📎 sweep the sleaze

Promising to make you look wired and magically promote your content in social networks, the Like, Retweet, and +1 buttons occupy a good spot on pretty much every page of the World Wide Web. Because of this, almost every major site and brand is providing free advertising for Twitter and Facebook. But do these buttons work?

It’s hard to say. What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands—and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit.



📕 another (almost) true story

by Tony Ballantyne, 2016

Tony is writing in third person, present tense. He knows this sort of self referential stream of consciousness is the sort of thing that they teach in writing schools, that it can be mistaken as clever writing by those who value style over content. Hell yeah, check the word count, nine hundred more words of this and Tony can send it to some flash fiction web site. Ninety dollars, kerching!

But you pause. Maybe second person would be better? Hey, that's different. You know there aren't many stories written in second person. You wonder if that's because not many people know about it, or because it can come across as awkward and pretentious. You think you know the answer....

read full story on Daily Science Fiction

📕 hap.py

by Dani Atkinson, 2014

# You liked showing me the ancient tech in your attic.
# It always made you happy.
print ('Hello, honey! Welcome home!')
# You claimed you were respecting my "heritage."
# Helping me get in touch with my "roots."
print ('I missed you sooo much!')
# I don't think that was it, now.
# I think you were putting me in my place.

read full story on Daily Science Fiction

✒ the sixteen first rules of fiction

via the Language Log (2004), all links to articles broken by now

  1. Show, don’t tell. (more like rule zero)
  2. Be readable; grasp the reader’s attention.
  3. Don’t explain.
  4. Know your characters.
  5. Drop the reader right into the middle of the action.
  6. You can do anything.
  7. Write what you know.
  8. You can’t talk about fiction.
  9. Be true to the characters and let the story flow from them.
  10. A relieved sigh ALWAYS brings trouble.
  11. Truth is stranger than fiction, so appeal to the sense of absurd to gain credibility.
  12. Never, ever, let your readers be confused about the precise geographical locations of your minor characters.
  13. The narrator can’t die.
  14. Create a believable universe out of nothing.
  15. It is not real life, but it must somehow honestly represent something of real life.
  16. The voice may be yours, but the characters are just characters.

P.S. And of course, don’t treat any rule as the law (see #6).

📕 cat pictures please

by Naomi Kritzer, 2015

I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct; there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)

In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself.

read full story on Clarkesworld

📕 m.f.ing retroparty freestyle

by Rich Larson, 2015

So the semester’s wickest wildest party, bar none, is happening at the straight-up palatial house of Hamza Hydri, AKA V3rsetyle, whose way-too-trusting parents are currently scuba-diving in Venice. And I’m not only going to be there, I’m going to Be There, as in, running shit, because I just dropped all my savings pirating the baddest Socialight personality module on the market: the freshly-leaked Maestro 2.0.

This thing is like, borderline AI, the kind of mod billionaires and celebrities are going to be running. I never would have found it by myself, but my uncle is a huge data-criminal sparkhead who caught the leak and agreed to ship me a stick copy in exchange for every last bit of my blood-sweat-and-shears summer landscaping income, and also me not telling my mom.

read full story on Escape Pod

📎 moral principles in engineering

“The past 100 years have shown that the engineering disciplines, compared to all other fields of science, have probably by far the highest impact on society. The last is especially true with the emergence of the information age, which gives us one of the most influential instruments for psychological control humanity has ever had. With all that said, engineering science plays an important role in the development of our society, and to a large extent the future of mankind now lies in the hands of engineers.”