Internet, yay! Internet, oh no!—surely, it’s obvious by now that there is as much reason for hope as there is for fear from our technological future. A rational and nuanced criticism will seek to define our true circumstances, identify dangers, and encourage beneficial progress. Thus far, however, tech critics have tended to extremes, either for or against the Internet: wringing their hands á la Nicholas Carr (The Shallows), or busting out the pompoms in the manner of Jeff Jarvis (What Would Google Do?). This simple-minded stuff will no longer do. It's into the vacuum of a powerfully felt need that contemporary theorists like Evgeny Morozov and Jaron Lanier have been drawn.
Morozov is a noted critic and scholar whose influential 2011 book, The Net Delusion, took issue with the idea of the Internet as a tool for encouraging the spread of democracy. He made the useful point that the political dimensions of our new technologies can be as dangerous and as deceptive as they are liberating. Authoritarian regimes, for example, can use online tools to quash dissent quite as easily as dissidents can take to Twitter to organize and to disseminate their views.
Morozov's perspective was initially grounded in foreign policy and government, but he has since made a name for himself as a techno-gadfly, writing a boatload of articles in newspapers across the globe with titles like "Amordazados por los robots informáticos", "Gli oggetti «smart» che ci rendono stupidi", and "Not By Memes Alone." His new book continues in this generally "boo, Internet" vein.
To Save Everything, Click Here is a polemic against what Morozov calls "solutionism" and "Internet-centrism." "Solutionism" is the tendency to assume that technology can solve any problem efficiently and free of unintended consequences ("an unhealthy preoccupation with sexy, monumental, and narrow-minded solutions"); "Internet-centrism" is the belief that "the Internet" will fix everything (gratingly, Morozov puts the word in quotes throughout the book, in order to remind us that the falsely unifying concept itself keeps us from a true understanding of technology's effects: "[A]nyone who is desperately trying to understand how today's digital platforms work is much better off simply assuming that 'the Internet does not exist.'").
I made it through the first pages, despite their absurd denunciations of spy trash cans and scolding techno-kitchens (nonexistent products that will never exist), still following gamely along. My engagement, however, was deeply compromised very shortly thereafter. READ MORE
★★★★★ In the time it took to untangle the children and steer them out of bed, the gray sky shredded into blue. Outside, leaves twinkled in the breeze. People were carrying wrapped cut flowers, everywhere, all day. It was hard to believe that the day was passing by, that the afternoon could run out; the brightness seemed invulnerable. Leaf shadows danced frantically on the schoolyard playground. The toddler, on new shoes, ran through the infield of a kickball diamond, intersecting every baserunner, then made a baseline cut through a basketball game in progress. Dry petals fell from the trees and went scraping over the pavement. Toy cars were set wallowing through the drifted petals in the playground corner. When the light did go, sunset colors bloomed like paint in turpentine. In the darkening sky, a thin white moon came along behind.
Ah, Spring. Tulips pushing out of damp mulch, the first, furtive glimpses of bare shoulders, and, on the East Coast, cicadas crawling out of the ground to destroy your sanity. A time of fecundity, when your thoughts turn to your next sweaty makeout session. Or, in our climate-changed world, a time of wildly swinging temperatures, high winds, and freak snowstorms. Either way, crushes are an excellent distraction. Here are some wines to drink with said distractions — or while thinking of them. Because sometimes the thinking is the best part…
The Cute Barista – How do their hairstyles come to exist? Do really cool people all just cut one another’s hair? Because I think if I walked into a salon and tried to have the stylist give me some avant garde, asymmetrical ‘do, they would take one look at my clothes and just say, ‘oh, honey, no.’ But your barista crush somehow manages to make this hair happen, and you can't stop staring at it. Even when you’re in the mood for a big, sugary mocha with a mountain of whipped cream, you refrain and order a macchiato (a real one, for gods’ sake!) so as not to look like a gross person who doesn’t appreciate real coffee. For this type of crush, it’s important to get in touch with your inner hipster. It will give you confidence. Find a sparkling Gamay from the Loire Valley that’s great with charcuterie someone made in their basement. Then go ahead and order that mocha and ask out the damn barista, and open your cool, fizzy red. So what if you’re not in a band? READ MORE
I still can't figure out what this reminds me of, but whatever it is, I like it. [Via]
Chanel Dubofsky: So, Sarah Seltzer. I'd like to talk about professional jealousy. Do you experience this? If not, this will be a short conversation.
Sarah Seltzer: Haha. Yes, everyone has this problem, right? Particularly in our Facebook age. It is sometimes potent for me because I have a limb in different professions. I envy people who are totally devoted to one subject, because they can hone a "brand" and be known in a shorthand way, like "person X, he is a civil liberties activist." Sometimes I feel like I'm all over the place, so no brand for me. What about you?
CD: I am constantly professionally jealous, even though I theoretically know that numerous people can do the same kind of work. Everyone has a unique perspective, and someone else's work doesn't take away from what I'm doing. But I don't always remember that, and I'm not proud. How do you deal with it?
SS: Well this is what I tell myself when I feel the prick of envy: you forget that everyone doesn't see these invisible hierarchies and networks that you do. READ MORE
I dig sports, so I was watching "Game of Thrones" on Home Box the other night and there was this part where a dude was being super-rude to a lady, but he was doing it in a Foreign Language from errbody else, so he thought he was slick. However, the person he was being rude to was the chick who has the fire-breathing dragons, and she came up hard, and she does not play. Spoiler alert. Aiieeee!
All the people on "Game of Thrones" pretty much speak the "Common Tongue" or whatever they call it on the show (if they call it anything) and nobody gets bent outta shape if somebody speaks Valerian or whatever. I mean, wouldn’t you like to speak Valerianese, if that’s a real language? It would increase your vocabulary and understanding of The World, right?
Sidebar: May fave character on the Throne is the dude who is "The Hand" now, I forget his name, but he was in the Major Motion Picture The Last Action Hero (aka der Letzte Action Held and L'Ultimo Grande Eroe), which should have been a good movie, and it wasn’t, but in the movie, dude had a glass eyeball, and he would rock fashion eye, like, one looked like a cat eye, and he had one of those "Have a Nice Day" Smiley-Face deals as an eyeball, and I swear he had an eye that looked like an eight-ball from a pool table, but I might be projecting my own desire to have eyeballs that look like eight-balls from Game of Pool. Good times. My other fave characters on "Game of Thrones" are Aenid Tramic, Guillifoern Lyaanyardbref, and Askldkjadlsal;sa. READ MORE
This is the first Louie-less summer since Louis C.K.'s acclaimed FX series began, but there's plenty to look forward to this May-August as a lot of high-profile shows are coming back and some promising new shows on the way too. Of course, the biggest deal amongst this summer's batch of new and returning series is Arrested Development's return on Netflix later this month with a 15-episode fourth season. Despite the much-hyped Arrested Development reunion, there's plenty of other exciting stuff to watch too, including a new series from Christopher Guest, the launch of Fox's late night Saturday animated block ADHD, and the returns of Childrens Hospital, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, NTSF:SD:SUV, and Comedy Bang Bang. Read on for a guide to all the new comedy coming to your TV over these next few months. READ MORE
At this point we are pretty much all keeping our head out of the stove until the return of "Arrested Development," right? I am going to watch all those episodes so hard! In fact, I am not even watching this trailer, that is how fresh I would like to come to the show. But you may have a different way of doing things, in which case you should enjoy the trailer on your own time. In related "Arrested Development" news, did you know that Awl pal Will Leitch is the designated media expert on the show? Here are some other things you probably missed. See you in June, oven!
In Union Square this morning. The MTA is making millions off that extra buck you pay for a new metrocard. We've got reaction
— kristen shaughnessy (@kshaughnessy2) May 13, 2013
Each Metrocard costs the MTA about six cents to make. Since March, they've charged you a dollar for each one, because it's not "green." Because… that's your fault. That they make Metrocards. Yeah.
So the other 94¢ the MTA makes on each card goes to planting a baby tree in Queens. Because that'd be GREEEEEN. Just kidding, it's all profit. The idea of this having to do with the environment is as fake as the scammy carbon credits market that Goldman Sachs invented. The unsurprising news today is that the MTA is raking it in on the new Metrocard fee. This is unshocking. Sometimes you need a Metrocard, you know? Like when you're one of New York City's 47 million tourists each year. (The other news is that they won't tell anyone how much they are making on it? Because apparently they don't have to? Until I guess their annual report?)
I haven't bought a new Metrocard since March, even though mine is all raggedy and always looks like it's on death's door. I'll pay $2.50 for a terrible bagel in midtown or $4.50 for a coffee but I won't give those jerks that stupid dollar. Please join me. I'm gonna start giving dollars to homeless people on the subway, since that's actually still illegal, while scamming customers in the name of the environment isn't.
The stereotype about New Yorkers (or, you know, one of them) is that we love to complain, although as is the case with most things in life that is pretty much true of everyone everywhere—have you ever heard of a place whose tourism slogan is "The City Where No One Complains"?—New Yorkers just tend to do it more loudly and frequently plus it has a wider audience because the news and a bunch of the culture are made here. Anyway, there are a couple of days each year where the complaints—which are indeed annoying, stereotypes or not—are actually a kind of community conspiracy in which we are all ostensibly whining about the same thing but are really not so much crabby as jubilant in a way that, being New Yorkers, we only know how to express in the medium of criticism. Today is one of those days. Everyone is going to pretend to be irritated about the fact that it has gotten slightly chilly again, when, deep down, we're all super-excited about the arrival of nice weather (drop in temperature accounted for, it will still be 60 today, which, come on, you would have been wearing shorts in weeks ago) and stupidly optimistic that this time, when the seasons change, things will actually be better. They won't—if you were able to fast-forward to August you'd find a town full of angry, aggravated people who reek of sweat, exhaustion and defeat—but this is that tiny window where we can all kid ourselves that they might. So let's enjoy it while we can, because there's nothing but suck coming up on the calendar. Also, good morning! Cold out there, huh?
Photo by needoptic