Research: A Suspicious Activity and Deserving of a Big Blinking X?

August 2, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The Stanford president does it. The Harvard ethics professor does it. Many journal paper authors do it. Why can’t those probing the innards of the company formerly known as Twatter do it?

I suppose those researchers can. The response to research one doesn’t accept can be a simple, “The data processes require review.” But no, no, no. The response elicited from the Twatter is presented in “X Sues Hate Speech Researchers Whose Scare Campaign Spooked Twitter Advertisers.” The headline is loaded with delicious weaponized words in my opinion; for instance, the ever popular “hate speech”, the phrase “scare campaign,” and “spooked.”

8 2 audience concerned

MidJourney, after some coaxing, spit out a frightened audience of past, present, and potential Twatter advertisers. I am not sure the smart software captured the reality of an advertiser faced with some brand-injuring information.

Wording aside, the totally objective real news write up reports:

X Corp sued a nonprofit, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), for allegedly “actively working to assert false and misleading claims” regarding spiking levels of hate speech on X and successfully “encouraging advertisers to pause investment on the platform,” Twitter’s blog said.

I found this statement interesting:

X is alleging that CCDH is being secretly funded by foreign governments and X competitors to lob this attack on the platform, as well as claiming that CCDH is actively working to censor opposing viewpoints on the platform. Here, X is echoing statements of US Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who accused the CCDH of being a “foreign dark money group” in 2021—following a CCDH report on 12 social media accounts responsible for 65 percent of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, Fox Business reported.

Imagine. The Musker questioning research.

Exactly what is “accurate” today? One could query the Stanford president, the Harvard ethicist, Mr. Musk, or the executives of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Wow. That sounds like work, probably as daunting as reviewing the methodology used for the report.

My moral and ethical compass is squarely tracking lunch today. No attorneys invited. No litigation necessary if my soup is cold. I will be dining in a location far from the spot once dominated by a quite beefy, blinking letter signifying Twatter. You know. I think I misspelled “tweeter.” I will fix it soon. Sorry.

Stephen E Arnold, August 2, 2023

Meta Being Meta: Move Fast and Snap Threads

July 31, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I want to admit that as a dinobaby I don’t care about [a] Barbie, [b] X [pronouced “ech” or “yech”], twit, or tweeter, [c] Zuckbook, meta-anything, or broken threads. Others seem to care deeply. The chief TWIT (Leo Laporte) — who is valiantly trying to replicate the success of the non-advertising “value for value” model for podcasting — cares about the Tweeter. He can be the one and only TWIT; the Twitter is now X [pronouced “ech” or “yech”], a delightful letter which evokes a number of interesting Web sites when auto-fill is relying on click popularity for relevance. Many of those younger than I care about the tweeter; for instance, with Twitter as a tailwind, some real journalists were able to tell their publisher employers, “I am out of here.” But with the tweeter in disarray does an opportunity exist for the Zuck to cause the tweeter to eXit?

7 30 x marks the spot 1

A modern god among mortals looks at the graffito on the pantheon. Anger rises. Blood lust enflames the almighty. Then digital divinity savagely snarls, “Attack now. And render the glands from every musky sheep-ox in my digital domain.  Move fast, or you will spend one full day with Cleggus Bombasticus. And you know that is sheer sheol.” [Ah, alliteration. But what is “sheol”?]

Plus, I can name one outfit interested in the Musky Zucky digital cage match, the Bezos bulldozer’s “real” news machine. I read “Move Fast and Beat Musk: The Inside Story of How Meta Built Threads,” which was ground out by the spinning wheels of “real” journalists. I would have preferred a different title; for instance my idea is in italics, Move fast and zuck up! but that’s just my addled view of the world.

The WaPo write up states:

Threads drew more than 100 million users in its first five days — making it, by some estimations, the most successful social media app launch of all time. Threads’ long-term success is not assured. Weeks after its July 5 launch, analytics firms estimated that the app’s usage dropped by more than half from its early peak. And Meta has a long history of copycat products or features that have failed to gain traction…

That’s the story. Take advantage of the Musker’s outstanding management to create a business opportunity for a blue belt in an arcane fighting method. Some allegedly accurate data suggest that  “Most of the 100 million people who signed up for Threads stopped using it.”

Why would usage allegedly drop?

The Bezos bulldozer “real” news system reports:

Meta’s [Seine] Kim responded, “Our industry leading integrity enforcement tools and human review are wired into Threads.”

Yes, a quote to note.

Several observations:

  1. Threads arrived with the baggage of Zuckbook. Early sign ups decided to not go back to pick up the big suitcases.
  2. The persistence of users to send IXXes (pronounced ech, a sound similar to the “etch” in retch) illustrates one of Arnold’s Rules of Online: Once an online habit is formed, changing behavior may be impossible without just pulling the plug. Digital addiction is a thing.
  3. Those surfing on the tweeter to build their brand are loath to admit that without the essentially free service their golden goose is queued to become one possibly poisonous Chicken McNugget.

Snapped threads? Yes, even those wrapped tightly around the Musker. Thus, I find one of my co-worker’s quips apt: “Move fast and zuck up.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 31, 2023

Young People Are Getting News from Sources I Do Not Find Helpful. Sigh.

July 28, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

TikTok Is the Most Popular News Source for 12 to 15-Year-Olds, Says Ofcom” presents some interesting data. First, however, let’s answer the question, “What’s an Ofcom?” It is a UK government agency regulates communication in the UK. From mobile to mail, Ofcom is there. Like most government entities, it does surveys.

Now what did the Ofcom research discover? Here are three items:

7 20 confused student

“You mean people used to hold this grimy paper thing and actually look at it to get information?” asks one young person. The other says, “Yes, I think it is called a maga-bean or maga-zeen or maga-been, something like that.” Thanks for this wonderful depiction of bafflement, MidJourney.

  1. In the UK, those 12 to 15 get their news from TikTok.
  2. The second most popular source of news is the Zuckbook’s Instagram.
  3. Those aged from 16 to 24 are mired in the past, relying on social media and mobile phones.

Interesting, but I was surprised that a traditional printed newspaper did not offer more information about the impact of this potentially significant trend on newspapers, printed books, and printed magazines.

Assuming the data are correct, as those 12 to 15 age, their behavior patterns may suggest that today’s dark days for traditional media were a bright, sunny afternoon.

Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2023

Threads: Maybe Bad Fuel?

July 20, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Is this headline sad? “Threads Usage Drops By Half From Initial Surge” reports that the alleged cage fighters’ social messaging systems are in flux.

7 18 looks dead to me

“That old machine sure looks dead to me,” observes the car owner to his associates. One asks, “Can it be fixed?” The owner replies, “I hope not.” MidJourney deserves a pat on its digital head for this art work, doesn’t it.

This week it is the Zuckbook in decline. The cited article reports:

On its best day, July 7, Threads had more than 49 million daily active users on Android, worldwide, according to Similarweb estimates. That’s about 45% of the usage of Twitter, which had more than 109 million active Android users that day. By Friday, July 14, Threads was down to 23.6 million active users, or about 22% of Twitter’s audience.

The message is, “Threads briefly captured a big chunk of Twitter’s market.”

The cited article adds some sugar to the spoiled cake:

If Threads succeeds vs Twitter, the Instagram edge will be a big reason.

Two outstanding services. Two outstanding leaders. Can the social messaging sector pick a winner? Does anyone wonder how much information influence the winner will have?

I do. Particularly when the two horses in the race Musk from Beyond and Zuck the Muscular.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2023

Grasping at Threads and Missing Its Potential for Weaponized Information Delivery

July 20, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

My great grandmother, bless her, used to draw flowers in pots. She used Crayola crayons. Her “style” reminded me of a ball of tangled threat. Examples of her work are lost to time. But MidJourney produced this image which is somewhat similar to how she depicted blooms:

7 15 thread ball

This is a rather uninspiring ball of thread generated by the once-creative MidJourney. Perhaps the system is getting tired?

Keep in mind I am recounting what I recall when I was in grade school in the early 1950s. I thought of these tangled images when I read “Engagement on Instagram’s Threads Has Cratered.” The article suggests that users are losing interest in the Zuck’s ball of thread. I noted this statement:

Time spent on the app dropped over 50% from 20 minutes to 8 minutes, analysts found.

I have spent some time with analysts in my career. I know that data can be as malleable as another toy in a child’s box of playthings; specifically, the delightfully named and presumably non-toxic Play-Doh.

The article offers this information too:

Threads was unveiled as Meta’s Twitter killer and became available for download in the U.S. on July 5, and since then, the platform has garnered well over 100 million users, who are able to access it directly from Instagram. The app has not come without its fair share of issues, however.

Threads — particularly when tangled up — can be a mess. But the Zuckbook has billions of users of its properties. A new service  taps an installed base and has a trampoline effect. When I was young, trampolines were interesting for a short period of time. The article is not exactly gleeful, but I detected some negativity toward the Zuck’s most recent innovation in me-too technology.

Now back to my great-grandmother (bless her, of course). She took the notion of tangled thread and converted them into flower blossoms. My opinion is that Threads will become another service used by actors less benign that my great-grandmother (bless her again). The ability to generate weaponized information, link to those little packets of badness, and augment other content is going to be of interest to some entities.

A free social media service can deliver considerable value to a certain segment of online users. The Silicon Valley “real” news folks may be writing about threads to say, “The Zuck’s Thread service is a tangled mess.” The more important angle, in my opinion, is that it provides another, possibly quite useful service to those who seek to cause effects not nearly as much fun as saying, “Zuck’s folly flops.” It may, but in the meantime, Threads warrants close observation, not Play-Doh data. Perhaps those wrestling with VPN bans will explore technical options for bypassing packet inspection, IP blocks, port blocks, Fiverr gig workers, or colleagues in the US?

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2023

Threads and Twitter: A Playground Battle for the Ages

July 18, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Twitter helped make some people famous. No big name publisher needed. Just an algorithm and a flow of snappy comments. Fame. Money. A platformer, sorry, I meant platform.

7 18 playground argument

Is informed, objective analysis of Facebook and Twitter needed? Sure, but the approach taken by some is more like an argument at a school picnic over the tug –of – war teams. Which team will end up with grass stains? Which will get the ribbon with the check mark? MidJourney developed this original art object.

Now that Twitter has gone Musky, those who may perceive themselves as entitled to a blue check, algorithmic love, and a big, free megaphone are annoyed. At least that’s how I understand “Five Reasons Threads Could Still Go the Distance.” This essay is about the great social media dust up between those who love Teslas and those who can find some grace in the Zuck.

Wait, wasn’t the Zuck the subject of some criticism? Cambridge Analytic-type activities and possibly some fancy dancing with the name of the company, the future of the metaverse, and expanding land holdings in Hawaii? Forget that.

I learned in the article, which is flavored with some business consulting advice from a famous social media personality:

It’s always a fool’s errand to judge the prospects of a new social network a couple weeks into its history.

So what is the essay about? Exactly.

I learned from the cited essay:

Twitter’s deterioration continues to accelerate. Ad revenue is down by 50 percent, according to Musk, and — despite the company choosing not to pay many of its bills — the company is losing money. Rate limits continue to make the site unusable to many free users, and even some paid ones. Spam is overwhelming users’ direct messages so much that the company disabled open DMs to free users. The company has lately been reduced to issuing bribe-like payouts to a handful of hand-picked creators, many of whom are aligned with right-wing politics. If that’s not a death spiral, what is?

Wow, a death spiral at the same time Threads may be falling in love with “rate limits.”

Can the Zuck can kill off Twitter. Here’s hoping. But there is only one trivial task to complete, according to the cited article:

To Zuckerberg, the concept has been proved out. The rest is simply an execution problem. [Emphasis added]

As that lovable influencer, social media maven, and management expert Peter Drucker observed:

What gets measured, gets managed.

Isn’t it early days for measurement? Instagram was a trampoline for Threads. The Musk managment modifications seem to be working exactly as the rocket scientist planned them to function. What’s billions in losses mean to a person whose rockets don’t blow up too often.

Several observations:

  1. Analyzing Threads and Twitter is a bit like a school yard argument, particularly when the respective big dogs want to fight in a cage in Las Vegas
  2. The possible annoyance or mild outrage from those who loved the good old free Twitter is palpable
  3. Social media remains an interesting manifestation of human behavior.

Net net: I find social media a troubling innovation. But it does create news which some find as vital as oxygen, water, and clicks. Yes, clicks. The objective I believe.

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2023

Hit Delete. Save Money. Data Liability Is Gone. Is That Right?

July 17, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Reddit Removed Your Chat History from before 2023” stated:

… legacy chats were being migrated to the new chat platform and that only 2023 data is being brought over, adding that they “hope” a data export will help the user get back the older chats. The admin told another user asking whether there was an option to stay on the legacy chat that no, there isn’t, and Reddit is “working on making new chats better.”

7 17 bugin amber

A young attorney studies ancient Reddit data from 2023. That’s when information began because the a great cataclysm destroyed any previous, possibly useful data for a legal matter. But what about the Library of Congress? But what about the Internet Archive? But what about back up tapes at assorted archives? Yeah, right. Thanks for the data in amber MidJourney.

The cited article does not raise the following obviously irrelevant questions:

  1. Are there backups which can be consulted?
  2. Are their copies of the Reddit data chat data?
  3. Was the action taken to reduce costs or legal liability?

I am not a Reddit user, nor do I affix site:reddit or append the word “reddit” to my queries. Some may find the service useful, but I am a dinobaby and hopeless out of touch with where the knowledge action is.

As an outsider, my initial reaction is that dumping data has two immediate paybacks: Reduce storage and the likelihood that a group of affable lawyers will ask for historic data about a Reddit user’s activity. My hunch is that users of a free service cannot fathom why a commercial enterprise would downgrade or eliminate a free service. Gee, why?

I think I would answer the question with one word, “Adulting.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 17, 2023

On Twitter a Personal Endorsement Has Value

July 11, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The high school science club managers are engaged in a somewhat amusing dust up. First, there was a challenge to a physical fight, a modern joust in which two wizards would ride their egos into glory in Las Vegas, a physical metaphor for modern America. Then the two captains of industry would battle in court because … you know… you cannot hire people another company fired. Yesterday, real journalists crowed from many low rise apartment roof tops that a new social media service was growing allegedly at the expense of another social media company. The numbers prove that one company is better at providing a platform to erode cultural values than another. Victory!

7 11 truck scene

Twitter… endorsed by those who know. Thanks, MidJourney, you output an image in spite of your inappropriate content filter. Good work.

Now I learn that one social media outfit is the bestie of an interesting organization. I think that organization has been known to cast aspersions on the United States. The phrase “the great Satan” sticks in my mind, but I am easily confused. I want to turn to a real news outfit which itself is the subject of some financial minds — Vice Motherboard.

The article title makes the point: “Taliban Endorses Twitter over Threads.” Now that is quite an accolade. The Facebook Zucker service, according to the article, is “intolerant.” Okay. Is the Taliban associated with lenient and tolerant behavior? I don’t know but I recall some anecdotes about being careful about what to wear when pow-wowing with the Taliban. Maybe that’s incorrect.

The write up adds:

Anas Haqqani, a Taliban thought-leader with family connections to leadership, has officially endorsed Twitter over Facebook-owned competitor Threads. “Twitter has two important advantages over other social media platforms,” Haqqani said in an English post on Twitter. “The first privilege is the freedom of speech. The second privilege is the public nature & credibility of Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have an intolerant policy like Meta. Other platforms cannot replace it.”

What group will endorse Threads directly and the Zuck implicitly? No, I don’t have any suggestions to offer. Why? This adolescent behavior can manifest itself in quite dramatic ways. As a dinobaby, I am not into drama. I am definitely interested in how those in adult bodies act out their adolescent thought processes. Thumbs up for Mr. Musk. Rocket thrusters, Teslas, and the Taliban. That’s the guts of an impressive LinkedIn résumé.

Stephen E Arnold, July 11, 2023

A Lesson in Negotiation: A Scholarly Analysis of the Musk-Zuck Interaction

July 10, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Zuck Is a Cuck: Elon Musk Ramps Up His Attacks on Mark Zuckerberg With Shocking Tweet” provides an example of mature decision making, eloquent rhetoric, and the thrill of the high school insult. Maybe, it is a grade-school thrill, similar to someone pointing at overweight me with thick glasses and a book to read just for fun. I can hear the echoes of these memorable words, “Look at smarty pants. Yah yah yah.” I loved every minute of these insults.

7 10 teens fight

“What did you call me? You keep your mouth shut or my friends and I will post on both Threads and Twitter that you do drugs and steal to buy junk.” Yes, the intellectual discourse of those in the prime of adolescence. And what’s the rejoinder, “Yeah, well, I will post those pix you sent me and email them to your loser mom. What do you think about that, you, you [censored]?”

The cited article from Mediaite (which I don’t know how to pronounce) reports:

Threads drew tens of millions of users since its launch three days ago, so the competition between Musk and Zuckerberg is being waged on social, legal, and perhaps even physical fronts with talk of a cage match fight between the two. Despite the numerous setbacks Twitter has seen since Musk took it over, he has spent the weekend hyping up improvements to the platform while taking shots at Zuckerberg.

What business school teaching moment is this? [a] Civil discourse triumphs, [b] Friendly competition is a net positive, [c] Ad hominem arguments are an exceptional argumentative tool, [d] Emotional intelligence is a powerful opportunity magnet.

What? Why no [e] All of the above?

Note for those who don’t like my characterization of Silicon Valley luminaries’ manifestation of “the high school science club management method. Isn’t it time to accept HS-SC-MM as the one “true way” to riches, respect, and power?

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2023

Learning Means Effort, Attention, and Discipline. No, We Have AI, or AI Has Us

July 4, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

My newsfeed of headlines produced a three-year young essay titled “How to Learn Better in the Digital Age.” The date on the document is November 2020. (Have you noticed how rare a specific date on a document appears?)

7 4 student doing homework

MidJourney provided this illustration of me doing math homework with both hands in 1952. I was fatter and definitely uglier than the representation in the picture. I want to point out: [a] no mobile phone, [b] no calculator, [c] no radio or TV, [d] no computer, and [e] no mathy father breathing down my neck. (He was busy handling the finances of a weapons manufacturer which dabbled in metal coat hangers.) Was homework hard? Nope, just part of the routine in Campinas, Brazil, and the thrilling Calvert Course.

The write up contains a simile which does not speak to me; namely, the functioning of the human brain is emulated to some degree in smart software. I am not in that dog fight. I don’t care because I am a dinobaby.

For me the important statement in the essay, in my opinion, is this one:

… we need to engage with what we encounter if we wish to absorb it long term. In a smartphone-driven society, real engagement, beyond the share or like or retweet, got fundamentally difficult – or, put another way, not engaging got fundamentally easier. Passive browsing is addictive: the whole information supply chain is optimized for time spent in-app, not for retention and proactivity.

I marvel at the examples of a failure to learn. United Airlines strands people. The CEO has a fix: Take a private jet. Clerks in convenience stores cannot make change even when the cash register displays the amount to return to the customer. Yeah, figuring out pennies, dimes, and quarters is a tough one. New and expensive autos near where I live sit on the side of the road awaiting a tow truck from the Land Rover- or Maserati-type dealer. The local hospital has been unable to verify appointments and allegedly find some X-ray images eight weeks after a cyber attack on an insecure system. Hip, HIPPA hooray, Hip HIPPA hooray. I have a basket of other examples, and I would wager $1.00US you may have one or two to contribute. But why? The impact of poor thinking, reading, math, and writing skills are abundant.


  1. AI will take over routine functions because humans are less intelligent and diligent than when I was a fat, slow learning student. AI is fast and good enough.
  2. People today will not be able to identify or find information to validate or invalidate an output from a smart system; therefore, those who are intellectually elite will have their hands on machines that direct behavior, money, and power.
  3. Institutions — staffed by employees who look forward to a coffee break more than working hard — will gladly license smart workflow revolution.

Exciting times coming. I am delighted I a dinobaby and not a third-grade student juggling a mobile, an Xbox, an iPad, and a new M2 Air. I was okay with a paper and pencil. I just wanted to finish my homework and get the best grade I could.

Stephen E Arnold, July

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