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The Twitter Hate Machine

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“Maple Cocaine”, in a now famous tweet over two years ago:

Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.

Twitter is a machine for directing self-righteous anger, and it fires all day, every day, whether the targets are deserving or not.

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joelowrance
221 days ago
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Apple Is Adding Two New American English Voices for Siri

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Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple is adding two new voices to Siri’s English offerings, and eliminating the default “female voice” selection in the latest beta version of iOS. This means that every person setting up Siri will choose a voice for themselves and it will no longer default to the voice assistant being female, a topic that has come up quite a bit with regards to bias in voice interfaces over the past few years.

As Panzarino notes, in some countries, like the U.K., Siri’s default voice is male, not female. So “Why is Siri’s default voice female?” is not applicable worldwide. And my hunch has always been that the defaults in each country were selected by perceived quality. But making this an explicit choice during setup is the right answer — take the question of cultural bias out of the equation.

I believe that this is the first of these assistants to make the choice completely agnostic with no default selection made. This is a positive step forward as it allows people to choose the voice that they prefer without the defaults bias coming into play. The two new voices also bring some much needed variety to the voices of Siri, offering more diversity in speech sound and pattern to a user picking a voice that speaks to them. […]

“We’re excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when they set up their device,” a statement from Apple reads. “This is a continuation of Apple’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.”

Here’s a screen recording I made of the new lineup of voices. Both new voices are very good. Interestingly, in addition to adding the two new voices, the Siri preferences no longer label any of the voices as “male” or “female” — they’re just “Voice 1” … “Voice 4”. That makes it harder to remember which one is which, but, it opens the door to nonbinary voices in a future update. There’s no reason Siri’s voice needs to be decidedly male or female. The “diverseness” of the two new voices is subtle, but they don’t label them as such. You either hear it or don’t. The same could be true for the gender of future new voices.

(I wonder too if the order is randomized? There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to how mine are ordered, and randomizing the order would further eliminate bias before each user makes their choice.)

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joelowrance
249 days ago
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Press Release: The world's least reliable digital assistant can now disappoint you with four voices.
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Your Truly Rapping at Length About Old Macs

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Speaking of Jason Snell, he’s releasing extended versions of the extensive interviews he did last year for his excellent 20 Macs for 2020 series. Last month he started with a three-episode series with John Siracusa (1, 2, 3).

This week starts my turn. In the first one, we talk about the Power Mac G5, PowerBook Duo, PowerBook 500 and 5300, Blue-and-White Power Mac G3, DayStar Genesis MP, Mac Mini, Mac IIcx and IIci, and the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. (I could have done a whole hour on the IIci — what a remarkable machine that was.)

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joelowrance
274 days ago
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0/5 there was no rap or anything remotely resembling a rhyme.
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Spoonbill

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Speaking of Justin Duke, in addition to Buttondown, he also created and runs Spoonbill, a nifty free service that lets you track changes to the bios of the people you follow on Twitter:

How it works.

  1. First, you sign up. (Duh.)

  2. Then we look at all the folks you’re following on Twitter.

  3. We check every couple minutes to see if they’ve changed their profile information.

  4. If they have, we record it!

  5. Then, every morning (or every week), we send you an email with all the changes.

Daily was too much for me, perhaps because I follow too many accounts on Twitter, but once a week is perfect. And you can subscribe via RSS instead of email — this is a very natural service for RSS.

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joelowrance
282 days ago
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"Comedian"
"Comedian and writer"
"Comedian, writer and waiter"
"Former comedian, auto sales"
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Twitter Teases Upcoming Features: Paid ‘Super Follows’ and Community Groups

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Jacob Kastrenakes, reporting for The Verge:

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans.

Twitter also announced a new feature called Communities, which appear to be its take on something like Facebook Groups. People can create and join groups around specific interests — like cats or plants, Twitter suggests — allowing them to see more tweets focused on those topics. Groups have been a huge success for Facebook (and a huge moderation problem, too), and they could be a particularly helpful tool on Twitter, since the service’s open-ended nature can make it difficult for new users to get started on the platform.

Both these features sound great. Ben Thompson and I encouraged Twitter to do something like “Super Follows” a few weeks ago on Dithering. Almost certainly, though, all of this will only work in Twitter’s own client, not third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific.

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joelowrance
282 days ago
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"specific interests — like cats or plants, Twitter suggests"

I'm sure this wont just end up being another place for the rage addicts to congregate
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Fox News Cancels Lou Dobbs’a Show One Day After Dobbs Is Named in Election Lies Lawsuit

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You hate to see it.

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joelowrance
303 days ago
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"Former CNN favorite also cancelled by Fox"
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