With the rise of fascist leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s natural to want to investigate the degree to which new communication technologies have facilitated it. Much as Horkheimer and Adorno indicted the incipient mass media and the “culture industry” for mid–20th century fascism, we might look at 21st–century social media in the same light. Online platforms have become instruments for meting out brutality, suppressing freedom of thought, reinforcing marginalization and social exclusion, and enforcing orthodoxy. But it makes sense also to think of fascism itself as a political technology, an approach to social control that relies on negating the truth, sowing confusion, destabilizing shared values, and setting unmoored bureaucracies against the population and one another. We face an unprecedented combination of seemingly opposed ideologies that have come to reinforce each other: Big Data positivism generates an endless stream of uninterpretable information that post-truth demagoguery can triumphantly push aside. —Rob Horning
My friend's boyfriend said he was out, but we knew he was lying. The first letter of his incoming iMessages weren't capitalized—a clear giveaway that he was typing from a computer.
By default, both iPhones and most Android devices capitalize the first word in a sentence, no matter what app you're using. You can easily turn the feature off, but most people don't. On a desktop, chat apps like Slack and Skype don't capitalize messages automatically. iMessage does, but many people have turned the feature off, maybe because the subtle difference has become codified.
As a result, two subtle styles of communicating have emerged—one in which all sentences are capitalized, and one in which they're not. The first indicates someone is on their phone, and the second that they're typing from a desktop. For people you communicate with frequently—like significant others, close friends and family— your capitalized letters are a way for them to know what you're up to, before you even tell them.
A conversation clearly had between two people on computers. Image: Screenshot
When I ask a coworker a question, and her delayed response reads "Yes" rather than "yes," I know she's away from her desk, before she tells me. If the friend I'm meeting up with suddenly writes "Haha" rather than "haha," I know he's left work, and is on his way.
Sometimes though, the capitalized letter trick doesn't work.
For example, when a new crush's text reads "let's hang out," rather than "Let's hang out," it could actually mean one of two things. It could indicate they're on a computer, or that they revised their message, removing the capitalized letter in the process. If you're sure your texting partner is on a phone and you receive a message without a capitalized first letter, it's fairly safe to bet they redrafted their text.
I've also carefully lowercased letters on my phone in messages to coworkers, in an effort to disguise the fact that I'm mobile. Several other Motherboard staffers admitted to doing the same.
That we notice the difference between 'a' and 'A' in the first place is evidence that maybe we spend too much time communicating behind screens. More interestingly, it's a tiny example of the strange and subtle ways our phones and computers change the information encapsulated in a message.
You thought you were merely saying "sorry I can't make it," but your lowercase S also revealed that you're probably watching Netflix on your laptop instead.
I suppose this also only works for people who (1) use the same app on their computer and phone and (2) are acculturated into the 'textspeak' conventions. When my wife and I text back and forth, we use an app that isn't installed on our computers at all. And both of us use capitalization, complete sentences, and full punctuation. I wonder how much communication is evolving vs. simply fragmenting with different generations and communities using different technologies which have unique subtleties like this.
Except this assumes people have stopped using their shift key. For those who type regularly for work, this would be a terrible habit to practice. Plus, the computer/phone dynamic is pretty exclusive to having both an iPhone and a Mac. (Typed from my computer, not my phone)
Daimler hat in der Abgasaffäre bei Diesel-Autos möglicherweise noch massiver manipuliert als bisher bekannt. Das geht nach Recherchen von WDR, NDR und "SZ" aus einem Durchsuchungsbeschluss hervor. Mehr als eine Million Fahrzeuge könnten betroffen sein. Von Lena Kampf. [mehr]