May 18th, 2016

(no subject)

There's a piece in the Wall Street Journal about left-leaning and right-leaning Facebook feeds. I think it's flawed and I'm not linking to it.

I grant that Facebook is showing us what we want to see, but I don't believe that their one-dimensional model is truly reflective of what we get to see.

I have a lot of left-leaning friends. I get a lot of Sanders vs. Clinton ranting, mostly from crazy people my friends are apparently connected to somehow. I consider them noisy and annoying. But their existence makes it clear to me that there are multiple left-leaning feeds.

Similarly, there are multiple feeds on the right. Looking at the WSJ red feed I see nothing from us ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ people, which to me points to the problem with a one-dimensional analysis of Facebook's algorithms. (Or, donning tinfoil, it may mean that the WSJ is in the tank for Trump.)

Facebook has not yet presented me with pro-Trump articles, though I get my share of anti-Trump articles from a conservative viewpoint in my feed. This is after all what Facebook thinks I like, and they're right.

All this is to say that my own experience tells me that in fact Facebook's feed algorithms are much more nuanced than a one-dimensional analysis can show.

I have friends who have said they like being able to see a red-shifted feed. I endorse that. But it's not really something I miss from Facebook, because I already have RedState, the National Review, and The American Conservative in my normal political reading.

(no subject)

Also: I feel like I'm swimming upstream against Facebook's algorithms, because when I post something cute about Maurice Sendak's reply to a child's fan letter, I get literally dozens of likes, and when I post a well-researched article on the Koch brothers withdrawing from national races in 2016, I get...three.

(I didn't post the Sendak post here only because it was a repost from someone else on my Facebook feed. If there's interest, I'll repost here.)

Edit: I have evidence that people thought that Koch brothers post was interesting because of the traffic it got on LiveJournal. Again, it's hard to tease out what is audience and what is algorithm, but on LJ I don't have to guess what an algorithm is doing to my posting visibility.

(no subject)

There was a recent article in the Cranky Flyer discussing JetBlue's expansion of Mint to more routes. Mint is their premium cabin service, and the article discussed the effect this might have in raising their competitors' standards for premium class service within the United States, which is notably sub-standard compared to premium class service overseas, even from US carriers.

You can fly from Boston to San Francisco in JetBlue's premium cabin, which they call Mint, for $599 one way. Not bad, particularly if you're going at short notice and you're being forced to pay walk-up pricing anyway. Six hundred dollars is pretty good for a lie-flat seat, nice food, and a private suite if you're traveling with someone.

I compared this to my benchmark transcontinental premium class offering, which is on Cathay Pacific between New York JFK and Vancouver. It also offers a lie-flat seat in business class, but it's $2,935. (It's an international three-class aircraft, so it also has an even nicer lie-flat seat option in first class for $3,732.) So the JetBlue offering is a pretty good deal, for what it is.

I hope they're successful. I don't generally fly in the premium cabin, but that pricing is within reach for a splurge.

(I own no shares in JetBlue and have no interest in the airline other than as a satisfied customer.)

JetBlue's page on their premium class service.

Cathay Pacific's page on their business class service.