The Reddit Button finally ended, and nothing happened

This article appeared on the TouchVision website June 5th, 2015. I am reuploading it today because I am about to publish an article on Forbes where I reference this material.

The social experiment known as the Button has ended, and people still don’t know what it was really about. And maybe that is the point.  

On April Fool’s Day, Reddit announced a new site feature, a button with a 60-second timer that you could only press once. Pressing the Button reset the timer, keeping everyone guessing when and if it would ever run down to zero. Pressers received a color badge to represent what time they pressed. It was all very mysterious and vague, and the Reddit community proceeded to treat it like a role-playing game, concocting elaborate stories, religions and color-based factions about what the Button was, figuratively, and what would happen when the timer ran out. Art, data visualizations and applications, thoughtful discussions and flame wars flourished.

Read the rest of this entry »


What does the Reddit Button say about you?

This article appeared on the TouchVision website May 8th, 2015. I am reuploading it today because I am about to publish an article on Forbes where I reference this material. This particular post was also picked up by PBS Digital, and mentioned in their video about the subject

What can a meaningless Button on the Internet tell us about society? A lot, actually.

Since April 1, denizens of the online community Reddit have been embroiled in a heated debate over a game involving a simple Button with a timer next to it. The one rule in this game? You can push the Button only once, and only if you created your account before April 1.

To push, when to push or not to ever push the Button is the question, and it turns out, people have very strong opinions on the matter. Over the past month, the mysterious Button has inspired distinctive factions based on colors, philosophies and religions, as well as data tools, art, poetry, comics, merchandise and even graduate school theses. One user named Psychotic Whispers said in an interview the Button is God. It’s become a long-running, role-playing exercise to many. To others, it’s a discussion on the meaning of life. Whatever it is, more than 800,000 people have pushed the Button to date.

Originally launched on April Fool’s Day as a social experiment via a brief blog post, Reddit proper hasn’t commented on its invention since. Reddit Director of Outreach Ashley Dawkins explained in an email they are not commenting on purpose so as to not interfere with the experiment.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Google should delist 8chan

The post originally appeared on the TouchVision website in August of 2015 until January 2016 when the company closed down. Given the recent 8chan controversy over archiving and child porn, I thought I would upload it here.

Sometime on Aug. 12, Google took a rather monumental step by delisting 8chan, an imageboard largely known as the central hive for pro-GamerGate supporters. But then a few days later, it seems Google changed its mind, as the site began appearing again in search listings, some links with a warning.

Google did not respond to a request for comment about this flip-flopping, but that’s not the real issue, here. It’s clear, now, years after its debut, that 8chan should remain delisted, aka not show up in search results, permanently. By delisting 8chan, Google would set a major precedent for how to quell harassment, especially of women, on the web, as we wait for laws and legislation to catch up with technology — after all, most of the high profile cases, especially in GamerGate, have stemmed from 8chan.  

Besides being the central hub for GamerGate, that vitriolic movement of busybodies who crusade to eradicate progressive values in video gaming and related journalism (mainly by harassing women), 8chan is also known for its robust pedophilia community. Child abuse in the form of sexualized images of children is apparently why Google delisted 8chan in the first place. Or that was the reason given in (the lack of) search results, anyway. The warning now shows up in search  — “suspected child abuse content” — for certain 8chan listings.   Read the rest of this entry »


How the Internet empowered women in porn

joanna angel

This article originally appeared on the TouchVision TV website before it shut down. Reuploading here because it deserves to live somewhere on the internet forever – 

One night during her senior year at Rutgers University, Joanna Angel was up late with her roommate, talking about what they were going to do once they graduated. He flippantly suggested they start a porn site together, and after laughing about it for a minute, she agreed.

The site, named Burning Angel (NSFW) after Angel’s tattoo of an angel and a devil on her back, was launched less than a year later, from the duo’s post-college apartment in Brooklyn. Angel was barely 21 years old at the time, and she quickly went from being a film and English student at Rutgers waiting tables to becoming one of the most well-known names in the porn world for her work as an alternative, award-winning tattooed performer, producer and writer.

“I couldn’t have existed without the Internet,” Angel said. “I didn’t want a boring job and I didn’t want to become part of the corporate world, I wanted to start something myself.”

Angel’s story of independence and entrepreneurship as a young woman in the adult entertainment industry is common, and quickly becoming the norm. She is just one of a myriad of porn performers who started online and now run their own shows, call the shots and make the money with little intervention from middle men. But instead of hearing these stories, we get ones like the much-talked-about Hot Girls Wanted, the Rashida Jones-backed Netflix documentary following the rise of amateur porn production in Miami. It’s just the latest example of what some performers call “docu-tragedies” or “pornsploitation” that zero in on classic tropes of the naive girl from Kansas getting off the bus only to be led astray and ravaged both mentally and physically by evil men.

While one can’t deny that exploitation does still exist in the porn industry, overlooking the rise of the role women play in the production and distribution of it is extremely problematic for a number of reasons. Choosing to ignore the progress women have made in the industry marginalizes performers and further stigmatizes them (and all sex workers, really), all while hindering progress of their labor rights. The Internet has provided a very important platform for women in porn to take near-complete control over the production and distribution of their work, not to mention to their livelihood, in a way we haven’t seen before. And yet, we barely hear about any of this.  Read the rest of this entry »


Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian history and Attila are invalid

…and need to be removed from pertinent Wikipedia pages ASAP. Why? Because he has a clear anti-Hungarian bias and agenda.

Let me explain.

Tonight, while I was lost in a Wikipedia hole about Hungarian history,  I came across some of Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian language and anthropology from 1892, printed as gospel on the Wikipedia page. Not the famous British scientist mind you, but his nephew, who was a Quaker minister and banker. Just like his uncle, Hodgkin’s hobby was also that of an armchair historian. The writings of both Hodgkins were trusted, printed and widely circulated.

The thoughts of his that enraged me, in his book “Italy and her Invaders,” are as follows:

“The Hungarian traditions no more fully illustrate the history of Attila than the Book of Mormon illustrates the history of the Jews.”

Besides being outright offensive, this is a false equivalence. The Hungarian traditions Hodgkin writes of were written by Hungarian scholars and writers living in Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin, where Atilla the Hun had a capital city. One of the texts in question, the medieval Gesta Hungarorum, was written in the 12th century, incorporated oral history motifs and made mention of minstrels rhymes and tales from peasants. The book of Mormon claiming ancestry with the Jews was written in the late 1800’s, in America, by a wealthy man who had visions in his backyard. They are not the same thing.

Hodgkin dismisses Hungarian traditions in his book because, he says, most were written 500+ years after Attila existed. His reasoning is people could have embellished stories, and this makes their tales problematic and unfit to be used. Fine. I understand this. The same argument can be used on Christianity too but whatever.

However, reading further, Hodgkin was more keen to entertain stories of Attila, also written 500 years later, if they came from countries that were not Hungary, but say France or Norway.

The Hungarian texts cannot be trusted though, he writes, because there is no evidence that these Hungarian scholars actually bothered to go outside, interview village-folk and write down tales of Attila and the Huns. Rather, Hodgkins argues, these Hungarian propagandists  were making it up because they wanted a “pedigree.”  To quote Hodgkin, “all this invented history should be sternly disregarded…”

Wait, so Hodgkin thinks texts written about a person by people living where said person lived are not to be trusted or considered, at all?

Attila the Hun’s empire, from Wikipedia

As if that wasn’t enough to convince you of Hodgkin’s anti-Hungarian bias, there are more blatant examples in the passages where he writes about Priscus, the Roman diplomat who actually met Attila. Hodgkin calls Priscus’ writings on the nomadic king the “true historic Attila.” (As well he should, because they are first hand accounts.)

He summarizes Priscus’ detailed account of ambassadors from Constantinople traveling to meet Attila. They have to go through what Hodgkin calls the “recesses of Hungary,” to “meeting in a dingy little village in Hungary” to get to Attila’s palace.

Hodgkin continues to display his seemingly random hatred of Hungary with this next line: “students have discussed whether this Hunnish capital is… the modern city of Pesth, by Tokay [Pesth is old spelling of Pest, as in Budapest the capital of Hungary] … but we may dismiss with absolute indifference the inquiry in what particular part of a dreary and treeless plain a barbarian reared his log-huts…”

Yes, according to Hodgkin, whatever city in Hungary was Attila the Hun’s capital is irrelevant, as is the writings of the people that lived there. The “dreary and treeless plain” Hodgkin describes is the Great Hungarian Plain, which has been the subject of numerous paintings depicting its size and beauty. Of the Great Hungarian Plain, the BBC calls it Europe’s “cowboy country” and writes in its first slideshow image caption:

For more than 2,000 years, the Great Hungarian Plain (known as the Alföld in Hungarian) has been home to a rich cultural tradition of pastoral living and animal husbandry techniques – from ancient nomadic tribes who left behind stone burial mounds known as kurgans, to the fierce Magyar warriors who arrived in the late 9th Century and founded a network of settlements along the Tisza River.

TL;DR: Historian Thomas Hodgkin clearly hates Hungary, as evident by how he describes the country, and dismisses all texts written by Hungarians. Maybe a Hungarian woman was mean to him once?


2 posts have been made private….

as I would like to use snippets from the last two, as they relate to health care, elsewhere. For money. 

If you were linked here, well, you’re out of luck. 

 


Rancor is adorable too!

Rancor is adorable too!

Adorable tribute to the rancor from Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi” – Reddit