Upset at something on the internet? You are unique!

Maybe you’re sick of the story, but so am I. Every time I hear people discussing the recent revelation by OKCupid that they’ve been experimenting on users (because people are still discussing it), the arguments annoy me. For example, this morning on the train to work, I was listening to TL;DR, an awesome podcast about the internet from WNYC’s On the Media. On their most recent episode, they interviewed Christian Rudder, founder and president of OKCupid (and also, core band member of Bishop Allen, who I listened to a lot in high school). The show’s hosts were upset that OKC didn’t notify users that they were going to be tested on, known as “informed consent.”

The hosts discuss that informed consent could have been something like an email sent out to users: “We are interested in running an experiment. We can’t tell you what that experiment will be.”

Sure, the consent would then be very informed. How does letting users know they’re going to be experimented on help them? They still have no idea what the experiment is, and upon finding out what the experiment was, they could all the same be retroactively upset or offended by it, but have already legally okay-ed it by using the site after “being informed.” And it definitely doesn’t help the validity of the experiment, since when people know they’re being experimented on, they act differently, in ways that the subjects themselves might not realize.

And if a website isn’t informing their users of the experiment beforehand (as long as they reveal the process, intentions, and results afterwards), there is still an unwritten code of conduct. (Yes, I know it’s hard to fathom in today’s world, but some codes and rules can still be unwritten.) The website knows if they do something damaging or harmful, if they run experiments that end up ruining lives, they will be liable, especially since the subjects had no choice in what they were getting into. These experiments, then, are rarely ever actually detrimental to anyone. People just like to get upset at things. (I admit: like me, right now.) Welcome to the internet.


Lokal Stops: Of Coke and Suffering

There was a time on this Earth when human beings used Coca Cola as a spermicide. Humans realized that the bottle in which Coca Cola comes in was a great device with which to apply Coke to vagina, often utilizing the “shake and shoot” method. Humans, a truly unique species, are the only animals on planet Earth to wonder about the meaning of life.


The question of the meaning of life causes human beings a lot of suffering. In this past week’s New York Times Sunday Review, Tim Kreider writes:

Even if we someday solve all our societal problems, people will still be unlucky in love, lonesome and bored, lie awake worrying about the future and regretting stupid things they did and wondering whether it’s all even worth it. Utopia will have an unendurable amount of hassles to deal with, endless forms to fill out, apathetic bureaucrats, taxes, ads and bad weather. Time will still pass without mercy.

This isn’t pessimism; it’s science.

For Harper Lee, time has passed for 88 years today. Also, today, Harper Lee announced that she’s letting To Kill a Mockingbird to be published as an e-book.

For this one guy, 4 minutes and 57 seconds passed, and in that time, he ran one mile and drank five beers.

In media news… – relaunched for time number seven at the beginning of April – is publishing interviews alongside its reporting and here’s why that’s great. To quote that article: “I suspect a lot of people arrive at the article page and don’t even realize there’s an interview a click away — or vice versa.” Yep. Didn’t realize it.

Microsoft continues its campaign for media domination with its very own version of Netflix Originals, called Xbox Originals. It’s all very original. Apparently we haven’t lost enough touch with the world around us by spending hundreds of hours looking for digital coins to buy our digital weapons to kill some digital bastards. Now we’ll have some new programs to keep us away from our loved ones.

In media news from 20 years ago, Internet is coming to NPR! The future is now.

Lokal Stops: Sins Are Fun

Today is an important day. It is the day after Easter, which means… Easter candy is on sale. Jesus died for our sins, so it’s on us to make his sacrifice count! Sin away, my friends, sin away. We recommend Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Gluttony is fun. So is drinking: in fact, it’s so fun, that science has found a way to powder it. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has approved Palcohol, so soon, you’ll be able to sneak alcohol into anywhere. You will be able to pour the stuff into your soda at the movies, you’ll be able to add it to your wine at family dinners, you’ll be able to snort alcohol at your desk. The world will be your drunk oyster. Also up there – if not topping – the fun scale is sex: sure, blue states watch more porn than red states, but turns out Kansas watches the most porn in all the land. ingraham_porn Related: More than half of Americans are “not too confident” or even “not at all confident” that “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang.” Cool. But: the number of Americans who report no religious affiliation has doubled since 1990. The MIT Technology Review blames the Internet. Today, Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon – the first American to do so since 1982. Since 1991, Time points out, there have been 19 Kenyan winners. So, topically, have a listen to this Radiolab short from last November, “Cut and Run,” which attempts to figure out the science of why Kenyans dominate when it comes to long distance running. The “cut” part of the episode title refers to circumcision, if that piques your interest.