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Step Right Up: I’m a Voter and a Lab-Rat

If you shared Facebook’s “I’m A Voter” app in a recent election, you might have become a nice data point for the social media giant and a couple of resourceful political scientists. In the 2010 midterms, the graphic was pinned to 61 million newsfeeds and it turned out that users who saw that their friends were voting were .4 percent more likely to vote than those in the control group (the people without the app). Apparently, this social pressure added 340,000 new voters to the 2010 election cycle.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Step Right Up: How to Feign Political Competence in Your 20s

In the Internet age, saying “I don’t know” about a political issue is considered socially unacceptable. After all, if we have all this information at our fingertips, the least we can do is a quick Google search. Like, really. It’s the least we can do. And the least is what most people do.

It’s hard to take a long look in the mirror and see blatant indecision staring back at you. So to avoid this self-reflection, there are ways to fake political knowledge. You know you don’t know anything about politics, but nobody else has to know that.

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Are You Paid Less Than a Tech Intern? Cal Student Conducts Eye-Opening Survey

Tales of internship compensation are typically depressing, in that there is, all too often, no compensation. But in the spirit of misery loving herself some company, recent findings by a UC Berkeley student revealed how much students are being offered for summer internships at top U.S. tech companies—finally giving people with “real jobs” a turn to feel sad and underappreciated.

Confessions of a Tech Reporter: Like Other Freethinkers, I Did What Steve Jobs Wanted

For a brief moment, back when the tech revolution was young, I was an early adopter.

I was sucked in by that 1984 Apple ad that ran during the Super Bowl. I can’t recall a thing about the game, but I remember every detail of that ad: the woman running in her tank top one step ahead of the goons; the rows of corporate weirdos staring in open-mouthed horror; the hammer sailing toward the giant screen, smashing the Big Brother cult.

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Confessions of an Online Journalist: How I Killed My Profession

In the fall of 1994, when I was a young reporter struggling to pay the rent, I wrote a cover story for the San Francisco Bay Guardian: “Plugging In: An Idiot’s Guide to the Internet.” I explained why a 14.4 baud modem was a great deal, and reported that the Internet was a fantastic resource because “all kinds of information are available.”

I am so, so, sorry.

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz?

The keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—an elite institution that prepares students for a profession in which the prospects are, let’s face it, a little touch-and-go at the moment— was a former small-time drug dealer and heavy-duty coke addict who had been in and out of rehab five times, a “fat thug” (in his own words) who’d been known to beat women and wave a gun around on occasion.

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Say What? Scientists Devise an Algorithm That Detects Sarcasm Better Than Humans Can

Think people know when you’re being sarcastic? Yeah, right.

Studies show that most of us believe we are much better at communicating than we actually are, especially when interacting online. For instance, a 2005 study found that recipients correctly identified the sarcasm behind email statements only 56 percent of the time. Furthermore, the participants remained confident they were being understood even when their actual ability to convey sarcasm varied significantly between email and verbal communication.

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Silicon Valley’s Disruptive Influence: Researching Effect on Workers, Community

Silicon Valley companies have long been under fire for lacking diversity in their workforce—the stereotype being the nerdy white or Asian programmer. But there was little data to back up that contention, until recently.

This summer, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter released the ethnic and gender breakdowns of their U.S. workforce. All five companies revealed around 90 percent of employees to be white or Asian. The overall female employment rate averaged at about one-third, dropping significantly for women in leadership and tech-specific roles.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Welcome to iTown: Berkeley Designer Imagines What If Silicon Valley Housed All Its Employees

Alfred Twu says he got inspired by a friend who, after taking a job at a major tech firm in the South Bay, decided to save on rent by living out of his van in the company parking lot.

“The company had showers and food, so all he needed was a place to sleep,” says Twu, a designer who works for Berkeley Student Cooperative. “He would wake up in the morning and notice all the other vans in the parking lot like his.”

Facebook’s “Compassion Team”—Academics Try to Convince a Billion Users to Play Nice

Imagine a gentler Internet. Imagine a world wide web where comment sections aren’t the lowest common denominator rhetorical melees we know them to be but forums for reasoned debate and thoughtful discussion. Imagine your life online in which social media sites serve as a breeding grounds for empathy, introspection, and compassion, rather than for bullying, smut, and smarm.

Now imagine a pig with wings.

Cyber Stalking: Cal app creates “heat map” of your movements

At precisely 3:26 p.m. on July 17, Britney Spears was recording music at the corner of West Oak Street and South Glenwood Place in Burbank, California. On August 23 at 4:21 p.m., Katy Perry was in rural northeast Colorado, at the intersection of Highways 46 and 55. And on August 5 at 3:56 p.m., Oprah was cruising down the Kennedy Expressway outside of Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.

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