Feeling Lonely? Head to the Virus Cafe

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Feeling lonely and not getting out due to the pandemic? Head over to the virtual virus cafe where you can connect with other nice people on the internet and chat for a little bit. The creator clearly wants people to connect in an impromptu but meaningful way while we are all physically distant from one another. Here’s what the creator says about their creation:

Hey folks! I built Virus Cafe to help you make a friend in 2 minutes! My goal is to help people stuck indoors because of COVID-19 (or police curfews) to make meaningful connections with strangers.

Here’s how it works:

1. You are matched with a random partner for a video chat

2. You’re given a deep question to discuss. You have 2 minutes!

3. The only rule is: no small talk!

Small talk is the worst and I’m on a mission to eradicate it. I’ve expertly crafted over 200 questions designed to stimulate good conversation and skip past the boring introductions.

Here are a few samples:

– When in your life have you been the happiest?

– What would you be willing to die for?

– What is the biggest lie you’ve told without getting caught?

– What is a belief you had as a child that you no longer have?

– What human emotion do you fear the most?

– If a family member murdered someone, would you report them to the police?

– What absolutely excites you right now?

I hope you use Virus Cafe to meet a new friend and make a deep connection today.

Check it out.
Read more at Hacker News.

Wikipedia Founder’s New Social Project Starts Strong

If you’re like everyone else then you still have a Facebook profile that you barely check, yet still need. Yes it’s handy to be in touch with people using one network, but let’s face it: Facebook is garbage. The amount of lies spread and the lack of effective content moderation ensures that the site will prey on the weak and ill informed. Their advertising model ensures that they will always violate our privacy in the pursuit of profit.

Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of Wikipedia, has created an alternative to Facebook. The new WT:Social exists as a counterpoint to the advertising led business model of other social networks and its early success is promising.

“We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line.”

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mr Wales described the advertising-led business model favoured by the social network giants as “problematic”.

“It turns out the huge winner is low-quality content,” he said.

Read more.

Try These Ethical Alternatives to Popular Apps

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Large tech companies find ways to make money off of your data without you knowing about it, they might even be sharing personal information about you with governments or advertisers. If that makes you uncomfortable (I hope it does) then you should consider looking for alternatives to mainstream software services and applications. For example you can replace Google with Ecosia or DuckDuckGo.

Thankfully there’s a group that is dedicated to making our tech more ethical and encouraging people to find these ethical solutions in an easy way via one site: ethical.net.

You can join in the conversation about ethical technologies and uses at their forum.

Ethical.net is a collaborative platform for discovering and sharing ethical product alternatives — whether that means purchasing from a social enterprise, thrift shopping, or learning how to fix your old phone instead of buying a new one.

What do we mean by ethical?
We know that “ethical” can mean very different things to different people.
But for us, it’s broadly about pursuing sustainability instead of growth, and putting people above profit.

Check it out!

GDPR Might Make the Internet Better by Eliminating Shady Businesses

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Now that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect companies are reacting. You may have noticed new messages on websites outlining that they are collecting information on you, or maybe you’ve received emails updating you on new privacy policies. Those notices are a result of the GDPR’s rules around how companies spy on you and use your data for profit. What GDPR is doing in practice is eliminating the business models of some corporations and we might all benefit from these sketchy companies going kaput.

For companies whose entire business model was users not really understanding the entire business model, the cost of direct sunlight may just be too high. Unroll.me, a company that offers to automatically declutter your in-box (while, uh, selling the insight it gleans from your data to companies like Uber), announced that it will no longer serve E.U. customers.

If enough companies follow this lead, one practical effect might be a split internet, with one set of GDPR-compliant websites and services for the E.U. and another set with a somewhat more, let’s say, relaxed attitude toward data for the rest of the world. But even a loosely enforced GDPR creates conditions for improving privacy protections beyond Europe. Facebook, for example, has already said it will extend GDPR-level protections to all of its users — if they opt in to them.

Read more.

Even Massive Multinationals Support Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is what allows the internet to be what it is, and without it the internet would be pretty much useless. The Trump administration is presently trying to eliminate net neutrality to protect the profits of a very small group of companies. It’s worth noting that the Obama administration also tried this but didn’t go ahead with it

Without net neutrality the internet will undoubtedly suck, for a look at what that will be like check out this article. Net neutrality is awful for individual freedom and it’s also quite awful for profits, which is why today many popular websites and services are speaking out. For example, Netflix will basically be banned for some people and thus will lose their subscriber base.

If you’re an American then you ought to call your local representatives and talk to anybody who will listen about this issue. Today is the day of action. The repeal of net neutrality is censorship under a different name.

Sites across the web will display alerts on their homepages showing “blocked,” “upgrade,” and “spinning wheel of death” pop-ups to demonstrate what the internet would look like without net neutrality, according to advocacy group Battle for the Net. But most of the pop-ups The Verge has seen have been simple banners or static text with links offering more information.

Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb have all placed banners at the top of their home pages, while Vimeo has an explainer video and graphics made available for download. Other websites, including Facebook and Amazon are participating, but haven’t yet disclosed what form their protests will take. Apple is not on the list of participants.

Read more.

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