In one of the first issues of this newsletter that was co-authored by yours truly, Calvin and I went head to head on Net Neutrality. To recap, one of the first things the incoming Trump administration did as part of their general elimination of bureaucratic red tape was to eliminate the restrictions on ISP's and their ability to play any role in the content and website part of the internet (this is a vast oversimplification but works for this purpose).
For some reason the blue tribe on the internet and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself), including almost all of big tech co's (FB, Twitter, Reddit, etc) decided this was the worst thing that had ever happened. Ajit Pai (the chairman of the FCC) was painted as a huge villain (people said he had a punchable face...) and doomsday scenarios (the end of the internet as we know it) were sure to come pass... not only would it be bad but it would be worse than anyone could ever imagine. But all was for naught and the removal of the regulations took place.
Fast forward three years and the internet has not died. The average bandwidth of the average American has almost tripled. No-one is charging you a per-diem access charge to visit wikipedia.com. If anything, the power of the social media giants has increased not decreased (as they had feared, which is a whole separate problem; but I digress).
As a cynical libertarian who is both opposed to almost all governmental regulation and extremely skeptical of whatever the mob consensus is on the internet I was extremely sure this is where we would end up. And I'd like to include this link to a twitter thread of someone making fun of all the news media outlets' bad takes on the Net Neutrality debate, 3 years later. You can call it a victory lap... I'm ok with that framing. -B
Hot take alert. Showing the amount of times an action has been taken in your product's UI is going to influence whether or not the user is more likely to take one action over another. Actions that a user takes to show that they like or dislike something, or that they engaged with something, should at most be used to fuel the recommendation algorithms for that individual user and not as social proof that something is "good" or "bad". -C
In the highly competitive fantasy football league that Brian and I participate in, there is a "punishment" for finishing the season in last place. Each year we have a meeting where part of the agenda is suggesting new punishment options; one year, I submitted that the loser had to post a bathroom selfie weekly during the entire offseason. As I recall, no suggestion has ever been so quickly and utterly rejected. That has something to do with this study, maybe. -C