to be associated with Reddit’s Internet drama.
Upvoted launches Tuesday, October 6th. The site is currently showing only a login screen on a protected WordPress page.
Newspapers. I know that you are having a tough time of it at the moment, but here’s a way to make sure that I never visit your website and never buy your newspaper ever again. It’s easy, just insert an advert into a news story and force me to click on it before you show me the rest of the story.
Here’s what you get at the start of the story.
After clicking on the correct answer, you now get the rest of the story and an inserted promotional video. How annoying is that? Even worse, you have to click on the correct answer. Clicking on a wrong answer gets you further patronising information about the programme.
You can check it out for yourself here.
Goodbye Belfast Newsletter – as “the world’s oldest continuously published English publication”, you should know better.
There is perhaps no need to bore you with past details because by now all of you likely know the saga of John McAfee, the creator of McAfee anti-virus. He has been living on an island along the coast of Belize for the past five years, but recently ran into a bit of trouble there. McAfee hasn’t actually been charged with murder, contrary to what many assume. He is simply wanted for questioning, although the implications are there.
While on the run for the past few weeks in his adopted homeland, McAfee has kept an active blog which is entertaining and sometimes quite strange. In fact, the blog is now pushing a “Boycott Belize” promotion.
This week he surfaced across the border in Guatamala where he filmed a video that was posted to YouTube. He was also arrested there and is being held in prison, from which he is still blogging.
“I am in jail in Guatemala. Vastly superior to Belize jails. I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent.”
“I just spoke with the duty officer at the Embassy who said there is nothing that they can do. I asked to be returned to the States, and again … nothing they can do.”
“I’ve been reading posts (There’s no TV here). One poster asked, in a kindly way, whether I felt like killing myself. My reply: “I enjoy living, and suicide is absurdly redundant. The world, from the very begining, hurls viruses, accidents, hungry animals, defective DNA — and uncountable more – in an attempt to kill us. It always succeeds. Suicide is simply aiding and abetting.” My spirits are brighter.”
Where will this made-for-TV-movie plot twist to next? Given his ramblings it’s very hard to say. Is he guilty? I am not a judge or even an experienced legal analyst. Is all of this fascinating? There I can emphatically say YES!
I’m generally not a big fan of politicians. There’s too many of them, they’re overpaid and they get their job through a blind popularity contest. At least with X-Factor and Pop Idol, the contestants have to show what they’re skilled at before we vote for them.
So it was with much glee that I came across World Leaders in their Underpants which literally strips politicians, dictators and royalty to their underwear. Created by cartoonist Nick Hilditch, he’s drawing his way through the world’s countries and now has over 120 of the world’s most powerful people in their smalls. All in the best possible taste of course. Regrettably, he’s not yet disrobed either the USA’s President or the UK’s Prime Minister so you’ll have to sign up to Nick’s RSS feed, follow @understates or like on Facebook to await their arrival. I’m told by Nick that Iraq is next.
The perfect antidote to Newsweek, Time and The Economist!
Received the news late this afternoon that my Grandfather on my dads side of the family had passed away. While expected still has hit me like a ton of bricks. I am luckier than most as I had all of my grandparents up to a few short years ago. All lived into their 90’s and went out on their own terms which is all one can hope for at the end of a long fruitful life. On my past show we where close to the end as my Grandfather was reaching up and calling out my Dad’s name. So I know that my Dad was waiting for him and that he is in a better place. I will likely be heading to Michigan either Wednesday to Thursday so if there is a show it will be from Michigan..
Congratulations to Melisa Strayer she is out last listener appreciation month winner. Congrats to all of the winners this month, and a big thank you to all of you that participated in the contests.
Congrats to Steve Jensen for winning a iPod Nano.. Fill out the survey to win tonight. I think you will have a lot of fun with me in the show today, as every computer in my studio was out to get me it seemed today. Plus I have a stack of tech news that you are not going to want to miss as we break the tech scene down for you.