Monthly Archives: December 2017

Social Media is Gaming Society With An Algorithm

Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube (or whatever thing comes next) are technologies that are rapidly extending the boundaries of how we communicate, how we learn & have accelerated the rate at which the collective knowledge of the human race grows. But for some, Instead of being an exchange for enlightened ideas that will further benefit humanity as a whole, they get sucked into a maelstrom of pettiness, scandal, and outrage quickly losing sight of what matters for the society they share. I am aware these social media companies could fix this. They could adapt their algorithms to put clickbait lower down the feed but those changes would go against their business-model designed to monopolize attention and keep people in their short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops. They are aware that instead of imparting wisdom, these systems frequently dish out compulsive stuff that tends to reinforce people’s biases keeping them deeply engaged and or enraged which leads to more time on their sites and people clicking the ads that fund this entire system. The ads on these sites have also been used by companies & even countries to influence & manipulate people forcing a wedge into our society. Congress has asked the social media giants for transparency about who pays for political ads, but a lot of the inimical influence comes through people carelessly sharing barely credible news posts based on the headline alone because it fits the narrative they want to believe.
So what can be done? I don’t know, but I feel that raising awareness that an algorithm is being applied to shape how we interact online is important. I am very optimistic that this is a problem we will solve, society will continue to improve, and this will be looked at as another time of great change in our history. Feel free to share, comment or tell me I am crazy or just scroll on by….:)

Low GPA Students and The System Has Not Changed

While I find a certain humor in this photo as I have often joked about not being a good student myself with my formal education ending with high school, it makes me think about how the school system could be better. I used to start each of my high school classes asking the teacher what their grading formula was so I could game their system and do the minimum amount of work needed to get a passing grade. I did this because I had a hard time sitting still in class and simply wanted to read other things, which meant skipping class and going to the library because it was before Google, Wikipedia & YouTube. Before I graduated I probably read every engineering & science book in there. I understand the importance of having a more rounded education and but here we are 20 years later and I am watching my daughter (who is an A student) struggle with the same issues in high school that I did. The system still looks much the same as it did hundreds of years ago despite incredible advancements in technology. I am not sure exactly what all should be changed about the system, but seeing that so many people who made great innovations or find huge success in the world are also often the ones who chose the less formal path to get there means it should be looked at and we should be thinking about how we can apply these technologies change the educational systems we have here.