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    aaronzlewis.com | Aaron Z. Lewis | 22 min
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    aaronzlewis.com
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    • Jessica3 weeks ago

      Wow! The title is "You can handle the post-truth" and the piece ends with:

      We’re not just post-truth, we’re pre- something else that’s yet to be determined. “Post-” is just what you call a transitional era while you’re trying to figure out what the hell is going on. It’s never the end of history. We’re going to grow whatever’s next out of this messy, surreal soil.

      One of the things that pains me the most is not knowing if what I'm reading online is legitimate and accurate. Outrage and tension make the headlines because those feelings tend to create stories that capture attention. How can we make sure that we are reading stories that cover multiple points of view, stories that do not just try to elicit outrage from readers? Where do we begin with curating that and filtering through the noise?

      I peeked at Lil Miquela's instagram profile and there are still so many comments wondering if Lil Miquela is "real" (even though in the bio clearly states Lil Miquela is a bot). The profile is strikingly similar to the feed of many public personalities.

      Some of my favorite snippets:

      To go meta is to study the way history has been (and is) written. It’s trying to understand the story of the stories we’ve told about ourselves. There’s no one narrative that rules them all, no one way to connect the dots from the past to the present.

      And strive to actively be part of the solution:

      I trust we’ll create a new mode of understanding that’s better fit for the surreality we live in — one that demands transparency and acknowledges that people are beginning to see through all the manipulative corporate PR.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        3 weeks ago

        Where do we begin with curating that and filtering through the noise?

        I'm hoping that Readup can make a real difference here and that it becomes even more effective as we grow a larger community. We built the platform to harness the wisdom of the crowd with the reading verification as a quality filter. As long as our community stays diverse as it grows I think the comments will offer increasingly valuable reinforcement and/or criticism of the articles.

        I think the comments and community aspect are vital for making sense of information that we consume. Most articles are not cited in a way that makes them easy to fact check on your own. Even if you're reading academic journal articles you still need to rely on peer review over time in order to build confidence in what the authors are asserting.

        • momoprobs
          Scout
          3 weeks ago

          To the point of keeping the community diverse as it grows, I wonder if there are ways ReadUp can influence that? I also wonder if it can heighten our awareness of who we read articles by? I just peeked the leaderboard and noticed that 6 of the top writers we've read from the past year are white men. Only 2 are women. I wonder if there's an opportunity for ReadUp to help readers diversify the perspectives they take in by offering visibility into this, as a community and as individuals?

          • Jessica3 weeks ago

            I also want to comment on the point of diversity. "Diversity and inclusion" is the new "thoughts of prayers" these days. Are there ways for Readup to create space for and elevate voices of those who are usually unheard and ignored?

            • jeff
              Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
              3 weeks ago

              "Diversity and inclusion" is the new "thoughts of prayers" these days.

              Ha this strikes me as very true.

              As to your question, I think it depends on how you define "usually unheard and ignored." I'm only speaking for myself here but I couldn't imagine attempting to classify authors by say gender or race and using that information to elevate their writing. There's the technical issue of trying to actually define gender (which is fluid) and race (which is a social construct) and then also assigning numerical values to those definitions.

              What we could do however is elevate well-received but less read articles and writers based on our reading data. For instance, maybe suggesting an article from a relatively unknown blogger that has a high view-to-read ratio over say another Wait But Why article. Even that kind of recommendation is really tricky though just from a technical perspective. Until we can grow our team we're probably going to be stuck with providing insights into activity instead of recommendations.

              • bill
                Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
                2 weeks ago

                I'm a week late to this thread. It's amazing. A great way to re-reflect on this article - one of the best ever.

                I recently had a very long, good conversation about diversity on Readup with a queer Filipinio man I met on Tinder. He lives in SF and digs Readup, in a way that feels authentic. On the topic of diversity, he gave Readup a 7.5 out of 10, but said:

                "If the top contributors are all white, and most of the readers are white, it would make the app less appealing, for me at least."

                I couldn't agree more.

                I want this thing to kick up more Black voices and more Asian voices and more witchy women being witchy. But, we can NOT fux with the algorithm (to give the impression that we're reading more minority writers than we actually are) and I am also not down for anything in the database to segment or stereotype by race, gender, age, orientation, anything like that. Intersectionality rule #1: Don't make people choose to be shit according to your fucking standards of what is and isn't. Asking readers "Are you male or female?" literally makes me sick.

                It's a crazy experiment that we're running. The AOTD Contenders list is basically our collective concious/consciousness. If it ever looks white, that's because we are, collectively, prioritizing whiteness. I do it all the time, by accident. I think if you walk around the USA with your eyes open right now, you can see it happening all around you. It's all broken because our brains our broken. But we can read our way out. Colson Whitehead Toni Morrison. Let's go, people. We are what we read. And we can all see it all, in real time, on Readup.

          • jeff
            Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
            3 weeks ago

            Yes, I absolutely think that providing those insights can help. I'm glad you saw the new writer leaderboards! We just shipped that a few days ago and it's definitely a kind of rough draft preview of where we want to go. We want similar breakdowns for publishers and topics as community aggregates and then to provide that same data for individual users.

            In addition to working all this into the UI of the app we also want to eventually provide an API that will allow users to have full unfettered access to their personal data and also selected, anonymized community aggregate data.

        • Jessica3 weeks ago

          While I agree that having a community of attentive readers helps provide critical discussions about the accuracy of the content, it cannot be the only way that we ensure material being presented is not deliberately misguiding. Being media-literate is a difficult skill these days, and I'd like to think that there are ways for individuals to verify the accuracy of a piece of writing (or a video, podcast, and other forms of media consumption) without needing the wisdom of the crowd. "Accuracy" being: are the numbers being reported consistent with actual data? Was a quote taken out of context and manipulated?

          • jeff
            Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
            3 weeks ago

            ... it cannot be the only way that we ensure material being presented is not deliberately misguiding.

            Totally agree! It's not a complete solution by an means, but I'm very skeptical of any purely technological solutions, especially ones that use machine learning techniques. I think it's going to always come down to humans. Whether that's trust in peer review or trust in the journalists and editors of the publication. If someone writes "The sky is blue." is that a true or false statement? I think the concept of accuracy can get real messy real fast.

    • jbuchana
      Scribe
      3 weeks ago

      You can handle the post-truth. Because you can learn the truth about how these so-called “post-truth” movements work.

      I like this positive view on the future.

      Several companies are trying to develop AI chatbots that allow people to talk with the dead. These bots are trained on a corpus of the deceased person’s communication history — emails, text messages, social media posts, etc.

      In the future, AI chatbots could merge with hyper-realistic VR avatars to create believable simulations of people that stick around after their physical death.

      In both Jack McDevitt’s and Iain M. Banks’ books, talking to chatbots of the dead is very common.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        3 weeks ago

        The chatbot part gave me the creeps. I never delete any of my email or other electronic messages so I've got a huge corpus of text that I've written that I could train a chatbot on. It would be interesting but I'd never want to actually do it. I imagine the sensation of interacting with it would be similar to hearing a recording of my voice which always makes me cringe.

        • jbuchana
          Scribe
          3 weeks ago

          I always cringe at my voice too. I've been told many times that I have a very distinctive voice/accent, but that just makes me cringe more when I hear it, even though people tell me it sounds good.

          • jeff
            Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
            3 weeks ago

            It's such an interesting and seemingly universal phenomenon. If you're interested in going deeper into the philosophy of cringe I highly recommend ContraPoints' latest video on the topic: Cringe | ContraPoints

    • bill
      Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
      3 weeks ago

      The only way out is through! I can't stop thinking about this one. The author is an excellent writer, but the most important thing is that he's clearly an independent thinker. So refreshing. I'd follow

      Such a fascinating background this guy has:

      i used to design digital products for Uber and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. now, i’m writing about media ecology, meme warfare, and cyberpsychology.

      But use capital letters, Aaron. C'mon.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      4 weeks ago

      Wow, this is an excellent reflection on the state of the internet and its implications for broader society. Lots of super interesting information. I especially love the overall optimistic outlook. I fully agree with the argument that a better understanding of the mechanics at play will lead to a collective "strengthening of our immune system" when it comes to navigating, consuming and processing information online.

      • bill
        Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeScoutScribe
        4 weeks ago

        Perfect AOTD.

        I especially love the overall optimistic outlook.

        Me too!

        All of these reality bubbles tell different stories about the past and paint vastly different visions for the future. They’re making us more fragmented than ever before in an age that requires more coordination than ever before. So, how can we move through and beyond these deep divisions?

        One word: Reading.

    • thorgalle
      Scout
      4 weeks ago

      This article offers a nice overview of some internet problems & trendspots solutions with cool references.

      About the "meta" approach to fix information problems: this reminded me of Kialo, a debating platform that aims to show both sides of a debate (think vaccines, everyone should be vegan, god exists) in ever-deeper detail.

      I never really used it, but opened it again now. It's a structured rabbit hole, but still a rabbit hole. I feel that's a problem with these meta approaches: how can you make sense of a mass of information or networks? Thoughtfully disconfirming and checking your beliefs takes so much more energy than scrolling a filter bubble...