If You Would Like To Send Me a Thing

April 1, 2014 § Leave a comment


I can be reached via email at whitney.phillips@humboldt.edu. My Twitter is @wphillips49.


Filed under: Blog Housekeeping

The, Let’s Say, “Nuanced” Moderation Policies O’er at Facebook

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

What can I say, I'm an artist

What can I say, I’m an artist

Valleywag’s Sam Biddle just posted some pretty…I don’t know, is “Facepalmy?” a word…news out of Facebook, aka “Zuck’s Click Hut” (I will never refer to Facebook any other way; fifteen hat tips to Biddle). Although they remain steadfast in their campaign against nudity, particularly repulsive acts of female nudity (ugh sick), Facebook will continue allowing people to post beheading videos to their timelines, the logic being that just because someone posts something, doesn’t mean they are condoning it. People might be posting problematic content to condemn the depicted acts, in the process helping raise awareness.

I don’t entirely disagree with the underlying logic of this stance (though whatever argument I’d make, whether for or against, depends on the circumstance; beheading videos are an extreme example to say the very least, and I’m not sure what, if any, positive political impact that level of violence could have on anyone) — but it is odd, considering how quickly Facebook is to ban female users engaging in depraved behaviors like “feeding their infant children,” and how reluctant they are to take action against violently misogynist pages and posts. And how weird and inconsistent their moderation policies are generally.

Anyway, file this one under “1000 Reasons I’m Glad I’m Not On Facebook.” Excuse me, Zuck’s Click Hut.

Gone Archivin’

October 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

compudance cool guy

Way back in the forever ago (last year), I used to write some things for Chris’ blog Modern Primate, may it rest in peace. It occurred to me that someday the site will likely be recycled for scrap metal, or whatever ends up happening to decommissioned websites, so I’d best start archiving.

This realization coincided with an earlier realization that I have done a horrible job indexing this blog, due largely to the fact that the whole thing started out as a haphazard repository for snarky PhD exam commentary. I had been tagging certain things as “Digital Culture,” for example, but only in relation to my digital culture exam list. All the actual “digital culture” posts, you know, the ones in which I talk about things on and around the internet, got filed under “Spotlight On” or “Lightning Round,” tags I eventually deleted because they were annoying (which didn’t delete the posts, but rather how they’re indexed onsite). This has made searching for stuff very difficult, which is silly if the whole point of a blog is to write things that other humans can find.

Anyway, in order to kill two birds with one post, I’ve transferred the full text of all my Modern Primate writings to their corresponding posts here. And then because I was already doing that, I figured I might as well collate them all in a separate, more easily navigable MEGApost. No one cares! So without further ado:

On Television:

Of and Related to Dogs:

Internet Culture:

Santorum Slashfic, which got increasingly weird as the months wore on:


February 15, 2013 § 4 Comments

not sure if want

The Atlantic just published an article about the dangers of quitting social media, and I don’t know you guys! Authors Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger are ostensibly talking about social media generally, and “sites like Facebook” in particular (sites like Facebook? What other site is like Facebook); their basic point –at least, their lede– is that “sites like Facebook” (Facebook?) is/are necessary to “self-expression, personal growth, learning, support, and civic exchange.” Because self-expression, personal growth, learning, support, and civic exchange online is apparently only possible on “sites like Facebook,” a person’s decision to opt out risks denying THE YOUTH –as well as “the struggling, the lonely, the curious, the caring, and the collaborative”– an opportunity to express themselves (and apparently the opportunity to fall into a pit of despair and self-loathing, a point addressed in another Atlantic article from May of 2012).

There’s also stuff about how, hey, your information might end up on Facebook  anyway, and if we all decide to leave social media every time we’re worried about privacy we’ll NEVER figure out how much privacy is enough privacy, and how do you know that the alternatives to existing social media won’t be worse, and Google is already keeping tabs on everyone, so you might as well stop worrying and learn to love the poke.

Here’s my take: contrary to what the authors seem to suggest, resistance to social media (Facebook?) isn’t, and doesn’t have to be, purely the result of privacy concerns. There are some of us, including yours truly, who simply don’t want to be on “sites like Facebook,” and don’t want to share every detail (or even a moderate number of details) about their personal lives, because — meh, no thanks. Regarding Facebook specifically, not being on Facebook is great; I would highly recommend it to anyone (more on my decision to opt-out here), and genuinely do not understand why more people aren’t leaving, especially given the amount of time and energy people devote to complaining about how much they hate being on Facebook. As for my attitudes towards other social media platforms, welp, each platform is different, and so I have different attitudes towards them — which is also why I avoid making sweeping statements about “social media.” BECAUSE WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, are you talking about Facebook? Sites like Facebook? Text messaging? Cc:’d emails? The telegraph? Any and all? In conclusion, define yr terms (as Chris just said, “I wish we would retire ‘social media’ and just start using ‘communications technologies’ instead,” which would force people to specify which technologies they mean), and anyway it’s Friday, so.

For Your Next Game of Trivial Pursuit

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well gosh, Facebook’s numbers aren’t as high as they’d have JOE PUBIC believe. That was probably a typo! Per Mashable:

In a March filing, Facebook claimed about5% to 6% of its accounts — or 40.3 million to 50.7 million — were fake. The company also says it bans at least 20,000 accounts daily and estimates about 600,000 accounts per day are compromised.

20K bans per day, a year and a half after Tumblr supplanted Facebook as the hot new trend in teen trolling. I wonder what that number was in 2010, at the peak of RIP stuff. THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW.

The Greatest Headline Ever Written

June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

The details of this BuzzFeed article are less important than that glorious headline (well not really, the article is actually pretty funny, particularly Matt Buchanan’s use of the phrase “dick algorithm” in the fourth paragraph). For those of you in the audience who aren’t 12 year old boys (I’m including myself in that category, thankyouverymuch), here’s the SFWish backstory:

There was always a shadow hanging over Chatroulette, and it was in the shape of penis. At least half of all encounters on Chatroulette were not with the smiling face of another human, but with a penis. Drooping or erect, hanging alone or being gently stroked by a hand. It’s part of what killed it. And it’s something that Sean and Shawn (Parker and Fanning, of Facebook and Napster fame, respectively) very much want to avoid with Airtime, their new video chat and sharing service that’s somewhere between Chatroulette — you can talk to semi-random people! — and Skype — but with your Facebook friends as a buddy list. Plus you can share videos you like with the person you’re chatting with.

But hold that thought, troll. Chatroulette this is not, as the following list of prohibited behaviors will attest. Airtime users will be banned for:

Inappropriate behavior
Nudity or partial nudity
Obscene or vulgar behavior
Sexually suggestive behavior
Animal cruelty
Drug use
Harassment or hate speech
Unauthorized advertising
Behavior that makes the reasonable User uncomfortable
Illegal activities
Submitting false reports of abuse or misconduct
Doing something that interferes with another’s uninterrupted use and enjoyment of Airtime
Impersonating other people
Recording content and distributing it without permission

In other words, from using it?  Yes, probably.

Also lol.

The Facebook is Falling

May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, this news is several hours old. I HAD SEVERAL HOURS OF ERRANDS TO RUN THIS MORNING, GET OFF MY NUTS. Re: Facebook’s 12% stock slump, Brian Barett of Gizmodo keeps it simple:

There’s a perfectly good explanation for all of this. The truth is, Facebook’s been heading for a tailspin since the very first trade.

Full article here; the tl;dr version is that banks are the worst, and the stock market is make-believe.

“Facebook is Stupid and For Old People”

May 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s already been a bad news bears week for Facebook. And the IPO doesn’t happen till Friday! From Ross Newmann:

Since its inception, Facebook has traded in an invaluable currency – it was undeniably cool. Ordinary consumers loved the company because it was radically transforming how they connected with friends, and investors fell over themselves trying to get a piece of its unprecedented growth. That narrative has rightly held up for quite some time, but it’s coming to an end. When Facebook announced the Instagram acquisition, many feared that Facebook (supposedly a company with its finger on the zeitgeist) would wreck the newer and “cooler” Instagram. This 12 year old summed it up best when she said, “Facebook is stupid and for old people.” 

Facebook’s party just isn’t cool anymore, and the ads that pay for it don’t really work that well. The party’s over, and it’s no fun when all your friends figure that out right before your birthday IPO. 

Full article here.

To Everything There is a Season

April 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Later today I’m going write a thing about research aimed at moving targets. It is weird, I will write, and has the tendency to give one an ulcer. It is also very interesting — you can’t get too comfortable with anything you do, at any moment something might come along that threatens to smash your precious conceptual framework to bits, so you’d better take a page out of CalTrans‘ playbook and retrofit the shit out of that shit. This is especially true now, given the changes that are just beginning to twinkle on the horizon. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic discusses some of these changes (and/or the potential for change, the dust isn’t just still settling but hasn’t all been flung into the atmosphere quite yet), particularly in relation to social media. Excerpt below:

Decades ago, the answer was, “Build the Internet.” Fifteen years ago, it was, “Build the Web.” Five years ago, the answers were probably, “Build the social network” or “Build the mobile web.” And it was in around that time in 2007 that Facebook emerged as the social networking leader, Twitter got known at SXSW, and we saw the release of the first Kindle and the first iPhone. There are a lot of new phones that look like the iPhone, plenty of e-readers that look like the Kindle, and countless social networks that look like Facebook and Twitter. In other words, we can cross that task off the list. It happened.

What we’ve seen since have been evolutionary improvements on the patterns established five years ago. The platforms that have seemed hot in the last couple of years — Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest — add a bit of design or mobile intelligence to the established ways of thinking. The most exciting thing to come along in the consumer space between then and now is the iPad. But despite its glorious screen and extended battery life, it really is a scaled up iPhone that offers developers more space and speed to do roughly the same things they were doing before. The top apps for the iPad look startlingly similar the top apps for the iPhone: casual games, social networking, light productivity software.

For at least five years, we’ve been working with the same operating logic in the consumer technology game. This is what it looks like:

There will be ratings and photos and a network of friends imported, borrowed, or stolen from one of the big social networks. There will be an emphasis on connections between people, things, and places. That is to say, the software you run on your phone will try to get you to help it understand what and who you care about out there in the world. Because all that stuff can be transmuted into valuable information for advertisers.

That paradigm has run its course. It’s not quite over yet, but I think we’re into the mobile social fin de siècle.

Full article here.

A Whole Lotta Mad

April 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

The cat = internet

The guy holding the camera = Facebook

It’s gonna be a bumpy CISPA!

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