The Girl with the Tasteful Tattoo

As a teacher it is always inspiring to be on the other side of a classroom and to get taught well. Recently I found myself a student again at a conference about how my organisation can apply social media. I have always believed that learning has a law of three. The three things required for learning to take place. It has to be the right time, the right place and the right person. If only one of those is absent learning doesn’t happen and it’s nobody’s fault. As soon as the missing piece or pieces drop into place it happens. An empowered team of digital natives directed by the girl with the tasteful tattoo aided by representatives from Australia’s new Twitter team and from LinkedIn Australia, we were guided back to the Future.

 
Now I have two traffic lights between me and my workplace. If any of them are red I’m likely to have an instance of male menopausal road rage. So Sydney is not a place I could live in again. Never the less it is truly a beautiful city. When I lived there a Sunday afternoon at an intimate little pub in the Rocks, with jazz notes drifting in on the wind and coffee brewing in the distance, was just the best day. It’s even better down there now, the Sydney foreshore by night in the middle of the Vivid festival took me back down the years to the Sydney citizen I once was. I walked all the way from the Opera House to Darling Harbour and on up to Central Station. The city has done a great job. It’s a beautiful walk especially at night. A walk with the new and the memory of places that have stayed the same.

 
It got a bit scary at Central Station, 11 o’clock at night. Walking head on into a drunken mob with breaths that were incendiary, I nearly freaked out until I noticed red and white scarves. I yelled out “Up the Mighty Swanees ……. Mate I’m from the bush, where the “f###” is the platform to Cronulla?” Well the lads bundled me up and deposited me down, on the right platform, slapped my back, shook my hand and were gone with comments about how good it was that we kicked Geelong’s arse.

 
No one told me there are three thousand stops between Central and Cronulla. What’s more the train seats just don’t smell the same.
In my youth I lived with two other uni students in a flat near the Cross. One of them, Rod was going out with a very straight girl. In the middle of the sexual revolution he is going out with a girl who will only let him kiss her once on the doorstep of her parents’ house on a Saturday night.
Dump her I used to say. Back then I could be insensitive sometimes.
They would go to a movie, rush to catch the second last train to Southerland, walk a million miles, sweaty hand in hand, catch a kiss on a cold front porch, run to catch the last train back, fall into an exhausted sleep of unfulfilled lust and go around and around the city circle all night. He would stagger back into the flat early next morning smelling like a train seat. Well Rod after all these years I finally realise the hell you went through. I did the second last train to Cronulla.

 
It’s extraordinary that for the first time in human history desktop PC sales have dropped the last 2 years running. Every presenter from the Social Media companies showed us stats’ ranging from 60 to 80 percent of all social media content is currently being consumed on mobile devices. I learned that one minute of video is equivalent to 1.8 million words. I was encouraged to make my content relevant (so much for this post), make it local, mobile optimised and use multimedia that’s multi directional and above all embrace conversation and don’t be afraid to let that conversation have a life of its own.

Related Information
Buzz Numbers
Quiip
Twitter Australia
Darren Keppie (LinkedIn Australia)

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That was the year that was!

That was the year that was. Let’s start with the tech deals done dirt cheap that didn’t make it in 2013:

  • Simcity 10 years in the relaunch of a much loved game totally botched the games launch.
  • Reddit lost it in its attempt at social media justice by muddying the waters in the search for the Boston marathon bombers.
  • Twitter’s new music discovery service started with a whimper and died with a burp.
  • Dell can’t say die and refuses to accept the general PC’s day is dead and gone.
  • BlackBerry is undergoing a death by a thousand cuts. Apart from President Obama who do you know that has one? No one.
  • Adobe upset everyone with its move to subscription software to absolutely outrage 38 million of their customers with a massive security breach of their credit card details.
  • Facebook Home for smart phones didn’t grab users with its first attempt although the company insists it will persist.
  • Microsoft Surface Tablet didn’t make a ripple on the surface of worldwide tablet sales.

Australians internet habits for the year was to check the weather, download videos big time, check our social media, and play smart phone games. However the difference in 2013 was the increasing use of mobile smart devices. Half of Australia is now on the internet and one third of them now access the internet on mobile or wireless links.

Google trending analysis of our search curiosity put celebrities dead before their time high on the list. Points of trivia concerning trivial reality TV shows confirmed the public’s increasing demand for reality avoidance.

We did however use the Rural Fire Service during our increasingly deadly bush fire season. Nearly all of us worried about someone near to us in the path of a fast moving fire somewhere. Our wonderful BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) received 471 million visits reflecting our fascination for cyclones heatwaves and bushfires.
We all expressed a morbid interest in the 24 hour, slogan driven, negative message electioneering of our modern more than likely reviled politicians. The Electoral Commission’s more than 12 million page views on election night reflected a 45% rise from the previous election.

Much else didn’t change. We are too lazy to bookmark so we banked, emailed, social media’d, checked weather, searched for jobs and real estate, booked accommodation and travel, shopped on Ebay and the such all from shortcutting out of Google.

The Twitter spikes caused by Australia’s 2 million Twitter users was a depressing reflection on our general level of education. It is not surprising that the majority of spikes were around mindless conversation pieces like the moment Dami Im was crowned winner of The X Factor. Whoever the hell he or she is. It’s not surprising after a survey of Australians general science knowledge found that 40% of us had no idea it takes the earth one year to revolve around the sun and that since the re-release of Jurassic Park on Blu-ray that humans lived in the time of dinosaurs. Small wonder that Twitter peaks concentrated around conversation pieces from television shows.

Some serious topics did trend, leadership spills and drugs in sport being the main ones. However the word television needs to be qualified. 2013 saw a large increase in the number of people using internet, subscription TV, video on demand and catch-up TV particularly children’s shows. Does anyone still have a video “Blockbuster” store in their town? If you do you won’t for long.

Season three “Game of Thrones” confirmed Australians as the most prolific illegal downloaders in the world. Downloading from smartphones and tablets rose 97 per cent to about 6545 terabytes a month.
Looking forward to 2014 I’m wondering if I will be able to 3D print a lifelong replacement for a chronic ingrown toenail or invest in an e-ink tattoo parlour providing removable, moving multi-coloured tattoos.

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Digital Ticket of Leave

Apparently everyone in Australia with an internet connection should be arrested. Like our first fleet ancestors we are all criminals. In truth the wonderful book “Fatal Shore” by Robert Hughes informs us that only the first 50 years of our convict colony was really tough. After that life in England if you were not one of the uber rich one percenter’ s born into riches and royalty, life in that rain drenched, sun starved island was truly miserable. People started to commit crimes in order to get sent here.

You had to make sure it was a petty crime. That got you a seven year stretch with a ticket of leave at the end. The ticket of leave meant you were free to live anywhere in Australia but couldn’t ever return to England. No great loss there.

It was a bit more of a problem if you got a 14 year stretch. Then you could become a victim of undercover, creeping incremental white slavery. You did your first 7 years on the government road gangs then you were indentured to a squatter for the next 7 years as an unpaid labourer. If you were a good worker your dishonest boss could cook up another crime against you before the 7 years was up and you got another 7 on top from an accommodating magistrate, another conspiring blueblood to help keep you in perpetual servitude.

If you were not a good worker the squatter could kill two birds with one stone. Incite the war of conquest against Australia’s first people who the Royal Society of London adamantly insisted didn’t exist anyway. You did this by sending your indentured convict with 100 sheep into an area you knew was going to get him a spear in the guts. Fitting end to your bad worker, plenty more where he came from and in the meantime good cause for riding on in there with guns, dogs and some squatter mates to take care of those murderous black barstard’s who didn’t officially exist anyway. Thus one of the ways the war was waged.

When you finished your 7 years and were nicely set up growing wheat and sheep on some river flats up the Parramatta river valley you wrote home to cousins in England and told them to throw a brick through a window, steal a loaf of bread, get a 7 stretch and do your time as we have land waiting for you. I guess that’s why the conservative sections of our body politic still have an irrational fear of boat people. Never the less why should we all be arrested in our own illegally gotten country once again?

Our copyright laws apparently. Sharing a video clip on YouTube is technically a 5 year stretch with a $93,000 fine. Our laws in this area probably date back to near the convict era, certainly reflect blue blood thinking in their battle to keep us in our place. You are always reminded of a Monty Python skit that has become reality when there are too many laws to remember but ignorance of any one of them is no excuse for breaking it.  A good way of making sure we are always criminals just waiting to be caught.

Section 132A part 2 of the Australian Copyright Act states: “distributing an infringing article that prejudicially affects the copyright owner” is against the law. There you go. Everything you do online is technically illegal in Australia. Everything you do on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube is completely illegal. Your one edition claim to fame, your photo in a newspaper is not yours so if you post it on Instagram you have just committed a crime.

Thankfully on our behalf the Australian Digital Alliance is campaigning to highlight the flaws in our ancient anachronistic copyright laws that belong in our historical dustbin. It’s a simple solution. Something like a fair use clause would allow people to share, copy or recreate works so long as they don’t do copyright owners harm or take revenue away from them. With our on line lives this is like outlawing culture. Recently “Juice Media” did a rap parody on their YouTube channel of Julian Assange, using John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”.  It was issued with a takedown order. John would not have had a problem but even though it is his song he doesn’t own it some bully boy recording label, dead but yet to lay down does. They issued the takedown.

Even the establishment is starting to say that the “antiquated” attitude to copyright “breeds contempt for the law.” Well that horse bolted years ago. Australians are born with an inbuilt contempt for the law. It’s part of our convict heritage. We had an old saying out in the country. The law only exists where there is a blue uniform to enforce it.

The Australian Digital Alliance will present its arguments to the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy in late November.
“In six month’s time, in February we will take that body of work to the Attorney General’s office and teach the old people who live in Canberra who make the laws how young people are making things,” – Dan Ilic

Well Dan if they give you 100 sheep and point you up some alley in Redfern don’t go mate.

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Have you got Square Eyes?

When I was a kid, adults told me that if you watched too much TV you would get square eyes. I was always on the lookout but from that day to this I’ve never seen anyone with square eyes from watching TV. I’ve tried really hard. I had an old uncle that did nothing but watch TV and grunt a lot. He had grunts for everything. A hello grunt and a goodbye grunt. A grunt for get me a beer. He had a, I’m really pissed off grunt. If he had a happy grunt I never saw it. I studied him closely over many years and his eyes stayed exactly the same. They didn’t even look like they were getting square. Maybe its just kids it happens to but I don’t think so. “Spud” Jones was the first kid I knew with a TV in his room and his eyes are still round.

Kids hardly watch TV at all now. People 68 or older are the “Builder generation”. They watch more TV than any other generation. They were the ones that called the TV, the “idiot box” yet they watch on average 4 hours and 16 minutes a day while the Y Gen kids watch just 2 hours and 16 minutes. I wonder when kids are going to start saying: “You better watch out grandma, because if you sit in front of the “idiot box” for too much longer your eyes will go square.” These kids’ parents watch TV for 4 hours and 2 minutes a day, not far behind Grandma.

The Y Gen kids (19-33) spend 10 hours and 21 minutes a day consuming media according to Social analyst Mark McCrindle. The maths worries me. Add 8 hours’ work and 5 hours sleep (not healthy!) and we have 39 minutes left to smell the flowers, get sporty, get social and get laid. Just under 10 minutes for each every day. We might have to take account of multi-screening behaviour and multi-tasking even if it’s an equally worrying concept. Australia has just passed very tough laws on using a mobile phone while driving. No one has taken any notice of them at all and suicidal “texting” abounds. The middle generations spend about 3 hours 58 minutes on the internet, mostly on a desktop computer and not a mobile device like their children.

Smart phones are the third most used media device with the national average being 1 hour 12 minutes a day. The Y Gen kids will use a smart phone for 2 hours a day and grandma for 35 minutes.
With the boom of mobile gaming on smartphones, Australians now spend more time playing computer games than they do watching DVDs and movies.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the report is in the study of computer gaming across the generations. While Generation Y are the biggest gamers, spending an average of 36 minutes a day playing, they are just ahead of their grandparents who spend 35 minutes a day gaming in playing challenges like Sudoku to keep their brains active.”  – Rod Chester

The report, Australia: The Digital Media Nation released by McCrindle Research reports a 2 hour daily increase on the 2008 study. The one statistic that is going to increase dramatically is the average 29 minutes a day Australians spend using tablet devices.
It puts to bed the other myth adults told us as we “laid back” in the lounge room for another sedentary Sunday in front of the TV, that humans one day will be born without arms and legs. It’s the opposite we will have opposable big toes to grasp the steering wheel while we text and eat lunch on the way to work in peak hour traffic.

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Why you should Facebook Friend your Mother!

In 1992, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, proposed what is now referred to as the Dunbar number.  It is the cognitive limit to the number of people an individual can maintain stable social relationships with. In a group this size you will know everyone and everyone’s relationship with everyone else. Only about five however will ever be truly intimate friends. After this they are just no-names. It’s the best size for a village, army unit, death squad or political party elite.
This limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.” – Robin Dunbar (I love science talk, don’t you? I got no idea what he just said.) I think he is saying your brain box can only cope with 150 dickheads, any more and you would kill them all if it wasn’t for the rule of law.
The average Facebook user has over 120 friends and likes another 100 groups or pages. This is why you should Facebook friend your mother. It’s all down to the Dunbar number.

Josh Knoller, a young professional in New York City, spent years refusing his mother’s friend request on Facebook before, eventually, “caving in”. Today they have an agreement: she’ll try not to make embarrassing comments, and he can delete them if she does. It had a rocky start. Mother didn’t get the message.
I’d write a comment, and literally no sooner would I type when the phone would ring and it would be Josh — I guess he’s on Facebook a lot — and he’d be telling me, ‘Mum, you can’t make comments like this. My friends can’t even believe we’re friends’,” she says.
Even so she still checks his page about three times a week, and some of his friends have even asked to be her friend. She accepted, only after checking with her son.
Today we’re pretty much down to where I’ m allowed to ‘like’ something, and I’m allowed to go on his Facebook page and see what’s going on with him.  But that is it.”
The unwritten rule we all try to learn is to avoid the things thinking Face booker’s hate. Sharing uninteresting updates from boring people. Anything to do with babies and puppies. Being a serial liker, engagement for engagements sake. Being a constant, nagging inviter and indulging in documented minute by minute self-absorption.

One in three mothers is connected with their teens over Facebook. Those teens however probably keep their Facebook page tame and do the dirty stuff on other social media like Instagram or Twitter. They Friend their mother and take down the drinking, partying and dirty digital snap shots.
You read parental experts from both extremes. You should wait until your children are adults before friending them.
Being a friend with your son or daughter on Facebook, to me is synonymous with reading your teenager’s diary, Adolescents are trying to develop an identity and they have so much hovering and helicopter parenting going on, Facebook adds another layer that seems to be very intrusive.” – Susan Newman.
Stephen Balkam however, chief executive of the Washington DC-based Family Online Safety Institute, says he was his daughter’s first “friend”, a requirement for her to even have a Facebook account when she turned 13, the minimum age allowed by the company.
I promised not to stalk her, but I do need to keep an eye on it,” he says.

It has been reported 70% of parents of these early teens keep a close eye on their Facebook accounts and more than half of those have their teenager’s passwords.
The remaining 30% allowed their children to mind their own social media business either as a show of trust, that it might display a lack of trust or they had no idea what social media is in the first place. The age of 13 is now average for being allowed a mobile phone and 15 for a Facebook account.
It’s every parent’s dilemma to know when to trust their children,” – Jeffrey Cole “In the last five years, we have seen many new issues about parenting and technology evolve that previous generations never encountered. How parents cope with their children using social media like Facebook represents only one aspect of these issues.

These parental decisions are made more difficult by abusive use that can easily scar a teenager in that delicate development of a sense of self and self-image.
The increase in the number of disturbing incidents where teachers and students have been targeted on social media sites is something most parents are aware of. School principals have expressed concern directly to Facebook about the refusal to, or delay in, taking down abusive posts and in allowing underage students to set up accounts. In the US they are asking for a hotline to deal with requests from schools so that inappropriate and abusive posts can be removed more quickly than they are now.
In Australia just recently Unley High School principal Susan Cameron told the Sunday Mail there had been a “serious incident” of cyber bullying at the school involving a “small number” of students. “They were all suspended from three to five days and upon return to school one of the young people continued to behave inappropriately and was excluded from school (for two months),” she said.

It may well be future Facebook engineers will master the social networks “Entities Graph.” Finally understand its giant map of relationships to its 1 billion users and how each individual relates to schools, books, movies and restaurants and how each of those objects relates to each other. They would understand it now if only the real world wasn’t constantly changing. They would have a solid digital signature for all us Facebooker’s  and the world we inhabit. Feed it into Graph Search the new Facebook search engine to answer every parent’s Facebook concerns.
But algorithms can’t solve the problem alone.
The biggest challenge is the ambiguity. For each entity, there are tons of different ways to express the same meaning. So far, it’s still difficult to develop these machine-learning algorithms to handle this huge variety of expression,”  – Kai Yu — the director of the Institute for Deep Learning, the research arm of Chinese search giant Baidu.
Our very online natures enable them to freely enlist millions of users to label the world’s data. By inviting its digital citizens to report errors, detect duplicates, and populate object pages with information, like addresses and phone numbers and using a combination of crowdsourcing and publicly available data they are able to verify if user-generated information is accurate.

In your digital village determined by the Dunbar number any one of them could be your father but only one of them can be your mother so Facebook friend your mother if you know what’s good for you.

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Getting Through?

They called them party lines. The phone line ran down a country lane and all the farms down that road had to share the one phone line. If you picked up the phone and heard voices you put down the phone and respected the privacy of whoever was already on the line. They got a slight click and knew that someone else had just tried to make a call. Usually they would hurry up their call so as not to inconvenience you too much and give you a chance to make your call. If there was something of concern to everyone on that road a joint discussion could occur. Hence the name: party line. This was run by a manual telephone exchange. Often it was a family running a combined telephone exchange and post office out of a private house. More often than not the village school house which consisted of a combined residence, classroom and post office.

 

As a fifteen year old I would relieve the local post mistress once a month to let them get away for the weekend. I operated the manual switchboard and its twenty two subscribers. My biggest problem was Saturday morning. Everybody wanted to phone in grocery orders to the grocery store twenty miles away in a small town before it shut at mid-day. I only had two lines out and if you had two old gossips yapping away on one or both lines you had calls backing up on your call pad. You were not allowed to just cut them off, pull the plug, so the only way you could give them the subtle hint that you needed the line was to cut into the conversation and say “Getting through?” Do it often enough and put up with the uncomplimentary comments about you, you could get the line free. How about this? The grocery store would pack all those orders in boxes and leave them at the back door when they closed for the families to pick up and nobody ever stole anybodies groceries. Although you were not supposed to, you often acted as a personal assistant to your subscribers. “Look we are going out for the day so if such and such rings could you give them this message.” Nobody could police you, it was a code of conduct thing and I am sure there were busybody operators listening in on people’s conversations and taking delight in gossip about others behind their backs. But the majority of exchange operators respected their subscriber’s right to telephone privacy as an ethical responsibility and took pride in protecting it.

 

The same can’t be said in today’s world. The news feeds of this last week have been full of revelations at the extent of secret telephone surveillance by our governments. Not that this is new it is just that it has gone beyond plausible deniability by the revelations of another young whistle-blower sacrificing much to reveal its extent. Edward Snowdon joins others like Christopher Boyce, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange to be accused of aiding these unknown and unnamed enemies of us all. Obama has been busy trying to defend the indefensible in a country that is supposed to pride itself on free speech and individual rights. Of course it’s alright to suspend these rights for the common good especially in the face of shadowy and nasty threats both foreign and domestic they claim as justification. Give up your rights as it is better to be safe than sorry is a well-used and oiled gimmick probably preceding the first caveman to run and leave his mate to his fate with a saber tooth tiger.

The grey area in defining these enemies both foreign and domestic is illustrated by the old saying “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” As a justification for violating our privacy without our knowledge has not been considered democratic and does much to explain the outrage expressed across the web in this last week. Every one of us has no concern in sharing information about ourselves and does so gladly if accurate information leads to informed decisions in enhancing our lives and communities. We want our governments to put roads in the right places, schools and facilities where they are needed and yes to protect us from those who would do us harm by attacking innocents in the name of some political dogma or violent belief. In return all we ask is that we be informed about who knows what about us and have the opportunity to correct that information if it is wrong. It’s a two way street more often than not being ignored by governments. 

 

In Australia this week it was revealed that a security expert during a simple Google search found audio files from those ubiquitous “This call may be recorded for training and quality purposes” messages we are continually subjected too. So much for customer respect and privacy. Also revealed this week a highly classified NSA program called PRISM. Nine of the largest Internet companies on the planet were given immunity from privacy laws by George Bush to allow this program to access all the data on their servers.   

“It was established in 2007. According to the report, the nine companies that “participate knowingly” in the program are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. A whistle-blower revealed the program to the Washington Post because of “horror at their capabilities” of the program.
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” said the whistle-blower, described as a career intelligence officer.”
 – Brett Logiurato

 

What can individuals do other than acknowledge that we have a global universal telephone exchange operator who is totally untrustworthy with no respect or ethics concerning our right to privacy. These governments consider it their right to eavesdrop on us for our own good and protection regardless of our outrage, rights or opinions. All we can do is act accordingly and type accordingly knowing that they justify their actions by the saying “well if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.” I’m starting to understand what a citizen of a colonial subject nation last century must have felt like.  

 

 

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My Life According to Google

We have glimpsed the extent of behavioural tracking by using Firefox add-ons like Collusion. We have learned that our internet searches are increasingly filter bubbled. We haven’t started screaming yet because we think it’s just aggregated data about our demographic. It’s just used to market to people of like profile. It’s not about me per se. But it is. With increasing use of mobile devices it’s becoming all about individual tracking. It’s becoming all about marketing to you specifically.

Google’s announced changes to Google maps, is all about individual tracking. Your map is not my map they say. Maps should be dynamically generated and personalised to reflect the individual. They should reflect:  “places frequented by our social networking friends, the places we mention in our emails, the sites we look up on the search engine. Conversely, the places that we haven’t encountered – or, at least, haven’t yet expressed any interest in encountering – will be harder to find” – Evgeny Morozov

Is this to better service you as a user or is the hidden agenda to deliver ads that target you to businesses around that location? In order to do this and to sell the concept to advertisers it is first necessary to reduce you to a totally predictable creature of habit. This can be done by limiting your choices. By deciding for you what you can see.

We are all creatures of habit it’s true but we also love our wild side. Every now and again we want to let chaos rule us. we want to embrace disorder and let loose with some out of character behaviour. It’s an important part of being human. This will not be possible with your device driven decisions of the future. God Google will not allow this. Will you be made feel guilty if you don’t hang out at the same places your Google friends do? Will you ever be able to find a new place whilst being bombarded by predictive advertising from your past behaviour?

“In short, Google prefers a world where we consistently go to three restaurants to a world where our choices are impossible to predict” – Evgeny Morozov

Will you be only shown those restaurants Google thinks you would approve of? You will never get to know about the new restaurant thats just opened across the street.  We will soon be beyond collecting data to profile groups of people. We will be individually tracked and marketed to by age, sex, or product preferences. A world of design targeted advertising.

Facebook’s man Zuckerberg famously declared in 2010, ”privacy is no longer a social norm”.
It seems to be coming to pass, despite the belief of privacy advocates that if information is passed on to others without the individual’s knowledge, then it’s a breach of privacy.

Take this scenario. Its 2020 and you are taking your loved one on a Yesteryear’s Tour. At the beginning the tour guide asks everyone to hand in all mobile devices, digital glasses and web enabled objects. Your partner is uneasy, feels naked. We are going to walk! Well that’s quaint, haven’t done that for years. What! We have to pick a restaurant at random? How can I, when I can’t Google the menu and check to see if it fits my profile and diet app? I can’t go there if I’ve never been there before, I’ll lose loyalty points. We have to order from a manual menu and then wait? I don’t think I like this? What will I do while I wait? Conversation! Physical non typed conversation with only one person, like face to face with no status updates, you’re kidding!

Your partner hated the tour. Never wants to go on one again. They felt naked and uncomfortable outside the security of an individually tailored filter bubble. Never again wants to leave the security of a walled compound of the mind.

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