How Social Networks Try to Control Social Interactions and Other Fascinating News on the Web

February 25, 2014

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  1. You Want a Piece of Me?

    Along with the worldwide adoption of mobile devices, the biggest threat to Facebook has always been your regretful decision to accept a friend request from that weirdo you knew in junior high. Mat Honan sums it up nicely: “The problem is that people don’t want a web-style social network on their mobile devices. They want a simpler, faster, less public, and more intimate way to share with only close friends, the ones they care about the most. They want to swap pictures. They want to say, ‘I’m here.’ They want pieces of Facebook, but not the entire package at once.” You used to want to share with everyone. But not anymore. And that’s why things on the Internet are getting crazy. From Wired: Inside the high-stakes battle to control how you talk to friends.

    + Quartz: More people around the world have cell phones than ever had land-lines.

    + On a per user basis, that WhatsApp acquisition was sort of a bargain.

    + Remember Facebook Mail? Probably not. That’s why they just shelved it.

  2. My Drought is Your Drought

    It’s dry out here in California. Really dry. Our winter of cloudless skies and warm weather is unlikely to evoke much pity from those of you who have spent months plunging face-first into a seemingly never-ending polar vortex. But the drought in California is your drought too. Especially when you consider where your food comes from.

    + “Nature has not provided the right amount of water in the right places at the right times.” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal with a very interesting look at: The Great California Water Saga.

  3. You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me

    “Back in 1990, fewer than 1 in 10 persons who got divorced was over the age of 50. [Today] 1 in 4 people getting divorced is 50 or older.” So says author of a new study called Gray Divorce.

  4. Throwback Legislation

    Arizona lawmakers are pushing a law that would enable businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbians due to “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The Economist explains why the law is even more idiotic than it sounds.

    + It’s looking like Arizona Gov Jan Brewer will veto the bill, in part because the state needs to establish that it loves the Super Bowl more than it fears gays.

    + Meanwhile, in Georgia, a bill moving through the “House of Representatives would allow business owners who believe homosexuality is a sin to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or banning them from restaurants and hotels.”

    + Uganda has just enacted extremely antigay laws. Does that legislation have its roots in America?

  5. Five Ring Circus

    The Olympics are over. The international news organizations have headed home. And guess what? The members of Pussy Riot (and other activists) have been arrested again.

  6. Game Theory

    Eat too much? Can’t resist one extra drink? Trying to kick your smoking habit? Well, if you want to reduce such cravings, here’s some advice: Start playing Tetris.

    + Let’s Get Small: The obesity rate for young children plummets 43% in a decade.

    + NPR: Sriracha Chemistry: How Hot Sauces Perk Up Your Food And Your Mood.

  7. The Right to Bear ARM

    “Its anonymity is sort of incredible when you think about it, considering that ARM has arguably had a more profound effect on modern living than just about any other company … you can argue that ARM-based products are now the most-used consumer products in the world.” BloombergBusinessweek’s Ashlee Vance on the unlikely tale of How ARM came to rule the world.

  8. An Unlikely Supporter of Great Writing

    Soon, a new organization called The American Playwriting Foundation will start giving out an annual prize of $45,000 for an unproduced play. And it all started with a really stupid lie about Philip Seymour Hoffman published by The National Enquirer.

  9. Battery Powered

    Consumer Reports is out with its annual rundown of the best cars, and as you might have expected, Tesla tops the list.

    + Why you could soon be buying your electricity from Elon Musk.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    If you are of a certain age, there’s almost no doubt you spent a few hours of your youth listening to prank calls recorded by a duo that called themselves The Jerky Boys. Times have changed. Can they make a comeback? From Rolling Stone: The Calls that Changed Comedy.

    + “We really, genuinely felt we were writing the most successful comedy to date.” The oral history of Ghostbusters. (It seems wrong to have to read an oral history…)