Saturday, December 15, 2018

How I "hack" the attention economy; more outrage over Patreon, Subscribestar and Paypal

Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd (Zephoria) has an important piece on Medium from March 2017 that is worth reading now. “Google and Facebook can’t just make fake news disappear” with the tagline “Fake news is goo big and messy to solve with algorithms or editors, because the problem is … us”.

I wanted to present the top highlight from her piece, about “insidious content” as opposed to fake news. She writes “It’s subtle content that is factually accurate, biased in presentation and framing, and encouraging folks to make dangerous conclusions that are not explicitly spelled out in the content itself.”  It is content that encourages people to “connect the dots” (as if to anticipate the next 9/11, or maybe EMP event). It amounts to “hacking the attention economy.”

OK, I guess I do that. And largely for free, as I said yesterday.
But I thought about this in terms of all the recent de-platformings and de-monetizations. First, let me pick up the discussion of Paypal and SubscribeStar (post Patreon). If in fact SubscribeStar is based in Russia (that’s not 100% verified), then I suppose that could be a valid reason for Paypal to ditch it. But the practical appearance is that Paypal believes the service will attract mostly vloggers who feel they may have broken the rules (“manifest observable behavior”) and will be taken down as soon as a SJW tattles on them. Now this is about deplatforming or censoring because of who the speakers are, not for what their content actually says.  Paypal believes that they represent the supposed “alt-right”. 
 The Financial Times has an explanation that is not particularly flattering of the users.  Bitchute has a video explaining this. 
Yes (as with the Twitter purge of a year ago), people get taken down because of who they are associated with.  That’s supposed to be, blacklisted organizations?  I won’t get into specifics here, but if an organization is named as a terror group by the FBI or state department, I suppose this makes sense.  I don’t think this is OK just because the group is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hitlist, because it has been wrong sometimes.
And one of the problems with these groups is that perhaps a few members try to commit violent acts, but others have no knowledge or intention to be involved.  It’s Milo-dangerous to be seen (
“observed”) in their company.  It is presumed group by the company you keep -- reminding me of the days before "don't ask don't tell" when some people were booted from the military merely for associating with homosexuals (Randy Shilts's 1993 book).  Another is that there is no correspondent hit-list on the alt-Left, although we used to have this with the McCarthyism of the 1950s and the fear of Communism.  So Patreon, Paypal, etc. have decided, out of fear of the SJW, to implement a new McCarthyism.
I do understand the concerns of the SJW.  I was asked by a friend recently if I had ever been called “queer” on the street.  Maybe once or twice.  I’ve experienced “discrimination” in my early adulthood, but not bodily threats on the street (very often). But some people (like some trans people today) have. So I can understand how the SJW world looks at an gratuitous speech from those without “skin in the game” and a willingness to join up, as implicit hate speech (as part of the legal idea of “implicit content”).

I could propose a thought experiment, and it’s dangerous because it might wind up being done in a few months.  Make a “skin in the game” requirement.  If you talk about politics, make a rule that you have to be willing to take sides and run an ad for a charity on your site.  I have refused to do this under my own “brand” because it sounds manipulative and pimpy, but I can see a point.  There is an ideology, more like China’s (and sometimes like Taleb’s) that speech alone is worthless until one is willing to do something immediately about a problem one has mentioned.
We’re facing a world where individualized speech, as Danah Boyd, tends to “vaccinate” people against radical ideas later, which is good.  But it also makes it easy for the middle to drop out of normal participation in politics, leaving it to the extremes.  Yet, as of now, if I lost my right to speak for myself, it would be just too shameful to put on some other group’s uniform and let them speak for me.  But I realize that even this statement has “dangerous” logical implications.  

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