The News from France

For many years I have watched or listened to BBC, mostly the World Service, for news. Local American news services have never been very good at International News and and it was always interesting to see the long distance perspective on American stories. Sadly, the BBC has been in slow, now rapid, decline. I like Al Jazeera, but it is a bit eastern focused. But this vacation the hotel had France24, the French news service, in English. It was very good. Maybe as good as CNN in it’s prime. Found the Apple TV app. It will be part of my daily news viewing.


Social Media Problems

Elon Musk’s somewhat reluctant acquisition of Twitter is top of the news today. Lots can be said about this, but I have seen the cycle of free public communication spaces several times now, starting with the old USENET newsgroups in the 1980s.

The problem is basically the same as any other free, shared resource in a society. Think of parks. Without some level of policing and maintainence public parks quickly become places you don’t want to be. Completely free and open is an invitation to all sorts of abuse.

There seem to be multiple forces at work. First, commerce will seek to use these free public spaces for private gain. A park can easily turn into a trash dump. A social network can quickly get filled up with free advertisements, or “spam“. The solution here is rules and policing. This changes everything. Who are the police? Who gets to make the rules? Who pays for the policing and how?

The other, somewhat related problem is acceptable use. Is pornography acceptable on the platform? Most platforms clamp down on this early, or risk become a de-facto porn site. YouTube, Facebook and other large popular platform police this heavily. It is a business decision. You don’t want a small group to chase off larger numbers of users. But this opens the door to other similar policing issues. What about offensive speech? Again, who decides what is offensive and what are the remedies? Some policing in the form of content moderation becomes necessary.

Lastly, related to acceptable use is illegal activities. Do you want your platform to be used for drug dealing, fencing stolen items, prostitution, to name a few possibilities? More policing, this time maybe involving actual police.

In the old days, these platforms would start out completely free, go into decline and irrelevance, and eventually be replaced a new platform. In large modern social media, acquisitions changed this cycle. Facebook may have been wiped out by Instagram, if it hadn’t acquired it. Today it is being eaten alive by Tik-Tok, which is Chinese and can’t easily be acquired by a US company like Facebook. The cycle continues. It will be interesting to see if it is different this time with Twitter. Of course, there is no reason to think Twitter is any different from other platforms. If Musk’s claims of making Twitter more free and open are to believed, it seems it would only hasten Twitter’s demise. Of course what we can really expect is more moderation and policing, just a different sort of moderation and policing, for a specific audience.

Mobile Phone Country Confusion

We just got back from a long vacation in Spain. Three weeks to be exact. When we landed at JFK neither of us had cell service. No signal even as we went through the terminal. Got on free WiFi and after sifting through the misinformation, it seems to be a thing. Here is what seems to happen. The phone looks for signals of the frequency of the country you have been in recently, but somehow won’t fall back and look for US signals. Looked everywhere for a reset. Rebooted the phone. Left it off for a while. Eventually called T-Mobile. After three levels of support and lots of trial and error, we found the magic reset. Under System –> Reset Options –> Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth. Now we are back.

Credit Suisse Predicts Renewable Energy That Is “Too Cheap To Meter” By 2025

What happens when you build renewables for peak, like summer in Texas? Wind and solar don’t get turned off when you don’t need the electricity, they just keep producing. I think the real question is what does the world do with vast amounts of off-peak electricity. Note the article below is from a bank. If you want to understand the shift in the energy world, look at the finance sector. Similarly if you want to understand the realities of climate change, look to the insurance industry.

Credit Suisse Predicts Renewable Energy That Is “Too Cheap To Meter” By 2025