Missives

RSS

There’s a term for this. Social psychologists, journalists and social-media users call it “lifestyle envy,” or Instagram envy, and savvy smartphone users are well-acquainted with its tell-tale sign: the little pang you get when a friend posts photos from his or her swanky vacation in Istanbul, or when actress Mindy Kaling snaps her newest pair of spike-toe Christian Louboutain pumps.

-

Lane Anderson in The Instagram Effect: How the Psychology of Envy Drives ConsumerismDeseret News.

The piece is part of a series called The Ten Today, which examines the relevance of the 10 Commandments in contemporary society. It’s kind of a a fascinating endeavor. The publication, which, as Nieman Lab reports, just came out of beta, is fascinating in itself:

The Deseret News is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you might not detect its Mormon roots from looking at the outlet’s national site — officially came out of beta yesterday — which focuses on the self-proclaimed values of family and faith. Even in its faith section, which includes stories as wide ranging as a preview of a new PBS documentary on the history of the Jews and a piece on the Hindu holiday of Holi, there’s very little explicit coverage of Mormonism.

FJP: So most of the articles (see: popular content, for example) comes out of a set of curious, general-interesty questions about American society and the role that spirituality and family plays out in our daily lives. While most new news projects are following the niche-news-serving-narrow-interests trend, it’s an interesting ambition to keep an eye on: a publication aiming to hit such a broad audience and broad set of topics topics from a strangely narrow space. —Jihii

(via futurejournalismproject)

Apr 4

Internet slang. We used to make an effort to avoid this, and now I see us all falling back into the habit. We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters. Therefore: No “epic.” No “pwn.” No “+1.” No “derp.” No “this”/”this just happened.” No “OMG.” No “WTF.” No “lulz.” No “FTW.” No “win.” No “amazeballs.” And so on. Nothing will ever “win the internet” on Gawker. As with all rules there are exceptions. Err on the side of the Times, not XOJane.

- Max Read, Editor, Gawker, in a memo to staff, via Poynter. Gawker bans ‘Internet slang’. (via futurejournalismproject)

Security Guards Now Outnumber High School Teachers » Sociological Images

There are now more people working as private security guards than high school teachers.

Comcast was the first last mile provider to recognize this and move peering from the realm of network engineers to the MBAs and started systematically refusing to upgrade existing private interconnects and in some cases systematically de-peering in other cases. Comcast neatly side-stepped the entire net-neutrality debate by degrading service to everybody who wasn’t willing to pay for a private interconnect. Comcast has had a relatively free hand because their customers are blissfully unaware of the politics of global peering and instead will just go somewhere else when a website is ‘slow’.

This has put a lot of pressure on companies like Amazon who know that a 100ms delay in the order process can result in a 1% decrease in sales. Since private interconnect arrangements aren’t public my guess is a lot of companies have caved and are paying Comcast to peer.

- an anonymous network engineer commenting on The really strange Comcast-Netflix deal - Bronte Capital (via llimllib)

When I go to contemporary Asian restaurants, like Wolfgang Puck’s now-shuttered 20.21 in Minneapolis and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market in New York City, it seems the entrées are always in the $16–$35 range and the only identifiable person of color in the kitchen is the dishwasher. The menus usually include little blurbs about how the chefs used to backpack in the steaming jungles of the Far East (undoubtedly stuffing all the herbs and spices they could fit into said backpacks along the way, for research purposes), and were so inspired by the smiling faces of the very generous natives—of which there are plenty of tasteful black-and-white photos on the walls, by the way—and the hospitality, oh, the hospitality, that they decided the best way to really crystallize that life-changing experience was to go back home and sterilize the cuisine they experienced by putting some microcilantro on that $20 curry to really make it worthy of the everyday American sophisticate. American chefs like to talk fancy talk about “elevating” or “refining” third-world cuisines, a rhetoric that brings to mind the mission civilisatrice that Europe took on to justify violent takeovers of those same cuisines’ countries of origin. In their publicity materials, Spice Market uses explicitly objectifying language to describe the culture they’re appropriating: “A timeless paean to Southeast Asian sensuality, Spice Market titillates Manhattan’s Meatpacking District with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s piquant elevations of the region’s street cuisine.” The positioning of Western aesthetics as superior, or higher, than all the rest is, at its bottom line, an expression of the idea that no culture has value unless it has been “improved” by the Western Midas touch. If a dish hasn’t been eaten or reimagined by a white person, does it really exist?

- Craving the Other by Soleil Ho [Bitch Magazine] (via thisisnotindia)

Productivity is Taking Over Our Lives | New Republic

Recently, I saw a man on the Tube wearing a Nike T-shirt with a slogan that read, in its entirety, “I’m doing work”. The idea that playing sport or doing exercise needs to be justified by calling it a species of work illustrates the colonisation of everyday life by the devotion to toil: an ideology that argues cunningly in favour of itself in the phrase “work ethic”.

Our world has become an ambient factory from which there is no visible exit and there exists an industry of self-help technologies devoted to teaching us how to be happy workers. “Is information overload killing your productivity?” asks a representative business story. The answer is to adopt yet more productivity strategies. The labour of work is thus extended to encompass the labour of learning how to keep up with your work (specialised techniques, such as “Inbox Zero”, to manage the email tsunami) as well as the labour of recovering from your work in approved ways.

fyeahhaitianhistory:

What may be some of the reasons that pushed Jean-Jacques Dessalines to declare in Haiti’s first national constitution of 1805 that all Haitians were “black,” regardless of the actual diversity of the island? Historian Julia Gaffield argues that:

"A third way that the constitution of 1805 sought to construct national unity was by attempting to eliminate colour distinctions within the country. As Trouillot and Nicholls have shown, internal colour differences affected political and social hierarchies throughout the county’s history. Dessalines’s solution for the colour differences in Haiti can be seen in article fourteen of his constitution: “all acception (sic) of colour among the children of one and the same family, of whom the chief magistrate is the father, being necessarily to cease, the Haytians shall hence forward be known by the generic appellation of Blacks.” While some whites were allowed to remain in Haiti and not all non-whites in Haiti considered themselves to be ‘black’, this article conceptualizes ‘race’ in ideological terms rather than biological terms. The identification of all Haitians as being the same thus attempted to create an “imagined community” by proposing a new definition of ‘black.’”

Read Full Article Here

LRB · Rebecca Solnit · Diary: Google Invades

There are ways in which Silicon Valley is nothing like this: it’s clean, quiet work, and here to stay in one form or another. But there are ways in which technology is just another boom and the Bay Area is once again a boomtown, with transient populations, escalating housing costs, mass displacements and the casual erasure of what was here before. I think of it as frontierism, with all the frontier’s attitude and operational style, where people without a lot of attachments come and do things without a lot of concern for their impact, where money moves around pretty casually, and people are ground underfoot equally casually. Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves. In the same spaces wander homeless people undeserving of private space, or the minimum comfort and security; right by the Google bus stop on Cesar Chavez Street immigrant men from Latin America stand waiting for employers in the building trade to scoop them up, or to be arrested and deported by the government. Both sides of the divide are bleak, and the middle way is hard to find.

JavaScript has nothing to do with it, it’s just the poison we ended up with, the bitter pill we supposedly have to swallow. So when Brendan Eich says with a smile “Always bet on JavaScript”, what he really means is “Always bet on legacy code” or perhaps “Always bet on politics”.

- On Asm.js — Steven Wittens (via llimllib)

The term culture industry (German: Kulturindustrie) was coined by the critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), and was presented as critical vocabulary in the chapter “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), wherein they proposed that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods — films, radio programmes, magazines, etc. — that are used to manipulate mass society into passivity. Consumption of the easy pleasures of popular culture, made available by the mass communications media, renders people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances.[citation needed] The inherent danger of the culture industry is the cultivation of false psychological needs that can only be met and satisfied by the products of capitalism; thus Adorno and Horkheimer especially perceived mass-produced culture as dangerous to the more technically and intellectually difficult high arts. In contrast, true psychological needs are freedom, creativity, and genuine happiness, which refer to an earlier demarcation of human needs, established by Herbert Marcuse.

- Culture industry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia