Weekly Reading

Some stuff I've been reading this week that's worth bringing back up. In no particular order.

Twitter ‘fesses up to more adtech leaks

I know you weren't asking but no, you still shouldn't trust big tech companies with your personal data. I hope regulatory bodies across Europe take leaf out of the ICO's book and start to impose some hefty fines on companies that keep doing this to us.

Robbie Barrat

Robbie Barrat makes cool shit, this is some cool shit he made.

How to stop a gull from stealing your food

Anyone who's been to Brighton knows that seagulls are arseholes who'll swoop in and steal your bag of chips or doughnuts without a care in the world. Next time you find yourself face to beak with one of these rats of the coast, remember this sage advice:

"The study suggests gulls find the human gaze terrifying—and that they take human behavior into account when trawling the city for meals. The researchers say changes in human behavior may save us a chip or two—and help guide more effective gull conservation efforts. So, next time a pesky gull tries to steal your food, don’t run away; try having a staring contest with it instead."

Epic Store Rage Has Gotten Out Of Hand

Gamers. Sigh. The latest scandal in gaming is apparently developers daring to sell the game they've made through the EPIC game store instead of whatever other digital storefront. This is apparently such an affront that exceedingly special members of the gaming community have decided it's worth sending death and rape threats to developers. If you want to understand the rise of the alt-right and some of the tactics they use, looking at events like this and Gamergate will help make things clear.

Slipknot on Darkness, Anger, Addiction Behind ‘Iowa’: “We Almost All Died”

The summer it was released, I spent weeks listening to IOWA by Slipknot on repeat while playing the Warhammer MUD, Wolfenburg. Anytime I hear it now, I get flashbacks to sitting at home staring at screens full of descriptive text, slowly typing my way to victory. This article was shared on the EmailGeeks slack by Waz and I immediately had to start listening to the album again, and yep, the flashbacks to that time were still in full effect.

It wasn't a favourite of mine at the time by any means, but it's grown a lot on me and the stories the Slipknot crew tell about that time period are fascinating.

"CRAHAN Best time for me was when Sid was a little out of control, wouldn't get his shit down. He's like, "I gotta go. My grandfather's dying. I gotta get there. Shit's going on." Grandpa dies. Didn't get there. Sid shows up. But we see he's hurting. He gets in [the recording booth]. They start the song. He starts singing. Next thing you know the song's done, he has a breakdown and that's "(515)" [the intro of Iowa]. That's all Sid. Just gone. I come in the next day, Ross is weeping. Puts his arms around me. "I've been waiting for you, Clown. You're one of the few people that's gonna understand this. This is my favorite part of the record. It's the realest part of the record." It was Sid having a breakdown from all the pain in this thing called Slipknot."

DeepMind’s Latest A.I. Health Breakthrough Has Some Problems

Wouldn't you know, there are some deep flaws with Deepmind's health research. Unsurprisingly, feeding an algorithm gender biased data results in a gender biased model. Quelle surprise !

"The Google machine learning company trumpeted its success in predicting a deadly kidney condition, but its results raise questions around data rights and patient diversity"

Free Trials and Freemium Models: Does One Work Better Than the Other?

The folks at Profitwell always turn out excellent research, this is the latest example of that. If you're selling a SAAS product and want to learn something, read this. If you're trying to understand how to do content marketing right, read this.

Nationalism is thriving using the very mechanism it denounces

Another day, another hate crime perpetrated by an Angry White Man. If you want to begin to understand what drives nationalism and fascism around the world, this article is well worth your time.

"In July, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Ali Erbas, declared that same-sex relationships constituted “heresy.” This is the same institution that in 2018 claimed on their website that girls as young as nine years old were spiritually ready to get married. One out of every three marriages in the country today involves underage girls, according to women’s rights groups. Cases of gender-based violence in Turkey escalated by 1,400% from 2002 to 2009.

I site Turkey because it gives us a salient example of how populist nationalism—and its next-in-line, populist authoritarianism—not only generates nativism and a systematic distrust of foreigners, but exacerbates sexism, misogyny and homophobia."

If you’ve got a big career goal, you need to start keeping a work diary

I hate writing, I don't feel good at it and it feels like, at any moment, someone will realise I'm as dumb as I sometimes feel I am. This article was a good kick in the arse for me to just get on with it and worry about it later.

"Personal growth is perhaps the most important outcome of keeping a work diary, according to Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer, co-authors of the book The Progress Principle. As they explain in an article for the Harvard Business Review, they asked more than 200 knowledge workers to write in a diary for no more than 10 minutes a day while working on a complex project. While the participants said the exercise helped them stay focused and organized, they were especially struck by the psychological revelations that occurred to them as they wrote."

How the Trump Campaign Used Facebook Ads to Amplify His ‘Invasion’ Claim

If you haven't been paying attention, America's got a white supremacy problem. The NYT's got the lowdown on how Trump's inflammatory language has been used across more than 2,000 ads on Facebook and why that's a problem.

What all the stuff in email headers means—and how to sniff out spoofing

Despite working in email for the last 8 years, I still struggle to read email headers. This article is probably the best thing I've read on the subject, hugely informative if you want to help others understand just why email is hard.

The Real Dark Web

When you're active in online communities, particularly technical ones, it's easy to get wrapped up in the idea that everyone's doing the latest thing, this is as true in web design as it is in email marketing.

"They are the 99% of the web universe that is quietly getting on, not blogging about their technology stack, not publishing amazing new tooling. Simply building things.

I call them the 1% with purpose, in a deliberate evocation of the privileged 1% who run our planet (because I love to jump analogy mid post and to distort numbers). To be on a cutting edge team is a privilege. It means having resources and money and a lack of accountability that most web developers simply don't have."

If you've got time for more: