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NEWS OF THE DAY : How tech being ‘too easy to use’ is proving to be its weak link
- December 15, 2018
- Posted by: Shivam
- Category: NEWS Worth To Read
Amitav Ghosh becomes the first writer in English to win Jnanpith
Amitav Ghosh has won the 54th Jnanpith award this year for his contribution to literature. The Bharatiya Jnanpith’s statement made note of the “extraordinary depth and substance” of his fiction, and his capacity to create a space “where the past connects with the present”. It is the first time since its inception that the Jnanpith is awarded to a writer in English language.
In a tweet, Ghosh responded that he was “honoured and humbled” to be on the list with the writers whom he most admires. The award was established in 1961 and previous Jnanpith winners include India’s greatest literary lions across its many languages, like Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam, UR Ananthamurthy and Shrilal Shukla.
Born in Calcutta in 1956, with his early years spent in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as stints in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria, Amitav Ghosh now lives in New York. He has written many novels and essays, including ‘The Shadow Lines’ and ‘Circle of Reason’. Books like ‘In An Antique Land’ defy genre, and have been widely admired.
Ghosh’s writing has always been preoccupied with the intertwining of history and memory. His fiction roams free, taking on complicated subjects with an anthropologist’s attention and a novelist’s insight. Whether they delve into subjects like malaria or dolphins in the Sunderbans, books like ‘Calcutta Chromosome’ and ‘The Hungry Tide’ wear their learning lightly.
His recent writing has sought an imaginative response to big things that remain inarticulate — from his non-fiction on climate change, ‘The Great Derangement’, to his titanic trilogy about the opium trade and colonialism, ‘Sea of Poppies’, ‘River of Smoke’ and ‘Flood of Fire’. In these three books too, he has excelled at etching human stories out of historical flux and world events.
In a career studded with prizes, he has also won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Padma Shri. Ghosh will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Times Litfest on December 16.
How tech being ‘too easy to use’ is proving to be its weak link
Seven years ago, a younger and more carefree Mark Zuckerberg went onstage at Facebook’s annual developer conference and announced a major change to the social network’s design.
Until then, apps connected to Facebook would ask users if they wanted to publish their latest activity to their feed on the social network. Those pop-up messages from apps were annoying, Zuckerberg said, so the company had created a new category of apps that could post directly to users’ feeds, without asking for permission every time. “From here on out, it’s a frictionless experience,” Zuckerberg said.
Over the past decade or so, eliminating “friction” — the name given to any quality that makes a product more difficult or time-consuming to use — has become an obsession of the tech industry.
There is nothing wrong with making things easier. But it’s worth asking: Could some of our biggest technological challenges be solved by making things slightly less simple?
The frictionless design of social media platforms, which makes it trivially easy to broadcast messages to huge audiences, has been the source of innumerable problems, including foreign influence campaigns, viral misinformation and ethnic violence abroad.
“The internet’s lack of friction made it great, but now our devotion to minimising friction is perhaps the internet’s weakest link for security,” Justin Kosslyn, a product manager at Jigsaw, said.
Often, invoking the concept of friction is a useful way to obscure some larger, less savoury goal. For Facebook, “frictionless sharing” was a thinly veiled cover for the company’s goal of getting users to post more, and increasing the amount of data for ad targeting. For YouTube, auto-playing videos have sharply increased view time, thereby increasing the platform’s profitability.
There are signs that some tech companies are beginning to appreciate the benefits of friction. WhatsApp limited message forwarding in India this year after reports that viral threads containing misinformation had led to riots. And YouTube tightened its rules on how channels can earn ad revenue. More such changes would be welcome, even if they led to a hit to engagement. NYT NEWS SERVICE
(Source : Times Of India)
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