Soundbyte 342 – Killing In the name


A bit later than expected, but here’s my Soundbyte. During the weekend I couldn’t tear myself away from my somewhat happy-go-lucky position in the sun and the work Elvire and I were doing: trying to fix the coffee-machine (which proved to be quite a daunting task considering the sunshine, the after-effects of a busy week and maybe the glasses of wine).

Steam (punk) technology

At home, there are a number of essential machines. And I do mean machines, because I love contraptions with a steampunk-like appearance. One of the most important ones is the coffee-machine (I couldn’t imagine a day without a good cup of coffee). A couple of years ago our old machine gave out and we finally got a nice piece of machinery. A great machine which just last week showed some signs of wear  and needed to be descaled. So I spent a part of last weekend taking apart a great machine with awesome steam-age technology. Here are some pictures of the machine itself and the internals:


What a great way to spend theweekend: enjoying the sun, fiddling around with technology from the steam-age and hoping that we help to create a future with good coffee…

Facebook and algorithmic control

Over the past few weeks it surprised me how many people were complaining about companies like Facebook, Google and others. Even to the point where a Dutch comedian publicly announced he would stop with Facebook and asked viewers to do the same.

Obviously there is something strange going on here. There are these seriously big companies that have emerged on the back of a business-model that is based on ads. And selling ads has proven to be a big business. And these companies have really optimised this business-model and scaled it up like never seen before. And, as part of that, they have gained an enormous influence in every aspect of society.
Companies like Facebook and Google have perfected the art of algorithmic control and use that to satisfy their customers; Remember? They sell ads. And this is exactly where the risk is: just about everyone wants to harness this power politicians (it is possible to actively reduce the number of people that vote), people that sell things and criminals.

It appears we are confronted with an ethical challenge that isn’t easy to solve and we will not solve anything by stopping to use Facebook or Google. These companies will never disappear (even if all of Europe would stop using their services). I think that it is time people become aware of the fact that these are just companies optimising their business-model; even with all the havoc they sometimes create. It is a business-model that is based on free services that makes use of its own customers. Whereas on the other end there are companies like Netflix that show that a paid for model also works very well, so there are alternatives. So let’s stop complaining, understand what is happening here and become serious netizens.
There are  a couple of simple things you can do:

  • If you use Facebook, switch “News Feed” to “Most Recent” and not “Top Stories” (this is where they try to control your perception of reality);
  • If you use Google, do not share things like your location or unnecessary personal details;
  • Don’t use use your standard gmail or facebook id to login into other websites;
  • If you are involved in the design and development of websites, don’t use services that you don’t fully understand (like Facebook pixels);
  • Start using browsers like Firefox, Brave or even Tor and use search-engines like DuckDuckGo.

Remember: these companies even buy data to be able to offer you better ads. So let’s start using them on our terms.

For a more comprehensive story look at the TED presentations of Jaron Lanier and Zeynep Tufekci. We need to be a part of the new Internet and ignoring it or trying to switch if off is not the solution.

Killing In the Name

Which brings me to the end of my Soundbyte. Some music to get the blood flowing and potentially annoy the neighbours that are also trying to enjoy the early summer in the garden. Ever since I heard this song and saw it performed live, it has infected me with a strange form of energy and rebellion. Literally: I won’t do what you told me! The world out there is more than a series of ads and never trust something you get for free…