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Hustle, twitter, bells and banter

Free beer! C.S. Peirce and semioticians make much of the meaningful call out of someone like a street vendor. A cry or call out from someone giving away, selling or hustling goods at a market fits one of Peirce’s sign categories. To be precise, it is a kind of dicent indexical legisign. The sign is complete … Continue reading

Obfuscation and its remedies

He “took every step that he could to try to obfuscate, to try to get people to lie, tried to reward those people who refused to cooperate with a legitimate investigation, tried to punish and denigrate the people who were cooperative” (The Hill). That’s how the former Watergate special prosecutor (Richard Ben-Veniste) summarised the Mueller … Continue reading

Trash talk

Like most urban commuters I have learned to tune out other people’s mobile phone conversations. But when I’m forced to attend to one-sided overloud jibber-jabber the interlocutor may as well be speaking in code. “She said that? … He did it then. … Ask him to give it to me when I’m there.” Deixis Deictic … Continue reading

The death of a public life

You can be excused for thinking that social media presents imperfect insights into human nature. US political comedian Bill Maher excoriated the public personas social media users present online — their polite, politically correct, family-friendly, “prissy” avatars, whose great “super power” is that they remember birthdays! “If you want to know who someone really is … Continue reading

AI and advertising

Most prominent web publishers such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Reddit and news sites, generate revenue by placing banner, side-bar and in-text adverts on their pages. The ads are tailored for your eyes, and may differ from what others see on the same pages. Programmatic advertising directs what ads you see on web pages and social … Continue reading

Troll farming

When did the Internet lose its innocence? In 1993 pioneering advocate for life online Howard Rheingold wrote in The Virtual Community: “People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and … Continue reading

Fake followers

Singer Katy Perry has nearly 100 million followers on Twitter according to Friend or Follow. Close behind are Justin Bieber and Barack Obama, with Donald Trump ranked 34th in line with about 31 million followers. You don’t need to be a follower to find out what people are tweeting. You can just search on their … Continue reading

Reverse analytics

Can you infer a person’s politics from their online footprint? Let’s start with something less contentious: a person’s nature preference. If you were raised in a school and home environment that encouraged you to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature pursuits, then it is highly likely that in later life you will respect the environment, … Continue reading

Extreme tweeting for professionals

The presence of an unregenerate tweeter in the White House places social media in the spotlight. The current state of the White House reveals it as an extreme locus of power, division, anxiety, instability, temper, ignorance, deception, self-interest, and antipathy. Trump’s use of Twitter provides an excellent case study illustrating what people can do with social media, and what it can do to them. Why should any … Continue reading

Are humans just machines for propagating tweets?

Some tweets are a bit like genes in that they get reproduced many times over, they mutate, they thrive and persist if the environment is right, and there’s a lot of wastage — most don’t get retweeted, liked or remarked. So there’s something like natural selection going on. One of the nice propositions about genes is that humans … Continue reading

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