Literally just an easy recipe for basic cinnamon granola, with pretty pictures.

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Why does it always take so long to scroll to the actual recipe? I do not have a cute story other than I have been experimenting with granola recipes for two years, from the New York Times to random blogs to classic books like “Joy of Cooking” and “How to Cook Everything.” I landed on a synthesized recipe that provides a simple and delicious “base” granola. Here it is:

Simple Cinnamon Granola

Dry Ingredients:


Posting to Facebook feels like trying to entertain a UFC stadium, while posting to Medium feels like an open mic.

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Facebook feels like a UFC stage, while Medium feels like an open mic

As the pandemic swept across the world and we all started spending more time on Facebook and other apps, I decided to stop lurking all the time and start participating more. The widespread resonance of the term “doomscrolling” made me wonder: why do we spend so much time scrolling through these feeds if they make us miserable?

I thought participation may be part of the solution, and that sharing useful, interesting, accurate information would improve the Facebook experience for me and for my friends. …


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There are currently thousands of propaganda websites masquerading as local news websites across the United States, as the New York Times reported in October 2020 and the Columbia Journalism Review reported in August 2020.

The network of websites spells disaster for the news ecosystem on a number of levels, especially if the sites receive a lot of attention. As Renée Diresta articulated in this WIRED piece, there is an important distinction between “free speech” and “free reach.” Free speech entails Brian Timpone’s ability to write and publish “propaganda ordered up by dozens of think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals” (NYT). …


The event illustrates how TikTok’s algorithms can make mass political communication more accessible, but it is still no democratic utopia.

Over the summer, I crunched the numbers on about 80,000 TikTok videos pertaining to the prank on Trump’s re-election rally in Tulsa. My main interest was understanding how TikTok’s algorithms may have played a role in promoting the prank. This post summarizes findings from my workshop research paper, which was presented at the RecSys 2020 workshop on responsible recommendation.

Background

Why did the Trump administration want to ban TikTok? A few weeks ago, the app seemed to be days away from its death. And yet many of us were still asking: why, exactly, is Trump trying to ban it? …


Applying an important lesson from Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s book, “Race After Technology” — there may be a difficult truth beneath the glitch.

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From rocknrollmonkey on Unsplash, “a little robot

If you’ve seen The Matrix, you likely remember the déjà vu scene, in which Neo notices a black cat walk by twice:

Neo sees a black cat walk by twice. GIF from mcmacsta on tenor

Even watching the animated GIF can induce some disturbing chills. And that sense of disturbance is no coincidence: as Trinity quickly explains to Neo, this minor “glitch” involving the black cat is actually an important sign. It indicates that the agents of the Matrix have changed something in the program, rearranging the reality that Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and others must face.

As Dr. Ruha Benjamin explains in her book Race After Technology, this scene from The Matrix provides an instructive depiction of a glitch as an important sign to pay attention to, rather than a trivial problem to ignore. …


Breaking down a “data visceralization” with principles from Data Feminism, a book by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein.

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A screenshot from ProPublica’s story, “What Coronavirus Job Losses Reveal About Racism in America

As articulated by authors Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein, Data Feminism is “a way of thinking about data, both their uses and their limits, that is informed by direct experience, by a commitment to action, and by intersectional feminist thought.” It has seven core principles:

In this post, I will illustrate some principles from Data Feminism by breaking down this unemployment chart recently published by ProPublica.

Challenging Power Knowledge about Unemployment

To apply the first two core principles from Data Feminism (examine power and challenge power), we first need to understand what people in power have to say about unemployment right now. …


How to scrape videos posted or liked by a user, snowball a large user list from seed accounts, and collect trending videos all with a simple API.

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Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

As The Information put it, TikTok has “taken off like a rocket ship in the U.S. and around the world, creating a new mobile video experience that has left YouTube and Facebook scrambling to keep up.”

Just looking at U.S. users over the age of 18, TikTok went from 22.2 million unique visitors in January, to 39.2 million in April, according to Comscore data provided to Adweek.


Climate crisis, working people, and affordable health? Or communists, liberals, and abortion?

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Back in March, I looked at voting patterns in 2020 leading up to the pandemic and compared it to the relatively bipartisan vote on the CARES act. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has been unfolding for a few months, and other events are taking the spotlight — namely the demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. Also, we are just a couple months away from the Republican and Democratic national conventions, with the election coming up thereafter. So, what are politicians talking about?

To get a handle on this, I decided to look at political speeches using VoteSmart.org (I got the idea from a research paper), and look at partisan phrases. …


A case study of Obama’s editorial influence on social media

On Tuesday morning (9:10am EDT), Sigal Samuel published a story to Vox about new habits people have developed as a result of quarantine, presenting responses from over 100 people across the globe.

Based on the CrowdTangle Chrome plugin, Vox shared the story on their Facebook page shortly thereafter (9:11am EDT, to be exact). While Vox has over 2.5 million followers on Facebook, this article did not get very far: only 829 people interacted with it. They tried again at 4:41pm EDT, and received even less engagement — 219 interactions.

As of 11:00am Wednesday morning, only five other sources had shared the story on Facebook, and it had received just over 1,000 interactions. Then, Barack Obama shared it, and its interactions increased a hundredfold. …


Over one hundred million people use Apple News every month. Our study showed key differences in the stories that editors and algorithms curate for those people.

If you check Apple News right now (June 4th as I write this), you will find a “Spotlight” about the U.S. protests that features rights for protestors, educational resources, mental health resources for BIPOC, and a list of organizations where you can donate to support racial justice:

In case it is not obvious, these stories are curated by a team of human editors at Apple News, and not an algorithm. They show further evidence of the value of human curation, in a time when news is especially important. …

About

Jack Bandy

PhD student studying AI, ethics, and media. Trying to share things I learn in plain english. 🐦 @jackbandy

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