The Day My TV Reached Out and Masked Me

Photo of audience member in Society Mask

The Mr Robot Reach. The Horror,  masked.

On Monday, there was a tweet I couldn’t ignore.

The result, shown above, is both an act of protest (fsociety) and of acquiescence (read on).

My Twitter modality is largely unidirectional. I don’t expect responses to my actions. I don’t expect, and very rarely stumble into sustained dialog as a result of an RT or dashed-off reply.

Despite a more than passing resemblance between E Corp and NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, when @whatismrrobot reached out, I did the unthinkable and provided a street address.  Yes — PII and all that. And over a weakly authenticated channel. No NDA. No opt-in. No privacy disclosure.

A Mr. Robot surrogate of some sort had somehow reached out through that noisy social network chatter. I lowered my guard, recalled recent hand-wringing over Season 3 ratings, responded with a guarded assent.

A day later FedEx announced a shipment from Los Angeles (yes, not a suburb), from Department “Mr Robot.” The rest is . . . well, very, very minor history. But memorable, in a Don Draper sort of way. A show known for its digital dystopia and destruction, decoy and dissolution did the unthinkable. It reached out and touched me.

Answer? Encrypted

TV is ordinarily a cold medium. If only Marshall McLuhan were around to offer a better explanation. But no. The API is undiscoverable. The answer, if there is one, is probably encrypted.

But please don’t delete me while I check anyway.

Algorithm Arrogance at Facebook

Pope Paul V - wikipedia, portrait by Caravaggio | to a Marketplace report on the most recent content stream tweak by Facebook:

It’s algorithm arrogance. There are many data science specialists working at Facebook, but there is reason to believe the new stream tweaks will not improve appreciably. One reason: users have no way to designate content you *do not* want to see (perhaps ever). Another: Facebook search is so unfriendly that search is rarely used to discover what you *do* want to read. (It’s part of the ever-popular toilet paper roll user interface). In other words, there’s plenty of data but not enough of the right sort to improve personalized relevance. Sure, not everyone would use a recommendation / search facility, but for those who do, the results would improve. The data “science” folks have become so algorithm-arrogant that you’d be hard pressed to even find a resource to personalize and improve your feed — with more data.

Best of Global Breed: Healthcare Systems Surveyed through a KPMG Lens

Photo: In Search of the Perfect Health System by Mark Britnell (book cover

In Search of the Perfect Health System by Mark Britnell (book cover)

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Unhappiness over the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA / Obamacare) comes as much from the left as from the right. To learn what was right about the ACA, and how US healthcare being done better elsewhere. a book by KPMG’s Mark Britnell attempts to look at the global big picture — using an IT analyst-like “best of breed” survey.

In Search of the Perfect Health Care System (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) gives that a try.

The publisher’s synopsis:

Have you ever imagined what a truly great health system could look like? Over the past six years, author Mark Britnell has worked in 60 countries – covering eight-tenths of the world’s GDP – with hundreds of government, public and private healthcare organisations.  With chapters on 25 different countries, including Brazil, China and the USA, his practical, succinct guide to the world’s major health systems explores what lessons can be drawn from each to improve health worldwide.This insightful and informative exploration of health systems around the world will give you a truly global health perspective.

Fierce Healthcare’s editor summarized the twelve components of Britnell’s book in a recent editorial as: universal, emphasizing primary care excellence, community level services, mental health, patient self-responsibility, health promotion, R&D, research diffusion, IT support, choice, patient empowerment, effective funding levels, elder care.  Paraphrasing is mine.

Glad to see patient empowerment on the list, but the list length reflects an unavoidable complexity.

Britnell was interviewed by Leonard Lopate in November 2015.