January 2014 Archives

In the past 3 months my blog has gone from about 50% of comments being spam to 100% being spam. And it's all very subtle spam, where every single comment looked, at first glance, like a legitimate comment, even on-topic most of the time. But then there were the links: always spam links, always unrelated to the topic of the blog post. The implications are fascinating: all I can assume is that somewhere in the world there is an operation that is paying people, probably on foreign lands because the English is always a little weird in these comments, to read blog posts and attempt to comment like a real human, but sneak in commercial URLs as links.

Several years ago I started using a blog commenting software tool called Intense Debate. Like the other blog software platform I use, Movable Type, it started out great. They updated their software, were responsive to support questions, and generally went out of their way to be helpful. But then years passed, and Intense Debate has now, like Movable Type before it, essentially been abandoned by its makers. Intense Debate has a support email, and they say they respond within 24 hours to requests for help. They do not. They never respond. In fact I have even contacted Matt Mullenweg, now CEO of the company that owns Intense Debate, on multiple occasions, to ask if Intense Debate support actually exists. He has never responded to any inquiry. In the past 2 years not a single attempt at reaching the Intense Debate support team has ever resulted in being actually contacted by the Intense Debate support team. I do not believe there is one and I challenge Matt to prove there is, and if there is, explain why it has not ever responded to me.

Almost immediately after starting to use Intense Debate, I found that I had to turn moderation on for the comments, because so many comments were fake, phoney, spam messages. Over the past 12 months it's gotten so bad that I only check to clean out the spam about once a month. I do not recall actually approving a single comment in this blog in the past 6 months.

So I am not going to bother anymore. Oh, you will still be able to add a comment, because Intense Debate has never gotten back to me with any answers to how I can disable NEW comments but keep OLD comments. And while I could just wipe out all the Intense Debate javascript from every HTML template on this site, this in one fell swoop destroying all comments and remnants of Intense Debate, I choose not to do so yet because I would rather keep the old, good comments around.

I just won't be approving any new comments from here on out, and at some point if I can't figure out a way to disable adding new comments but keeping old, approved ones, I'll just delete all Intense Debate code, including old comments.

Finally, I had planned to migrate this old blog's Movable Type platform over to Wordpress, but considering Wordpress is owned by Automattic, makers of Intense Debate, and Automattic is run by Matt Mullenweg, I have zero confidence in migrating to that platform. I'll keep looking elsewhere.

So: don't comment. I'm not checking. If you wanna comment on a blog post here, tweet it and include @brianstorms in the tweet; I'll see it that way.

The contrast between incredible turbulence of the 50s and 60s on the one hand, and everything since on the other, is stark in this Google Research visualization of music from 1950 to now. I would love to see what book genres and movie genres look like during the same time period.

There are probably many factors that are skewing this graph. How many people owned record players and radios in the 1950s versus the 60s? How much was television a factor in the late 1950s and through the 1960s in terms of popularizing non-jazz forms of music? How about population growth? And globalization effects? How does Google define "popularity"? Sales of records? Who knows. All sorts of questions, and no answers.

Besides the dramatic death of Jazz in the 60s, struck down by Pop and Rock, the other astonishing thing in this visualization is the simple predictability of the "channels" of genres ever since 1980. It's as if the genres went into a huge processing plant, which sorted them out and what flowed out were highly regulated, commercial products carefully placed into the market at controlled rates. It's as if music has morphed from being an art form, to being a product churned out by a smokestack industry.



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The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear
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