I think politicians are abusing the term ‘war’ to make themselves out to be wartime leaders to grandstand a little too much. But the idea that there is a war of information is real.
Information is on every front line in this crisis: in health management, in overcoming isolation, and in the most unnecessary battle of them all – disinformation.
Health: information is knowing who has the virus through as much testing as possible. Making the invisible visible, tracing its path, closing down the right places, isolating the right people, stopping it in its tracks.
Isolation: Our ability to communicate is critical to staying connected and social when we’re physically apart. This is well discussed, but we’re seeing more of the infrastructure tested and improved to ensure services are accessible when we need them most. There’s still way too big a digital divide on this front that is yet to be addressed, sadly.
Disinfo: If someone asked me two weeks ago if I’d bet there’d be a 5G x coronavirus crossover conspiracy out there, I’d have chuckled… then sighed… then shrugged and figured they were probably right.
As with so many aspects of poor management of the digital town square, crackpots have been left loose under ‘free speech’ ideals for too long.
Free speech as a right? Yes.
Free access to large scale platforms to distribute lies? No.
Like so many things as we travel through this tunnel, we can only hope the other side looks a little different to what we already knew was a problem but were not quite addressing properly. We have to hope we emerge from our cocoons looking different – a betterment, not a devolution. And to come together again as a better community, we need to ensure the tools we use to connect online are no longer abused by those who want to keep us apart.
There’s so much to pick at under the scab of disinformation right now but it’s too much. Don’t let fear drive you. Show as much empathy as you can if you do engage with the conspiracies. But maybe, if you feel the need to directly fight back against the stupid, do it with compassion and clarity. Help close the canyon that has divided us for too long.
I’m still largely off Facebook. It’s still been great. When I’m there and I do see a post or two, I only engage with the positive. Maybe that’ll make my bubble’s algorithm promote positivity more often.
I would have had this newsletter earlier today, but we discovered Taika Waititi was live on Instagram doing a commentary for Thor: Ragnarok, which turned into him hanging out with Tessa Thompson and then Mark Ruffalo just chatting about life and lockdown and making movies and fun times they’ve had together.
It was the kind of moment that was blissful and distracting and I just decided to be there, in the moment, enjoying something rather than rushing off to do more work.
When you find some bliss right now, enjoy it while it’s there.
Don’t let the ‘routine’ ruin capturing the chance to smile in the face of it all.
I think I’ll remember that slower morning fondly when this is all over. No offence, but I won’t regret sending this newsletter an hour later than originally planned.
Today’s links feel like there’s a lot of ‘phase two’ activity out there, for good and for bad. Information warfare of many stripes. The ongoing digital war (more hot than cold) between nation states, efforts to bolster infrastructure, and moves to fix what’s broken.
Plus a bunch of positive things to engage with out there online to make this moment a little nicer to live through.
Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.
Byteside podcast: When this episode started we weren’t sure about Quibi. By 15 minutes in we’ve decided that’s all the show is about from now on.
Big, big data
This is as ‘hot war’ as digital warfare gets, abusing the trust mechanisms internet protocols rely on to force traffic through Russia for unknown purposes.
Just like that, our internet connection has become an umbilical to the outside world. Many companies are upgrading infrastructure to keep it from breaking.
Researchers are racing to achieve the benefits of location-tracking without the surveillance.
We’re helping public health officials by providing aggregated, anonymized Community Mobility data as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.
Alexander Graham Bell’s invention was supposed to make life under quarantine bearable. But AT&T ended up begging people to stay off the line.
WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits, restricting content sharing to one chat at a time.
A study examined 225 pieces of content that independent fact checkers had rated false or misleading between January and March. They found that 59 percent remained on Twitter, 27 percent, on YouTube and 24 percent, on Facebook.
YouTube says it will start limiting videos promoting 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories.
There’s no evidence linking 5G to the virus—but new technologies have a history of rousing health fears.
The pretence that right-wing commentators are on the side of their audience falls away in times of crisis. They’re on the side of business - especially their own.
If you’re going to use a fake background, make it something sensational.
Budding filmmakers needn’t let isolation stand in the way of their cinematic dreams. Here are five and a half ways you can make movie magic at home.
To “[help] creators stay inspired, engaged and growing” in these uncertain times.
Facebook is rolling out a new feature today that allows users to mute all notifications from the social network and schedule some quiet time.
Virtual advertising for good.
Finding some bliss
If you’re in isolation or lockdown, here are 10 feature films that use architecture in exciting ways to watch as a distraction from coronavirus anxiety.
Want to take this time in self-isolation to try out online courses and upskill yourself? TAFE can help.
Facebook Gaming is launching tournaments for esports amateurs today in early access across the globe to compete in the era of social distancing.
With most of the United States stuck at home, I’ve relied on Grand Theft Auto Online to virtually leave my home and do things I miss, like seeing a movie….
An annual April 1 cosplay gag took on added significance this year. Without any major cosplay cons taking place in the foreseeable future, this “con” was as close as anyone would get anytime soon.
Some good news for these troubled times: the site, which died a year ago, has been rebuilt from the ground up.
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