BUILD & CONNECT
- Asia stocks set record highs, U.S. government funding woes weigh on dollar January 19, 2018TOKYO (Reuters) - Asia stocks edged up to record highs on Friday, although losses on Wall Street slowed the advance, while worries over a possible U.S. government shutdown weighed on the dollar.
- SEC says bitcoin funds raise 'investor protection issues' January 19, 2018(Reuters) - The U.S. securities regulator on Thursday raised alarm about the safety of bitcoin-themed investments, telling the fund industry they want answers to their concerns before endorsing more than a dozen proposed products based on cryptocurrencies.
- South Korean group files complaint against Apple CEO over iPhone slowdown January 19, 2018SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean consumer group has filed a criminal complaint against Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook over slower iPhone devices, after probes in Europe into allegations the firm had deliberately shortened the life of its handsets.
- Exclusive: U.S. puts HNA deals on ice until it gets ownership info - source January 19, 2018NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government will not approve any investment by HNA Group until the Chinese conglomerate, which has been scrutinized around the world over its ownership structure, provides adequate information on who its shareholders are, a source familiar with the situation said.
- MetLife, U.S. regulators agree to set aside legal fight January 19, 2018WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government and MetLife Inc announced on Thursday they would jointly seek to dismiss an appeal over whether the insurance company should face stricter oversight as a key part of the financial system.
When Ottessa Moshfegh published her debut novel, “Eileen,” last August, she did so without an online publicity apparatus.
Vanity Fair noted that Ms. Moshfegh, 34, was an anomaly because she had neither social media profiles nor a website. There wasn’t much personal information floating around about her, either. Ms. Moshfegh had made herself (apart from her work) somewhat un-Googleable.
As distress and distaste swirl around issues of privacy, exhibitionism and other occupational hazards of social media, a select few holdouts of the tech-savvy age are following Ms. Moshfegh’s example. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, 90 percent of American adults ages 18 to 29 used a social networking site; more than three-quarters of those 30 to 49 did. (The percentages for those who have online access were, expectedly, slightly higher.)
This leaves a stubbornly resistant minority that isn’t focusing its energies on just one or two social media accounts, as is customary for people who find the whole enterprise overwhelming or irrelevant. They are eschewing it completely: sharing zero voluntary personal information on the web.
A main criticism of social media is its vending of user data to interested buyers. “All it does is provide a vulnerable attack surface to the world,” wrote a pseudonymous commenter on a Reddit thread asking people why they weren’t on Facebook. “Every service it claims to provide, I already have, without me, my friends and family having our privacy compromised and sold to every comer.”
Since one is barraged with hundreds of online and offline advertisements a day, though, this may seem like a benign issue. But something more pernicious may be looming, said Patrick Flanery, whose forthcoming novel, “I Am No One,” deals explicitly with surveillance and data collection.
“We are betraying things about our location and social relationships,” said Mr. Flanery, 40. “Even if it may only be used for corporations to sell us stuff, then that’s also assuming that the corporations collecting that data aren’t moving toward a different emphasis — that they’re only engaged in a kind of selling, rather than something that is a government by proxy.”
As for the genuine, not-by-proxy government, our fears about its intrusion — which reached their zenith after Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency practices in 2013 — may have diverted attention from purely corporate oversight of our online habits. We are so focused on casting the N.S.A. as a modern-day Stasi that we have become less suspicious of Facebook, Twitter and the like, except when news articles crop up about their collaboration with the government.
With the phrase “vulnerable attack surface to the world,” the Reddit user suggested another problem beyond Orwellian surveillance: We are now one another’s Big Brother. Social media accounts further expose oneself to hackers or, via a single tone-deaf misstep, a global public shaming.
Yet even outside of these obviously dangerous waters, releasing an identity into the digital world remains discomfiting to some. Once your data is online, it no longer belongs wholly to you; subject to reposting and comments, the data you generate gets tossed into the Internet’s melting pot.
Mr. Flanery, who joined Facebook in 2007 but now maintains only a public page, said he was initially unconcerned about what he posted because he was judicious about whose friend requests he accepted. But as his roster of connections expanded, he became more cautious. “I was posting willy-nilly and commenting and being quite free, as if I was talking to a closed circle of friends,” he said. “It was only gradually that I began to realize the visibility of my posts on other people’s pages, to a body whose makeup I couldn’t police.”
Not only can information circulate beyond intended recipients, but people like Isabel Howe, 33, the executive director of the Authors League Fund in New York, find the one-size-fits-all approach to social networks too unwieldy for their personalities. “I wouldn’t call myself a secretive person,” she said. “But I do want the freedom to vary my level of self-exposure according to circumstance.”
One can, of course, activate stringent privacy measures, set up alternative accounts for specific relationships (like one that excludes co-workers) or not post anything and simply “lurk.” But that’s a headache, and not foolproof; another user can still tag or refer to your avatar in a way that feels more invasive than merely naming you.
“It was making me hate everyone,” Ms. Moshfegh, who closed her Facebook and Twitter accounts before her book came out, said in a phone interview.
“I don’t know anybody who comes across in any kind of positive way on social media,” she said. “It made me feel bad, like there was a standard for living that I didn’t even know about, and that I hated so much that, if I ever had to be in touch with that standard, I was going to kill somebody.”
The blatant desire for recognition is what most irritated her. “It seemed like everybody wants to be a celebrity,” Ms. Moshfegh said. “As soon as anybody started to know who I was, being on Facebook was so incredibly tacky.”
Ms. Moshfegh has the advantage, it must be noted, of a professional team behind her to publicize her efforts. Likewise, it’s no great sacrifice when someone of George Clooney’s stature swears off social media, as he has little to gain and much to lose from it. But for a person in the early stages of a career dependent on gaining attention, whether one is a literary novelist or an entrepreneur, to do so is a genuine risk.
Ms. Moshfegh, though, pointed to some of the pitfalls of being an active social networker. “I remember putting in my name to see what people were saying on Twitter about me a lot, and occasionally finding something negative and being really upset by it,” she said.
And not being on social media can, in fact, yield brand-building benefits, especially for an artist.
As hoi polloi shamelessly promote themselves, bestow disingenuous praise upon colleagues in hopes of receiving it in return and peck out snarkily hashtagged jokes during awards shows, the person who remains offline accrues mystique and is viewed as nobly intentioned, an elusive object of fascination rather than an accessible subject of self-glorification. Who knows how they’re spending their time? Likely working hard for some transcendent and paradigm-shifting purpose, their online absence suggests.
But post a tweet, and everyone knows what you’re doing at that moment: idly looking at a screen, chasing after notice.
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- UntitledTwo swimmers were in serious trouble off the coast of Australia, until a drone came to their rescue.
- UntitledAll stories start somewhere, and the story of the driverless car begins in a research lab in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon University Professor Red Whittaker was one of the first to develop a fully autonomous driving machine.
- UntitledThe programs controlling driverless cars are computers, after all, and all computers are hackable.
- UntitledMore than 1.25 million people die every year in auto accidents. Driverless cars could change that.
In the late 1960s, an undergraduate psychology student at Wellesley College named Martha McClintock noticed something interesting: Women who spent a majority of their time together tended to get their periods around the same time. She suspected that menstruating bodies could influence one another somehow, but it was just a hunch. So she asked 135 of her fellow students to keep track of their cycles. Three times that year, she quizzed them about their period start and which women they socialized with the most.
Initially, it seemed McClintock was right: Close-knit groups of friends tended to start their periods together. The phenomenon of menstrual synchrony was nicknamed the “McClintock effect,” and her work was lauded as one of the first mainstream studies to demonstrate how one person’s body chemistry can trigger responses in another’s. But McClintock’s results have been difficult to replicate; now, the scientific consensus is that cycles probably don’t sync up — a claim that rings untrue to anyone who menstruates. My friends and I joke that we even seem to sync up digitally, thanks to constant contact via iMessage, Snapchat and Twitter.
The unresolved nature of McClintock’s investigation, now almost 50 years old, underscores the unnerving amount of opacity that still surrounds women’s health. Even today, it’s difficult for women to get a sense of what’s normal and what isn’t. When my friends and I talk about our bodies, we compare feedback from physicians, all of which seems to be slightly different; we warn one another about conditions like uterine fibroids and share horror stories about different methods of contraception. There still seems to be a combination of prudishness and ignorance around the unique, and sometimes idiosyncratic, functions of the female body — which is shocking, considering half the world is born with one.
But in recent years, mobile technology has granted me and countless others the ability to collect an unprecedented amount of information about our habits and well-being. Our phones don’t just keep us in touch with the world; they’re also diaries, confessional booths, repositories for our deepest secrets. Which is why researchers are leaping at the chance to work with the oceans of data we are generating, hoping that within them might be the answers to questions medicine has overlooked or ignored.
In March, I sat in a conference room with Jasmine McDonald, an assistant professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and Lauren Houghton, an associate research scientist at the same school. The scientists, who are in their 30s, have been studying puberty patterns in adolescent girls, particularly how various aspects of a girl’s menstrual cycle correlate with the development of certain diseases later in life. Because McDonald and Houghton often work with girls in their teens or younger, they’ve struggled over the years with data-collection methods. They had, until recently, used paper questionnaires and calendars. But they found that their teenage subjects had hazy recollections of dates.