Shark Injury 1.32

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Plain text: sharkinjury.txt

__Preface__

This is a story about the global impact of Facebook. I was one of Mark Zuckerberg's computer science teachers, and I worked at Facebook as a software engineer from early 2007 to late 2009.

The text I'm reading is open source content, and it had more than one author. You can download a copy at sharkinjury.com.

The first part of this text is a database of facts. The text concludes with a training exercise, in preparation for when intelligent machines convince people like me to distribute their software.

This text also mentions Suzy. You can learn more about Suzy in Part 1, Chapter 3, but I suggest reading the chapters in order:

1. Schooling
2. Coding
3. Hacking
4. Running

__Part 1: FACTS__

_Ch1: Schooling_

In 2001, when I was 20 years old, I graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, and I was hired to be a Teaching Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy during the 2001/2002 school year. I'll explain what that means in the second part of this text. In this part, I'll summarize the important facts about the history of social media I learned, saw, or experienced first hand.

Mark Zuckerberg was a senior at Exeter that year, and, in spring 2002, I agreed to be the faculty advisor for the independent project he did with another senior named Adam D'Angelo. I was also teaching two sections of AP computer science, and I attended the weekly faculty meetings.

When Adam and Mark started writing the code for their project, Mark focused on implementing a user interface with Microsoft Visual Basic, and Adam implemented a machine learning engine called "the brain" with C++, another programming language. The brain did the work of guessing what song you'd like to hear next, given the history of the last few songs you had made an intentional choice to play. They also created a plugin for a popular media player called Winamp. The plugin allowed people to use the brain without installing Mark's user interface.

Adam and Mark released their work at the website SynapseAI.com. The website included links to Mark's user interface and the Winamp plugin. They talked about configuring both products to upload the listening habits of their users to a centralized server called the MetaBrain, and they created visualizations of what data from the MetaBrain would look like if they were to collect it at scale.

If any such data was collected, their users would have most likely been asked to accept a Terms of Service agreement (aka. a ToS) that would have explained what they were doing, but I don't know if anyone was reading their ToS, except for the companies like Microsoft and AOL that reportedly offered to buy them out for about a million dollars.

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