February 21, 2024

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The word “no” no longer exists for tech companies

The word “no” no longer exists for tech companies

“No means no.” It’s one of those phrases that we’ve been trying to teach people about social interaction for years, with varying degrees of success. But where we increasingly get the message in relationships and work that we must dare to say and accept “no,” that’s not the case in the digital world.

When was the last time you had the option to say no to a computer? Windows wants to install a completely new operating system. Then you can choose between “now” and “later”. If an app changes the terms, it’s a matter of accepting them or not using the app anymore and leaving all your contacts and work behind. “Do you want to allow cookies?”: Five bold style- Screens to uncheck everything, and we’ll try again in a month.

As a user of digital services, you are never allowed to refuse something. There are buttons subtly asking for your opinion (“We think your privacy is very important”), but it’s practically you to push And send it until it gives the “correct” answer. “No” at best means “we’ll try again later.”

When was the last time you had the option to say no to a computer?

The idea that the consumer needs to adjust like a toddler seems to be the tentative end point of the evolution toward “friction less.” Almost every tech startup has mentioned the word “frictionless” in their pitch somewhere in the past 10 years. Refrigerators that restock milk when it runs out, automatic pet feeders, “People Like You Bought Too,” one-click payment, and delivered to your door. useful. But somewhere “You don’t have to think about it yourself” changed to “You don’t have to think about it yourself”.

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That shouldn’t hurt tech companies. Despite all the EU rules on “informed consent”, they continue to try to present things we don’t choose for ourselves without friction. Meanwhile, every site that can do this is trying to become TikTok and unleash an endless algorithmic feed for its users. Every other site wants to follow ChatGPT: Easy and quick answers on a silver platter. Users don’t have to consult the source themselves or check the truth, which only causes friction.

Algorithm-generated content is everywhere. And I must admit: it works. It’s so easy to keep swiping right over and over to the next Short, TikTok, or whatever and suddenly find yourself two hours ahead of the pampus, with your head now permanently spinning around the new Miley Cyrus after the number has been played twenty times. by. It’s the modern equivalent of mindlessly flipping from channel to channel, but with fewer Friends episodes and more unwanted Joe Rogan.


But also: Algorithms are only as good as tech companies want them to be. It’s vaguely based on what you like, but still mainly based on what encourages you to “share”. Every so often I’m presented with the kind of video that a tech giant like YouTube, with nearly a decade of watch history in its database, should know I don’t like. You as a user will be told “You have to train the algorithm better”. Click away faster, block things. However, with every click on “I don’t want to see this,” you know Google will try again later with a viral hate video. “Your opinion is important to us”, but again not that bad.

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A few weeks ago, news broke that Twitter chief Elon Musk had modified his service so that more users would see his tweets in the algorithm’s “For You” timeline. Those who blocked him still got his pointless tweets in their throats, because if an emperor pays 44 billion for new clothes, everyone should and will see it. We can laugh at the very fragile ego of the richest man in the world, but it shows how he and quite a few tech companies think about users.

Sand in the wheels

What do you do with that? You may just like these suggestions and love to walk with your hand. The Hugo Award-winning classic fan site and Archive of Our Own, meanwhile, will receive complaints because it lacks an algorithm. Users have to search (like monsters!) among ten million works for the genres and characters that interest them. The site filtering system is legendary, but it is not automated.

I’ve seen so much science fiction myself that I like the evolution towards thinking less and pursuing more. When the word “no” is gone, the only real option you have as a consumer is to sign off. For most of us, this is not possible socially, commercially, practically. Therefore, it is hoped that there will be initiatives like Solid, or plug-ins and browsers that allow you to refuse tracking. suggestion? Try to think more for yourself, and choose for yourself. Click away from Auto Feed. Friction isn’t that bad. A little sand between the toes will keep you awake. In these times it is a form of rebellion.

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