How motivational platitudes are undermining America

More than 300,000 people follow the Twitter account Motivational Tweets. You can really appreciate the vacuity of motivational platitudes when you get them multiple times an hour, interrupted only by ads for horoscopes and diet plans. Reviewing this feed has shown me why our country is a mess. Sayings like this are a pernicious assault on reality. … Continued

The value of predictions (hint: it’s not accuracy)

Thinkers Stowe Boyd and John Battelle published predictions for 2017. They’re going to be wrong about most of them. Their predictions make you think hard, though, and that’s the value of what they’ve created. If you want to make predictions and be right, that’s easy. For example, I predict that Donald Trump will become president this year, and … Continued

Tweets are lies — and not just from Donald Trump

At 140 characters, tweets lack context. Without context, there is no truth. So tweets are lies. Donald Trump’s tweets are lies, and so are mine. But they reveal a lot about what’s going on in our respective heads. What do I mean when I say that the truth demands context? Let’s start with one of my … Continued

How a tweetstorm can punch up your writing style

Yesterday, we saw two incredible tweetstorms: NYU Professor Jay Rosen shared his thoughts on the unique challenges for journalists covering Donald Trump, while strategic analyst Eric Garland explained the rationale behind Russian hacking. Their tweetstorms reveal a new, disciplined way of writing, with no room for bullshit. Here’s what you can learn from writing a … Continued

To Jeffrey D. Sachs: sprinkling tech on politics makes it worse, not better

In an op-ed in today’s Boston Globe, the influential economist Jeffrey D. Sachs laments the lack of trust in modern American politics. He then proposes that we solve it with (among other things) “e-parties” and “e-governance.” But proposals like this ignore the way that trolls and partisans now wreck every online social space. Sachs’ op-ed, … Continued

A scary future for Twitter users

Salesforce and Disney have given up on acquiring Twitter, citing its troll problems. To succeed in tech you need either profits or growth; Twitter has neither. So somebody’s going to buy it that doesn’t care about the users. As a result, if you’re a user, you can expect a very scary future — scarier than any ghosts … Continued

They’re not buying Twitter, they’re buying you

The bidding for Twitter is heating up. The Wall Street Journal is predicting a price of about $20 billion. What’s worth so much? You. Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton painted a devastating portrait of the years-long dysfunction inside the company. Here’s a sample: But in between all of those reasons [that previous bids to buy it … Continued

Data scientist David Robinson analyzes the anger of Trump’s tweets

David Robinson, data scientist at Stack Overflow, published an insightful analysis of Donald Trump’s tweets. It provides a fascinating window into Trump’s mind as he squeezes his thoughts down into 140 angry characters. And it begins to reveal what Trump would do all day long if elected president. Robinson’s analysis: Trump’s tweets are even more hateful … Continued