On HTML5 and the Group That Rules the Web

Paul Ford is doing a wonderful job humanizing technology and the people who create it.

Validity, in this scenario, is an ideological construct. The promise is that by hewing to the rules put forth by the W3C, your site will be accessible to more people than would a less valid page. Both pages work fine for most people; browsers are tolerant of all sorts of folderol. The ultimate function of any standards body is epistemological; given an enormous range of opinions, it must identify some of them as beliefs. The automatic validator is an encoded belief system. Not every Web site offers valid HTML, just as not every Catholic eschews pre-marital sex. The percentage of pure and valid HTML on the web is probably the same as the percentage of Catholics who marry as virgins.

The New Yorker

Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?

Unsurprisingly, it ties in with your perceived level of control.

Surveys by Uscinski and Parent show that believers in conspiracies “cut across gender, age, race, income, political affiliation, educational level, and occupational status.” People on both the political left and right, for example, believe in conspiracies roughly equally, although each finds different cabals.

Scientific American

Social Media Bots Offer Phony Friends and Real Profit

Fascinating that this is starting to seep Into the non-nerd consciousness.

With an army of fake friends at my disposal, I can now charge people who want to increase their number of followers or promote certain tweets. One bot creator I talked to (who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because his work violates user agreements with social media sites) said that he manages hundreds of thousands of Instagram bots and makes a good living by pushing posts to the app’s popular page. He can also manufacture all kinds of engagement, including following accounts and commenting on photos.

New York Times

Mr. Miller Doesn’t Go to Washington

The inside story of a journalist who decides to run for office which explains a lot about how we end up with the kind of legislators we have.

Campaign fundraising is a bizarre, soul-warping endeavor. You spend your time endlessly adding to lists of people who might be in a position to help. You enter them on a spreadsheet (dubbed “The Tracker”) and sort the names from high to low in terms of their giving potential. You start to think of every human being in your orbit as having a number attached to them. You book breakfasts, lunches, coffees and drinks at which you make the case for your candidacy … and ask for money. Always money. You call dozens of people a day … and ask for money. When people ask how they can help, you mostly ask them for the names of folks you can … ask for money.

Politico

Networks without networks

Beautiful essay on coping with grief through retro-computing. It does make sense when you read it.

Over the last few days I’ve been crazy for emulation—that is, simulating old, busted computers on my sweet modern laptop. I’ve been booting up fake machines and tearing them down, one after the other, and not doing much besides. Machines I’ve only heard of, arcade games I never played, and machines I never used. Software about which I was always curious. And old favorites like MacWrite.

Medium