Duly Noted

The last few weeks have entered into a period of crazy-busyness, kicked off with my move from the existential hell I’ve written of before.  Though there is a lot going on, I will make efforts to update more regularly – as it is I’ve accumulated quite a backlog of links to share:


– Firstly, for those who haven’t yet read it, Russell Brand’s essay on Margaret Thatcher is empathetic, intelligent, and generally excellent.  If you’re in need of still more Thatcher reading after my previous post, the London Review of Books enters a strong opinion as well.


– A follow-up to the discussion on crowdfunding for the arts: Zach Braff has executed a successful Kickstarter as well.  Having spent most of yesterday sitting around enjoying Season 4 of “Arrested Development” (more on that later this week), it seems the era of alternative/new media funding for entertainment has well and truly arrived – at least for projects which got their start through traditional financing and distribution.  How this will transform the landscape for lower-budget content creators – whether there will be any ripple effects – will be interesting to see.  Moreover, how the disruption of institutional funding in favor of individual donors affects content will also be interesting.


– Have you heard about the ag-gag law?


– An excellent essay on various television depictions of consent.


– We live in a data-enabled era: the information age, it is called.  Technology allows us to both gather and store data at an unprecedented volume, and it is worth inquiring what effect all this might be having on society; on its automation and labor practices, on its science, on its narratives and political landscape.  For a global look at the rise of data in decision-making processes, this overview is a great place to start.  The overriding point is not that data is a useless tool, but that it is, in fact, a tool, rather than a solution in itself – like any tool, it can be wielded to suit many purposes.  In politicized debates – about, say, abortion – numbers can be manipulated to reflect preferred conclusions, rather than evaluated objectively.  Moreover, if the source of the numerical manipulation is authoritative enough, errors and half-truths can justify self-serving and destructive policy; when the ideology is already in place, the purpose of data is not to illuminate truth but only to scaffold a pre-existing point of view.


– Sometimes, conventional wisdom is full of shit.  Fortunately, as it happens, a little bit of shit might be just what we need.

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