Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 31, 2020

in rsslog •  2 months ago 

New social media platform promises to connect people with influencers in high-cost online communities; Andrew Yang calls for standardization of cryptocurrency laws and regulations in the US; A look at the ambiguous nature of Jack Dorsey's decentralized social media initiative; A curious retracted paper with four dead authors; and a Steem essay describing reasons for a corporate network security audit


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Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.

First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.

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  1. Gawker’s nemesis is working on a social network offering access to the rich - According to a pitch deck, the site Column has already been launched for an emerging social media platform. The pitch deck describes Column as, "a social network to make us all smarter". It also describes Peter Thiel as a founding user and Ping D’Souza. According to the article, D'Souza is not a widely known name, but he was the architect of Peter Thiel's legal strategy when he took down the now defunct gawker web site in retaliation for being "outed" as gay. The site appears to be intended as a paid and invitation-only version of a social media site like Facebook. An additional draw is that members can invest $100,000 in exchange for the ability to launch their own communities. The site has apparently begun its recruiting efforts, and the article notes that, "(Peter) Thiel, who is also on the board of Facebook, is listed as 'committed' in the company’s presentation. He is joined by Rob Hayes, one of the earliest investors in Uber, while Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram are listed as being in talks to participate."

  2. Andrew Yang: US Has to Fix Its ‘Hodgepodge’ Crypto Regulation - Cryptocurrency is on the radar for one US presidentical candidate, with Andrew Yang weighing in on the topic. In an interview with Bloomberg Politics, Yang said that the current "hodgepodge" of state-by-state regulations is bad for innovation and investment. He says that some states, like New York, have adopted forward-looking regulations, but that most still rely on decades old legal frameworks and judicial precedents that all predate the emergence of cryptocurrency. The article also points out that even the federal agencies, including the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC), have issued conflicting guidance on the subject. Yang is campaigning on a pro-technology message, and his is the only presidential campaign with an official cryptocurrency policy. During the interview, Yang argued that people are going to adopt cryptocurrency regardless of regulations and that attempted bans would just force it underground, saying, "You couldn't impede it with regulation if you tried".

  3. What Does Twitter’s New Decentralized Initiative Mean? - The article describes the ambiguity that's tied to Jack Dorsey's bluesky inititative. On one hand, starting with his advocacy for bitcoin and his involvement in Square Crypto, Dorsey has a strong history of support for decentralization. On the other hand, however, the initiative may seem to run counter to the interest of Twitter's shareholders, who are benefiting greatly from Twitter's centralized control over social media data. The article acknowledges three problems with the current centralized model, and hypothesizes that decentralized social media could address them: (i) Policies to address abuse and misleading information are unlikely to scale; (ii) Proprietary attention algorithms discourage competition, and therefore, improvement; and (iii) Attention is directed towards controversial content. However, the trade-off for Twitter would be a need to relinquish control and succumb to competition, which is a threat to the company's own long term business model. According to the article, a fundamental difference between BlueSky and other emerging services like Square and Libra is that BlueSky aims to disrupt Twitter's primary line of business, whereas those other services didn't challenge the social media parent companies, but instead aimed outward with hopes of disrupting the financial industry.

  4. Four dead authors, a duplicate publication and questions: Solve this one! - Retraction Watch is reporting on the mystery of a retracted study on the role of aluminum in neurological disease. According to the Retraction Notice, the article was retracted because of significant overlaps with a 2018 article, which also had some of the same authors. Of the authors on the 2019 paper, 3 agreed to the retraction, 2 did not agree, 4 did not respond, and 4 could not be asked because they are deceased. The journal did not respond to queries about the retraction, but a BioMed spokesman said that a whistleblower raised concerns about the duplicated content. BioMed could not provide information about the reasons given by the dissenting authors or the deaths of the other four authors. Retraction Watch independently found that one of those authors passed away in 2017, but they couldn't find information about the deaths of the others. In an update, the post notes that both papers contained acknowledgements that dedicated them to the four deceased authors. Retraction Watch also notes that
    The 2018 paper, we should note, was published by OMICS, which has been ordered to pay the U.S. government $50 million for "unfair and deceptive practices.”

  5. STEEM 5 Reasons Every Company Requires A Network Audit for Security Reasons - In this post, @twr suggests five reasons why network audits can help keep corporate networks secure. These include: Discovering inefficiencies in corporate infrastructure; Protection against data loss; Identifying outdated hardware; Having an accurate inventory of software and licenses; Increase corporate productivity. In short, the essay suggests that making this investment in good security is also good for the company's overall health and productivity. In addition to keeping the bad guys out, a network audit can also help with the removal of technical debt in the hardware and software domains and protect the company from fees and litigation over software licensing. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @twr.)


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