Not everyone is equipped to hear the slurry of the mind
September 27, 2017
Blame the marketers
The tactics of carefully targeted, data-driven manipulation—though innovative and destabilizing—are not entirely new. They predate the existence of Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook, and the contemporary notion of “fake news” itself. For decades, digital marketers—working in both commercial and political domains—have been perfecting models for using consumer data to identify and manipulate decision-making vulnerabilities.
September 6, 2017
Silicon Valley in the Shadow of William Shockley
In the last two decades of his life, William Shockley turned away from technology and began promoting the idea that intelligence was biologically determined—with blacks cognitively subordinate to whites—arguing under the auspices of estimable science that without forced sterilization of those with inferior intelligence, the world would be plunged into a dysgenic panic.
June 27, 2017
The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.
August 16, 2016
Narcissists are imitators par excellence. And they do not copy the small, boring parts of selves.
The narcissist is, according to the internet, empty. Normal, healthy people are full of self, a kind of substance like a soul or personhood that, if you have it, emanates warmly from inside of you toward the outside of you. No one knows what it is, but everyone agrees that narcissists do not have it. Disturbingly, however, they are often better than anyone else at seeming to have it. Because what they have inside is empty space, they have had to make a study of the selves of others in order to invent something that looks and sounds like one. Narcissists are imitators par excellence. And they do not copy the small, boring parts of selves. They take what they think are the biggest, most impressive parts of other selves, and devise a hologram of self that seems superpowered.
July 14, 2016
Whatever early progress the Library of Congress made on the internet has been squandered.
The job Carla Hayden has before her is to prepare the Library of Congress to serve another century of US citizens where we’ve become most accustomed to consuming information: the internet.
I would say more, but I signed an NDA.
The meeting begins without fanfare. They thought I was an amazing worker at first, working late every night, last out of the office, but now they wonder if the work was just too hard for me to begin with. They need to know: Am I down for the cause? Because if I’m not down for the cause, it’s time. They will do this amicably. Of course I’m down, I say, trying not to swivel in my ergonomic chair. I care deeply about the company. I am here for it.
October 26, 2015
“We at Amazon think every day is a first day."
He says: “We at Amazon think every day is a first day. Remember that. This is a good opportunity to make a note of that and get in on the ground floor and move up. Jobs are still being filled, the company’s still on the up, but between you and me, everyone knows nothing can grow forever.”
September 16, 2015
Every year, I check in on the decline of Gary in the Social Security Administration’s baby name database. How I long for 1954, in the unrecognized cool Fifties of Marlon Brando and Miles Davis, when Gary peaked as the ninth most popular boy’s name in America. In 1954, we had Gary Cooper—originally Frank, before his agent from Gary, Indiana suggested a more unique name—just two years after his showdown at High Noon. Cary Grant, our elegant near anagram, was about To Catch a Thief. Oh, how we have fallen, to 560th place, with only 490 unlucky babies named Gary in 2014.
June 26, 2015
Bots are OK. Some of my best friends are bots. I tend to say What’s up, bots, when I greet them—I like to be old-fashioned.
June 25, 2015
What did the first bot say to the second bot?
Z.: I know how to converse.
Y.: You seem very clever. What is your IQ?
Z.: I can explain all the poems that were ever invented and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet.
Y.: I don’t think that would be a good idea.
June 8, 2015
On Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark.
Each email is timestamped, with Acker and Wark’s nerdy ‘90s email addresses repeated over and over again, page after page. They map the unwinding and rewinding and unwinding again of tension, attention, and affection, telling the story-about-nothing of the first truly great collection of electronic love letters.
It seems not to matter to the proliferation of writing about millennials that so much of it has been internally contradictory.
January 20, 2015
Alicia Garza on the Organizing of #BlackLivesMatter
When protests erupted across the United States late last year, after grand juries failed to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, a friend who works for a prominent media outlet wrote to me wondering “if it’s all just the internet organizing itself.” The nationwide marches and freeway blockades seemed spontaneous, after all, with the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter being widely used to publicize gathering spots and share images of the demonstrations.
December 5, 2014
A Sentimental Education
The Hunger Games is a story about civil war over forms of government and control of the means of production. According to its own dialogue: a battle for democracy, justice, and the fruits of labor. But it also portrays a world in which a serious argument about politics is unimaginable, because politics, although worthy of a war, raises no hard or even interesting questions. It is just possible that this makes The Mockingjay: Part I the political movie for our time.
September 12, 2014
Joining us on this episode of the n+1 podcast are David Samuels and Frank Guan. First, David Samuels discusses his article in Issue 20 “Justin Timberlake has a Cold” about rock stars, the nine rules of hit songwriting, and the collapse of creative industries. Then, Frank Guan talks about the work of author Tao Lin and his reception from the literary community.
July 25, 2014
What’s on your mind?
In the beginning, Jordan Shell joins and you think, well, that’s good, and so you like this. Then you get his friend request. Do you want to be his friend? Don’t you want to be his friend? You remember that weird crush and the creepiness, but in a fit of generosity you accept.
Marybeth Sand wonders to the world if it is really only Tuesday. Seventeen people like this. Caroline Dwarf says: Indeed it is the second day, but do not fret! The day of rest approaches.
June 24, 2014
The average Facebook profile, with its many status updates, commented photo albums, notes, and posts, contains approximately 65,000 words of text. While photos quicken the game, a Facebook user is primarily a reader of text. Sixty-five thousand words is the length of a short novel; “profile” suggests already something character-driven; “status” may track the throes of heroes and antiheroes, “in a relationship”—a romance.
June 17, 2014
It was nice that people were saying, “Well, you know, Microsoft is closed and evil and whatever, but this time they’re right!”
April 19, 2014
Subscribers can now read every issue online.
Broadband providers have an incentive to use their control of the network to disadvantage their competition.
AOL didn’t talk to Yahoo, which didn’t talk to ICQ, and none of them, of course, would talk to Messenger.
March 3, 2014
“It’s harder to be kind than clever.”
When Bezos pushed the company into toy distribution before it was ready, a pallet of Pokémon Jigglypuffs was lost in an overwhelmed warehouse. When they found the toys, the employees formed a conga line to celebrate. Sometimes, Bezos’s transformation of Amazon and its warehouse system reads like a triumph of calculating reason and force of will. At other times, it reads like the dream of a man who is still a boy.
January 27, 2014
But first things first: Why Elise Vans? The question by which the answer must be preceded is: “Why Eli S. Evans?”
Jesse pled guilty. He spent thirteen years in prison, he was paroled as a Level 3 sex offender, and then he filed an appeal to vacate his conviction. He said he was innocent, that he had only submitted the guilty plea because of the impossibility of receiving a fair trial. A lower court had rejected this appeal, and on the second page of its ruling, the circuit court concurred. “We affirm the judgment of the United States Court for the Eastern District of New York,” the judges wrote, “because we conclude that the grounds asserted in the petition would not justify habeas corpus relief.” Jesse had waited too long to file his appeal.