What I'm Reading (Feb. 17)

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Separating rights from responsibilities, framing, following the science? Stealing our privacy through our games.

“As a journalist who relies on freedom of speech, I would never advocate tossing Rogan off Spotify. But as a citizen, I sure appreciated Young calling him out over the deeper issue: How is it that we have morphed into a country where people claim endless “rights” while fewer and fewer believe they have any “responsibilities.”

That was really Young’s message for Rogan and Spotify: Sure, you have the right to spread anti-vaccine misinformation, but where’s your sense of responsibility to your fellow citizens, and especially to the nurses and doctors who have to deal with the fallout for your words?

This pervasive claim that “I have my rights” but “I don’t have responsibilities” is unraveling our country today.”


Where exactly is the balance of rights and responsibilities? From Thomas Friedman, America 2022: Where Everyone Has Rights and No One Has Responsibilities

“In thinking about the media, and how and whether it can meet the challenges of this moment, I contend that the framing of stories and coverage is what we should be talking about—more than familiar discussion of “bias” or “balance,” or even refinements like “both-sides-ism” or obsession with “the horse race.” I’ll give a few examples of what I mean.”

With that, James Fallows writes about a topic near and dear to my heart in reporting on science. It is rarely that dots that are in dispute; it is the connections, how the issue is framed. A Word the Press Should Remember - And it's not "midterms.

“When people say they’re “following the science,” I think they generally mean: Here are certain facts consensually attested about the virus, about the R0 of the virus, about the immune system, about the spike protein, about mutations and variants, etc. Now, here’s where I think it becomes complicated. COVID is a virus that infects people, and that infection flows along the same channels as people’s interaction with each other. Hence the mask, the six feet of distance, or whatever you have. So there is a science about the virus, there’s a science about the immune system, and there’s a science about the spike protein. But in order for this science to be followed, it has to include the science of how people interact with each other. In other words, there has got to be a science of the virus, and there’s also got to be a science of society. We don’t hear much about that second bit.”

This interview with Steven Sharpin, a professor of science history, is spot on. From Deep Shtetl, Why It’s So Hard to ‘Follow the Science’

Having successfully invaded our commercial privacy, big Data firms are now turning to the moments when we entertain ourselves playing games.

“Tech conglomerate Tencent caused a stir last year with the announcement that it would comply with China’s directive to incorporate facial recognition technology into its games in the country. The move was in line with China’s strict gaming regulation policies, which impose limits on how much time minors can spend playing video games—an effort to curb addictive behavior, since gaming is labeled by the state as “spiritual opium.”

The state’s use of biometric data to police its population is, of course, invasive and significantly undermines the privacy of underage users—but Tencent is not the only video game company to track its players, nor is this recent case an altogether new phenomenon. All over the world, video games, one of the most widely adopted digital media forms, are installing networks of surveillance and control.”

From Wired, The Unnerving Rise of Video Games that Spy on You