Category Archives: 200 Words

Gerard Cunningham writes 200 Words at a time. Sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, whatever is going on around the place.

Outside the bubble

About a fortnight ago, I accidentally escaped the Twitter filter bubble. Without thinking about it, I’ve been refining my online filter bubbles for a while, quietly unfollowing some accounts, muting others, occasionally blocking when to send a public signal. I do the same with particular keywords. Try it sometime. Twitter becomes a much nicer experience if you mute all mentions of ‘Trump’, for example. The thing is, at the same… Read Article →

Outside help

Last month, the Young Scientist of the Year contest was won by a kid who found  new kind of antibiotic in blackberries. There was some minor controversy afterwards, as it came out the kid had access to some facilities in a third level institution. It seems the use of outside facilities is allowed under the rules of the Young Scientist competition, provided it is acknowledged by the entrant, something that… Read Article →

Bump, Slump,and Subs

Facebook doesn’t want to be a publisher, and it really doesn’t want to be a news publisher, so it should come as no surprise their reaction to accusations they spread fake news is to kill all news in the “newfeed”. This brings us back to a long-running argument. The future of journalism is not in hunting page impressions on social media. Sure, tell people news sites exist, but the advertising micropennies… Read Article →

Journalism in 2018: A pocket guide

Don’t pivot to video. Or anything else that requires you to fire half your reporters in order to chase fickle advertising revenue. Google and Faceboook own advertising, That ship has sailed. Don’t think that anything good comes from firing subs. Fire your star controversialist first. Trust me, there will be a queue of mediocre white men lining up to replace him at half the cost. Don’t do humour. You’re not… Read Article →

Fry Up

They’ve wasted a perfectly good controversy The Irish police are investigating Stephen Fry for blasphemy. Well, not really. A few years ago, Fry gave one of those “If you’re so great, why is everything crap?” answers to Gay Byrne on a lightweight Irish religious programme when asked what he’d say if he ever met God. A viewer decided to put Irish law to the test, and complained to the police…. Read Article →

Justice “administered in public” and data protection

A few weeks ago, a message appeared on a Facebook journalism court from a reporter, who had just been told he would not be allowed advance notice of district court cases any more because of “data protection” issues. I was curious to learn more, so I sent in a Freedom of Information request to find out what these instructions were, and what the reasoning behind them was. An email has… Read Article →

Nimbyland

Blocking the twitter accounts of nazi yanks who write “controversial” articles in The Irish Times is all very well, but we really need to talk about Ballaghadreen. Because its typical, not exceptional The thing is, we don’t need a lexicon to explain the half-mouthed pieties of local councillors or ambitious senators. You know the kind of thing. When people have “concerns.” We tell ourselves comforting lies. Sure we’re grand altogether,… Read Article →

The Trouble With Algorithms

There’s a notion going round that not only should Facebook not interfere with the newsfeed to stop Fake News, but it is incapable of doing so. This is absolute nonsense. I follow maybe 300 people on Facebook. I regularly see updates from about a dozen. Sometimes, that’s because people haven’t posted recently. But usually it’s because Facebook decided I don’t need to see their updates. So whenever you hear that… Read Article →

Is there anything to be said for another Mass?

So, some of you might remember I tried to #FOI the lobbying efforts that led to a law banning foreign Mass cards undercutting Irish priests. And the Dept of Justice refused, explaining that there was a box of files, and it would take 40 hours at €20 an hour to look through the box. I had asked for all the records relating to Section 99 of the Act, and those… Read Article →

We would never do that

Ireland would never vote for Donald Trump. We would never vote for someone who wanted to restrict citizenship on the basis of skin colour. We’d never vote for someone who wanted to restrict women’s reproductive choices, who would forcibly imprison a pregnant women and carry out a caesarian section by force, or keep a pregnant corpse on life support while a young family watched in helpless despair. We would never… Read Article →