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Recovering the Homeric gods

I understand the point to be that existence is higher or fuller when things are acting through us rather than action arising from us, reflecting an involvement in our situation rather than a detachment from it. To reclaim the Homeric gods doesn’t necessitate polytheism but it does mean cultivating a sensitivity to the range of potentials inherent in each situation, overcoming what has gradually lost in modernity.

The sublime high of visibility

This monologue from speed-fuelled gonzo journalist Cameron Colley in Iain Banks’ 1993 novel Complicity suggested something interesting to me about social media. Have social platforms made this accessible to the masses while simultaneously cheapening it by leading us from who gets to speak to who gets heard?

What big tech knows about your children

The digital platforms you and your family use every day — from online games to education apps and medical portals — may be collecting and selling your children’s data, says anthropologist Veronica Barassi. Sharing her eye-opening research, Barassi urges parents to look twice at digital terms and conditions instead of blindly accepting them — and to demand protections that ensure their kids’ data doesn’t skew their future.

Hannah Arendt on Conspiracies

“At a time when full political information, necessarily worldwide ins cope, is available only to the professional, and when statesmen have found no other clue to world politics than the blind alley of imperialism, it is almost a matter of course for the others, who vaguely sense our worldwide interdependence but are unable to penetrate into the actual working of this universal relationship, to turn to the dramatically simple hypothesis of a global conspiracy and a secret worldwide organization.”

The fast eat the slow, the rich eat the fast. Or, the moral economy of Thomas Friedman’s digital illiteracy

I thought this was an interesting extract from Imperial Messenger concerning Thomas Friedman’s advocacy of a digital imperative (‘get-wired-or-die’) which he himself is insulated from. As Belén Fernández writes on loc 668: Quoted in Foreign Policy as saying “I talk the talk of technology, but I don’t walk the walk,” Friedman elsewhere […]

“Free speech” in the attention economy

This is an important point by Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson which echoes an argument Will Davies made a couple of years ago. The claim of being suppressed, being denied a platform, plays an increasingly crucial role in how reactionary celebrities build their platform. It draws attention for their work, provides […]

The arms race of celebrity

This passage from Tim Wu’s The Master Switch pg 225 offers a useful account for making sense of the rise of a figure like Lawrence Fox. When the ‘arms race of exposure’ is more intense than ever because social media means a great many of us have entered into it, […]

AOL as the first mass commercial social media

From Tim Wu’s Attention Merchants pg 202: Among the sources of such comfort would be AOL’s infamous chat rooms. Chat rooms had actually been invented by CompuServe in the 1980s (under that ’70s handle “CB simulator”), but AOL allowed the creation of “private rooms,” which anyone could open, hosting up […]

Wikibombing

I saw an exhibition at the Scott Polar Museum yesterday which made a passing referencing to ‘wikibombing’ as a practice. In this case there was a concerted project to produce wikipedia entries for female explorers and scientists who were absent from the site. I’m recording it here because it’s a […]