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Comment Re:Facebook is evil and parasitic (Score 1) 138

Right and this is where I think a lot of the mockery of the way people use FB makes no sense. Yes, I agree that no-one has that many real friends, but I think that is getting too hung up on the word "friend". Partly this is FB's own fault, because they market themselves as a way to stay in touch with your friends, family and schoolmates but those links are all grouped under the one name "Friends", which in other contexts we use only for closer relationships. In contrast, on Twitter you "follow" people and have "followers" and "followees" but people don't mock Twitter just because in other contexts, we can say things like "I'm a follower of Buddhism" or something like that.

If it makes things better, people should simply imagine that FB calls them "Contacts". Some of those close, some of them are not. It's up to you whether you want to add only close contacts to your FB, or whether you're happy to have looser affiliations on there. In practice I'm a pretty private person, and I deliberately am willing to add people I've met loosely, just because it makes me a little bit more socially open than I otherwise would be.

But other people are not using it wrongly if they choose to be casual with their contact list, nor if they choose to have close friends only. Both are perfectly acceptable in my mind, and people shouldn't let themselves get overly hung up on the word "Friends".

Comment Re:attacked by whom? (Score 2, Interesting) 870

I think you're quite right but I honestly believe that Wikileaks (or at least Assange) has some leftish anti-American bias. I think they probably would release documents from $COUNTRY if they could, but they seem to focus more on the USA.

I'm not American but this latest release seems to have very little of actual substance. Comments on this leader or that leader are not actually directly useful to the public; it is not of direct concern to me what diplomat X thinks of leader Y in country Z. It is more geopolitically interesting that Arab leaders are urging strikes on Iran, but again I'm unsure of the importance of that information to the public.

Every country would say unflattering things sometimes, just as in a workplace one must sometimes frankly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of colleagues. But sending transcripts of such frank discussions to a company-wide mailing list wouldn't be appropriate, and it feels as if that's what Wikileaks has done: send lots of unflattering info to everyone without it actually benefiting them or the people discussed.

Comment Re:Facebook vs. Twitter (Score 3, Insightful) 57

No, the short difference is that friend relationships on Facebook are symmetric but on Twitter they're asymmetric. Just this minor difference changes the usage dynamic. People can be interested in my updates without my being forced to see their updates.

Comment Re:..are as superfluous as ever. (Score 1) 270

So people in real life never sometimes bore you with stories that aren't interesting? People in real life never try to show off or try to get attention?

As far as I can see people collectively act on Facebook and Twitter much like they act IRL. Are they annoying sometimes? Yes - as they sometimes are on the street, at work, at bars, on the phone, at my place, at their place and pretty much everywhere. I don't know why the general annoyances that people cause should bother me (or you) more just because it happens on a website.

Comment Re:majority use less or not at all... (Score 1) 270

I don't think that's true. It's the people with the strongest reactions (love/hate) that tend to post to articles like this, so you get a polarised view. The reality is that lots of us are simply on Facebook but neither obsessive reloaders/minutiae posters nor those who never log on.

I've defended both Twitter and Facebook on here, not because they are marvellous but simply because they are not as terrible as people make out. They don't replace face-to-face communication but they aren't fundamentally different to email or IM (which don't get demonised here). It's simply another way for people to exchange communications.

Comment Re:Sorry man (Score 1) 1318

But what about Turkey and Indonesia? Indonesia is one of the largest democratic countries in the world by population.

Those countries still have Islamic agitators, but I think it's fundamentally quite similar to the US and Australia (where I live). In both countries there are strongly religious conservatives who fight against the usual suspects (abortion, gay rights etc.) and often make headlines or influence policy but are not literally in power.

There is a strong cultural element as well; many of the Islamic and/or Asian countries (including democratic Hong Kong, Japan et al.) have conservative social mores, rather than the more relaxed attitude that tends to hold sway in the English-speaking Western world. When social attitudes are conservative, people will use any excuse (including religion) to enforce their cultural preferences.

Comment Re:Let the users decide (Score 5, Insightful) 572

He is perplexed as to why anybody would choose to pay for Apple's platform and accept the restrictions imposed by it.

I don't think he's perplexed. Someone who spends that much time arguing that freedom is the greater good clearly understands that other people are valuing convenience, appearance, ease of use etc. over freedom.

Comment Re:PHB syndrome (Score 3, Insightful) 90

Really? I thought the problem might be that they see the flaw but see it as lacking urgency as they have insufficient stake in an urgent patch.

When it becomes an exploited flaw, the company reputation is now at risk and customers/users experiencing actual (as opposed to possible) loss are much more likely to get angry and demanding. Now the company has a stake in the patch.

(But as pointed out elsewhere, it's hard to comprehensively test on an urgent patch.)

Comment Re:A-list? What? (Score 1) 471

Being able to sell out a single game doesn't mean it's popular; there's novelty value in it. Rugby union matches sold out in Hong Kong but that doesn't mean rugby is big there.

I guess the question is about which countries basketball is big in. It's surprising to me that it's big in China but that is fascinating to read.

Comment Re:Confusicanism's perspective on censorship (Score 1) 125

Good post. I think what China stories often reveal on Slashdot is the gap between China and the US in the cultural attitude towards government. In the US, there is a founding principle of skepticism towards government. It is seen somewhat as a necessary evil but one to be minimised so that the people's rights are not abridged. That is, I think in the US it is celebrated and inculcated in the people that personal freedom is the greatest of all rights and principles, to be interfered with only on overwhelming social need.

In Chinese culture there is a relative faith in government, which is as you say very Confucian. This is not merely some PRC-inspired more but a historical/cultural thing; it is just as strong in my family and other ethnic Chinese people who have never lived in China. They are not simply blind.

It's true that Chinese culture values harmony; but they also probably don't mostly feel that a bit of Internet censorship is that bad. This is not a "frog in boiling water" scenario to them. Instead the Chinese people are more like water; very slightly compressible, in the sense that you can squeeze them a little and they won't really push back, but what they really value is harmony, health/long life and prosperity.

You can take a few minor things away from them, but they have two thousand years of war and peasant rebellion in their history over taxation, corruption etc. - things that threaten their prosperity and family. Rebellion over prosperity is what the government fears most, and (in a way) so do the people. They don't want a rebellion or years like the late 19th/early 20th century with (in their eyes) humiliation by Japan and Western powers. The people are willing to tolerate some badness and annoyance in return for that prosperity. You know the famous Chinese proverb, "This, too, shall pass." ? That applies to the government when looking at foreign states - a long-term attitude - but I'd say that the people look at the Chinese government in much the same way. That government will pass, and the people will outlast them. There is no raging hurry for a bloody revolution to get past that government right now. Internet censorship to them mostly stops them accesssing an Internet that is in languages most of them don't understand anyway.

I'm sure there's a thriving Internet in Spanish but I know barely a word of it. If the Australian government censored it from me then I would oppose it as very bad on principle, but of course the real practical loss to me would be minimal.

Comment Re:Flash is my problem (Score 1) 1051

I love LWN's ad/subscriber policy in that it's so reader-friendly but Jon Corbet repeatedly indicates that the site is not economically sustainable in the long term.

Effectively he must be subsidising it, so it does't serve as an example of how sites can succeed with such pleasant policy.

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