What are "unusual characters"

by @edent | # # # | 9 comments | Read ~1,521 times.
Screenshot of a form validation error - Your first name must have at least two letters and no unusual characters.

The world is a complex place. It is tempting to enforce simplicity upon it to make things easier for computers. Gender is a boolean, no one is older than 99, all text flows left to right, and names are always in English. That makes it nice and easy for us to write computer systems -…

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Movie Review: Coded Bias

by @edent | # # #
Moview poster with a synthetic white face.

This is an excellent and illuminating documentary of the state of algorithmic bias. If you've read recent books like Algorithms of Oppression and Race After Technology - you probably won't find anything new. But it is nice seeing academics in their natural habitats. It really helps to personalise the problems by placing them in social…

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Book Review: What White People Can Do Next - From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri

by @edent | # # # # | 1 comment
Book cover with pretty flowers on it.

When it comes to racial justice, how do we transform demonstrations of support into real and meaningful change? With intellectual rigour and razor-sharp wit, Emma Dabiri cuts through the haze of online discourse to offer clear advice. This was a refreshing and necessary book to read. Refreshing because so much of the discourse on race…

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Should ₹ be part of the Latin font subset?

by @edent | # # # # # | 5 comments | Read ~167 times.

Some background reading. Skip if you're familiar with fonts. A font file contains a list of characters (usually letters, numbers, and punctuation) and glyphs (the drawn representation of that character). It is, of course, a lot more complicated than that. Each character has a codepoint which is represented in hexadecimal. For example, U+0057 is the…

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Book Review: Algorithms of Oppression - Safiya Noble

by @edent | # # #
Book cover showing some distressing Google searches.

Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black…

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Book Review: Brit(ish)

by @edent | # # #
Book cover.

You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from? We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came…

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Book Review - Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

by @edent | # # # #
A Black woman, face sorrounded by circuits, looks to the future.

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce White supremacy and deepen social inequity. Benjamin argues that automation, far from being a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, has the potential to hide, speed up, and deepen discrimination while appearing…

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Micro-Aggressions vs Micro-Incivilities

by @edent | # # | 2 comments | Read ~233 times.

Perhaps you've heard of Micro-Aggressions. They're the steady drip-drip-drip of poison which gradually wears you down. "Where are you really from?" or "I can't pronounce your name, can I call you Jo?" or "Your lot are good at running, right?" or "You're clever, for a ...". Individually, they are tiny pinpricks of discrimination. None of…

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Book Review: Black Tudors: The Untold Story - Miranda Kaufmann

by @edent | # # #
A black trumpet player.

A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England… They…

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Book Review: Superior: The Return of Race Science - Angela Saini

by @edent | # #
Book cover.

For millennia, dominant societies have had the habit of believing their own people to be the best, deep down: the more powerful they become, the more power begins to be framed as natural, as well as cultural. When you see how power has shaped the idea of race, then you can start to understand its…

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