UniquelyGeneric's recent activity

  1. Comment on The Netflix password-sharing crackdown has begun in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    MAC addresses are hardware assigned and immutable, so they’ve been seen as a privacy-invasive identifier. Device Ad IDs (IDFA / AAID) can be reset and opted-out from, however the average user...

    MAC addresses are hardware assigned and immutable, so they’ve been seen as a privacy-invasive identifier.

    Device Ad IDs (IDFA / AAID) can be reset and opted-out from, however the average user likely doesn’t change outside of the default settings (which is now opt-in with iOS 14.5).

    1 vote
  2. Comment on The Netflix password-sharing crackdown has begun in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Netflix could use your IDFV and/or AAID associated with the most usage to set the primary user and devices. No need to rely on flippant IP address assignment. I assume they’ve trained a model over...

    Netflix could use your IDFV and/or AAID associated with the most usage to set the primary user and devices. No need to rely on flippant IP address assignment.

    I assume they’ve trained a model over months of historical usage data and now they’re looking to see any changes in behavior to help them flag the moochers.

    2 votes
  3. Comment on ‘Beeple Mania’: How Mike Winkelmann makes millions selling pixels in ~arts

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Certified Copy is one of my favorites. It also delves into relationships, love, and who we project ourselves to be. Are we the thoughts inside us, or the way we express ourselves to others? Does...

    Certified Copy is one of my favorites. It also delves into relationships, love, and who we project ourselves to be. Are we the thoughts inside us, or the way we express ourselves to others? Does it matter? Lots of good philosophy to chew on.

    There’s another movie, The Square (2017), that delves more into the question of what is art? If art’s purpose is to evoke emotion in the viewer, what separates art from reality? Does life imitate art, or the other way around? In the film a museum director grapples with post-modernism and the search for meaning in both art and life. Very meta, and tongue-in-cheek.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on ‘Beeple Mania’: How Mike Winkelmann makes millions selling pixels in ~arts

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I own a limited print of this serigraph valued at over $1,200. However, I came into possession of this artwork because someone in NYC abandoned it in my building lobby as they moved out of their...

    I own a limited print of this serigraph valued at over $1,200. However, I came into possession of this artwork because someone in NYC abandoned it in my building lobby as they moved out of their apartment (they didn't want to take it with them).

    My version does not come with a certificate of authenticity, but you can see the handwritten autograph of the artist and print number, so I don't have reason to believe it's a forgery (it doesn't seem worth the trouble). After market sales for similar works by the artist go for ~$400-500. My old roommate and I had to make an auction between ourselves on who would keep it long term as well.

    So how much is my copy worth? The market price it sells for with a certificate of authenticity? The after market price? What my roommate and I auctioned it at? Whatever anyone is willing to buy it for? Nothing? It was abandoned, after all...

    If the certificate of authenticity is essentially an NFT in this scenario, it seems the art has inherit value, but an NFT should only be a modest multiplyer of that value (not the extreme orders of magnitude difference we're seeing on these digital art pieces).

    I think it's an interesting subject, and the movie Certified Copy (2010) meditates on the intrinsic value of art and what it means to be authentic, for those who wish to explore this idea more.

    2 votes
  5. Comment on ‘Beeple Mania’: How Mike Winkelmann makes millions selling pixels in ~arts

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Beeple NFT Sells For $69.3 Million, Becoming Most-Expensive Ever This is getting more ridiculous. The last sale for ~$6 million was believed to be a money laundering scheme to transfer value out...

    Beeple NFT Sells For $69.3 Million, Becoming Most-Expensive Ever

    This is getting more ridiculous. The last sale for ~$6 million was believed to be a money laundering scheme to transfer value out of the bitcoin bubble. This latest sale seems to be riding the hype train of NFTs, but also calls into question whether these are truly a store of value.

    Beeple creates art for free every day for the past 13 years, so what is the true value of his art? Is art just an investment vehicle for the rich?

    3 votes
  6. Comment on Quitting Reddit follow up thread in ~talk

    UniquelyGeneric
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    A lot of hobbyist subreddits start off with a treasure trove of information and participation in the community. Eventually as it grows, Eternal September sets in and all the veterans gets annoyed...

    A lot of hobbyist subreddits start off with a treasure trove of information and participation in the community. Eventually as it grows, Eternal September sets in and all the veterans gets annoyed by the noob questions and return snarky, curt responses. It’s ironic in that these new users have the same curiosity and enthusiasm that the jaded veterans no longer share for their own hobby.

    “Like-minded” people don’t always End up liking each other. People come onto Tildes with honest intentions and frequently get flustered by arguments, despite knowing better. Might just be an element of human psychology that the internet exposes by short circuiting the response time.

    6 votes
  7. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
    Link Parent
    Yeah, sorry for the overload of domain-specific knowledge. Let me see if I can break things down a bit. Unified ID 2.0 is an initiative proposed by The Trade Desk, the largest independent...

    Yeah, sorry for the overload of domain-specific knowledge. Let me see if I can break things down a bit.

    Unified ID 2.0 is an initiative proposed by The Trade Desk, the largest independent demand-side platform (i.e. where advertisers go to buy ad inventory that's not Google's). It's based on the IAB's Project Rearc guiding principles (the IAB is about the closest thing to an official standards body in the adtech world) on how to transition off of 3rd party cookies and preserve privacy.

    UID 2.0 does this by taking email addresses (acquired via user authentication) and hashing them with rotating salts (which are distributed by a central & independent governing authority) to allow the UIDs to be distributed without exposing user's plaintext emails directly. This allows advertisers to connect an ad impression to a purchase online, for example, but requires all parties to have legally acquired the UID. A user maintains control over this interaction by having access to a global opt-out that would prevent their email from being convertible to a UID 2.0.

    UID 1.0 was an identifier that The Trade Desk created that leveraged a 3rd party cookie. By sending traffic to The Trade Desk's endpoint, it would return with the UID 1.0 it had associated with the user. This was a way to connect various adtech vendor's cookie IDs via a single common ID-space. It's arguably the type of tracking the industry has gotten flack for, and is now what adtech is moving away from.

    The "Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media" is a consortium of adtech that was spun up to address the industry challenge of moving off of 3rd party cookies (something that businesses have relied on for 20+ years). This is where UID 2.0 was initially vetted and workshopped. The Trade Desk has taken the output of this consortium and presented it to the IAB's Tech Lab, which is currently vetting governance processes and final spec details. The IAB (or a similar independent party) is expected to run the central infrastructure that maintains the UID 2.0 and it is expected to go through given the industry input and alignment that's already been achieved.

    Google basically went around the industry and has been pushing FLoC through a side channel of the W3C, where most of the industry is not a member (they are more likely to be a member of IAB). Most of adtech (which includes publishers, advertisers, and everyone in between) are only privy to Google's public statements regarding FLoC, and so they were blindsided by Google's recent announcement that says that they will not support UID 2.0 in their ad stack. This upset a lot of people, as many companies (such as WaPo, which you listed) have already invested time and resources into UID 2.0 and now have to completely reevaluate product roadmaps for the rest of the year (and time is running out on cookies, so there's a huge risk to their businesses).

    Now, there's still some outstanding issues with all this, namely:

    • UID 2.0 only works on authenticated traffic, which could incentivize publishers to require logins for all users to harvest emails as well as "consent"
    • Both the IAB and W3C require businesses to pay a membership fee that creates a barrier to entry for smaller companies and prevents much crossover between the groups
    • There has not been a prevailing standard for "anonymous" (i.e. unauthenticated) traffic. Some theorized a rise in contextual advertising. Google sees FLoC as the future. None of these options appear mature enough for full adoption before 2022, which may force Google to push out its self-imposed death of 3rd party cookies
    3 votes
  8. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    While it may have changed governance in name, I can speak from personal experience that getting changes incorporated into the AMP framework required reaching out to Google business contacts to get...

    While it may have changed governance in name, I can speak from personal experience that getting changes incorporated into the AMP framework required reaching out to Google business contacts to get Google engineers to commit my change. Otherwise it seemed I would have been ignored.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
    Link Parent
    As someone who lives with the constant cognitive dissonance of working in adtech while also a privacy advocate, I know this is a tough pill to swallow. That being said, I'm going to assume...
    • Exemplary

    unless you buy into the premise that web advertising should exist and it's okay, good even, for it to be somewhat customized to users' interests

    As someone who lives with the constant cognitive dissonance of working in adtech while also a privacy advocate, I know this is a tough pill to swallow. That being said, I'm going to assume advertising is needed for the open web to survive, and this large comment is meant to address where I find issue with FLoC's adoption (rather than a personal disagreement with yourself).

    I suppose my complaint can be boiled down to two areas:

    1. Google is forcing its way through proper vetting processes for the presumptive adoption of FLoC as a standard, negating related industry initiatives
    2. FLoC introduces too many vectors for privacy exposure

    While Google announced their Privacy Sandbox in August 2019, details have been sparse up until they officially submitted FLoC to WICG less than a year ago (even here, in its debut to the world, most of the discussion is about the legal compliance of pushing a "standard" through a non-standard approving body).

    There's a clear time pressure to get FLoC railroaded through approvals because the death of 3rd party cookies is imminently arriving in early 2022 (ironic, given that Google is the one who set this timeframe in the first place). As an example, here's a GitHub issue where the lead on the FLoC initiative is moving forward with an invite-only trial without allowing publishers to opt-out (despite the potential for sensitive websites being included in the cohort clustering algorithm). The issue has been open for 10 months.

    It begs the question, which is a bigger priority: user privacy, or Google's business? Google's recent announcement to abandon alternative identifiers flies in the face of existing industry initiatives, such as:

    • Unified ID 2.0 submitted to Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media- which is an email-based ID gathered from user authentication on a publisher's website (which has a global opt-out along with user agreement to T&C's)
    • Transparency & Consent Framework 2.0 - which requires a user to view vendor-specific opt-ins and now explicit opt-in is required within Germany (and expected to be adopted across the EU). Google has ignored a related issue for 1.5 years.
    • World Federation of Advertisers' Proposal for Cross-Media Measurement Reach and Frequency - This proposes the use of assigned Virtual People IDs and email-based Secure Universal Measurement IDentity in a privacy-safe environment that leverages Differential Privacy techniques. Most curious about this proposal is that Google was one of the companies to submit this proposal. Is the left hand not talking to the right?

    Many good ideas come out of Google. HTTP/3 was based on a Google proposal, for example.

    Both HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 were preceded by Google adding SPDY and QUIC to Chrome before official standards were set. Eventually the IETF modified and adapted the Google protocols, and it can be argued that the process to do so takes too long. However, Google's prevalence as the largest browser shouldn't be a reason to make it the de facto arbiter of web standards. By surprising the industry through abandoning alternate identifiers in lieu of FLoC, it gives little time for businesses to react. They see their hands forced to adopt a protocol that still has yet to be fully defined, during a year they have already started investing into privacy-safe alternatives to 3rd party cookies.

    Regarding issues with FLoC itself, there are 39 open issues, many with no further discussion in over a year. I can count ~16 that have very direct privacy concerns, 6 of which have received no comment whatsoever from Google. This does not feel very collaborative or concerned with seeking industry approval.

    This issue in particular points out a major ethical concern:

    a evil dictator on a budget could use FLoC to

    • prioritize assignment of surveillance personnel to individuals
    • allocate public services preferentially to favored religious and language groups
    • encourage self-reeducation by members of marginal groups

    And this was posted just yesterday. It seems clear that the full implication of this initiative hasn't been fully thought through and yet it's being pushed as the only way for some businesses to run. I'm personally concerned about the ease of lookalike modelling when there is a mix of PII (due to previously referenced industry initiatives) and FLoC cohort IDs available in the same metadata.

    I'm also pretty much okay if it fails and targeted advertising goes away.

    This is my preferred state of affairs. Advertising may be a necessary evil, but targeting does not have to be. Advertising for decades prior relied on contextual relevance for ad placements (i.e. beer ads during sporting events, or cleaning products during soap operas), I don't see why we can't return to that world and avoid exposing a user's browsing history. Furthermore, if targeting must occur, why can't a user submit their interests to their browser to ensure relevant and useful ad placements without divulging more personal details?

    Browsers have the responsibility of interacting with the web on the behalf of their user. Safari and Firefox prevent fingerprinting by limiting and standardizing the details present in the User Agent String. However, Google's attempt at addressing browser fingerprinting with FLoC divulges more information than was present before (via a cohort ID / browser history) and its insistence that the industry abandon alternatives seems to only benefit Google, who has conspicuously not decided to prevent their own tracking in place of FLoC. In fact, they have yet to confirm that they would stop leveraging a user's Chrome login for tracking across the web.

    6 votes
  10. Comment on Urbit: A Personal Identity Server in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    This was my first impression when reading up on it. To be honest, I thought it was just a weird Internet side project, similar to TempleOS (whose creator had his own slew of controversial ideas)....

    it seemed willfully obscure, inventing its own languages and a lot of weird terminology for no apparent reason

    This was my first impression when reading up on it. To be honest, I thought it was just a weird Internet side project, similar to TempleOS (whose creator had his own slew of controversial ideas). The incessant need to redefine everything in its own terminology seemed unsustainable, which is why I was more curious to see if it actually worked, let alone what it was supposed to be used for.

    It appears that the obfuscation of the project's purpose succeeded by hoodwinking me (and I don't consider myself easily caught up in conspiracy theories and propaganda), so there's clearly a chance at it happening to others. Judging from the research I've done since then, it seems that it hasn't improved in more technological clarity but perhaps has gotten better at hiding its seedier associations.

    9 votes
  11. Comment on Urbit: A Personal Identity Server in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    At this point, while I once was a crypto-enthusiast, I have increasing feelings that much of cryptocurrencies are net-negative for society, and any association with them puts a bad taste in my...

    At this point, while I once was a crypto-enthusiast, I have increasing feelings that much of cryptocurrencies are net-negative for society, and any association with them puts a bad taste in my mouth. Even on the basis of electricity usage alone, cryptocurencies pose an unchecked threat to humanity.

    When I saw that Urbit was planning on creating bitcoin wallets associated with usernames, I thought to myself "is this really what the platform needs right now? A corrupting influence of money?". Seeing what the creator's initial intentions were, yes, it seems like a dystopian nightmare veiled in ideals of decentralization and privacy.

    6 votes
  12. Comment on Urbit: A Personal Identity Server in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    To be honest, I had not even been aware of any relations to white supremacy when I had submitted this topic (although, of course, there will always be some adjacency with "free speech platforms")....

    To be honest, I had not even been aware of any relations to white supremacy when I had submitted this topic (although, of course, there will always be some adjacency with "free speech platforms"). I had actually encountered it being referenced in respect to localism (an attempt at a social movement to move away from the perils of centralization under capitalism), which itself is a nascent concept (and I'm wary of all online social movements these days...).

    Admittedly, I did do some due diligence before posting and saw no posts on Tildes and the majority of posts on HackerNews were more confused as to what it was. I should have dived deeper into the politics of the creator, but it was late at night and I had only just got it up and running to see what it was firsthand.

    That being said, I had not seen any sign of alt-right behavior when I did my initial perusal. Just some self-referential tech help and light internet chatter akin to what I would expect on a technical IRC channel.

    This post has been quite an edification for me on the dangers of Urbit. I knew something felt fishy when it was so purposefully obtuse with its own description, but now I have found enough resources to form a much stronger opinion on it. Because of that, I don't know how I feel about removing this post: on one hand, I am very much against entertaining any toxic ideologies as they can spread to those with naive interest; on the other hand, I wouldn't have so readily found rationale for why Urbit may be detrimental to society without this Tildes post. I'll leave it up to @Deimos to decide the best course of action as he has a proven track record for addressing free-speech quandaries.

    7 votes
  13. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I believe the inevitable consequences of capitalism are consolidation of wealth into increasingly exploitative companies. In this case it's either let Google grow a monopoly to take advantage of...

    I believe the inevitable consequences of capitalism are consolidation of wealth into increasingly exploitative companies. In this case it's either let Google grow a monopoly to take advantage of their captive audience, or foster predatory practices in the remaining companies as they struggle to survive (read: humans trying to keep their jobs in a shrinking employment pool).

    1 vote
  14. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    My fear with it being anticompetitive is that we would be entrusting almost all digital advertising (read: the revenue that keeps most of the open web alive) to run through Google. It already...
    • Exemplary

    My fear with it being anticompetitive is that we would be entrusting almost all digital advertising (read: the revenue that keeps most of the open web alive) to run through Google. It already accounts for 52% of global digital ad spend, and it's gearing up to get even more market share by showcasing how it can do better targeting on its own web properties (because, despite headlines saying they "won't sell ads that track you," those don't apply to Google owned properties: rules for thee, not for me).

    In Europe there is legislation that adtech companies have been earnestly trying to adhere to proper opt-in models. Google has basically signaled that this is all a waste of time, and has fired the starting shot for the race to the bottom. Adtech companies' hands are now forced into fingerprinting just to survive. Many won't (read: people will lose their jobs), and the ones that do will be shadier than ever.

    Google at least has some incentive to please its users

    What happens when we all submit our digital autonomy to the almighty Google? It's a company that has a long track record of not caring about user-loved products/features when it no longer suits their capitalistic goals. It will have even more power when there's even less competition. What happens to people too poor to afford iPhones? The alternative is Android or no phone at all. What's the alternative to YouTube? Do we truly think Firefox can continue to be a viable alternative to Chrome with an already dwindling user base? I personally use DDG whenever possible, but the average user probably isn't even aware of its existence.

    What happens to dissenters Google does not approve of? Many were happy when Trump got deplatformed, but what about investigative journalists or whistleblowers decrying Google's practices? It's already in their playbook, and they've already shown they're more than willing to kowtow to China's censorship for the sake of profits.

    Google has a history of creating web standards under the farce of an open source community, and sideskirting web standards bodies' approval process. Google's AMP was shoved down the industry's throats, forcing publishers to give up their relationship with their users, and giving Google more data to harvest (they also stopped branding it as "Google AMP" to avoid giving the impression that it was a framework solely for Google's benefit). FLoC is just the next iteration of a "standard" that no one else gets meaningful input on.

    This may all sound like a slippery slope, but this is already the world we currently live in. Google's decision has decided to accelerate these trends and capture more market share for their ever-growing monopoly on the web. Their future censorship may come as a seemingly innocuous de-prioritization from search results, which is a death knell for publishers (and the reason they could force AMP adoption).

    The remains of the open web would be a dangerous place, full of unscrupulous business looking to prey on users. Google out of its paternalistic benevolence could seek to ramrod a new Internet standard (given that they run most of the Internet anyways) to "protect" users on the open web and shepherd them back to the "safe" environment of Google's walled garden (a term they are attempting to whitewash away) where their browsing history can be exploited for the capitalist machine we've boiled ourselves alive in.

    3 votes
  15. Comment on Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Google has sent shockwaves through adtech with their recent announcement to not support any alternative / email based IDs to replace cookies. While it can be debated whether companies own user...

    Google has sent shockwaves through adtech with their recent announcement to not support any alternative / email based IDs to replace cookies. While it can be debated whether companies own user data that is freely given up, the hypocrisy in their announcement is that Google will still continue to use their email-based data to track their users.

    Not only is it a highly anti-competitive move, the EFF also highlights just how dangerous the alternative they offer is for user privacy. Never before has collecting someone’s psychographics been so readily available.

    With enough personal data to augment with the behavioral, many companies in the future will be able to build an entire longitudinal profile of you without your knowledge. You don’t even have to be the one broadly exposing data to be implicated: your peers in your cohort can be more loose with protecting their privacy and expose your own demographic details without your input. This is akin to FB users selling out their friends via Cambridge Analytica’s personality test honeypot.

    This is a truly disturbing development and a far cry from “Don’t be evil.”

    8 votes
  16. Comment on Urbit: A Personal Identity Server in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
    Link Parent
    Yeah I was impressed at how complete the UI was when it gave next to zero screenshots of it on its own website. Planets are merely permanent usernames that you can buy or be gifted with from those...

    Yeah I was impressed at how complete the UI was when it gave next to zero screenshots of it on its own website.

    Planets are merely permanent usernames that you can buy or be gifted with from those with extras to spare.

    I’m still trying to figure out how fleshed out the space is, and notably how to find other groups to join. If you haven’t already added it, a good starting point is ~bitbet-bolbel/urbit-community

    2 votes
  17. Comment on Urbit: A Personal Identity Server in ~tech

    UniquelyGeneric
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    It's a bit difficult to describe what Urbit is in succinct terms, so I linked the information page. In my own words: Urbit is like a docker container for your digital identity. It comes along with...

    It's a bit difficult to describe what Urbit is in succinct terms, so I linked the information page.

    In my own words: Urbit is like a docker container for your digital identity. It comes along with some mastodon-esque social networking capabilities, as well as a soon to be released bitcoin wallet managed through your Urbit ID / username.

    When I first read up on it, Urbit seemed like ambitious vaporware, but after installing it and giving it a try I was pleasantly surprised to see that it does indeed work and even has a small community on it.

    I have my reservations on whether it would truly be something casual users would use, but I'm curious to see where the project goes and I figured Tildes might be interested to see another small online community that's jumping ship from big tech social media.

    5 votes
  18. Comment on Why prehistoric humans needed no braces: Crooked teeth are a modern phenomenon and a telltale sign of an underlying epidemic in ~science

    UniquelyGeneric
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    I am reminded of how domesticated foxes who were selectively bred for friendliness towards humans exhibited other traits like floppy ears and (notably) more brittle teeth. This only took a few...

    I am reminded of how domesticated foxes who were selectively bred for friendliness towards humans exhibited other traits like floppy ears and (notably) more brittle teeth. This only took a few generations to manifest as well, so evolution does not need to run its natural course for knock-on effects to take hold.

    Makes me wonder if there’s some truth to social Darwinism wherein by no longer selecting for primal survival skills and instead prioritizing cooperation within urban environments, humans have developed other emergent phenotypes.

    5 votes
  19. Comment on Why prehistoric humans needed no braces: Crooked teeth are a modern phenomenon and a telltale sign of an underlying epidemic in ~science

    UniquelyGeneric
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    Probably less to do with fossilization itself and moreso the sheer prevalence of straight-toothed humans who live longer lives and have more opportunities to procreate and continue passing “good”...

    Probably less to do with fossilization itself and moreso the sheer prevalence of straight-toothed humans who live longer lives and have more opportunities to procreate and continue passing “good” dental genes

    2 votes