Tuesday News: Did Uber threaten a female journalist; are books essential goods; why is the Internet a guilty pleasure; and how we can get the meaning of life in 60 seconds or less
Uber has extensive data on its customers, from their credit card numbers to real-time locations. With the power of that information, it would have an easy upper hand at tracking reporters — and almost anyone using its service, really — and unveiling details of their personal lives. The idea of them attacking journalists in a Machiavellian political scheme is downright creepy. It also says a lot about the company’s ethical issues and take-no-prisoner approach to business. –Gigaom
In the balance between our rights as consumers and as producers — as, go on, say it: laborers — the pendulum has swung too far one way. (I say “our” rights even though I live in Pakistan and don’t have an American passport; my qualifications are a merit badge as a cub scout in California and 17 years of residing in the United States.)
The America that boomed in the mid-20th century was a place where the state demanded that male citizens surrender years of their lives to national service, where the top income tax rate hovered between 70 and 94 percent, and where commercial banks were prohibited from investment banking. It was a veritable socialist paradise compared to the America of today. –New York Times
Similarly, I have no doubt that the students in “Wasting Time on the Internet” will use Web surfing as a form of self-expression. Every click is indicative of who we are: indicative of our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, our politics, our world view. Of course, marketers have long recognized this, but literature hasn’t yet learned to treasure—and exploit—this situation. The idea for this class arose from my frustration with reading endless indictments of the Web for making us dumber. I’ve been feeling just the opposite. We’re reading and writing more than we have in a generation, but we are reading and writing differently—skimming, parsing, grazing, bookmarking, forwarding, retweeting, reblogging, and spamming language—in ways that aren’t yet recognized as literary.
And yet this is nothing new: modernism prepared us to interact with words in the digital environment. Joyce’s use of compound words in “Finnegans Wake” predicted lengthy run-on hashtags; Mallarmé’s visual use of words splayed across pages are, in essence, nineteenth-century animated GIFs; Zola’s “Rougon-Macquart” series anticipates long-form blogging; Hester Thrale’s trolling of Boswell in the margins is exactly what happens in comment streams; and Félix Fénéon’s recasting of newspaper headlines as poems in his “Novels in Three Lines” is a 1906 version of Twitter. –The New Yorker
Drawn from Bragg’s BBC 4 radio program “A History of Ideas,” the shorts introduce exactly that—each one a précis of a longstanding philosophical problem like Free Will vs. Determinism (top) or the Problem of Evil (above). Unlike some similarly rapid outlines, these videos—like the tie-in Bragg radio program—don’t simply sketch out the issues in abstract; they draw from specific approaches from fields as diverse as neuroscience, moral philosophy, theology, and feminist theory. –Open Culture