Aside From The High-Minded and The Paranoid

But apart from the high-minded and the paranoid, privacy per se is not a major issue in our politics. Most people want the convenience of the internet far more than they want the private spaces that older forms of communication protected. They shrug off the stalker-ish ways that corporations hurl their ads at you throughout your day. They put surveillance devices in their homes and pockets without a qualm. They accept hackings and online shamings the way a Californian shrugs off earthquakes. They assume that the extremists being surveilled and censored and sometimes arrested probably deserve it. And they welcome the possible advantages of panoptical living, hoping for less crime and less police misconduct, better public health, more exposure of corruption — plus, of course, the chance to see their favorite celebrities in the nude.

So for those who object inherently to our new nakedness, regard the earthquakes as too high a price for Amazon’s low prices, or fear what an Augustus or a Robespierre might someday do with all this architecture, the best hope for a partial restoration of privacy has to involve more than just an anxiety about privacy alone. It requires a more general turn against the virtual, in which fears of digital nakedness are just one motivator among many — the political piece of a cause that’s also psychological, intellectual, aesthetic and religious.

From here.

I Was A Freelance Writer

First I was busy because I was a freelance writer who wanted to cause the world to give me the support I needed to just write. Then I became a freelance writer who could write all the time. Then, a freelance writer who needed to pay for more things. And then I nearly died a couple of times over ten or fifteen years. So I should slow down, right? I’m coming up on the fourth anniversary of The Last Time I Nearly Died.

From here. Worth noting especially because I’m actually taking a day off today, in honor of the fact that I am feeling especially exhausted after Star Wars Celebration. I honestly can’t remember the last time I took a day off when it wasn’t (a) a national holiday or (b) I was sick.

“Generally Discouraged Employees From Trying To Make The Site Safer”

According to the report, YouTube generally discouraged employees from trying to make the site safer for users. “Lawyers verbally advised employees not assigned to handle moderation to avoid searching on their own for questionable videos,” according to the report, fearing that making substantive content decisions would eliminate the protection YouTube receives from federal shield laws.

From here.

”A Different Type of Race to the Bottom”

And publisher sources say there is a lot to dislike about the metric that Apple will use to calculate revenue payouts. Dwell time, Apple’s version of time spent, doesn’t account for the effort or cost that goes into making content; and the metric puts visual publishers at a disadvantage compared with those that publish long reads or essays. Some see the possibility that dwell time, as a metric, could create perverse incentives that change the kinds of content publishers include in the service.

“We’re going back to a scale play where publishers will chase eyeballs and traffic to be No. 1,” one publisher source said. “We’re welcoming an era of metrics that are a bit murky. It’s awful for publishers. It’s a different type of a race to the bottom.”

From here.

A Luxury Good

Life for anyone but the very rich — the physical experience of learning, living and dying — is increasingly mediated by screens.

Not only are screens themselves cheap to make, but they also make things cheaper. Any place that can fit a screen in (classrooms, hospitals, airports, restaurants) can cut costs. And any activity that can happen on a screen becomes cheaper. The texture of life, the tactile experience, is becoming smooth glass.

The rich do not live like this. The rich have grown afraid of screens. They want their children to play with blocks, and tech-free private schools are booming. Humans are more expensive, and rich people are willing and able to pay for them. Conspicuous human interaction — living without a phone for a day, quitting social networks and not answering email — has become a status symbol.

All of this has led to a curious new reality: Human contact is becoming a luxury good.

From here.

A Form of Pamphleteering

I have taken down my old posts, as it seemed a good moment to start afresh with my online presence.

(Though over time I may re-post some of the old posts which seem worth re-publishing.)

One nice thing about blogging independently is that you can take things down as easily as you can put things up.

Independent blogging (as opposed to blogs on commercial or news sites) is, in essence, a form of pamphleteering. It is a flexible and often ephemeral medium.

From here. (Via the always interesting Warren Ellis newsletter.)

Art School Feelings

My heart raced a bit. I instantly knew what had happened. A few weeks before I had told a friend that he could donate some books of mine that had been sitting in his Los Angeles garage for eight years. The sketchbooks were among them, appropriately placed in a box marked “Art School Feelings.”

When I realized some guy named Will now had them, along with every intimate and potentially embarrassing thing I had put into them — my musings, fears, emotions, assorted drawings and stories that would now seem ancient — I cringed. My early 20s had been dark and depressed (an emotional state fueled by 9/11, George W. Bush and America’s wars for oil, oil and more oil) but entering art school at the age of 27 gave me new energy, and allowed me to channel that energy into something positive.

A few more text messages and 10 days later the box showed up in my brownstone’s hallway. When I opened it, I found seven of my notebooks. Since I had started art school relatively late in life, I was self-conscious about my skill set, convinced I was the worst student in my life drawing class. I obsessively drew in these sketchbooks in order to catch up and improve. And I loved it.

From here.

Everyone Feels They Are The Losers

It quickly becomes apparent why there is even more friction than normal between the rival groups of protesters. A few yards away, a woman with a tricycle that has a union jack strapped to its handlebars is wearing a shirt which says “WTO Rules”. She is strikingly calm, given what she says happened to her two days before. “A man came up to me and called me a Nazi scumbag,” she says. “He grabbed me from behind and then dragged me down to the ground. Then he started to beat me with my own flag and tried to break my windpipe.” The police, she says, have told her it was caught on CCTV and that they are investigating.

She decided to come back two days later, bearing scars and having seen her doctor, because she feels strongly that Brexit is being betrayed. Behind her are banners held by other Leavers. “Leave Now. I’m thinking what Guy Fawkes thought,” one sign says.

No one outside the Palace of Westminster believes their side is winning the Brexit battle. Everyone feels they are the losers. But one matter they do agree on is that the politicians have let them down.

Last week’s events in the Commons illustrated the depth of the crisis. Three days of hugely important votes did not chart a clearer way forward. They merely confirmed what MPs did not want – and that in all probability Brexit will have to be delayed. Labour seemed indecisive at times, and to be offering just more of the same. Chaos inside the Westminster bubble fed the public’s anger and despair outside.

From here.

Domestic, Yes

I made a prediction on Twitter on February 6th: If Millennials (b. 1980 – 2000) were the premium mediocre generation, Gen Z (b. 2000 – 2020) is going to be the domestic cozy generation… Domestic cozy is in an attitude, emerging socioeconomic posture, and aesthetic, that is in many ways the antithesis of premium mediocrity. Unsurprisingly, it takes its cues from the marginal shadow behaviors of premium mediocrity.

It finds its best expression in privacy, among friends, rather than in public, among strangers. It prioritizes the needs of the actor rather than the expectations of the spectator. It seeks to predictably control a small, closed environment rather than gamble in a large, open one. It presents a WYSIWYG facade to those granted access rather than performing in a theater of optics.

Premium mediocre seeks to control its narrative. Domestic cozy is indifferent both to being misunderstood and being ignored.

Instagram, Tinder, kale salads, and Urban Outfitters are premium mediocre. Minecraft, YouTube, cooking at home, and knitting are domestic cozy.

From here. Am I somehow an early Domestic Cozy?

What Is Your Problem?

Nobody bought more Michael Jackson vinyl LPs than we did of “Thriller.” The euphoria for anything associated with that album was cross-racial and intergenerational. Upon visiting anybody’s house, I’d ask if they had a copy. If the answer was “no,” I’d turn into a 1980s sitcom kid and say something like, “What is your problem?” (I would have been 7, 8 or 9.) If the answer was “yes,” I’d ask to play it, and while it was on, I’d lie on the floor and take long drags on the album’s inside photo: Jackson, in a white suit, lying on his side, one leg bent, looking at us. On the knee of his bent leg is a tiger — a tiger cub. I stared with deep longing. He was so pretty, with his absurd curls and isosceles triangle of a nose and creamy brown face. I’m calling it a photo when, really, it was a centerfold. But what did I want from that picture? What did I want from Jackson? Friendship? A handshake? A souvenir? A hug?

From here.