The Very-Same-Technology Edition Sunday, December 22, 2019

How Your Phone Betrays Democracy, by Charlie Warzel, New York Times

The future for the world’s activists may look increasingly like Hong Kong. The leaderless protest movement of the past six months has been made possible by technology. The messageboard LIHKG and encrypted chat apps like Telegram have allowed for the kind of organization that has kept the protests going. But the movement has also been undermined by the very same technology. Protesters and journalists and even law enforcement have been doxxed (had their private information published) by the thousands. A real-time location tracking app used by protesters to identify the positions of law enforcement was taken down by Apple’s App Store — suggesting that governments will have a competitive advantage when it comes to the resource.

And while protesters have rebelled by wearing masks, blocking government cameras with lasers and even tearing down lampposts they suspected were outfitted with beacons and surveillance equipment, their efforts are being quietly undermined by the spies in their pockets. Like the rest of us, they are only as secure as the least secure apps on their phones.

Food App Moderation Adds Siri Support And More To Help You Track Your Meals, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

But the idea is that simply by being more aware of what you're eating is enough to help you make better decisions going forward. And by making you decide whether your meal was healthy or not, the app forces you to actually think about it.

Few Apps For Depression & Suicide Prevention Meet Clinical Guidelines, by Traci Pedersen, PsychCentral

Most (93 percent) mobile apps for suicide prevention and depression management do not provide all six suicide prevention strategies commonly recommended in international clinical guidelines, according to a new study led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.


Wong Lai Chun, senior assistant director at Samaritans of Singapore, a non-profit organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention, advised against over-reliance on mobile apps.

San Francisco Spent A Decade Being Rich, Important, And Hating Itself., by Scott Lucas, BuzzFeed News

In December, San Francisco’s Planning Commission approved the construction of five duplexes in Bernal Heights, where the median home price is just under a million and a half dollars. In the middle of the region’s excruciatingly well-documented and seemingly near-permanent housing crisis, it didn’t take the commission a month to approve the construction, or even a year. It took 41 years — four decades to approve just 10 new units of housing on a vacant hillside, kept that way by the opposition of neighbors who opposed construction, quite literally, in their backyards, and a system that prioritized their preferences over our needs.

This isn’t an anomaly. Across the street from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, a developer proposed to convert an all-but-empty mall into 2,400 homes. City voters said no. In 2013, San Francisco voters rejected a 141-unit condo building on the waterfront. Across the region, city councils, beholden to voters concerned about their own property values, dragged their feet in approving new housing. And so, when the tech industry reignited our economy, we — newcomers and locals alike — didn’t have the capacity to grow.

Politics is much less about who your friends are than who your enemies are. And in the last 10 years, the easiest enemies to find were the techies and the nimbys.

Bottom of the Page

I can still remember it fondly: a whole afternoon without a single email arriving in my inbox at work. I was so happy, feeling so productivity, doing 'real' work.

Then, just before I leave for office for the night, I discovered that actually, even though everything still looked normal, my email client had actually crashed. There were, in fact, many many emails waiting for me in my inbox.

I was so sad.

(There was probably a lesson in there somewhat that I failed to grasp.)


Thanks for reading.