Her research for the book has involved hours upon hours of talking with people about conversation as well as eavesdropping on conversations: the kind of low-grade spying that in academia is known as “ethnography,” that in journalism is known as “reporting,” and that everywhere else is known as “paying attention.”
She advocates limiting our device usage in “sacred spaces” like the dinner table, the places where phones and their enticements may impede intimacy and interaction. She wants us to look into each other’s eyes as we talk. She wants us to read each other’s movements. She wants us to have conversations that are supremely human.
Of all the tech skeptics, Turkle is certainly the best informed and most reasonable. For sure, having a proper conversation requires attention, and most of our tech constantly draws this attention away. Being able to ignore it, even for a short while, takes willpower.
You can’t always tell, in a conversation, when the interesting bit is going to come,” Turkle says. “It’s like dancing: slow, slow, quick-quick, slow. You know? It seems boring, but all of a sudden there’s something, and whoa.
Because many slaves had their history erased by their owners when they were brought to America from Africa centuries ago, Afrofuturism emerged in 20th-Century music, film, art and literature and pointed this exiled culture in a new direction: the future. In this view, Africans are the alien ‘other’ in Western society, stigmatized as outcasts, who must build bridges in their imaginations to a new utopia, possibly far removed geographically and spiritually from the world that is marginalizing them.
Unexpectedly interesting article on sci-fi influences in African-American pop music. ATLiens, The Cold Vein and Deltron 3030 remain favourite albums of mine but I’d never connected them under the umbrella of Afrofuturism.
The direction of social housing policy since 1979 has been gradually to remove the state from the business of building houses, and now gradually to remove the state from the business of subsidising rent. You can imagine free marketeers believing the market can house the poor in decent comfort without the better-off being forced to chip in, although there is no evidence that it can. This is the benign view of the Thatcherites’ motive. But it is easier to believe that the actual intention – not formally designed in some conspiratorial way, and never openly described as such – is to demonetise that part of general taxation on the well-off that goes towards evening things out for the poor and replacing it with a tax in kind, a tax on conscience. To permit the gradual re-emergence of slums, in other words, in order to keep income and corporation tax low, and to make the threat to the well-off an easily ignored threat to their conscience, rather than to their wealth. To settle for history as wheel rather than ascent, in which it will eventually be time for Dickens to come around again.
This is a proper long read (I mean, 13468 words) on Britain’s housing crisis with some disconcerting parallels to what has happened in mainland Europe (although perhaps to a lesser degree). The possibility of the reemergence of slums simply boggles my mind.
On the other hand, no one — not even Yellin — is quite sure why there are so many altgenres that feature Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. It’s inexplicable with human logic. It’s just something that happened. I tried on a bunch of different names for the Perry Mason thing: ghost, gremlin, not-quite-a-bug. What do you call the something-in-the-code-and-data which led to the existence of these microgenres? The vexing, remarkable conclusion is that when companies combine human intelligence and machine intelligence, some things happen that we cannot understand. “Let me get philosophical for a minute. In a human world, life is made interesting by serendipity,” Yellin told me. “The more complexity you add to a machine world, you’re adding serendipity that you couldn’t imagine. Perry Mason is going to happen. These ghosts in the machine are always going to be a by-product of the complexity. And sometimes we call it a bug and sometimes we call it a feature.”
This piece on Netflix’s altgenres is a solid bit of reporting on the intersection of tech and culture, although it never really gets very adventurous—until the very end. Perry Mason as an emergent property of the service’s hybrid approach to recommendations. Just delicious.
We’re gonna tag how much romance is in a movie. We’re not gonna tell you how much romance is in it, but we’re gonna recommend it,” Yellin said. “You’re gonna get an action row and it may have more or less romance in it based on what we know about you.” […] They could have purely used computation. For example, looking at people with similar viewing habits and recommending movies based on what they watched. (And Netflix does use this kind of data, too.) But they went beyond that approach to look at the content itself. “It’s a real combination: machine-learned, algorithms, algorithmic syntax,” Yellin said, “and also a bunch of geeks who love this stuff going deep.
In a healthy medium you have artists pushing the limits,” he says. “Most of them push in the wrong direction and fail. Every now and again someone pushes in an interesting direction and everyone follows. It’s not happening in games, apart from indies. Of course, most of their stuff is crap. But every now and again someone comes along with something that is new, different and interesting.
Enjoyable profile on Crawford who despite his failed experiments of the past years, or perhaps thanks to them, is still one of the most thought-provoking figures in “the industry”. I am particularly fond of his insistence on inventing new verbs.
11 vs 100 Soccer Match.flv (by iceberglau)
When I saw this posted by Doug I had the following to say:
Reminds me of how back in primary school the best football players would always play against “the soup” — whoever was left over. They would usually have strength in numbers to compensate for lack of skill. I of course was always part of the soup.
More weird football variants in this MetaFilter post.
There aren’t really good languages for non-commodity, non-sacrificial acts. A task of our time might be to free the aesthetic from its complicity with commodity forms, even attenuated ones, and practice it again, in the everyday, as a sensibility of the gift. Art is Xmas. The art not of signs but of rituals. The art of withdrawing the hand that gives and leaving just the gift as given.
Reading this well past Christmas, but still packs a punch. I like the idea of gift-giving across generations as rituals with long loops.