The week’s reading

I’ve had a little more time to do some reading recently. In no particular order, some of the pieces I thought were interesting:

There are bots, trawling Wikipedia and regularly making edits. Which makes sense, I suppose. What’s interesting, is that some of them get into edit wars.

In thinking about politics, power and economics, I think it’s often useful to think about the concentration – what degree of competition is there in a given area? This interview with an author over at the Atlantic is an interesting discussion about the implications of monopoly power for democracy.

This piece by George Saunders at The New Yorker is one of the more thoughtful ones I’ve read, trying to understand Trump’s support base. He neither excuses nor accuses unnecessarily, but simply tries to understand. Worth reading.

Of course, one of the biggest questions roiling public debate since Trump’s election win has been some variant of was it racism or economic anxiety that fuelled his success? This piece in the New York Times talks insightfully, I think, about how they’re linked or can be linked at a theoretical level. Because as with most complex questions, there’s usually some element of linkage between different factors.

The flip side of that question about identity and economics, of course, is what it means for political parties. I think Matthew Yglesias makes a good case that identity politics is inevitable – political parties just need to be smart about how they interact with that.

And of course, there’s been a lot on the news about the spread of fake news. Part of understanding it, I think, is simply to start with the question – who’s writing it? This piece in the Washington Post is a useful insight. The next step is to figure out the mechanics that are driving it – but that will come.


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