Not Even Wrong 2.0

This blog has just passed its 15th anniversary, and there hasn’t been a lot of change in format since the first postings in March 2004 (there hasn’t been a lot of change in string theory either, but that’s a different topic…). I’ve been hearing a lot in recent years from people who have urged me to update the format of the blog, moving to formats more in tune with the way people now use the internet. One innovation in recent years has been that the blog content is available through Apple News.

I’ve decided to follow some more of the advice I have been getting, and have started up a Not Even Wrong Facebook site. No longer will you have to navigate to my WordPress site to access the blog content, instead it will be available the same way most people are now getting their news, through your Facebook News Feed. This will make it much more convenient for everyone to get notified about new posts and share these with others. I’m looking forward to the expanded readership and connections to the rest of the world that becoming part of the Facebook information eco-system will provide.

Update: Just unblocked a lot of comments that somehow were stuck in a moderation queue. Some people don’t seem to understand that for an international blog like this, the date is best calculated according to UTC.

The uniformly hostile response here to the Facebook idea has been extremely reassuring. No, I don’t intend to move the blog to Facebook. The fact that a sizable fraction of the US population in recent years has been getting its news off their Facebook News Feed seems to be one of the main factors in the 2016 collapse of democracy here, and the same thing is happening all over the world. This has also significantly moved along the ongoing destruction of the economic viability of conventional journalism. Going through the exercise of putting up a Facebook site made me aware of some aspects of how Facebook works I’d never realized. For example, on a Facebook post you can only hyperlink text to other Facebook material, not to the outside world.

It has become all too clear just how ugly the world created by Facebook is, that it is a sociopathic organization, and a danger to a healthy democracy. If you must stay in contact with friends and family this way, avoid any engagement with anything else on the Facebook site. Best would be to delete your Facebook account, now.

Update: For a book-length explanation of why you should be concerned about Facebook, see Roger McNamee’s Zucked, reviewed here.

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116 Responses to Not Even Wrong 2.0

  1. Trailmut says:

    If this is an April Fool’s joke, good and fine; but I’m not so sure it is that funny considering that some other good and smart people have been seduced by Facebook and a lot of us loyal readers felt worried.

  2. John Fredsted says:

    Very happy to read that I am not the only one opposed to Facebook (personally, I have never had any account there). As for other socalled social media, Facebook’s business model seems to revolve around the idea of turning modern mans apparently ever increasing narcissistic tendency – see me, see me, see me! – into a money machine. I think it is a disaster for the human spirit that so many people spend so much time on that platform, for it keeps nurturing something that should not be nurtured.

  3. Visitor says:

    What changed your attitude from

    “I’m looking forward to the expanded readership and connections to the rest of the world that becoming part of the Facebook information eco-system will provide”

    to

    “It has become all too clear just how ugly the world created by Facebook is, that it is a sociopathic organization, and a danger to a healthy democracy. If you must stay in contact with friends and family this way, avoid any engagement with anything else on the Facebook site. Best would be to delete your Facebook account, now.”

    … because Facebook’s hyperlink policy hardly seems to be an adequate explanation for this kind of complete reversal.

  4. Peter Woit says:

    Visitor,

    April 1 turned into April 2.

  5. Chris Oakley says:

    As usual I seem to be a μ+2σ outlier, but I have to say that I like Facebook – it is a nice casual way of keeping in touch with people you hardly ever see. It is also a good source of jokes, and, thanks to the targeted ads I got to meet Terry Jones (of Monty Python) about 10 years ago – he even bought me a drink! As for those individuals who are sufficiently weak-minded to believe a lot of the stupid crap that gets posted on it, well, more fool them: if it was not Facebook, it would be something else (e.g. Fox News). I do agree, though, that it is not a suitable forum for scientific debate as the format tends to encourage knee-jerk, emoticon-based responses rather than considered ones.

  6. unhappy vonnesline says:

    Great April fools…totally got me

  7. tulpoeid says:

    For the record, completely agreeing with Chris Oakley. My previous comment supporting facebook is honest although I was guessing the date-related background.
    For the sake of discussion: facebook is not worse than other online media and in many cases and ways it’s better; sadly, Trump was elected because of his personality and this is what we have to accept and fight. More importantly, I have ~500 “friends” from three continents (whom I all know personally) and maybe only a couple of them abandoned their account because of the last few years’ events, so I’m made to think that it’s worth considering whether the overreaction in US might be related to “traditional” media turning hostile towards facebook out of purely competitive reasons.
    (Congratulations for the patience needed to put up an actual page, though.)

  8. a reader says:

    You got most of us! Well, that was a memorable April’s Fool.
    Never get high on your own supply” (The Guardian, 23.01.2018)

  9. John says:

    I am against Facebook and never had an account or went there. But here uou are a scientist and make the following claim:
    “The fact that a sizable fraction of the US population in recent years has been getting its news off their Facebook News Feed seems to be one of the main factors in the 2016 collapse of democracy here”

    All without any real proof. This claim is almost as bad as the multi-verse. Facebook “news” is mostly left leaning. There are even claims being investigated that conservative news is blocked by Facebook and people working at Facebook, including Mark Z have admitted to some of that. The election’s outcome didn’t happen because of some dumb ads or “news” on Facebook.

  10. Peter Woit says:

    tulpoeid,
    Yes, “traditional” journalists don’t like Facebook because it is putting them out business. If you don’t like “traditional” journalism, you may be fine with that. But I think we’re now seeing what happens when you destroy “traditional” journalism and all that’s left is Fox News, Russia Today, Buzzfeed, together with Facebook as a portal to share these and other sites of “journalists” who do nothing but write about whether Joe Biden smelled some woman’s hair. I just don’t see how you have a viable democracy when people’s main source of info about the world is an information sewer.

    tulpoeid/John,
    The reason Trump won was not that lots of people liked Trump, but that everyone hated Hillary Clinton and thought she was more dishonest than Trump. Why did everyone feel this way about Clinton? Because of what they read on Facebook is one sizable reason. And the garbage they were reading about Clinton did not just come from the Right and the Russians, but also from the Left.

    All,
    I better call an end to the discussion of the implications of Facebook for our democracy. I was conducting a bit of an experiment here to see whether trying to put out news about math and physics on Facebook was something that anyone thought might be a good idea. The results were conclusive on that front.

  11. jk_in_nc says:

    Thanks for calling a halt to the Facebook discussion… although I am glad to see which way a science-prone crowd leans.

    When I saw your original post, I decided against the April-fool idea because a March 31 date was listed, without a time imprint. Curiously, none of your posts have a time inprint, only a date one. However, all of the comment posts have a time (and date) imprint.
    Wondering why that is.

  12. Peter Woit says:

    jk_in_nc,

    The way time-stamps appear is just the WordPress default behavior, perhaps specific to the (standard) theme I’m using. It would be better if posts (and my “Updates”) were time-stamped, but after some poking around I haven’t found an easy way to do this, without adding some custom code.

  13. Andrew Bernatd says:

    Not Even Funny. 🙂 Facebook is such a miserable thing. I was worried for a minute or two!

  14. F4 says:

    “It would be better if posts (and my “Updates”) were time-stamped, but after some poking around I haven’t found an easy way to do this, without adding some custom code.”

    The timestamps are not printed alongside the date but they are in the tooltip that appears uponon hovering over the date link.

    Regarding updates, by the way: appending them to existing posts isn’t ideal as they can easily be missed if the reader happens to not regularly revisit recent posts. Generating an entirely new post instead may seem unnecessary but it results in a cleaner presentation and historical record.

  15. Peter Woit says:

    F4,
    Thanks for explaining how to see the timestamps.

    One thing I’m looking into is whether there’s some way to change the rss behavior so that feed readers such as feedly will notify of an updated post.

  16. Visitor says:

    So, if I understand you correctly, this was an April Fool’s prank. And it required you to code a page for Facebook because I have no idea why. And oh by the way you were “conducting a bit of an experiment here to see whether trying to put out news about math and physics on Facebook was something that anyone thought might be a good idea” and you wanted this information because you were not going to actually act on this information once obtained.

    This is not really credible.

    As we all know, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you’re the easiest person to fool”. Apparently, when he said “you” he meant you.

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