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.

On Byteside

Now The Official Quibi Review Show

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.

byteside.com  •  Share

Big, big data

Russian telco hijacks internet traffic for Google, AWS, Cloudflare, others

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.

www.zdnet.com  •  Share

Why the coronavirus lockdown is making the internet stronger than ever

Just like that, our internet connection has become an umbilical to the outside world. Many companies are upgrading infrastructure to keep it from breaking.

www.technologyreview.com  •  Share

Clever crypto could protect privacy in Covid-19 contact-tracing apps

Researchers are racing to achieve the benefits of location-tracking without the surveillance.

www.wired.com  •  Share

Helping public health officials combat COVID-19

We’re helping public health officials by providing aggregated, anonymized Community Mobility data as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.

www.blog.google  •  Share

Social problems

How the telephone failed its big test during 1918’s Spanish flu pandemic

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.

www.fastcompany.com  •  Share

WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow coronavirus misinformation

WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits, restricting content sharing to one chat at a time.

www.businessinsider.com  •  Share

Twitter wins... at being the worst for coronavirus misinformation

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.

www.washingtonpost.com  •  Share

YouTube to curb videos promoting 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories

YouTube says it will start limiting videos promoting 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories.

mashable.com  •  Share

5G Conspiracy Theories Are Sweeping the Planet. Why?

There’s no evidence linking 5G to the virus—but new technologies have a history of rousing health fears.

www.psychologytoday.com  •  Share

During the Great Depression, many newspapers betrayed their readers. Some are doing it again now

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.

theconversation.com  •  Share

Digital help

Customize Your Zoom Virtual Background with Free Works of Art

If you’re going to use a fake background, make it something sensational.

www.openculture.com  •  Share

Great time to try: 5½ ways to make movie masterpieces at home

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.

theconversation.com  •  Share

Nikon is streaming free photography classes throughout April

To “[help] creators stay inspired, engaged and growing” in these uncertain times.

www.cnet.com  •  Share

Facebook launches Quiet Mode for muting alerts and scheduling downtime

Facebook is rolling out a new feature today that allows users to mute all notifications from the social network and schedule some quiet time.

venturebeat.com  •  Share

Football Manager 2020 gives free in-game advertising space to mental health charity during lockdown

Virtual advertising for good.

www.eurogamer.net  •  Share

Finding some bliss

10 films with amazing architecture to stream during isolation

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.

www.dezeen.com  •  Share

TAFE NSW is offering free online courses so you can upskill in isolation

Want to take this time in self-isolation to try out online courses and upskill yourself? TAFE can help.

www.lifehacker.com.au  •  Share

Facebook Gaming launches tournaments for esports amateurs

Facebook Gaming is launching tournaments for esports amateurs today in early access across the globe to compete in the era of social distancing.

venturebeat.com  •  Share

Using GTA Online to find a normal world of movie theatres and stores

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….

www.kotaku.com.au  •  Share

Cosplayers can't go to cons, so they had one on the Internet

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.

www.kotaku.com.au  •  Share

Early meme site YTMND has been resurrected with the help of fans

Some good news for these troubled times: the site, which died a year ago, has been rebuilt from the ground up.

www.vice.com  •  Share

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