March 28, 2014
The Sext Exchange is a crowdsourced Twitterbot-esque project that wants to whisper smutty nothings into your DM box.
Traditionally thought of as a source of spam-centric consternation, bots reflects both the best and worst Twitter. @MagicRecs, an experimental recommendation tool that suggests new users to follow based on the behavior of your current Twitter feed, is helpful. @Sextexchange, on the other hand, is downright fun.
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The concept is simple:
After following and automatically being followed-back by the @Sexexchange account, you send sexts in the form of direct messages beginning with the word sext.

A response with a “:)/yes” or “:(/no” is sent back to The Exchange and then tabulated into a score. The more clever, sexy, and well-received your sexts, the more points you rack up. Ranking its users on a leaderboard, the Sex Exchange is equal parts social experiment and cheeky Twitter-based game.
Much like the internet’s favorite, though now debunked, equine-themed spambot @Horse_ebooks, The Sext Exchange is not actually run entirely by code. Brendan Adkins, the developer behind the Exchange, set out to create the “game” (his words) to facilitate, fun, randomized human interaction.
"I hoped players would find an emotional resonance in the game—Iwas also afraid people would just send garbage to see what they’d get back," Adkins told XOJane. “I’m really glad to have been wrong.”

The Sext Exchange is a crowdsourced Twitterbot-esque project that wants to whisper smutty nothings into your DM box.

Traditionally thought of as a source of spam-centric consternation, bots reflects both the best and worst Twitter. @MagicRecs, an experimental recommendation tool that suggests new users to follow based on the behavior of your current Twitter feed, is helpful. @Sextexchange, on the other hand, is downright fun.

Read More

March 27, 2014
thisistheverge:

The story of Motorola’s smartwatch from the man who designed it Motorola design chief Jim Wicks and his team had spent a year and a half designing the device that would ultimately become the beautiful Moto 360 smartwatch, but every initial result was lacking. “Every time you do one,” he tells me, “no matter how awesome you might think it is, if it’s square, everyone’s just kind of like ‘ehhh…’ And you sit there and you think about making it a little bit thinner, or a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier — you work for all those things and you still get that kind of feeling. And then finally we realized we’re not going to break through that ceiling, even with our peers, if we can’t get out of the ‘eh’ zone.”

thisistheverge:

The story of Motorola’s smartwatch from the man who designed it
Motorola design chief Jim Wicks and his team had spent a year and a half designing the device that would ultimately become the beautiful Moto 360 smartwatch, but every initial result was lacking. “Every time you do one,” he tells me, “no matter how awesome you might think it is, if it’s square, everyone’s just kind of like ‘ehhh…’ And you sit there and you think about making it a little bit thinner, or a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier — you work for all those things and you still get that kind of feeling. And then finally we realized we’re not going to break through that ceiling, even with our peers, if we can’t get out of the ‘eh’ zone.”

March 26, 2014
Of the 845 emoji icons that come preinstalled in iOS 7, only two of the human faces available are recognizably non-white.
You’ve got a vaguely east-Asian smiling man in a red and green hat, and a non-descript brown man in a turban.
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That’s not to say that Apple’s emoji set isn’t progressive—it’s featured two same-sex couples holding hands since at least iOS 6. But still, not very many minorities.
If looked at in a certain light Apple’s misstep could be considered racist, though I think it would be more appropriately labeled tone-deaf. In 2012, Nielson found that whites were adopting cell phones at a slower rate compared to Asian/Pacific-Islanders, Hispanics, and Blacks. Pew has found similar data for 2014.
One would imagine that smartphone adoption within minority communities would translate to a degree of catering to said communities in the types of advertising used or perhaps in the kinds of faces immortalized as emoji. One would be right in imagining so, were it not for the fact that iOS was a largely white OS until rather recently.
Sam Biddle of Valleywag infamy wrote an insightful piece explaining the socio-economic divide that made Android the OS of choice for lower-income individuals/minorities, statistically speaking:

"Federal census data pegs black and hispanic households at median income (and ergo spending) levels tens of thousands of dollars below their white peers—and statistically, those same households are going Android at higher rates.”

This is no accident. Check out the flyers or sidewalk storefronts of pre-paid econo-carriers like Boost Mobile or MetroPCS—which cater heavily to lower-income customers—and all you’ll see is Android.
iPhones have commoditized at a substantially slower rate than smartphones as a whole. It’s a part of Apple’s justification for iPhone prices. Rather than introduce entry level handsets at lower price points, Apple has (brilliantly) cycled through models year by year in a tier-ed pricing structure.
With the 4S, 5C, and 5S currently selling for $0, $100, and $199 on contract I would argue that Apple’s managed to cast a broad enough net to attract more price-sensitive minority customers than in previous years.
Katie Cotton, Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications, agrees, and is working to bring a bit more color to the company’s emoticons. In an e-mail to MTV Act she wrote:

“Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms.  There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

With an increasingly diverse user-base, however, comes a certain degree of responsibility to make said users happy. It may have just been insensitive not to represent an array of races via emoji before, but now? It might just be outright offensive.

Of the 845 emoji icons that come preinstalled in iOS 7, only two of the human faces available are recognizably non-white.

You’ve got a vaguely east-Asian smiling man in a red and green hat, and a non-descript brown man in a turban.

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8:38am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z2UMRr1BERogH
Filed under: iphone apple emoji race 
March 25, 2014
<trigger warning: reverse racism*>
Connor Smallnut is a rather lazily crafted caricature of a young, modern, white male:
According to the guys behind Freakonomics, “Connor” was listed as the second most popular name for white men in 2006.
Smallnut (har-har) is a reference to the cultural idea that white men have smaller genetalia compared to men of other races. This may or may not be true depending on who you ask. Methodologies, amirite?
Through Connor Nick Cannon is attempting to move a few dozen records of his upcoming album White People Party Music, and trolling white people in the process.
As you’ve probably seen by now, Cannon took to promoting WPPM by posting pictures and videos of himself as Connor done up with a blonde wig, a passé beanie and yes, makeup to make his skin look white—a practice that’s being called whiteface**.
Spoiler alert: a few white folks were none too pleased.
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The logic behind the backlash is simple:
Interracial depictions of different races for comedic effect have a storied history of being hurtful, offensive, and often culturally detrimental.
Black Americans, along with other Americans of color, know this all too well given the US’s well documented past with black, brown, yellow, and redface’s roles in comedy.
Cannon, being a black man, should know the damage that dressing up as someone of another race can cause and his dressing up as a white man—to sell albums, no less—is offensive beyond belief.
The problem with this logic? It’s reflective of the kind of privilege that only exists within a group that could never really be hurt by Connor and his small nuts. Put simply:

So don’t try 2 compare Nick Cannon doing whiteface 2 the historical ramifications of people doing Blackface. No whites are going 2 be harmed
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed)
March 25, 2014
In Mammies, Matriarchs, and Other Controlling Images, Patricia Hill Collins explores “the dominant ideology of the slave era [fostering] the creation of several interrelated, socially constructed controlling images…reflecting the dominant group’s interest in maintaining Black women’s subordination.”
The images that Collins deconstructs in her work are more cultural as opposed to physical, but an understanding of her concept is useful in explaining just why whiteface ≠ blackface.
Blackface is more than simply exaggerating the facial characteristics commonly found in people of African descent. Blackface is an explicit devaluing of those features, and those who have them, by portraying them as cartoonish, inhuman, and laughable.
True, dressing up as and making fun of white people and their perceived cultural mainstays is a thing (see: Coming To America and White Chicks), but it’s hardly a thing that has ever had the same kind of destructive, limiting power that blackface has.
Cannon isn’t exactly portraying white boys in the best light with his character here, but it’s not as if he’s going out of his way to depict them as Dahmer-esque, misogynistic, or even inherent evil. Connor Smallnut just wants to wear Pajama Pants and enjoy a little cream cheese. Nick Cannon just wants to have a little fun, and perhaps push a few people to appreciate the privilege that protects them from ever being poked fun at for kissing their dogs on the mouth***.
</trigger warning>
*Reverse racism isn’t a thing.
**Whiteface: also not a thing.
***Some non-white folks do this madness too. White folks just got stuck with the bill.

<trigger warning: reverse racism*>

Connor Smallnut is a rather lazily crafted caricature of a young, modern, white male:

  • According to the guys behind Freakonomics“Connor” was listed as the second most popular name for white men in 2006.
  • Smallnut (har-har) is a reference to the cultural idea that white men have smaller genetalia compared to men of other races. This may or may not be true depending on who you ask. Methodologies, amirite?

Through Connor Nick Cannon is attempting to move a few dozen records of his upcoming album White People Party Music, and trolling white people in the process.

As you’ve probably seen by now, Cannon took to promoting WPPM by posting pictures and videos of himself as Connor done up with a blonde wig, a passé beanie and yes, makeup to make his skin look white—a practice that’s being called whiteface**.

Spoiler alert: a few white folks were none too pleased.

Read More

January 30, 2014
The Google Glass Titanium Collection proves that Mountain View’s increasingly elegant design prowess translates well into the physical world. Where Glass rev. one smacked of cybernetic headgear Titanium’s “silhouette” aesthetic comes across as sophisticated, if a bit restrained.
The Titanium Collection marks Google’s gradual reorientation of Glass towards mainstream consumers. They look like glasses you’d expect to find browsing through Warby Parker, and what’s more—they accommodate prescription lenses.
Google’s made Glass that much more human with these new frames, but I don’t think that they’ve done enough to make Glass desirable.
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Google’s newest ad for the Titanium Collection is a stylish concept fantasy that attempts to answer the question: what do you do with Glass? You go fabric shopping with it, obviously. Also dancing.


Beneath quick cuts of attractive, creative-types being creatively attractive, the ads hints that Google still doesn’t quite know what to tell regular people about Glass. Glass Explorers  don’t need much convincing on Glass’s usefulness or whether the Titanium Collection frames are worth $225 a pop, but what about everyone else?
Glass is due for a wider consumer release sometime later this year, presumably at a more market-friendly price, and a more concrete ideas as to why normal folks should buy it. Pandering to the elite has never been how Google feeds its data addiction, but it’s got a ways to go before it can turn Glass into an info-mining accessory for the everyman.

The Google Glass Titanium Collection proves that Mountain View’s increasingly elegant design prowess translates well into the physical world. Where Glass rev. one smacked of cybernetic headgear Titanium’s “silhouette” aesthetic comes across as sophisticated, if a bit restrained.

The Titanium Collection marks Google’s gradual reorientation of Glass towards mainstream consumers. They look like glasses you’d expect to find browsing through Warby Parker, and what’s more—they accommodate prescription lenses.

Google’s made Glass that much more human with these new frames, but I don’t think that they’ve done enough to make Glass desirable.

Read More

January 7, 2014
thisistheverge:

Yahoo’s sleek News Digest app swims against the stream
Summly is reborn as a digital homage to the newspaper

thisistheverge:

Yahoo’s sleek News Digest app swims against the stream

Summly is reborn as a digital homage to the newspaper

August 14, 2013
I created my Facebook page in 2006 as a high school sophomore. The social network had just made the jump from the ivory towers of higher education and become the new thing to have. It was easy, it was free, and above all else: it was stupid. Unlike Ruby Karp, a brilliantly articulate 13-year old who took to Mashasble recently to explain why she and her friends forego Facebook, I was not waxing journalistic about the intersection between teen trends and social network popularity.
My Facebook page, much like my failed attempt at a MySpace page, was populated with the inane trappings of being a teenager. Blurry mirror selfies. Repetitive re-posting of memes. “Deep and thoughtful”, statuses updates about things that meant nothing to anyone but me. My Facebook was a mess of a social media presence and that was to be expected. Teenagers are, by definition, messes of people.
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Facebook is hemorrhaging younger, newer generations of potential users that’s bad for their  bottom line as the platform currently exists. The alarmist reaction says that Facebook is doomed, but I don’t think that that’s where things are heading. Having built up a modestly substantial Facebook web over the past seven years, I’ve become a different kind of Facebook user and so have the bulk of my friends.
Article repostings, announcements for parties, and the pictures from said parties are the vast majority of what I tend to see while scrolling through my newsfeed at any given moment. Increasingly though, I’m seeing more and more people taking time to craft longer-form posts, create and share media-rich content, and becoming savvy with Facebook’s brand pages to promote their projects.
Facebook’s users have matured and the social network that they grew up with needs to follow suit in order to better serve their needs. Sure, teens are fleeing Facebook en masse, but that’s not a bad thing. Rather than indoctrinating a new generation of users ready to express their social growing pains through the platform, why not cater to the somewhat older crowd with features that they’d be more likely to use?

I created my Facebook page in 2006 as a high school sophomore. The social network had just made the jump from the ivory towers of higher education and become the new thing to have. It was easy, it was free, and above all else: it was stupid. Unlike Ruby Karp, a brilliantly articulate 13-year old who took to Mashasble recently to explain why she and her friends forego Facebook, I was not waxing journalistic about the intersection between teen trends and social network popularity.

My Facebook page, much like my failed attempt at a MySpace page, was populated with the inane trappings of being a teenager. Blurry mirror selfies. Repetitive re-posting of memes. “Deep and thoughtful”, statuses updates about things that meant nothing to anyone but me. My Facebook was a mess of a social media presence and that was to be expected. Teenagers are, by definition, messes of people.

Read More

July 31, 2013
Google&#8217;s upcoming Motorola X phone is rage-quitting the low/mid/high range game. Range-quitting, if you will.
Technically speaking the Motorola X won&#8217;t qualify as a flagship-class device on par with the likes of the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 or LG G2. 
The Moto X&#8217;s all-but-confirmed spec-sheet describes a reasonably higher-end, mid-range phone that would have been considered bleeding edge by last year&#8217;s standards. According to Droid Life, we&#8217;re looking at:

1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (MSM8960DT, dual-core) processor
4.7-inch display, reads as 4.5-inch because of on-screen nav buttons (1184×720 resolution)
2GB RAM
10.5MP rear, 2.1MP front cameras
2200 mAh battery
16GB internal storage (no microSD slot)
NFC, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
Android 4.2.2

Certainly nothing to sneeze at but today&#8217;s heavy hitters are packing quad-cores, 1080p screens, and batteries that will get you through not one but two days. It&#8217;s easy to fall into a line of logic that says the Moto X just won&#8217;t be all that interesting of a phone. 
That all being said, we live in a world of phones with octo-core that apparently &#8220;shouldn&#8217;t matter to consumers.&#8221; And that&#8217;s just weird.[[MORE]]
For a long time the Android community has shot itself in the foot playing into manufacturer marketing fluff. We&#8217;ve grown addicted to Snapdragon, OMAP, and Tegra processors in dual, quad, octo, &amp; sedicim-core flavors. We engage in the phone spec arms race, phones grow increasingly powerful on paper, and hardware becomes obsolete at the speed of light. 
What does it mean that a flagship Android device from 6 months back is suddenly classed as &#8220;mid-range?&#8221; Is the performance that presumably drew so much praise at the phone&#8217;s release suddenly invalidated? Are newer, more technically powerful phones really that much better? 
Fans of Android will swear by the OS, citing its openness, flexibility, and high degree of customization as reasons to choose it over iOS, WP8, or other platforms. The thing about Android though? It can be rough at times. 
Blame it on manufacturer skins, blame it on low-end specs, blame it on malware, the fact of the matter is simple: the Android experience, for all of its promise and potential, is uneven in a way that can be a major turnoff.
There are plenty of reasons for this: iOS and WP8 are written in different flavors of C, whereas Android uses the Dalvik Virtual Machine. iOS handles all of its graphic rendering through dedicated GPUs while Android splits the work between the CPU and the GPU. 
It&#8217;s hard to argue that the user experiences across the wide range of WP8 devices and the iPhone are consistent and fluid in a way that Android has never truly been able to claim.
The Motorola X could change all of that.
While certain system level aspects of Android aren&#8217;t really up for negotiating this late in the game, the Moto X&#8217;s major selling point this Thursday doesn&#8217;t need to be its screen, processor, camera, or &#8220;always-on&#8221; features. It needs to be the experience.
It&#8217;s not looking like the Moto X will receive Google&#8217;s Nexus moniker from the promotional material and leaks that we&#8217;ve soon so far, and that&#8217;s not necessarily a bad thing. We&#8217;ve come to understand &#8220;Nexus&#8221; to mean the devices that Google intended Android to run on, but in reality they really are nexus devices, phones that exist between two worlds: the manufacturer&#8217;s and Google&#8217;s. Built by independent OEMS and powered by builds of Android Nexus devices are two pieces fitting together to create great, but not perfect products.
Google&#8217;s acquisition of Motorola represents Google&#8217;s first chance to build its hardware alongside its software, potentially creating a phone that is Google through and through. With that level of influence on the phone&#8217;s design, it&#8217;s possible that Google could prioritize user experience over spec development. The Moto X gives Google the opportunity finally create an Android phone that embodies the same vision that Apple set out to fulfill with its own phones.
One great phone for everyone.
Or you know, maybe not. This thing could just be a reskinned Droid Ultra. Who knows?

Google’s upcoming Motorola X phone is rage-quitting the low/mid/high range game. Range-quitting, if you will.

Technically speaking the Motorola X won’t qualify as a flagship-class device on par with the likes of the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 or LG G2. 

The Moto X’s all-but-confirmed spec-sheet describes a reasonably higher-end, mid-range phone that would have been considered bleeding edge by last year’s standards. According to Droid Life, we’re looking at:

  • 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (MSM8960DT, dual-core) processor
  • 4.7-inch display, reads as 4.5-inch because of on-screen nav buttons (1184×720 resolution)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 10.5MP rear, 2.1MP front cameras
  • 2200 mAh battery
  • 16GB internal storage (no microSD slot)
  • NFC, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
  • Android 4.2.2

Certainly nothing to sneeze at but today’s heavy hitters are packing quad-cores, 1080p screens, and batteries that will get you through not one but two days. It’s easy to fall into a line of logic that says the Moto X just won’t be all that interesting of a phone. 

That all being said, we live in a world of phones with octo-core that apparently “shouldn’t matter to consumers.” And that’s just weird.

Read More