I want online social networks akin to offline social networks

April 18th, 2018

Ruminating more on what my ideal social network would achieve, I realize that it really comes down to one thing: Offline social networks ("meatspace", interacting with friends and acquaintances in person) are pretty amazing, and our current online social networks do a terrible job of replicating this. I'd like to capture some of what I think we're missing, without losing sight of what we also gain.

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Goals for an ideal social network

April 1st, 2018

I want social space online, but none of the social media software currently in existence meets my needs. Beyond that, I believe that many of the offerings are actively harmful to privacy, security, and democracy. I know many people feel the same way, but can't opt out for lack of alternatives. Clearly it's time to build something new. Something that's useful, efficacious, and responsible, but also attractive. What elements will it need?

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How to eat a croissant

April 1st, 2018

Do you hear everyone talking about enjoying these flaky crustaceans, but are too embarrassed to try one because you don't know how to eat them? Don't worry, it's simple. Use this simple guide and you can walk with confidence into the nearest café.

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Seeing plants move

March 29th, 2018

You've probably seen cool time-lapse videos of plants growing. Probably also videos of sunflowers moving to track the sun. But do you have a sense of how fast they actually grow and move? It's surprisingly close to the limits of human perception.

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“Safety drivers” are a sham and a scapegoat: Uber and Desert Bus

March 23rd, 2018

This past weekend, one of Uber's autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Elaine Herzberg. Video reveals that even as Elaine crossed in front of the car, the car did not stop or even slow. She was well within range of the vehicle's LIDAR, and local residents have posted their own videos showing that there was plenty of light to see by as well.

It's clear that Uber's reckless and callous company culture has produced an unsafe vehicle; in retrospect, it was always going to be Uber that took the first life. But what of the so-called "safety driver" sitting in the driver's seat? Dash video shows that she was looking down at the time of the accident (perhaps at a phone). Is she not to blame?

I submit that blaming the safety driver is both useless and dangerous.

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