What should you think about when using Facebook?

Vicki Boykis:

Facebook collects data about you in hundreds of ways, across numerous channels. It’s very hard to opt out, but by reading about what they collect, you can understand the risks of the platform and choose to be more restrictive with your Facebook usage.

If you can’t bring yourself to stop using Facebook, at least follow her advice.

The secret taxonomy behind IKEA’s product names, from Billy to Poäng

Anne Quito in Quartz:

Bathroom articles = Names of Swedish lakes and bodies of water

Bed textiles = Flowers and plants

Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture = Norwegian place names

Bookcases = Professions, Scandinavian boy’s names

Bowls, vases, candle and candle holders = Swedish place names, adjectives, spices, herbs, fruits and berries

Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks = Swedish slang expressions, Swedish place names

Children’s products = Mammals, birds, adjectives

Desks, chairs and swivel chairs = Scandinavian boy’s names

Fabrics, curtains = Scandinavian girl’s names

Garden furniture = Scandinavian islands

Kitchen accessories = Fish, mushrooms and adjectives

Lighting = Units of measurement, seasons, months, days, shipping and nautical terms, Swedish place names

Rugs = Danish place names

Sofas, armchairs, chairs and dining tables = Swedish place names

 

 

Depressingly prescient

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1977):

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

Quanta:

A collaboration of physicists and biologists in Germany has found a simple mechanism that might have enabled liquid droplets to evolve into living cells in early Earth’s primordial soup.

Origin-of-life researchers have praised the minimalism of the idea. Ramin Golestanian, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the research, called it a big achievement that suggests that “the general phenomenology of life formation is a lot easier than one might think.”

The central question about the origin of life has been how the first cells arose from primitive precursors. What were those precursors, dubbed “protocells,” and how did they come alive? Proponents of the “membrane-first” hypothesis have argued that a fatty-acid membrane was needed to corral the chemicals of life and incubate biological complexity. But how could something as complex as a membrane start to self-replicate and proliferate, allowing evolution to act on it?

 

Buy. Squeeze. Repeat.

Fortune on Kraft Heinz’s iconoclastic strategy under the hard-driving management of 3G Capital, the private equity firm overseen by Brazil’s richest man, 77-year-old Jorge Paulo Lemann.  A simple but effective formula: buy, squeeze, repeat.

How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument

Harvard:

The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of “common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.

This is a previous paper by the same authors.