Secrets of Silicon Valley – Review and Opinion

It does not matter whether you watched the above programme, you will read here about the far-reaching effects of social media on society.

The Persuasion Machine

The above documentary is a fascinating insight into the realms of a futuristic world that is here now, in Silicon Valley, and makes you think. Yes, really makes you think. Jamie Bartlett, a cool, bun wearing hipster, sets out on a expedition of self discovery concerning the effects of social media on society, culture and most importantly, you.

America has become a contemporary idyll that has to be sustained for many reasons but mainly, these days it appears, political aspersions by rich and powerful men. We were shown many interviews where Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Founder, is forthright in his hope that Facebook will connect everyone globally and will also help society create a globalised world. Barack Obama was said to be a kindrid spirit and felt the same way and was shown on stage joking that he was the man to get Zuckerberg in the shirt and tie. By his second term he had mastered the ubiquitous social media and enjoyed the capabilities of the online platforms.

Ultimately, Facebook has helped Trump come to power and without Facebook, his Facebook writer, Theresa Hong, Cambridge Analytica, tells us “he wouldn’t have won”. Cambridge Analytica used data relating to around 220 million Americans to target potential voters and possible donations. These few words clarifies the effect of using social media for not only social interaction, but also fostering political influence. The social media campaign was submitted by teams of computer personnel from Google, Facebook, YouTube and other ‘creatives’. Hong even shows us the empty offices where they used to sit during the Trump campaign.

Facebook, with other platforms, finds out your intimate traits including political views, sexual orientation and personality. The concern is obviously the disruptive power occurring and a new unpredictable world throwing us all into a political turbulence, never seen before. The technology community has, indeed, “opened a can of worms” that it was, evidently, mobilising against. Freedom to connect doesn’t just let us share holiday snaps and family news, but also provides a world of targeted advertising and bombarding political views.

Jamie Bartlett finds out just how powerful Facebook is. It has huge repercussions for our society as the data informs how we think, what we like and how we like it! A psychologist Michal Kosinski shows Jamie how Facebook and internet driven data cleverly informs about personality, background, education, etc. here so people like Trump can turn the statistics into votes. The persuasion machine can now secure you a place in the White House. Allegedly, Trump spent eighty-three million dollars on his social media campaign. One hundred, almost identical ads, were placed in one day, to see which one did best. This constant stream of cosy ads aimed at families, must have driven the public mad. You can imagine what they thought -*All right! I’ll vote for you, just stop the ……. Ads!* Cambridge Analytica were using data on around 220 million Americans to target potential donors and voters. Armed with Cambridge Analytica’s revolutionary insights, the next step in the battle to win over millions of Americans was to shape the online messages they would see.

 

“An algorithm that can look at millions of people and […] hundreds of thousands […] of your likes can extract and utilise even those little pieces of information and combine it to a very accurate profile,” Michal Kosinski tells Bartlett. “It can also use your digital footprint and turn it into a very accurate prediction of your intimate traits, like religiosity, political views, personality, intelligence, sexual orientation and a bunch of other psychological traits.”

 

Just in case, you were smugly thinking they can’t find much about you because you don’t use Facebook, think again. Amazon, Google and other internet sites, drive data to inform the nerds, all about you. Well, that is what Jamie Bartlett appears to discover.

A clause relating to media legislation The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make the internet safer, confirms the lack of responsibility of any media platform: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by anther information provider.”  This means the platform is not responsible for the content that is posted on it. Facebook does not own the information like Uber doesn’t own cars and AirBnB doesn’t own any property. Is this not just business and the formulation of an economy? The difference is the tech giants are not drilling for business they are generating it.

The trouble is this is infiltrating out lives and manifests a persuasion machine that is being exploited by, shall we say, unsuitable beings. As our visible footprint appears to revolutionise how democracy works, fake news is infiltrated online by emotion. It is not all about the written word but also inducing emotion by imagery. A picture of a sad looking Theresa May, which is easy to find, and a jolly Jeremy Corbyn, acting like he has won the election, plays on your psychology. This, I find hard to believe, but the point is illuminated by focusing on the fake news about Hilary Clinton, which may have lost her the election.

Social media and the internet seems to be having a profound consequence and projects negativity and misinformation that we haven’t had before. However, we’ve always joked never to believe what you read in the newspapers and the internet does provide us with an array of useful information. It is difficult to evaluate but maybe we will all become tired of social media. In fact, a recent study denotes that this is already happening with under 18 year olds choosing other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Funnily enough, I spotted the article on my Facebook feed by Mashable UK here. My Facebook newsfeed shows a definite slow down of posting by ‘friends’ and more articles and ads. I find myself reading books more and getting out and about so although they reckon that people spend fifty minutes a day on Facebook, this I think, will change as we get bored with it. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but look at Twitter and how people got bored with that!

Also, this wide reaching knowledge has been around for a long time and probably for longer than we realise. Information has always been extracted by ten yearly census, loyalty cards, where we live, if we go to a posh school or university. I’m not sure that the internet can be blamed for everything. Although I am continually shocked about how much people look at their phones and wonder what books are not being written and art not being created because of the mobile phone addiction.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed social media for connecting with other people. It is a way of joining an interesting conversation but it just has to be contained. These days, blogging is my favourite way of communicating although originally, I favoured Twitter due to the micro blog element and fast moving commentary.

It is our responsibility to read and educate ourselves on these matters. There are plenty of outlets providing information on all sides of the political spectrum and if we, as a society, rely on Facebook then maybe we should broaden our horizons. Don’t you think?

 

Watch the programme here: Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0916ghq

 

Musings about travel, health, Eastbourne and social media…

Travel

Further to my previous “update” post, I will soon be off on my travels, as I’ve saved most of my annual leave for the summer.

First, I’m going on a trip to Iceland via Cornwall and  Scotland and will report on my trip. I won’t just focus on the places I visit, but add some musings on how I feel about various experiences. I’ve recently acquired a new camera, so there should be some photography too. After that, I’m not sure where I will travel to so watch this space.

Health

Unfortunately, a friend of mine has had bad news about his health and this has reminded me how important it is to enjoy life and try to be healthy. Certainly puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

Fitness

The fitness thing has been wobbly this month, although I’m now back in the gym most days. Had a few days break due to some stifling hot weather, in England, and feel so much better now I’m working out again. I have a new trainer who seems enthusiastic and very good on technique. Hopefully, the gym will be good on holibob and the plan is to use it and get some walking in too!

Recently, been able to run the 5k on the treadmill and do some if not most of my new workout. Everything is a little slow, but fitness is slowly improving.

Eastbourne

Recently, enjoyed a birthday trip to Eastbourne. It was incredibly hot and we spent the first hour or so checking out the town. I bought some posh trainers, half price, in the sale. Don’t you just love it when that happens? Also, stopped at the local Wetherspoon pub and had a glass of fizz. Afterwards walked on the beach eating obligatory ice cream and later, had a cup of tea and cake. It was a glorious birthday, followed by a jolly nice meal with the family.

Eastbourne

 

Social Media

I’ve recently become irritated by the irrelevant content on my Facebook feed and feel that the contemptuous attitude for people who think differently, is flipping inexcusable. So I’ve permanently unfollowed people (who, oddly enough, seem lovely in real life) and deleted the Facebook app off my phone. A family member has done this and highly recommended it. Are you thinking of doing this? So much of the stuff on Facebook is without depth or knowledge nowadays, or just plain fake, so it is not worth wasting any precious time reading it. Although I do business social, I’m now spending less of my own time on FB. Blogging is my new interest for sure. Rant over.

Tip.. the magazine The Week is a good read as it gives the week’s news in a concise manner and informs on current affairs. (This isn’t sponsored btw.)

I will blog soon about my travels and thank you for reading. Any follows are gratefully appreciated.

 

 

How boosting energy will make you run for your life… Part 2

Part 2 – Suggestions on Energy and Motivation…

The vital point is to have enough sleep, as discussed in the previous blog. The other important point is to get lots of exercise. It is ironic how this seems to energise me. Often if I feel sleepy, a walk will help cure any sluggishness.

Upbeat music often cheers me up and procures some enthusiasm for the day ahead. Even on a Monday! Often, if I’m feeling tired, I will put some lively music on and it helps wake me up. Also, if I’m going on a run, music facilitates a good energy boost. Whether it lasts is another matter but, it certainly improves my performance. Sometimes, I may just put some music on and sing along and or dance, which can be embarrassing when someone comes home and catches you, as recently happened to me. Oh well, who cares? 

Sometimes a mental boost such a doing a crossword or catching up on emails help too. In fact, writing this blog often inspires and interests me as I can research and read about topics that fascinate me and hopefully, you as well. BBC Radio 4, or any animated radio show or podcast, is a good first thing, as it helps you think about current affairs and gives perspective to your own life.

Although this seems counterintuitive, often tackling a task can motivate and give energy. Sometimes, I set an alarm on my mobile for 40 minutes and do a blast of cleaning. A boring job, but it does feel great when it is done. The same with gardening. As you watch the grass and weeds grow it is easy to feel overwhelmed, but recently I spent a day cleaning, then weeding and mowing the lawn and felt quite accomplished afterwards.

This leads to my next point, and that is to get close to nature! Go on a walk in the countryside and enjoy the fresh air and discover new surroundings. Going with family or friends is fun, but I find walking alone (with Oscar the borrowed dog) helps me relax as I explore woodlands and countryside trails. I’ve managed to find my way back home, as well without getting lost lately, and as I have a dreadful sense of direction, this is a miracle, I can tell you. 

Reading helps because it makes you think about something different. It can help you discover new interests too. Often, I find Pinterest or even YouTube is great for this as well.

Although, having mentioned social media, recently I have taken a step back from it, as I am finding the content quite benile and without depth. Unfortunately, this is due to the UK election, but I’m beginning to lose interest in Facebook, etc. I think you get more depth of content from books, documentaries and so on. Turn off any devices long before bedtime because the light stops you from sleeping.

Lastly, mindfulness and meditation are said to be good for wellbeing and energy. Ha hah something I need to try!

Let me know, in the comments, below, if you have any ideas 💡 that work for you.

Thank you for reading my musings about how to get more energy and sleep.

Sum up:

Sleep enough

Exercise

Music

Sing and or Dance!

Mental boost like a crossword

Listen to a podcast

Time yourself and clean

Gardening

Borrow a dog and go for a walk

Read a book

Mindfulness

Meditate

 

 

Everyday inspiration – Parkrun, reading and cooking…

Saturday – was an inspiring day so I’m going to share with you.  It started with a bowl of yogurt, oats and frozen berries.  This is a impressive breakfast, because it is sooo gratifying and looks rather resplendent too.

Parkrun

This was followed by a drive to the local park for this week’s Parkrun.  I’ve been running for a while off and on and recently decided to train more seriously.  To reduce the risk of injury, been doing a tough workout at the gym with weights and leg strength exercises. Consequently, my legs feel marginally stronger and I managed to keep shuffling along for the whole 5k.  Jolly tough for me, I can tell you.

Parkrun helps because it is challenging and timed.  It is held in many parks nationally on Saturday morning and starts at 9pm.  If you try it, arrive early because there is a short talk before the running starts.  Don’t forget to log on and obtain your bar code so your time can be recorded and emailed to you.  To find your local Parkrun, here is the website: http://www.parkrun.org.uk
Cooking and catching up with stuff

Returned home feeling invigorated and got stuck into a few housework chores, showered then had some lunch.  The afternoon was spent food shopping, reading and making this Moussaka for dinner.  It has been a long time since I made one and I really enjoyed it. Moussaka is simple to make and a favourite meal.

Fry slices of aubergines with a red onion. Cook some lamb mince and season then make a simple white sauce.  Layer in a deep dish, the aubergines, onion, mince and sliced potatoes. Add the white sauce and sprinkle some cheese if you are piggy like me then shove in a hot oven.  Job done. Here is a recipe to guide you: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/moussaka_71985

Evening road trip and craft beer

During the evening I checked out the pub King and Queen in Edenbridge.  A pleasant, evening trip and driven by somebody else.  This was just as well because they had craft beer.

So what is special about today?  Nothing much but it was inspiring.  A new PB at the exhausting but satisfying Parkrun, interesting reading, catching up, cooking a different meal and drinking some super craft beer. A day doing fab stuff, when I wanted.  Always a good thing, isn’t it?

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  Check out my new Facebook page too and ‘like’ the page.  https://www.facebook.com/Mishmashmediablog/

 

3 ways to start a phone/screen detox!

Over the last few months, I’ve been slightly concerned that I’m looking at my phone too much. Not only that, I’ve become irritated by people using phones during social times such a eating in restaurants!

I’ve decided to reduce the amount I spend looking at screens and plan to do this by:

  • Leaving technology at home
  • Having tech free days (usually Sunday)
  • Pursuing life with vigour

Ok.  This is easier in the summer months.  When I go running or walking, I can explore local parks and fields because the mud has gone.  Also, I’ve realised that copeous amounts of destractions on the mobile, may not be conjucive to a good walk.  When I walk Oscar, it is better to simply enjoy the sunshine, mud, trees, bluebells, company and not be bothered by emails, texts, Facebook and so on.  I love it.

The tech free Sunday’s are also easy to incorporate into my life because  I have this thing about Sundays being a relaxing day.  Cooking and gardening may be slotted into this, but they are enjoyable pursuits.  I rarely bother with emails, texts and social on Sundays though.

However, I’m doing more online and wasting time so determined to reduce online activities to a minimal pursuit over the next few weeks and will keep you updated.  However, from July, the blogging will increase because I enjoy writing and researching interests.  This is useful and fun.  But I plan to walk, run, read (books), paint, cook, much more.  My phone will be consigned to the office or handbag, I have turned off notifications and I won’t take electronics to bed.  To be honest, I’m not too bad but suspect this has become an addiction for some!  I’m pleased we didn’t have the Internet in my youth.  Facebook at school must be a competitive nightmare.

Have you done any of the above?  Some people give social up completely for a while but that is not practical for all.  If we look online less, we don’t have to succumb to other people’s (political) agendas which will be fantastic, won’t it?  Or will we miss it?  Ha!  Join me and find out…

 

Social promoting social

So how does social media promote social media? The most obvious idea is using other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Promote a blog, article or platform by ingratiating yourself with other users. Post a variety of shares on your page and other platforms will discover your information. Give comments and feedback. Show variety and post content that may interest others. Break news, give tips, memories or ask a question and be topical or historical.

Any new platform, Ideapod for example, could encourage interested parties to post Ideapod matters on their social media feeds and this will promote the site and encourage new readers and ideas. Of course it never easy but it always good to share ideas…

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