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The year we wanted the internet to be smaller | The Verge
The old promise of the internet — niche communities, human connection, people exchanging ideas, maybe even paying each other for the work they’d made — never really lost its appeal, but this year it came back with a miniature vengeance.

We can see this longing for community — and specifically, the sort of small, weird communities that populated and defined the early internet — everywhere. There’s Amino, the Tumblr-inspired app that lets fandoms build online spaces that are essentially club houses, then coordinate the creation of elaborate works of fan art, fiction, cosplay, and fandom lore. At the request of its largely teenage audience, the platform released its first cosplay yearbook this December, and doled out honors to the best writing, photography, and tutorials around cosplay. The thousands of fandom-specific rooms are lively and strange, each with their own moderators and byzantine rules.
internet  culture  community  niche  patronage  Tumblr  Patreon  email  evolution  TheVerge  2017 
january 2018 by inspiral
After Sectarianism – Post-War Watch, Nov 20, 2017
Although the PMU was initially viewed as an existential threat to Iraqi Sunnis, the organization was largely normalized in popular perceptions (within Iraq) over the course of 2015-2016. It is not that Sunni communities wholeheartedly embraced the PMU. Instead, the zero-sum existential fears that characterized Sunni views towards the PMU in 2014 gave way to something more nuanced and more grounded in personal experience. Local-level Sunni actors view the PMU as a reality of contemporary Iraqi politics, they understand that the organization’s leaders are significant powerbrokers in the country, and are willing to secure their interests through these figures.

For Iraq’s Shia communities, the conflict against ISIS transformed modes of political and identity expression away from the pre-2014 dialectic. Gone are the days when Shia political actors could stoke fears of recalcitrant Sunnis, murderous takfiris or closeted Ba’athists. As the politics of Shia-centric state building reaches the extent of its tether, a more mature form of Shia politics is emerging – one not as bluntly sect-centric as was often the case in previous years. For example, despite broad support for the war against ISIS, the exigencies of the war effort could not prevent the emergence of a robust protest movement against perceived government failings in Baghdad and other Shia-majority cities. When a mass-casualty bombing occurred in Baghdad’s Karradah neighborhood in July 2016, killing nearly 350 people, popular anger was directed at the government, not at Sunni neighborhoods or Sunni individuals despite war time mobilization against ISIS. Compare that sentiment with the reactions to similar attacks against Shia-majority targets a decade earlier, which would often result in retaliatory strikes against Sunni communities. After 2014, this kind of identification of violence with an entire sectarian group was no longer prevalent among many Iraqi Shia populations.

There has been a reinvigoration of Iraqi nationalism in Arab Iraq. The conflict over the past three years has given rise to a new narrative that posits a process of national salvation arising organically from the Iraqi population against an irredeemably evil foe. This narrative presents a good-and-evil story that is designed to transcend sectarian boundaries. The PMU plays a central role in this emergent narrative: Iraq was saved not by American airpower or Iranian support but by the “salt of the earth” young men from southern Iraq, who demonstrated a love of country and obedience to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s call to arms. Many analysts have under-estimated this idealized narrative’s importance and currency in Iraq today. While this narrative is not hegemonic, it is important and to some extent and in some cases does cross sectarian boundaries.
sectarianism  nationalism  Iraq  Shia  Sunni  identity  ISIS  Hashd  polls  patronage  Military 
december 2017 by elizrael
Community Disengagement | City Journal
No doubt the sputtering Harlem political machine—which lost Manhattan’s last black congressional seat in 2016 to Adriano Espaillat, a Dominican immigrant—would like to flex its muscles again. A good relationship with the new City College president might mean more jobs and influence over contracts. Patronage and wheel-greasing has been the dominant political mode in Harlem for decades, and Boudreau might be out of step with the old guard’s proprietary view of how appointments are awarded.
ccny  harlem  universities  politics  patronage 
november 2017 by StJohnBosco

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