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    The New York Times Company | Tristan Harris | 12/5/19 | 5 min
    28 reads32 comments
    9.9
    The New York Times Company
    28 reads
    9.9
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    • Alexa
      ScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      Easy 10, although I get why this is a bit of a rough read for some. Tristan tends to get his heads a bit in the clouds over things and forget how much agency we have as humans. His musings are good as an intro point to ethics in tech, but I feel he often misses points that actually create change.

      Sometimes it feels like he is too concerned over the high level trends of users at large, and if you look at just the masses and their behaviors then sure...we all look like brainless idiots who can't turn off youtube.

      So, yes, our brains are being hacked with the same tech used in slot machines and the average person who isn't doing digital detoxes is probably in the dark about a lot of this.

      Do I think we're doomed? Nah, people are waking up to it. Would I still fervently share his stuff, YEP! His TedTalk opened my eyes and while I'm now more on the Jenny O'Dell train of "doing nothing" it's a valuable piece, albeit a bit preachy.

      I always wonder who his target audience is. Is this for politicians who may start to clamp down on the big 6 in tech? Plenty of talking points for a senate floor, but a bit much for the average dinner table convo.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        This is excellent - I’m so with you.

        Do I think we're doomed? Nah, people are waking up to it.

        Yes! Right on.

        Tristan’s target audience (obviously) is industry insiders and regulators. It’s a messy game he’s playing, getting in between those two. I like Readup’s position in this whole scene: way on the outside, building something better. Tristan’s point #2 makes me think he might be more helpful to us at some point in the future. :P

        I’m also on the Jenny Odell train, via Thoreau’s gWalden* and Solnit’s Field Guide to Getting Lost

        • Alexa
          ScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          Oh Solnit, another writer I fangirl on HARD.

          Good call on Tristan’s messy middlemanning of the ground between regulators and tech insiders. I thought Sacha Baron Cohens ADL talk was more actionable, but same vein.

          Agree so much with the build something better ethos. Calling them out will only do so much; these companies serve their shareholders only. The best option is to replace them with the next best thing, and actually make it a better option 👏🏻

          • bill
            Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
            3 months ago

            Have you read A Field Guide to Getting Lost? I read it this time last year, and it definitely changed my life. The book, refreshingly, is about exactly that: how and why to get lost. Like all skills, it can be learned and practiced.

            • Alexa
              ScoutScribe
              3 months ago

              Ooh, I need to check that out. I'll grab it when I pick up my next round of books at the library. I've been dreaming about solo moto rides through Europe lately, sounds like the perfect time for that book.

              • bill
                Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
                3 months ago

                Oh fuck yeah. Read it BEFORE you go. I read Solnit before I embarked on a cross-country adventure in an RV (almost a year ago, hasn't ended yet lol) and the timing was beyond perfect. It completely changed the way I travel, and basically live. Conveniently, I'm at the library right now so might go grab it off the shelf. ;)

                It's also about processing grief, which is always a good thing to be able to do.

                And, one more thing: I can't think of any other books that legitimately change the way I see a color, but after A Field Guide To Getting Lost, blue has deeper and better meaning for me. I think about it often, when I'm looking at blue sky or blue ocean. Blue anything.

                • Alexa
                  ScoutScribe
                  2 months ago

                  Just finished Solnit's Field Guide to Getting Lost. YOU WERE RIGHT. It was remarkable, and I was delighted and changed by so many parts of it.

                  The part about blue being the color of space between, amazing...the bit about justice and hell, aka go to hell..but keep going and come out transformed.

                  The different varieties of getting lost, beautiful.

                  And so many other bits. SUCH a good recommendation, thanks for that :)

                  • bill
                    Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
                    2 months ago

                    Yes. This is incredible. Couldn't be happier about this.

                • Alexa
                  ScoutScribe
                  3 months ago

                  Brilliant, this is the best testimonial for a book I've had in a while. It sounds like it is exactly what my growing wanderlust needs (didn't think it would keep growing but hey, what are your 30s for). Just put a hold on it at the library, can't wait!

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      Update I just got via email: Tristan's changing from Exec Director to "President" and they're hiring a new ED, whatever that means:

      To support our growth, I am moving to the role of President: This transition enables me to dedicate myself fully to the societal and global implications of the attention economy, the impact of persuasive technology on human civilization, and ensuring that CHT’s vision remains in alignment with our boldest opportunities.

      very curious. something's amok over there.

      PS I still want this one to AOTD! I want to know what other people think after reading that piece. I just re-read it (and I'm sure there are a million ways to interpret it) but it's just so darn negative.

      Positive should be a Readup core value.

      • Alexa
        ScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        yes! I am so so curious about what's cooking under the hood with all of this. Keeping him as a mouthpiece and putting others on the day-to-day perhaps? V-curious.

        The tone of this article is curious, given how much of the rest of CHT's content (podcast etc) is quite uplifting & solutions/hope based.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          I mean, the "mission," according to Tristan's most recent speech-thing, is to "reverse human downgrading," which isn't only negative, it's a somewhat-confusing double negative. We need to know the up, Tristan. We don't need to know to avoid not-up. and oh btw the up is reading duh :)

          • Alexa
            ScoutScribe
            3 months ago

            RIP everything I previously thought about CHT & Tristan... I just left the library and was listening to their 5th podcast (the russian likes one, ~17 mins in) and they paused to explain that what they are trying to do is get social platforms like Facebook to fundamentally change what they're for 🤯

            which is...ok...what?

            They then argued that they want platforms to ask users their values and dictate content on that rather than racing to the bottom of the attention economy.

            Which is cool cool, but...why not just build that platform?

            Heck, I'd pay $5 for a platform with a truly chronological timeline, no ads & a personal value-based experience but why expect every other platform to change their (madly successful) business model.

            And here is why I'm grateful for these conversations, I wouldn't have my assumptions questioned and think as deeply without this community. Yip

            **deleting my other reply bc it's been commandeered by this brain explosion lol

            • bill
              Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
              3 months ago

              what they are trying to do is get social platforms like Facebook to fundamentally change what they're for 🤯

              Oh man. It feels so good to be so dialed-in with a kindred spirit. This is SUCH a perfect use of the brain-exploding emoji, lolol. I couldn't agree more.

              About a month ago, I got an email survey from CHT. I tried to fill it out, but the questions were all geared towards employees at places like FB, Goog (YouTube), Twitter, etc. -- so much so that it was confusing for me to fill out... as an entrepreneur of a humane tech company! It was a real moment of clarity for me, where I was like this isn't my community.

              • Alexa
                ScoutScribe
                2 months ago

                Big fan of finding kindred spirits, and now I don't feel bad about that "you can't sit with us" vibe I clocked from CHT.

                I think they're basically just a lobbying group tbh. That's why the shiny titles and work experience at FB, Google etc is important...its all about showboating for senators to push the agenda forward.

                The most I've seen Tristan in his element was presenting to congress and now it alllll makes more sense.

            • BillEnkey2 months ago

              I'm wary of oversaturation of any social group. I think of it like chlorine. Diluted and used right, it's great for cleaning, keeping pools sanitized, et cetera. In a pure concentration, it's dangerous. Why purposefully do with a social platform what already naturally happens? Like personalities tend to seek each other out, yes, but I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to understand another perspective.

          • [user]3 months ago

            This comment was deleted on 1/9/2020

    • jbuchana
      Reading streakScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      A concept that feels new to me, but, upon some thought, should be well-known:

      our Paleolithic brains aren’t built for omniscient awareness of the world’s suffering

      This could explain much of how we react to all the information, good, and bad, that we are inundated with.

      • BillEnkey2 months ago

        Perhaps we should use our agency to be more selective about what information we decide to ingest. There is an inherent risk, but at this point, it can't be avoided.

      • Alexa
        ScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        yes, very savvy point. I've been feeling along this way lately while trying to process everything burning and all the political drama. It's been very exhausting and I have found a big tension between needing to unplug to function and wanting to stay informed.

        • jbuchana
          Reading streakScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          When my mental health was at its worst, about 20 years ago, my psychiatrist told me that I was getting too involved in news and politics. That I should stop reading the paper and stop watching TV news. Disconnecting like that helped a lot for several years. I've drifted back into news and politics for about 10 years, so far I seem to be able to handle it, we'll see...

          • Alexa
            ScoutScribe
            3 months ago

            So real. It is genuinely troublesome sometimes. I'm healthiest mentally when I check out of it, but something about doing that just feels...wrong? unpatriotic? idk. There's something there

            • jbuchana
              Reading streakScoutScribe
              3 months ago

              When I ignore what's happening in the world, I feel as if I'm part of the problem. Still, it was a, perhaps literally, life-saver for a time.

              • Alexa
                ScoutScribe
                3 months ago

                Exactly, it's a serious tension

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        Great point.

    • SEnkey
      Scout
      3 months ago

      Great points, but those conclusions leave something to be desired. In essence he is saying tax the class I don't belong to and give the proceeds to the class I do belong to. It's self-interested to say the least, and ignores the reality that the media is just as bad at chasing those dopamine hits with one crisis after another.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        the media is just as bad at chasing those dopamine hits with one crisis after another.

        YES. So so true.

        I think that the magnitude and complexity of the problem is just starting to hit Tristan. There's no easy answer. (Yet another way that it's like climate change.) So many different systems and stakeholders are involved - public and private, entire industries and markets. It's cultural, too. After all, we're talking about human behavior. It boggles the mind.

        In order to develop better defense mechanisms, we need better language, for starters. This stuff is hard to understand and describe (I think) because we're still missing many of the right words.

        I feel for Tristan. And I'm obviously rooting for him. I often get the sense that he's reaching for ideas that are still just beyond his grasp. He's getting there though! And he's just as close as anyone!

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      4 months ago

      Giving it a 10 because I want everyone to read it.

      “With our Paleolithic instincts, we’re simply unable to resist technology’s gifts.”

      Not true. I love my Paleolithic instincts and I know, from personal experience, that we’re capable of being bigger than our prehistoric impulses, and keeping them in check.

      “That’s because our Paleolithic brains aren’t built for omniscient awareness of the world’s suffering.”

      Also not true, or at least I want more proof. I wasn’t born knowing that humans are going extinct, but it’s beside the point anyway. Humans since the dawn of time have witnessed suffering unlike anything I can imagine in my most hellish nightmares.

      “Our online news feeds aggregate all of the world’s pain and cruelty, dragging our brains into a kind of learned helplessness. Technology that provides us with near-complete knowledge without a commensurate level of agency isn’t humane.”

      We’re better than this. The problem isn’t de-sensitization. We don’t need to soften reality. We need more brave souls to dive into the wreck, to make sense of things, and steer us forward. We aren’t helpless!

      “Our Paleolithic brains also aren’t wired for truth-seeking.”

      Where is Tristan coming up with this?

      “Simply put, technology has outmatched our brains, diminishing our capacity to address the world’s most pressing challenges.”

      Aiight, bro. You’re free to believe that, but I’m still on team human. We’re bigger and better than this, by a longshot.

      • jbuchana
        Reading streakScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        I don't think it's so much that humans aren't used to witnessing suffering, it's a large part of life. I think the point of:

        That’s because our Paleolithic brains aren’t built for omniscient awareness of the world’s suffering

        is that we simply don't have the mental bandwidth to take in all the information, about suffering, and more positive knowledge. We wind up using only part of what we have access to because we can handle only that much intellectually and emotionally.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          Yeah. I wonder if that "information overload" is causing a rise in things like compulsive behaviors, drug addiction, etc.

      • jeff
        ScoutScribe
        4 months ago

        Tristan Harris is a world class wanker.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          4 months ago

          ...when the voice of the revolution becomes a mouthpiece for the machine