This week we’ve had the imminent threat of a nuclear war with North Korea, white supremacists walking down the streets with tiki torches and nazi flags and a president Trump that didn’t say or do anything to really help with any of this. Here’s a little summary of what’s been published this week.
People started identifying white supremacists online to make sure they’d be shamed, lose their job and ultimately prevent them from protesting in the future. Unfortunately, in some cases the wrong people were identified and that’s a problem.
An Arkansas professor 1,100 miles away from the white nationalist gathering in Virginia woke up to find himself wrongly exposed as a racist. Then the online abuse began.
We have the tools but do we have the will? Some companies are leading the way, as we’ll see just under.
As the tech industry walks the narrow path between free speech and hate speech, it allows people with extremist ideologies to promote brands and beliefs on their platforms, as long as the violent rhetoric is swapped out for dog whistles and obfuscating language. All the while, social media platforms allow these groups to amass and recruit followers under the guise of peaceful protest.
Long story short: almost everybody dropped the Daily Stormer!
After publishing a horrible piece about Heather Heyer, Go Daddy gave 24 hours to the Daily Stormer to find a new domain provider. They moved to Google and they cancelled the domain registration too.
They later found a new (Russian domain) but got their DDoS protection by Cloudfare dropped too. Cloudfare has been know to be free-speech absolutists but this crossed the line, their CEO Matthew Prince gave an explanation here. The last episode in date was Spotify (finally — after those bands were flagged 3 years ago) removing white power bands from the catalog.
This of course raised concerns and the EFF published a thought provoking article about Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression.
All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.*And finally, don’t think that protesting Trump will go unnoticed, Dreamhost is currently fighting the Department of Justice: The California-based company is resisting a Department of Justice warrant that demands it hand over all files related to DisruptJ20.org, a website created by one of its customers to plan and announce actions intended to interrupt President Trump’s inauguration.
President Donald Trump will apparently not move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure. Would it be the result of more CEOs leaving him?
The infrastructure council, which was still being formed, would have advised Trump on his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. Its cancellation follows Trump’s announcement Wednesday that he was disbanding two other business advisory panels.After Elon Musk and Disney CEO Bob Iger it’s Intel’s, Merck’s and Under Armour’s CEOs turn to leave the American Manufacturing Council over Trump’s response to Charlottesville. This resulted in the disbanding of the Strategic and Policy Forum and American Manufacturing Council.
For a while CEOs avoided to get involved in politics, but this seems to be changing. Very curious to see where all of this will bring us in the coming weeks and months.
Around the web
Isn’t it scary how easy it is for a tweet to destroy a company? In the case of Amazon, they’ll survive but think about smaller businesses…
All it took was 137 characters at 6:12 a.m. for Amazon’s valuation to drop more than $5 billion on Wednesday.
I’m really curious to see if this will work. We had this when I was in college but it didn’t last, at least I got to see the first Harry Potter movies at least 5 times!
Lowe, an early Netflix Inc. executive who now runs a startup called MoviePass, plans to drop the price of the company’s movie ticket subscriptions on Tuesday to $9.95. The fee will let customers get in to one showing every day at any theater in the U.S. that accepts debit cards. MoviePass will pay theaters the full price of each ticket used by subscribers, excluding 3D or Imax screens.
Technology / AI / Blockchain
The race to the top (of the AI mountain) continues and China seems to be leading.
The nation is betting heavily on AI. Money is pouring in from China’s investors, big internet companies and its government, driven by a belief that the technology can remake entire sectors of the economy, as well as national security. A similar effort is underway in the U.S., but in this new global arms race, China has three advantages: A vast pool of engineers to write the software, a massive base of 751 million internet users to test it on, and most importantly staunch government support that includes handing over gobs of citizens’ data –- something that makes Western officials squirm.
An engineering breakdown on when to choose blockchain and how to compare it to other databases and distributed systems.
Decentralization is not free and must be a fundamental requirement of your product to justify its use. If it’s simply a cool twist on an existing concept, the non-decentralized version is always going to be better as it does not have to deal with the same constraints.
I bet their clients wish they’d tell them to buy Bitcoins or not.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is acknowledging that it’s getting harder for institutional investors to ignore the cryptocurrency market with total assets ballooning to $120 billion and bitcoin soaring more than 200 percent this year. “Whether or not you believe in the merit of investing in cryptocurrencies (you know who you are), real dollars are at work here and warrant watching,” analysts including Robert Boroujerdi and Jessica Binder Graham wrote in a Q&A sent to clients.
Understanding sarcasm could help AI fight racism, abuse, and harassment. This MIT algorithm uses Emoji to understand context better.
Detecting the sentiment of social-media posts is already useful for tracking attitudes toward brands and products, and for identifying signals that might indicate trends in the financial markets. But more accurately discerning the meaning of tweets and comments could help computers automatically spot and quash abuse and hate speech online (…)“Because we can’t use intonation in our voice or body language to contextualize what we are saying, emoji are the way we do it online,” says Iyad Rahwan, an associate professor the MIT Media lab who developed the algorithm with one of his students, Bjarke Felbo. “The neural network learned the connection between a certain kind of language and an emoji.”
Development / Design / DIY projects
Very interesting approach to tackle the ever growing DDoS plague.
The idea of this project is to use blockchain and software-defined networking to provide such collaborative defense reducing the complexity of existing distributed protocols and architectures for gossiping DDoS attacks information. While blockchain simplifies existing approaches with an out-of-the-box distributed infrastructure to broadcast addresses without the need to build specialized registries or other distribution mechanisms/protocols, software-defined networks can optimize the management of flows in response to attacks.
Great piece about how Stripe manages APIs versioning and evolution.
an API represents a contract for communication that can’t be changed without considerable cooperation and effort. Because so many businesses rely on Stripe as infrastructure, we’ve been thinking about these contracts since Stripe started. To date, we’ve maintained compatibility with every version of our API since the company’s inception in 2011. In this article, we’d like to share how we manage API versions at Stripe.
Spoiler alert: in many cases system fonts will do great! But not always ;)
I’m not a fan of sweeping statements like you “should” or “shouldn’t” use web fonts, but I think there should be some sort of guidelines to help people decide whether or not to use them.
Who hasn’t struggled with text sizes on websites?
Body text is the key component in communicating the main bulk of a message or story, and it’s probably the most important element on a website, even if people sometimes read just the headlines. Why would we limit the effectiveness of body text by minimizing its size to a browser-default that’s now over 20 years old, even on large displays?!
If you ever worked with data visualization on mobile you know the eternal struggle with the lack of screen real estate. Looks like Augmented Reality might be able to help out.
Data visualization on mobile devices seemed promising, since the time of the first iPhone: very capable portable computers! Innovative touch interaction! Highly localized content! Hundreds of visualizations for mobile devices exist, both as apps and part of daily news content. But there’s one major problem that mobile visualizations couldn’t shake yet: There’s just never enough space.
Bits and pieces
Check out BinaryAlert: Serverless, Real-time & Retroactive Malware Detection (by airbnb). And here is a brief walk-through tutorial that illustrates how to crack Wi-Fi networks that are secured using weak passwords. Quick follow-up on last week’s story about hacking computers with DNA (by UW). Speaking of security, you might want to update your version control system if it’s Git, SVN or Mercurial.
Make your use of headless Chrome easier with Puppeteer, the Headless Chrome Node API. See How Europe’s push for Open Banking is forcing banking apps to improve their UX. Learn See how you can implement OpenPGP on the front-end side. Check out the Trending Developer Skills, Based on the Analysis of “Ask HN: Who’s Hiring?”.
Scary thought, apparently 72% of Consumers Don’t Know What Net Neutrality Is. She’s An Ex-Google Woman Tech Leader And she’s Sick Of Our Approach To Diversity!
The Uber Dilemma, your weekly dose of game theory. And read The Future Since 1999 (by Doc Searls), most of it is still very much on point! And last, but not least, you HAVE to check out the One Hostname to Rule Them All!