Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Recommended View from Salem

I have a hard time keeping up with television. Maybe it's an attention deficit problem; maybe it's the fact that most stories I experience are in games, and are more interactive. All I know is that, with a few exceptions, I struggle to keep up with more than one or two television shows,and don't watch very many movies. As a result, most of my "entertainment" comes from adding random interesting videos to my YouTube "Watch Later" list and letting them play on a second monitor while I play a game.

About a week ago, someone at Google with more conservative viewpoints than the average "Googler" (seriously, they actually call themselves that) posted on the company's internal social network a memo that cited scientific sources to explain why Google is struggling with its internal 'diversity', suggestions on how to address it more effectively, and noting that thinking outside of the accepted norm is discouraged and feels like it could possibly lead to being fired... so Google fired him for thinking outside of the accepted norm. The press jumped on this quickly, labeling it an "Anti-PC, Anti-Diversity Screed" and running the author's name through the mud.

What do these things have in common? Well, I really don't have much to contribute this week. My mind is elsewhere, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by life at the moment. I'll put it simply:

  • YouTube is run by Google. 
  • My Watch Later list is made up of videos from all over the political spectrum. Far Left, Far Right, In-Between, and completely unaffiliated. 
  • Google has recently announced they'll be setting loose an algorithm to police "extremist" content on YouTube which has the aims of moving "controversial" content into a sort of limbo where they won't be recommended, can't be voted or commented on, and will get no exposure. 
I worry that Google has, in pursuit of being "good", has lost sight of it's old motto of "Don't Be Evil." I worry that they might be planning to infringe upon my right to listen, and I say that knowing full well they aren't a government organization. It seems that as soon as people started trying to protect their First Amendment rights, crazy people started trying to get corporations to enforce censorship when they realized government couldn't.

Simply put, I want to make the decision about what thoughts I listen to. I don't want Google deciding for me. If this turns south, for all the good it will do, I'm jumping ship from Android and getting an iThing of some sort.

I'll let someone who is much more experienced in the YouTube world than I am explain it to you better than I could. Yes, this video is roughly 30 minutes long. That's no big thing for me; I regularly listen to lectures and debates that are 2+ hours, but it explains my concerns well. Put aside any nationalistic or idealistic differences you may have with the speaker and listen for me.


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