I’ve been reading books too, I promise. But it’ll take a little while longer to get through those.
Some quick notes:
- ‘Why nothing works anymore‘ by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic, of course) doesn’t have much of a theoretical framework, but captures something interesting about technology:
In that future, technology’s and humanity’s goals split from one another, even as the latter seems ever more yoked to the former. Like people ignorant of the plight of ants, and like ants incapable of understanding the goals of the humans who loom over them, so technology is becoming a force that surrounds humans, that intersects with humans, that makes use of humans—but not necessarily in the service of human ends.
- Jay Rosen’s article on ‘Steve Bannon’s Styrofoam Balls‘ over at PressThink is encouraging, perhaps even overly optimistic. Reality rolls all of us, eventually.
As soon as you let on that you’re using the news media the way other people do — to find out what’s happening, for real — you’re showing reality that it can roll you.
Trolls for Trump is a piece in the New Yorker that is an interesting reflection on how aspects of the media are working at the moment:
Before closing his laptop, he checked his direct messages on Twitter, and found a tip alleging that, in 2014, a Reddit user had asked for help removing a “VERY VIP” e-mail address “from a bunch of archived e-mail.” The tipster claimed that the Reddit user was Paul Combetta, one of Hillary Clinton’s I.T. staffers. Cernovich clicked the link to the Reddit thread and noticed that it had been deleted. “Son of a bitch!” he said. “This might actually be true.”
He returned to muckraking mode. “We’re going to make a whole new news cycle about her fucking e-mails again!” he said. “This poor fucking woman.” He started a new Periscope video. “What do you guys want to do for a hashtag?” he said. He decided on #HillarysHacker. It was trending before he finished the video. That day, more than forty-two thousand tweets were posted with the hashtag.
I returned to Cernovich’s house the next morning. By then, the Reddit story had been covered by Vice and New York, and a congressman had asked prosecutors in Washington, D.C., to look into it. Cernovich had tweeted dozens of times since I’d left, including at 1:30 a.m.
4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump is an interesting reflection on how 4chan connects to the Trump campaign – in particular, how important a sense of agency can be, and how it drives behavior:
All that work cracking Skype accounts with wordlists did not yield the tangible reward of evidence of a cabal. The real world behaves differently than a video game. There were shades of grey. It disappointed. What you did and what you got for your efforts were muddled. It was more challenging than the safe spaces of a video game, carefully crafted to accommodate gamers and make them feel — well, the exact opposite of how they felt interacting in the real world — effective. In the fantasy world of the game, actions achieved ends.
Lion is an emotionally powerful movie. The plot is overlaid with the waves of emotions that Saroo experiences at different points, so that a few inflection points serve to power an almost two hour film. But it doesn’t feel overdone.
It tells the story of a young boy, living in poverty, who is caught on a train that leaves him hundreds of miles from home. From there, he survives until he is adopted by a family in Tasmania. His second struggle, as an adult, is to journey home, to find his mother.
Saroo, it turns out, now lives in Tasmania. There’s a scene at the end of the movie, where you see he and his adoptive mother visiting his birth mother. It’s powerful, but also strange to imagine a camera filming it. It can’t have been the first visit, surely, that they bought a film crew?