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Submission + - How Napoleon became a Spaniard: algorithms rewriting history

brasselv writes: Here's an interesting story on how, with enough Social Media likes, history can be rewritten, and Napoleon can become a Spaniard

What can be done, before Social Media's algorithms dooms us all in an Ocean of Post-Truth?

One simple proposal is in the linked article, and may have enormous potential:
Give academic sources a preferential treatment in the social algorithms which decide what people see the most.

(Don't we have mandatory schooling?
Such simple tweak may now be just as important as mandatory schooling.)

What do Slashdotters think?

Submission + - Is it time to do away with 'feminism'? (

An anonymous reader writes: The problem with the word feminism is that it has grown to signify both a very worthy ideal, and at the same time a tribal affiliation that appears to demand to choose sides in the most trivial battles usually fought online.

Honestly, I think the word 'feminist' is doomed, as a banner.

I think it’s doomed because i can’t find any argument or any discussion that would be more useful when happening under the “feminism” banner, as opposed to the same discussion happening without such a banner. Therefore, it seems to me that if you are still using the banner, then you are guilty of caring more about the banner itself than about advancing the actual ideal of equal opportunities.

Here's a proposal.

Submission + - Improving representative democracy in the age of electronic media

brasselv writes: “When the supporters of the American and French revolutions proposed elections as a way of learning ‘the will of the people’, there were no political parties, no laws regarding universal franchise, no commercial mass media, and no internet” writes David Van Reybrouck in the Guardian.

There were several very prominent disasters, but overall the electoral system has served the goal of democracy remarkably well.

However, argues the author, a couple of centuries have passed, and electronic media (among other things) have changed virtually every way we interact with the society.

It's perhaps not heresy to ask if the electoral system in its current form (casting physical ballots a few times per decade) is still the best way to serve the purpose of democratic representation.

One idea that is gaining traction in recent years, is called sortition. There are infinite variants of it, some dating back to the Athenian democracy — but the incarnation most commonly proposed today is based on allotting groups of citizens to advise or deliberate on very specific topics. The groups could be selected with some combination of chance, competence, volunteered time, and other factors. The specific deliberations might be open for comments or votes, with the idea that active participation is more effective than passive acquiescence, in producing effective consensus.

Some independent, non-political groups operate in similar ways today — and some are undeniably effective at it. The open source community provides some examples. It remains to be seen if some of the same principles would translate well to produce laws or running general institutions, where it's arguably more difficult to fork your state if you think it's mismanaged.

Submission + - Has Google given up on the maps community?

lesincompetent writes: Have you noticed lack of progress in mapping or missing details in your Google Maps neighbourhood? Missing locations or terribly inaccurate information? Betteridge's law apart there seems to be something very wrong within the Maps/Map Maker projects, manifesting mainly as edits taking months to be reviewed and applied (showing a dramatic absence of Google Reviewers) and most worringly as an ominous and totally deal-breaking bug which is preventing some comprehensibly frustrated volunteers from adding new roads or paths everywhere around the world.
The official thread for this bug goes way back to February 9th.
Something is gravely amiss. The Google Map Maker tool bears embarrassingly no resemblance to a Google product.

Why Bad 3D, Not 3D Glasses, Gives You Headaches 255

Barence writes "The most common complaint about 3D is that the glasses give you a headache, but that's not actually true, according to the man who teaches the pros how to make better 3D. Speaking at the BBC in London, Buzz Hays, chief instructor for the Sony 3D Technology Center in Culver City, California, explained: 'It's not the technology's fault, it's really the content that can cause these problems. It's easy to make 3D but it's hard to make it good — and by "good" I mean taking care to make sure that this isn't going to cause eyestrain.' He went on to detail some of the mistakes made by inexperienced 3D film makers, from poor composition of shots, through uncomfortable convergence settings, to overuse of on-set monitors without viewing their content on a big screen. But the biggest admission Buzz made was that not even the 'experts' know all the tricks yet, which is why 3D should only get better from here. In the same seminar, Buzz also explained why 3D glasses are here to stay — at least for the next few years."

Submission + - Gulf Loop Current Stalled (

An anonymous reader writes: Oceanographic satellite data now shows that as of July 28, the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has stalled as a consequence of the BP oil spill disaster. This according to Dr. Gianluigi Zangari, an Italian theoretical physicist, and major complex and chaotic systems analyst at the Frascati National Laboratories in Italy. He further notes that the effects of this stall have also begun to spread to the Gulf Stream. This is because the Loop Current is a crucial element of the Gulf Stream itself and why it is commonly referred to as the “main engine” of the Stream.The concern now, is whether or not natural processes can re-establish the stalled Loop Current. If not, we could begin to see global crop failures as early as 2011. Shadows of The Day After Tomorrow.

Submission + - Hubble accuracy surpassed by earthbound telescope (

randuev writes: High-speed adaptive optics system helped Large Binocular Telescope (on earth) to beat accuracy of Hubble Telescope (space) observations.

"A special sensor detects atmospheric distortions in real time and controls the mirror to adjust its position to compensate, effectively canceling out the blurring. The mirror can make adjustments every one-thousandth of a second, with accuracy to better than ten nanometers (a nanometer is one millionth the size of a millimeter)."

Now, that's what I call real-time. This nifty trick multiplied Strehl ratio (optical quality) of LBT by about 80 times to unprecedented Rayleigh limit. Hope we'll see more space around us in higher resolution on Google Sky.

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - US iPad Data Costs 25x that of Singapore 2

theodp writes: According to a worldwide comparison of data plans by Tableau Software, iPad users in the United States are getting ripped off on how much they pay for data on the device. AT&T, the exclusive data service provider for the iPad in the U.S., offers two options: 250 MB of data for $15 a month or 2 GB of data for $25 a month. 'You can get a GB of data for 51 cents in Singapore,' points out Ross Perez, a data analyst at Tableau. 'What's so special about the U.S. that we pay so much more?'

Submission + - Credit Card Security

facon12 writes: I work on an IT helpdesk for a rather large corporation and I have recently discovered a rather troubling fact about how our credit card information from our customers is stored. We have an many locations around the country where customers can go to purchase our products/services and at these locations credit card data is stored for months before being purged. Beyond that the data is encrypted using a simple letter only password that wouldn't take a brute force attack very long at all to break. If this were discovered by the wrong individuals it would mean that thousands of credit card numbers could easily be stolen. The computers this data is stored on are not very secure either; they also are protected only by basic passwords and are easily accessible remotely via the internet. I want to bring this concern to my boss but I do not think it will be taken seriously. Also I am concerned about being terminated or reprimanded in some way for making accusations about the company's IT policies. I would like to demonstrate the vulnerability for the management team to show them the risk at hand but I do not believe they will give me permission to do so. I was wondering what Slashdot users would suggest I do in this case as I feel I must do something because of the number of consumers that could be harmed. Should I go to my management despite the fact that I think they won't listen, and how should I approach them? If that yields no results should I leave the issue alone or is there an authoritative body I need to report this to?

Submission + - Sony Pictures CEO Thinks The 'Net Wasn't Worth It ( 2

rossturk writes: "Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said "I'm a guy who doesn't see anything good having come from the Internet, period." Why? Because people "feel entitled" to have what they want when they want it, and if they can't get it for free, "they'll steal it." It's become customary to expect a somewhat limited perspective on things from old-world entertainment companies, but his inability to acknowledge that the Internet has changed everything makes me think he's a very confused man. Is this when we all give up hope that companies like Sony Pictures can adapt? Will we look back on this as one of the defining moments when the industrialized entertainment industry lost touch for good?"
Social Networks

Submission + - Slashdot Ecosystem Success Factors.

Whiteox writes: "Well folks, the results of the Slashdot Questionnaire formulated by the City University of Hong Kong have been posted to the 310 lucky Slashdot participants. It was a study to try "to understand the popularity of Slashdot".

They asked 3 questions in late October last year:

Question 1: In your opinion, what (if so) makes Slashdot special among online discussion sites? Is it the content, the group of people it draws in, the discussion engine (e.g., content rating and filters), or possibly other factors?

Question 2: Compared with other discussion sites you know or/and have used, do you consider Slashdot's technology platform to be better? In other words, does it encourage (a) more sense of community or (b) more active participation? (In answering please also feel free to mention the other discussion site or sites you might be comparing to)

Question 3: As a unique user in slashdot, could you please rate your own reciprocity by assessing what you get from the community compared with what you contribute to it?(you can give an answer such as: i think i get more or i contribute more,of course we would be very appreciative for your explanation of detail)

Results are in an emailed PDF and I'm not going to host it cause I don't want my servers to go down.

Here's some of the results:

1. Reason To Communicate Slashdot participants enjoyed communicating with like-minded individuals and generated net positive value from their participation.

2. Community Centered Design The majority of users felt the Slashdot engine was community- enhancing.

3. Usability (good) Half of the respondents commented positively on the technology.

4. Registration Moderation (appropriate and responsible) Participants commented on the value of anonymous commenting. Further, some responses were made about moderation and meta- moderation

5. Moderation The moderation system was considered positive. The rating system was described as fair, trustworthy, and quality enhancing.

6. And Epic Fail on the 'Nature of Distributed Resources' Evidently Slashdot doesn't have any.

Here's their conclusion:

"Thus it remains to explore, among other issues, whether community members balance the reason to communicate with the effort to communicate and ultimately place their resources into communities accordingly. If community success could be determined based on this trade-off, it would provide a great impetus for the design of highly efficient community information and coordination portals, so as to not only achieve sustainability, but sustained growth."

Yep. I don't understand it either."

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