Can the people be trusted to rate news sources?
What choice do we have? I know experts think they have the means that we don't, but they accept a set of premises about what news should be, that lead us to news that
The news orgs that report this way would be rated highest by the experts, no doubt. But we need news to be better. It's the one thing I agree about with Trump supporters. The standard "trusted" news attaches to ideas that they won't let go of. And reports on non-news endlessly. Can we rate that kind of stuff way way down?
We need a lot from news that they aren't giving us, because they do everything they can to not listen to the users. If Facebook really wants to do this, don't listen to the experts on this, they answer the wrong questions, imho. Find a way for the users to decide. I know they don't trust us, but we're all we got.
Here's a theoretical question with practical implications.
In Node.js, is there a way to do interprocess communication between Node apps? I could set it up so both apps have an HTTP server, and the apps could communicate using XML-RPC, so at that level I know it's possible, but I'm wondering about a different, higher-performance, approach.
Suppose I launch two apps from my app. I would do it exactly the way the forever utility does it. Is there some way for an app to call back to forever, and is there a way for forever to call into the app?
That way you could have all kinds of external interfaces abstracted.
All of a sudden you could build a high-level OS for Node. A way for Node apps to share a data space.
This is what we tried to do on the Mac with Frontier. We never convinced Apple to stay out of the way so we could do it. But in Node, with its open source culture, if there was a way for forever to do it, that means there's a way for you and I to too, because of course forever is open source. ;-)
PS: Of course I may be missing something obvious, a way to do this that I spaced out about. That does happen from time to time.
I was just talking with a friend, two ideas --
For extra credit, cross-tabulate. 💥
With Google Reader shutting down and Facebook pulling out of news, and now HuffPost withdrawing, I feel great. Vindicated. Optimistic once again.
There is no magic to platforms. Corporate platforms always end up as puddles. Little wrecked ecosystems that started with great bluster.
The only platforms worth developing for are ones without a platform vendor. That is, open platforms based on open formats and protocols.
I was asked why Google Reader is on my list.
I tried writing at Huffington Post, many years ago, hoping to get more flow. When I finally got a hot story on HP, here's what they did.
That's when the great experiment ended. 💥
I read this Politico piece about this history of Trump and Haiti.
Initially there was some bad data about a possible connection betw Haitians and AIDS that soon turned out to be false. But Trump kept bringing it up, and the stink on Haiti wouldn't go away.
Trump is still putting the stink on Haiti.
Reading this reminds me of the stink that people in tech put on RSS. There never was anything wrong with RSS, no data behind any of the things that were said, but people, some who even thought we were friends, said some very ugly Trump-like things about RSS. (Actually even worse.)
That's the sad thing about Trump, not just that he is such a flawed awful human being who is our president, but that if you live long enough, you've met plenty of other people who take exactly those kinds of shortcuts just to hurt other people.
The thread continues.
I believe I have found the least disruptive way to fix the file-read synchronization problem.
Here's a gist containing a new local routine that reads an XML feed.
Note that we save processing of new items for the end, and don't do any processing until the feed river is in the cache.
Update: I have the changes implemented locally, testing.
In putting together the Feeds for Journalists project, I had to figure out some new stuff about open source, because I had never seen the idea applied previously to a list of feeds. I haven't even seen it used for docs, novels or news, written work, but I'm sure it has been.
So when I publish something via open source, what does that mean?
For the Feeds for Journalists project, I own the list. You are encouraged to make feature requests, in the form of URLs of feeds you think should be on the list, or to question the inclusion of any feed I've put there. I'm totally open to discussion (with the usual caveat as long as it's respectful).
But first, before proposing an idea, think about what the project is trying to create -- a collection of feeds that's likely to cover breaking news from a number of angles with forays into science, the arts, education, humor. I included a feed about torrents (because it's good, and they have many of the same values as journalists and I think it would be useful for you all to get to know each other).
1. Suggest feeds and 2. Tell me why you suggested it. Ultimately I'm going to decide if it goes in this collection. And because there's a liberal open source license, if you see another direction to take it, for a subset of journalists perhaps, or librarians, or Italian journalists, you can fork it and use it as the basis for your own list.
PS: I think this piece will become a this.how doc, like the one about standards, which also began as a blog post.
BTW, the River5 discussion continues with Carsten.
He points out that the new method I proposed for adding items to rivers not only is more complex than the current method, and therefore more difficult to maintain, something I totally concur with, it still has a synchronization problem. Copying a pointer and deleting an object can't be an atomic operation. it's still possible something will be added to a queue betw the two steps. And that would result in a lost item.
We're now somewhat in the weeds, possibly, but we all agree it's better to have an approach that loses zero items, than one that maybe loses one item on (possibly) rare occasions. So I have proposed yet another approach in a comment. This one has the advantage of retaining the current simplicity and hding a bell/whistle that didn't need to be there in the first place.
I'm guessing what Facebook saw in numbers is what I feel as a user. It's drying up.
The most interesting part of Facebook is the On This a Day In feature, and even that is starting to scare me as we relive 2016 and 2017.
It's very quiet on Facebook these days. And to the extent it's not quiet it's profoundly depressing.
I don't feel it's too hyper to say Facebook is dying.
Not sure there was anything they could have done to prevent it, but a dramatic U-turn away from news says, to me, they see it too now.
If you're a journalist and you love RSS, please join me in an easy project to improve both. Let's put together a list of starter feeds for journalists.
In order for this to work it has to be done primarily by journalists. I'm happy to help any way I can.
I started this project because I am sure that unless news thrives on the net we are totally screwed. I've never felt that we could trust Facebook to be the official distribution system for journalism on the net.
This is the first step to creating many distribution nets, so a competitive market can develop. I've bootstrapped successful tech projects before. This is how it begins! It's not that hard, it just requires cooperation and a clear goal.
This got me thinking. What if a community created such a list of feeds, and did it over a period of weeks or months, with discussion, and a certain amount of deliberation.
We could use the tools of open source to do this project.
So, I've set up a new GitHub repository where we can work on that list of feeds. I'll write a small piece of software that periodically turns that collection into an OPML file suitable for use in a feed reader. From there who knows what happens, but just getting a list of feeds for journalists to follow, collaboratively, while it doesn't involve much work or technical know-how, would be a major improvement over the way we all do this individually, for ourselves.
I'll post updates on this project to this blog.
Following up on yesterday's report on River5's file reading problem at startup, with futher thought I realized I did not have a solution to the problem.
The way I proposed doing it yesterday would have resulted in just as many lost items at startup. The problem was that the central routine was sending the JSON text of the file to each of the callbacks. Each would then parse the text, producing a structure which it would then link into the cache. Only one of the structures would survive in the cache, the last one linked in, and it would have one of the new items. The other new items would be lost. In other words, no improvement.
So I changed the code and had the central routine parse the text, and call each of the callbacks with the resulting structure. Now all the callbacks add their items to the same struct, (unless I'm still missing something) and the result is zero lost items.
I've created a gist with the new code, and left the old gist in place. I have not yet released a version of River5 that uses this new approach. Testing it here first then thinking about how I want to deploy.
Note this version is more complex because it has to initialize the struct once and only once, so the central routne, readRiverFile, must receive a callback that initializes the structure when the read fails, which it will do when the river file is first created.
I haven't received any comments, but they are still welcome.
I wonder sometimes what goes thru people's minds when you offer to help and it's something you're expert in, and they ignore you.
It's been happening with news people constantly since I stared working on news software and formats on the web.
I can't imagine what ulterior motive they think I have. I don't make any money from the work. I do it because I am sure that unless news thrives on the net we are totally screwed.
Don't they see that too?
The first part of solving it was writing down concisely what the problem was. Carsten Senger did a great job, but he isn't responsible for the fix, I am. And I wrote the code and am familiar with how it's organized and how it got to be how it is.
The problem statement
I've been pushing the idea of Occam's News, where we talk about what's obvious not what we can prove. Michael Wolff's approach is exactly that. It's not what you can prove, but it's what we know anyway. Both this and proof-based news are valid and needed.
Wars are fought with Occam's spy info, and guesswork about what the enemy is doing, and trying to figure out what's a decoy and what's real.
Also medicine. Sometimes they don't know what disease you have and they just start treating the one they think you might have and see if it works.
Programming, what I do, is most definitely not Occam-like, it's proof-based. But debugging is very much an Occam art.
I watched MTP Daily yesterday. For a few minutes, and then went back to work. It's an awful awful show. The worst of the worst.
I hate the show because Chuck Todd only talks about the horse race. I swear, the day after the 2016 election he was already talking about how people were "positioned" for 2020. This kind of analysis never means anything. Go back and listen to the talk about the 2016 election in 2015 for a clue.
And they don't even think about elections in a realistic way. Yesterday they were talking about how the Dems failed to sell competence last time (Hillary), so they probably shouldn't try that again. I wonder if they listen to themselves. There was a time, believe it or not, when both parties nominated people who were fairly competent. Even Ronald Reagan, who people thought was a joke, had served as governor of California before becoming president.
Anyway, assuming competence is an attribute like hair color or gender, height or whatever, the next election is exactly the time to be selling competence. Why? Because the electorate flip flops. We always elect the opposite of what we elected last time.
For example, we elected Trump to follow Obama.
Extrapolating, the next president will probably be a woman, obviously -- but bland and reliable, not too old, known for listening and studious, even pious, and not rich. And not a celebrity.
Although I don't know much about her, I would take a good look at Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. She's intelligent, passionate, confident, speaks well, has a sense of humor, is well-educated, young but not too young, thoughtful, and has the right values to start to undo the damage done by Repubs during the reign of Trump.
Why not Kirsten Gillibrand? She has many of the same qualities as Klobuchar, but she's from New York. I come from NY too, but I don't think our president should. NY is our largest city, but it's actually a pretty small place. Trump stood out in NY, but we're seeing how that doesn't work globally. But even if it's great to have a president from NY, remember we flip-flop, and I'd say the odds of two consecutive presidents from NY is pretty slim.
Anyway, as you can see, there are some interesting things to think about for 2020, even though it's so far away. Of course they discussed none of this on MTP Daily yesterday.
PS: You want a courageous Democratic ticket? Klobuchar for president with Keith Ellison as VP. Unlike most Democrats these two can complete a sentence without sounding like an idiot. Both from Minnesota, btw, but look at how different they are. They say to white men who vote Trump, fuck you -- you had your chance, this is the way things look now. Get a pair, growth the fuck up and let's really start winning.
They announced something.
What this all means, I have no freaking clue.
Since the Algorithm is proprietary, I don't know what it did before that was so different. I gather they're reneging on their deal with professional journalism?
I always thought friends had huge influence over what I see in the timeline.
And won't Putin still be able to buy ads to fuel the virality of his mischief?