Of Particular Significance

Science, Technology and Modern Forms of Evil — Linked. (In.)

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 11/04/2014

Readers are probably wondering what’s become of me, and all I can say is that career challenges are occupying 120% of my time. I do miss the writing, and hope I will get back to it soon, though it seems unlikely it will be before December.  So it is all the more unfortunate that today’s post has almost nothing to do with science at all. It is an apology.

Which is weird. I have nothing to apologize for, and yet I have to apologize to everyone on my contacts list for the unsolicited invitation they received to become my contact on LinkedIn. Or rather, LinkedIn needs to apologize, but they won’t, so I have to do it.

I use LinkedIn sparingly, though I have found it beneficial on occasion. But one of its features is that its software is constantly asking you if you want to make LinkedIn-contact with people whom it thinks you might know. That’s understandable; LinkedIn has to make money, and information and contacts are money for them. But there’s one LinkedIn request that you have to be careful with, in which they ask for permission to import your contacts lists and send LinkedIn invitations to make contact with every single person on that list. I don’t have to explain to you why this would typically be undesirable… it’s obvious. Just think of one person you’d rather not talk to, or who’d rather not hear from you, who might be down in a forgotten corner of your list of contacts.

In the old days, if you were to plan something so drastic as contacting hundreds of unrelated people on a single day about joining your professional network, you’d be discussing it on the phone or at a desk with a company representative, having a conversation. And you’d probably have to sign a piece of paper. Moreover, you’d have at least a few minutes, if not days, to consider what you’d done and change your mind.

In the modern age — ok, here’s our one connection to science, which provides us with incredible speed and automation — clicking is enough. But everyone knows that it is easy to misread something and click on it, or do something through accidental clicking of a touch-pad, a slip of a mouse, or a bump of a touchscreen. I don’t know which of these happened to me yesterday. In any case, in order to take an action as outlandish and irrevocable as sending blanket faux-personalized email invitations to everyone I have ever known, it is essential for a company to have a warning pop-up: “This action will send email invitations to 452 individuals. Are you sure you want to do this?” The default should be “No“, and you have to click on “Yes” for the action to go ahead.

But for LinkedIn, as I discovered yesterday, a single click is apparently all it takes, with no warning screen.  In my opinion, this is somewhere between unethical, negligent, and sneaky.

Actually let’s just call it evil.

It’s also extremely stupid.

First, it forced me to issue a broad apology to everyone who might be on my contacts list for some reason — an apology for LinkedIn’s inappropriate activity, and for my own inability to prevent it.  I considered sending 452 separate emails, or a blanket email to 452 people, but decided that a blog post would be much easier to arrange, somewhat less time-consuming, and slightly less embarrassing.

Second, seeing the irreparable disarray in my LinkedIn account caused by yesterday’s debacle, and considering the numerous embarrassing professional and personal situations that LinkedIn (which purports to help careers!) had created in a single stroke, I decided my best bet was to permanently delete the account, and do no more business with LinkedIn.

Is there a science-and-society lesson here?  Maybe not.  Companies have been using subterfuge to take advantage of consumers for generations, and consumers have been fighting back however they can, often by boycotting those companies and by word-of-mouth criticism.   That said, the speedy, efficient electrons of our electronic age have made it all much more public and more immediate — for good and for evil.

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46 Responses

  1. Hi would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re working with?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and
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    good web hosting provider at a fair price? Cheers, I appreciate

  2. Zu is still here today, it is where our universe gets borrowed energy from and returns.The evidence for aging photons is EXACTLY the same data as that for the galaxies moving away. If they are 14BLY away they are 14 DAYs old when they get here.

    1. larsjaegerseo;

      My response to Richard (above) applies to your comment too; Your “evidence” for “aging photons” is not evidence. This theory might be right, but it is certainly not Ready for Prime Time, not yet.

      sean s.

  3. Last nite I was at a Social Media party when a woman approached me and said to me “do you see that girl in the corner over there?; she is a Facehooker and you, what are you?”I said “I am a Linke din”. Then…., believe me or not, I had to run for my life.

  4. Matt, I have full sympathy with you! But this is the price we have to pay for getting the internet and other social media. Without internet, we would not have been able to communicate with you anyway. I treat these e-mails like
    the ones I get from Nigeria about sharing $10 M!! Every time I log in I have to delete dozens of such e-mails. I agree with you it is a nuisance though!

  5. this is a new marketing head at work. he wants to show the no.s increased. that is all. once linked in notices the comments like this he/she will be fired. so it is every body’s duty to react to these practices

  6. Come on, Matt, don’t overreact. I am getting some invitation to LinkedIn almost every day but it has still eaten just a minute of my life – less than writing this comment – to delete all these messages.

    It’s the same counting in your case. The 452 people would spend about 452 seconds with that, less than 10 minutes, probably less than you spent with this blog post, too.

    BTW when I was on a talk of the U.S. ambassador here, Andrew Schapiro, a classmate of Obama’s, I decided that he’s your lookalike. It’s not like twin brothers but there’s some similarity.

  7. Matt- dude! We were star Miss the blogs! But I can only imagine how busy you are. Just know your fans understand and are waiting patiently!

    As for LinkedIn – when it was still in its infancy my boss came up to me and said “I got your email invite to join LinkedIn” or something to that effect. I asked him to forward me the email because I was not a member. No idea how they got my name or employment. After that I vowed to never use the service – I mean how creepy is that?

  8. Never fear: (A) I ignore LinkedIn, (B) your blog entries are worth waiting for, (C) love your family/job/life first and your blog after those! Best wishes, etc. etc.

  9. Maybe you might leave us for two months with a couple of topics that we can debate amoung ourselfs. Not necessarly these but something like them: I. Was there a First particle from the Big Bang ?. II. What is the next “small thing” in the universe if you consider a point as the smallest ? III. Are then any other reasons for the redsfift from photons that traveled for 14BY besides galaxies moving away ? VI. Why does light have a limited velocity of C ?

    1. Maybe I should start. (I.) Yes, there was a First particle, (Eu). Eu decays into 10**50 particles, (Sm) two at a time , one matter and one anti-matter and are placed at the opposite ends of the universe. Sm decays into 10**60 particles, Mu which is the mass of the neutrino, .04 ev. The time when Eu fisrt decays is 10**-84 sec. It’s volume is 10**-228 m and it’s energy is .04ev * 10**50 * 10**60. This is the total universe, not just the observable part. Eu is finished decaying at T = 10**-34 and inflation is over. these particles are placed in Zu just as Eu was, as there is no space, they are the only space and none have motion relative to each other. The matter anti-matter are at opposite ends of the universe. The center is a void and there was never any interaction. General Relativity and Special Relativity never entered the picture as the first three particles are about 100BLY apart and the rest while all closer, still too far apart. Since these are the only particles so far, there are no forces, no gravitons, gluons or photons yet and the temperature is still zero, but that changes now.

    2. (II.) Since a point is a single value for (T,X,Y,Z) the next biggest thing must be X with a length. A one dimensional preons. Nothing moves over that length and time is discrete, not continuous, it goes tick, tick, tick. So every particle is built from three at right angles. The time ticks at 5*10**44 s and the length is 10**-36 m. This is a Tidom (L) . Tidoms come in three frequencies L (low), H (high), E (used in the particles below). The ratio between the frequencies in time is 10**20 and for the length for all 3. The first three particles tables are (LLL),(LLH),(LHH), the LLL is space, LLH are ferimons and LHH are bosons.

      1. @ Richard Bauman:
        Hi! It looks like you have good knowledge of cosmology and you are willing to speculate! I would like to hear your opinion on the following. I have hard time believing that the huge repulsive field present at the time of big bang giving rise to inflation and the present small cosmological constant giving rise to accelerated expansion are completely independent. Is it possible that the primordial repulsive quantum field decreased to a small value when inflation stopped and we interpret it today as a small cosmological constant ? This is probably completely naive speculation on my part!! I suspect it is not possible to write a mathematical model for such a field otherwise some one would have done it. What is your opinion on this?

        1. (I.) above is inflation. What you know, and others is so different than what I am saying, it is VERY hard to think differently. There are 100 MAJOR problems in physics, each with 1000 theories. SO NONE ARE RIGHT ! Dark matter, dark energy, inflation, singularities, quantum mechanics, gravity, structure of isotope, electron orbit, etc, all are explained with this concept. The universe is built from preons, (II.) is a preon and three preons are needed for every particle. I started with the biggest particle so it is harder to understand then if I started with Space, fermions or bosons. But take (III.) and (VI.) It is simple to explain why C exist and why we think the universe is expanding when it is NOT. That redshift is from photons aging, the center of any galaxy is not moving much. Of all the cases the Bullet cluster may be the only one known. Maybe you have a more specific question . And this theory explaines the differences between the Bullet Cluster and ABELL 520, no other theory does that welll. Reread (I.) please.

          1. Thanks for the reply.Sorry. I mistook you for Daniel Baumann who has done work on inflation and string theory. Of course I do not have anything against your models.

          2. Richard; Some comments:

            If the universe is actually not expanding, then why would we think there ever was a “first particle”? The idea of the “big bang” or cosmic expansion comes from the observation that the universe is expanding. No expansion means that there’s nothing the “big bang” is needed for. We’d just need to explain why it’s not collapsing!

            You mention “aging light”. Not a new idea: do you have evidence that it actually occurs? It’s a nice explanation, but only if it’s valid. Otherwise it’s just a shiny distraction.

            Likewise, your cosmological explanations beginning with Eu are interesting; how do you suggest we verify them? How do you propose to justify someone else’s effort to test them?

            Even if there are 100,000 theories to explain the “100 MAJOR problems” in physics, it does not follow that “NONE ARE RIGHT!” Probably none are perfect, but likely some are usefully accurate. The more there are, the more likely that one is close-enough.

            Finally, contrary to popular opinion, it is VERY EASY to “think differently”. What is VERY hard is to think differently in a useful way. Bizarre Ideas are a dime-a-dozen; Bizarre-But-Useful Ideas are rare indeed.

            It is good that you are willing to speculate, but speculation is only the first step, and I don’t see how you will take any of the next steps. Many a pretty theory “explained everything”–until they didn’t.

            sean s.

          3. Thanks K.V. Forgot to include string theory, supperstrings, multiverses and general relativity as problems.
            Strings virbrate in 3D, preons in 1D, strings need spaces, preons build space, strings are particles, preons build particles. And then what builds a string. Then there are predictions; the three neutrinos have total energies of .04, .08 and .12 EVs what does string theory say ? If I am wrong, I am all wrong. And notice those numbers !

          4. Thanks S.S. ; If you reread (I.) you will see the 2nd and 3rd particles are 100MLY apart, expansion is over for them, same for 4.5. The expansion concept comes from redsfift, if redshift is aging the expansion is over, Particles never moved thru space . There was no space yet to even move thru. The exact aging is the difference between a photons initial energy and what we see divided by the time to get here. This give the same results as assuming galaxicies are moving away. Real photons age because time ticks and uses itself up to tick. Only Real photons do this because there are always the wrong frequency, Electrons don’t age at a rate noticable.

          5. Richard;

            If you reread my post above you will see that if there is no expansion then there’s no reason to explain expansion in the first place. Saying it’s “over” begs the question: if it’s not happening now, why invoke it at all? If it did happen once, why did it stop? And where is your evidence?

            You have some interesting ideas about “Real photons”, electrons, and “aging”, do you have any evidence to back up these ideas? Without that, these ideas cannot even be wrong.

            I really don’t see much value to your ideas which essentially turn cosmic expansion into an optical illusion; that could be true, but absent any evidence or utility to the idea, there’s no reason to believe your claims have merit.

            sean s.

          6. Thanks again Sean. Nov 7. 2:34 pm. Expansion (inflation) is only over for particles 1,2 and 3. There are 10**50 more coming. This expansion is geometry, not the physics stated else where. No laws of physics change because of inflation. The transformation is R/rho = 1/n between our universe and Zu (initial universe). The 2nd, 3rd particles are 100 BLY apart at 10**-84 sec. As the 1st particle was placed in our universe, so where the 2nd and 3rd placed and all the rest will be placed. There is no space yet, it hasn’t been built. Zu is still here today, it is where our universe gets borrowed energy from and returns.
            The evidence for aging photons is EXACTLY the same data as that for the galaxies moving away. If they are 14BLY away they are 14 BYs old when they get here. There is not One Single Difference except the conclusion of why they redshift. It does mean that energy is being lose, but not really, it is returning to Zu as borrowed energy. And only for real photon because of their various frequencies..

          7. Richard;

            Your “evidence” for “aging photons” is not evidence. The observed red shift could be caused by actual motion or “aging photons”. The standard explanation is the former, you say it’s the latter. The observation (red shift) cannot be proof of the explanation (aging photons) when there is another, equally useful explanation.

            So your obligation is to show how your explanation (“aging photons”) is better than the standard explanation (cosmic expansion). What reason is there for anyone of us to accept your explanation as better than the standard model? In what way is it superior? In what way does your explanation help?

            If photons actually do “age”, are there other, observable phenomena you can point to which also require aging photons to explain and which cannot be satisfactorily explained otherwise?

            You might be right, but you have yet to be convincing.

            sean s.

  10. Matt, you are not be the only person who finds the time taken to do what they think they ought to do exceeds the available time. You are also not the only one who finds disconcerting aspects about the so-called social media. It appears that ISIS can use the social media to expedite their command and control issues, but people who want to use it for what they think it was designed for find their submitted data being used in all sorts of ways they did not intend it to be used for. That says something about our social media.

    I find your physics posts very enlightening, and I also think it is important that more of the population get to understand the scientific way of thinking, because our society is now becoming very dependent on technology, and this could be a very great risk in democracies if hardly any people have the means of understanding what it involves.

    1. http://m.youtube.com/results?q=zeltene%20erde%20material&sm=12echnologies are eve’s apple, was already told in bible. In stone age we churned the wood and produced fire – digging into “lowest energy level” produced energy (= mass).
      Now in material science, we make the electron fall into the “deepest” hole (lowest energy level) and produced the blue LED light.
      It reveals, there is more energy (= Mass) in more lowest energy level. Proton (gluon motion) contains most of the mass – so at most lowest energy level.
      But there is a point of spontaneous symmetry breaking – protected by present status quo energy (what we call spacetime) – at high energies this symmetry is breaking ?

      Pic : Churning for milk of immortality, Angkor wat.

  11. Come back soon Matt…. Your articles are the only reason I log onto the net 🙂 True story!!!

    But I’m running out of reading material!!..

    Hope you find time to do a piece on the Holographic principle in respect to Information storage of black holes if possible. 🙂

    Many thanks..

  12. Good to read thoughts from a good and sound mind again, too much garbage on the internet these days. Maybe the initial fears about the web were correct, so many talking heads will cladder the web and no one will be able to decipher what is true and what is false. Hope the CIA is working on a more secure web decent folk can use.

    Anyway, back to reality, physics, Professor does gravity really exist? Could we be formulating the effects of momentum changes caused by hot and cold temperatures (various densities of energy) and called it gravity? Also, there seems to be a redundancy, electric charge and gravitational force. Both have a common characteristics, so why would both be required by such a perfect system, nature?

    PS; I am a firm believer of all will simply down to the simplest of “equations” F = k x ….. (Note, the time variable is not there!)

    Please keep writing, logical minds are a must to keep this species alive.

    1. “[I] Hope the CIA is working on a more secure web [that] decent folk can use. ”
      I TORtally agree. Eepsite, a typo, I swear! And again! They’re just going FREEly over the NET today. Seriously though, I’m thinking of terms like ‘hearts and minds’ and ‘social engineering’ and marketing and PR ‘spin’ and ‘Sybil attack’. It is kind of neat how a web-of-trust can be combined with privacy, if you’re willing to live with the low transfer rates.

      This is no big shock. I’ve known this for years, like several of the people here. You just happen to have been slow to become a victim or hear of it (like I did by noticing that my friend was sending spam to me about LI). I don’t even know _how_ I got an Linked-In account but sure as the world I found one when looking for it and it had some of my (business/personal) friends. I assume it was just waiting there as a placeholder for me to sign up. I feel like I’m wasting my breath when I tell relatives to not put each other’s phone numbers (including mine) into their FB/Myspace/etc. profiles. A creditor or 2 recently got into some hot water for calling entire families and circles of friends and even employers over a debt. I guess they were hoping that someone would get tired of hearing it and pay to make it go away (LOL, just kidding – I hope), or that it would embarrass the debtors (assuming they even got the right person’s friends and family).

      You ever wonder why Google and the like want your cell phone number (no landlines [SMS-less] allowed!) to ‘secure’ your email and got rid of even ‘fake’ security questions as an option? It’s a mighty useful tool to them in many ways. I’m sure the initial thinking was for spammers but it become optional, and then there was the accounts stolen by guessing information that all your relatives already know and that others can _buy_ in bulk. The advertising identity is just icing on the cake. They wanted to solve several headaches AND get a new revenue stream all in one go.

  13. I’ve gotten so many “invitations” to LinkedIn from friends who did not intend to bother me, that I now totally ignore any mail from LinkedIn.

  14. I never granted LinkedIn permission to access my contacts. But from the suggestions that it makes (regarding whom I might want to connect to), it seems to have knowledge of my contacts. For example, LinkedIn suggests that I connect to people that are not related to me in anyway other than that there was an email exchange many years ago.

  15. Bravo Matt, when the same thing happened to me I thought LinkedIn was pretty rotten, and stupid, for doing this. I came to the same conclusion. What they offer isn’t worth it. They deserve to fail.

  16. Matt, really miss your scientific blog I hope you can soon return to those great physics posting you made in the past. Hope the career move is working OK

  17. Wow! That’s evil and counterproductive feature indeed. In any case, if your usage frequency was very low you are probably better off without such a “service”.

  18. Old news I’m afraid, as Linkedin is not alone in this practice. My guess is that well over half the people contacted (from your address book/recent email list) are already aware of this practice, and acted accordingly (i.e., Ignore). Sorry that you had to deal with this crap, devoting time that is obviously at a premium at this point in your life.

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