robertogreco + commentary   59

After Authenticity
"Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.

Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.

In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.

K-HOLE and Box1824 captured the new landscape in their breakthrough 2014 report “Youth Mode.” They described an era of “mass indie” where the search for meaning is premised on differentiation and uniqueness, and proposed a solution in “Normcore.” Humorously, nearly everyone mistook Normcore for being about bland fashion choices rather than the greater cultural shift toward accepting shared meanings. It turns out that the aesthetics of authenticity-less culture are less about acting basic and more about playing up the genericness of the commodity as an aesthetic category. LOT2046’s delightfully industrial-supply-chain-default aesthetics are the most beautiful and powerful rendering of this. But almost everyone is capitalizing on the same basic trend, from Vetements and Virgil Abloh (enormous logos placed for visibility in Instagram photos are now the norm in fashion) to the horribly corporate Brandless. Even the names of boring basics companies like “Common Threads” and “Universal Standard” reflect the the popularity of genericness, writes Alanna Okunn at Racked. Put it this way: Supreme bricks can only sell in an era where it’s totally fine to like commodities.

Crucially, this doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to seek individuation. As I’ve argued elsewhere exclusivity is fundamental to any meaning-amplifying strategy. Nor is this to delegitimize some of the recognizable advancements popularized alongside the first wave of mass authenticity aesthetics. Farmer’s markets, the permaculture movement, and the trend of supporting local businesses are valuable cultural innovations and are here to stay.

Nevertheless, now that authenticity is obsolete it’s become difficult to remember why we were suspicious of brands and commodities to begin with. Maintaining criticality is a fundamental challenge in this new era of trust. Unfortunately, much of what we know about being critical is based on authenticity ethics. Carles blamed the Contemporary Conformist phenomenon on a culture industry hard-set on mining “youth culture dollars.” This very common yet extraordinarily reductive argument, which makes out commodity capitalism to be an all-powerful, intrinsically evil force, is typical of authenticity believers. It assumes a one-way influence of a brand’s actions on consumers, as do the field of semiotics and the hopeless, authenticity-craving philosophies of Baudrillard and Debord.

Yet now, as Dena Yago says, “you can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony.” If we no longer see brands and commodity capitalism as something to be resisted, we need more nuanced forms of critique that address how brands participate in society as creators and collaborators with real agency. Interest in working with brands, creating brands, and being brands is at an all-time high. Brands and commodities therefore need to be considered and critiqued on the basis of the specific cultural and economic contributions they make to society. People co-create their identities with brands just as they do with religions, communities, and other other systems of meaning. This constructivist view is incompatible with popular forms of postmodern critique but it also opens up new critical opportunities. We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Trust in business can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work."
tobyshorin  2018  authenticity  culture  anthropology  hispters  sellouts  sellingout  commercialism  kanyewest  yeezy  yeezysupply  consumerism  commercialization  commodification  personalbranding  branding  capitalism  shepardfairey  obeygiant  tourism  sarahperry  identity  critique  ethics  mainstream  rjaymagill  popculture  aesthetics  commentary  conformism  scale  scalability  venkateshrao  premiummediocre  brooklyn  airbnb  wework  local  handmade  artisinal  economics  toms  redwings  davidmuggleton  josephpine  jamesgilmore  exclusivity  denayago  systems  sytemsofmeaning  meaning  commodities  k-hole 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Pookleblinky on Twitter: "This is what an average page of the Talmud looks like."
"This is what an average page of the Talmud looks like.
There's a lot going on here, and all of it is interesting.
That text in the center is the mishnah. The mishnah is a transcription of much older oral Torah.
The mishnah was an oral tradition for centuries before it was finally written down.
The text surrounding it is the gemara. The gemara is commentary, centuries later, on that mishna. Which is itself commentary.
The gemara is, importantly, an argumentative commentary. It's a transcript of arguments over centuries.
The gemara is 6,000 pages of history, arguments, excruciatingly nitpicky discussions, and anecdotes.
Each nugget of mishna is surrounded by centuries of arguments over what it means.
Those arguments range wildly. For instance, in one tractate the mishna discusses a unit of measurement.
Over the following centuries, that unit transformed from about a tablespoon into a wheelbarrow worth of stuff.
That transformation is recorded, as people got confused and argued over what on earth it meant at various times.
Each argument presented in the surrounding gemara, comes from a lineage of thought. You can trace that lineage through centuriese
You can follow Rabbi Akiva's thought over the course of his life, and see how many times he was quoted later on, for instance.
You can watch two schools of thought, butt heads in ever more smartass arguments, over centuries.
Sometimes there's reconciliation, one school of thought accepts that another was right. Other times, the arguments continue.
The arguments build on each other. You can watch an argument get settled. Centuries later, that agreement is argued.
The ensuing argument ends nitpicking the original in excruciating detail until it makes sense to enough people.
Layers of commentary upon commentary upon commentary. A millennium later, Rashi added his own.
The Talmud was, essentially, the Internet before people had electricity.
There were correspondences written, indexes where you could locate every mention of Rab Johanan etc.
Subjects ranged from torturous arguments over etymology, to hilarious anecdotes, to daily images of life.3
The Talmud was Usenet before people knew about electricity.
There's even a tractate, Pirke Avot, that's so eclectic there's a thousand-year old joke about citing it if unsure of a source.
In other words, the Talmud is a good example of user interface. It accreted organically, organized itself organically.
Its rough edges were worn away with centuries, it became as intuitive a way of representing discussion as one could get.
The Talmud was, until Usenet, the world's best interface for representing vast discussions. Version controlled, too.
It's been around for so long that its influence permeated western culture.
It helped make "commentary upon commentary" seem intuitive. It would have used hyperlinks if it could have.
And, thousands of years later, we reinvent that wheel, badly. [ ]
We have tried to scale the user interface of the Talmud a few orders of magnitude.
The result: infinite chains of quote RT's with the word "THREAD" and "this."
Tumblr discussions that zoom in microscopically until the first several layers of commentary are invisible.
Any sufficiently advanced commentary model contains an ad-hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of the Talmud
Usenet came closest, followed by irc .txt logs.
Another interesting thing is that the Talmud is 6,000 pages. You can read all of it, a page a day, in 7 years.
If you look at oral traditions around the world, this was about average.
There's probably something like Dunbar's Number, concerning the max size of an oral tradition.
The Mahabharata is about 1.8 million words. 200,000 verses.
The Iliad alone was about 200,000 words. It was an oral tradition for centuries after Homer.
The Talmud is estimated at about 2 million words, of which the mishna alone are about the same range as any other oral tradition.
Assuming there is a limit to how large an oral tradition can be, even after transcription, let's call it 2 million words worth.
2 million words of argument and commentary before things get too confusingly vast for normal humans to keep up.
I'm sure that there's a relationship between dunbar's number and max size of oral tradition.
And that this relationship affects how internet communities fracture and insulate themselves as they scale relentlessly upwards"
oraltradition  talmud  comments  tumblr  annotation  marginalia  conversation  gemara  iliad  mahabharata  internet  web  online  dunbar  commentary  comment  commenting  discussion  history  2017 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Fellow Prisoners – Guernica
"The best way to understand the world, writes Berger, is not as a metaphorical prison but a literal one. And what better way to inspire solidarity than seeing ourselves (them) as fellow prisoners?"

"The wonderful American poet Adrienne Rich pointed out in a recent lecture about poetry that “this year, a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that one out of every 136 residents of the United States is behind bars—many in jails, unconvicted.”

In the same lecture she quoted the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos:

In the field the last swallow had lingered late,

balancing in the air like a black ribbon on the sleeve

of autumn.

Nothing else remained. Only the burned houses

smouldering still.


I picked up the phone and knew immediately it was an unexpected call from you, speaking from your flat in the Via Paolo Sarpi. (Two days after the election results and Berlusconi’s comeback.) The speed with which we identify a familiar voice coming out of the blue is comforting, but also somewhat mysterious. Because the measures, the units we use in calculating the clear distinction that exists between one voice and another, are unformulated and nameless. They don’t have a code. These days more and more is encoded.

So I wonder whether there aren’t other measures, equally uncoded yet precise, by which we calculate other givens. For example, the amount of circumstantial freedom existing in a certain situation, its extent and its strict limits. Prisoners become experts at this. They develop a particular sensitivity towards liberty, not as a principle, but as a granular substance. They spot fragments of liberty almost immediately whenever they occur.


On an ordinary day, when nothing is happening and the crises announced hourly are the old familiar ones—and the politicians are declaring yet again that without them there would be catastrophe—people as they pass one another exchange glances, and some of their glances check whether the others are envisaging the same thing when they say to themselves; so this is life!

Often they are envisaging the same thing and in this primary sharing there is a kind of solidarity before anything further has been said or discussed.

I’m searching for words to describe the period of history we’re living through. To say it’s unprecedented means little because all periods were unprecedented since history was first discovered.

I’m not searching for a complex definition—there are a number of thinkers, such as Zygmunt Bauman, who have taken on this essential task. I’m looking for nothing more than a figurative image to serve as a landmark. Landmarks don’t fully explain themselves, but they offer a reference point that can be shared. In this they are like the tacit assumptions contained in popular proverbs. Without landmarks there is the great human risk of turning in circles.


The landmark I’ve found is that of prison. Nothing less. Across the planet we are living in a prison.

The word we, when printed or pronounced on screens, has become suspect, for it’s continually used by those with power in the demagogic claim that they are also speaking for those who are denied power. Let’s talk of ourselves as they. They are living in a prison.

What kind of prison? How is it constructed? Where is it situated? Or am I only using the word as a figure of speech?

No, it’s not a metaphor, the imprisonment is real, but to describe it one has to think historically.

Michel Foucault has graphically shown how the penitentiary was a late eighteenth-, early nineteenth-century invention closely linked to industrial production, its factories and its utilitarian philosophy. Earlier, there were jails that were extensions of the cage and the dungeon. What distinguished the penitentiary is the number of prisoners it can pack in—and the fact that all of them are under continuous surveillance thanks to the model of the Pantopticon, as conceived by Jeremy Bentham, who introduced the principle of accountancy into ethics.

Accountancy demands that every transaction be noted. Hence the penitentiary’s circular walls with the cells arranged around the screw’s watchtower at the center. Bentham, who was John Stuart Mill’s tutor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was the principal utilitarian apologist for industrial capitalism.

Today in the era of globalization, the world is dominated by financial, not industrial, capital, and the dogmas defining criminality and the logics of imprisonment have changed radically. Penitentiaries still exist and more and more are being built. But prison walls now serve a different purpose. What constitutes an incarceration area has been transformed.


Twenty years ago, Nella Bielski and I wrote A Question of Geography, a play about the Gulag. In act two, a zek (a political prisoner) talks to a boy who has just arrived about choice, about the limits of what can be chosen in a labor camp: When you drag yourself back after a day’s work in the taiga, when you are marched back, half dead with fatigue and hunger, you are given your ration of soup and bread. About the soup you have no choice—it has to be eaten whilst it’s hot, or whilst it’s at least warm. About the four hundred grams of bread you have choice. For instance, you can cut it into three little bits: one to eat now with the soup, one to suck in the mouth before going to sleep in your bunk, and the third to keep until next morning at ten, when you’re working in the taiga and the emptiness in your stomach feels like a stone.

You empty a wheelbarrow full of rock. About pushing the barrow to the dump you have no choice. Now it’s empty you have a choice. You can walk your barrow back just like you came, or—if you’re clever, and survival makes you clever—you push it back like this, almost upright. If you choose the second way you give your shoulders a rest. If you are a zek and you become a team leader, you have the choice of playing at being a screw, or of never forgetting that you are a zek.

The Gulag no longer exists. Millions work, however, under conditions that are not very different. What has changed is the forensic logic applied to workers and criminals.

During the Gulag, political prisoners, categorized as criminals, were reduced to slave-laborers. Today millions of brutally exploited workers are being reduced to the status of criminals.

The Gulag equation “criminal = slave laborer” has been rewritten by neoliberalism to become “worker = hidden criminal.” The whole drama of global migration is expressed in this new formula; those who work are latent criminals. When accused, they are found guilty of trying at all costs to survive.

Over six million Mexican women and men work in the U.S. without papers and are consequently illegal. A concrete wall of over one thousand kilometers and a “virtual” wall of eighteen hundred watchtowers were planned along the frontier between the U.S. and Mexico, although the projects have recently been scrapped. Ways around them—though all of them dangerous—will of course be found.

Between industrial capitalism, dependent on manufacture and factories, and financial capitalism, dependent on free-market speculation and front office traders, the incarceration area has changed. Speculative financial transactions add up to, each day, $1,300 billion, fifty times more than the sum of the commercial exchanges. The prison is now as large as the planet and its allotted zones can vary and can be termed worksite, refugee camp, shopping mall, periphery, ghetto, office block, favela, suburb. What is essential is that those incarcerated in these zones are fellow prisoners.


It’s the first week in May and on the hillsides and mountains, along the avenues and around the gates in the northern hemisphere, the leaves of most of the trees are coming out. Not only are all their different varieties of green still distinct, people also have the impression that each single leaf is distinct, and so they are confronting billions—no, not billions (the word has been corrupted by dollars), they are confronting an infinite multitude of new leaves.

For prisoners, small visible signs of nature’s continuity have always been, and still are, a covert encouragement.


Today the purpose of most prison walls (concrete, electronic, patrolled, or interrogatory) is not to keep prisoners in and correct them, but to keep prisoners out and exclude them.

Most of the excluded are anonymous—hence the obsession of all security forces with identity. They are also numberless, for two reasons. First because their numbers fluctuate; every famine, natural disaster and military intervention (now called policing) either diminishes or increases their multitude. And secondly, because to assess their number is to confront the fact that they constitute most of those living on the surface of the earth—and to acknowledge this is to plummet into absolute absurdity.


Have you noticed small commodities are increasingly difficult to remove from their packaging? Something similar has happened with the lives of the gainfully employed. Those who have legal employment and are not poor are living in a very reduced space that allows them fewer and fewer choices—except the continual binary choice between obedience and disobedience. Their working hours, their place of residence, their past skills and experience, their health, the future of their children, everything outside their function as employees has to take a small second place beside the unforseeable and vast demands of liquid profit. Furthermore, the rigidity of this house rule is called flexibility. In prison, words get turned upside down.

The alarming pressure of high-grade working conditions has obliged the courts in Japan to recognize and define a new coroners’ category of “death by overwork.”

No other system, the gainfully employed are told, is … [more]
johnberger  prisoners  solidarity  metaphor  2011  adriennerich  yannisritsos  zygmuntbauman  imprisonment  panopticon  jeremybentham  capitalism  nellabielski  power  tyranny  hanstietmeyer  cyberspace  misinformation  rumors  commentary  humankind 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How YouTube Changed The Essay | Evan Puschak | TEDxLafayetteCollege - YouTube
"Evan Puschak, creator of The Nerdwriter, traces the history of the written essay and the essay-film, showing how these two strands feed into a new form of the essay which is becoming increasingly popular on YouTube: the video essay.

Evan Puschak is the creator and producer of The Nerdwriter, a popular web series of weekly video essays about art and culture. Evan launched The Nerdwriter in 2011, a year after graduating from Boston University, where he studied film production. One of his first videos landed him a job at MSNBC as a writer and web content producer. Almost three years later, the Discovery Channel asked him to write and host a show on their digital network called Seeker Daily. After launching a successful show for Discovery, he left to pursue The Nerdwriter full time. Evan has never been fond of offices or working for other people. He hates meetings and quarterly earnings reports. Now that he’s working for himself, pursuing his passion on YouTube, Evan has never been happier."
via:lukeneff  writing  essays  evanpuschak  nerdwriter  videoessays  2016  hansrichter  fforfake  orsonwelles  documentary  commentary  sanssoleil  1973  1983  1940  chrismarker  everyframeapainting  tonyzhou  education  knowledge  explainers  mikerugnetta  vox  internet  web  online  audiovisual  learning  thinking  micheldemontaigne  montaigne 
june 2016 by robertogreco
FutureEverything 2015: Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie on Vimeo
"From New York Times R&D Labs, Alexis Lloyd and Matt Boggie talk about our possible media futures, following the early days of the web - where growth was propelled forward by those making their own spaces online - to the present, where social platforms are starting to close down, tightening the possibilities whilst our dependency on them is increasing. Explaining how internet users are in fact participatory creators, not just consumers, Alexis and Matt ask where playing with news media can allow for a new means of expression and commentary by audiences."
public  media  internet  web  online  walledgardens  participation  participatory  2015  facebook  snapchat  open  openness  alexisloyd  mattboggie  publishing  blogs  blogging  history  audience  creativity  content  expression  socialnetworks  sociamedia  onlinemedia  appropriation  remixing  critique  connection  consumption  creation  sharing  participatoryculture  collage  engagement  tv  television  film  art  games  gaming  videogames  twitch  performance  social  discussion  conversation  meaningmaking  vine  twitter  commentary  news  commenting  reuse  community  culturecreation  latoyapeterson  communication  nytimes  agneschang  netowrkedculture  nytimesr&dlabs  bots  quips  nytlabs  compendium  storytelling  decentralization  meshnetworking  peertopeer  ows  occupywallstreet  firechat  censorship  tor  bittorrent  security  neutrality  privacy  iot  internetofthings  surveillance  networkedcitizenship  localnetworks  networks  hertziantribes  behavior  communities  context  empowerment  agency  maelstrom  p2p  cookieswapping  information  policy  infrastructure  technology  remixculture 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Black Pathology Crowdsourced - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"The point is that the same sets of cultural characteristics operate very differently in different circumstances. And to focus on the culture—rather than the circumstances—seems obtuse." —Yoni Appelbaum

[Something of a corollary to Ta-Nehisi Coates here :]

"The thing you find so valuable may well be related to something else which you find utterly objectionable."

[BUT rephrased as "The thing you find to be a flaw in one circumstance may well be an admirable trait in another."]
history  culture  circumstance  context  ta-nehisicoates  2014  values  characteristics  behavior  complexity  commentary  race  ethnicity 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Rosen: Manifesto for arts education as a democratic practice
"(nb I've posted this before, but I've just been an Arts Award Conference in Newcastle, presented it, and informed people that I would put it up on this blog to save them scribbling notes.)

Advocates for the arts find themselves facing some choices: do we claim the arts can help children achieve and by extension haul the UK up the league tables? Do we claim for them a unique role in pupils' mental and physical well-being? Do we say that the arts offer some kind of aid to school discipline, enlisting children in team-building?

Should we be linking the creative activities at the heart of the arts with active, inventive learning that can and should take place across the core curriculum? Do we say that the arts is an industry and part of the job of education is to train people so they can enter any industry, including the arts? Or should our claim be that old cry of the aesthetes – art for art's sake?

My own view is that the arts are neither superior nor inferior to anything else that goes on in schools. It's just as possible to make arts-focused lessons as weak, oppressive and dull as other subjects. It's just as possible to make those other lessons as enlightening, inventive and exciting as arts work.

The key is in the 'how' – not whether arts education in itself is a good thing but what kinds of approaches can make it worthwhile for pupils. We should think in terms of necessary elements:

'pupils' (or young people in any arts situation) should:

1) have a sense of ownership and control in the process of making and doing,

2) have a sense of possibility, transformation and change – that the process is not closed-ended with predictable, pre-planned outcomes, but that unexpected outcomes or content are possible,

3) feel safe in the process, that no matter what they do, they will not be exposed to ridicule, relentless assessment and testing, fear of being wrong or making errors,

4) feel the process can be individual, co-operative or both, accompanied by supportive and co-operative commentary which is safeguarded and encouraged by teachers/leaders/enablers,

5) feel there is a flow between the arts, and between what used to be called (wrongly) 'high-brow' and 'low-brow' and that these are not boxed off from each other according to old and fictitious boundaries and hierarchies,

6) feel they are working in an environment that welcomes their home cultures, backgrounds, heritages and languages into the process with no superimposed hierarchy,

7) feel that what they are making or doing matters – that the activity has status within the school, club, group and beyond

8) be encouraged and enabled to find audiences for their work whether in the same school, other schools or in the communities beyond the school gate, including digital (blogs, e-safe environments etc),

9) be exposed to the best practice and the best practitioners possible or available in order to see and feel other possibilities,

10) be encouraged to think of the arts as including or involving investigation, invention, discovery, play and co-operation and that these happen both within the actual making and doing but also in the talk, commentary and critical dialogue that goes on around the activity itself."
michaelrosen  education  teaching  learning  arteducation  art  making  doing  control  transformation  change  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  pedagogy  democracy  inversigation  invention  discovery  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  play  cooperation  criticism  critique  highbrow  lowbrow  commentary  manifestos  via:mattward  2014 
february 2014 by robertogreco
An Introduction to Infrastructure Fiction | superflux
"'All-in-One' was an EPSRC-funded project ... [T]he basic research question was 'would it be possible to replace all the disparate utility infrastructures which we have currently with a system that uses one single unified infrastructure to fulfil all the needs of end-users?' ... [L]ook at the actual ideas we came up with: a 'city blood' circulatory system, wherein energy is carried to homes dissolved in water like oxygen is carried to our cells by haemoglobin; a rhizome-topology urban network of underground freight-delivery tunnels; the entire planet powered by orbital solar collector satellites, and eventually by a belt of photovoltaics on the moon; and a subterranean modular city based around the central need for water, energy and fresh air."
infrastructure  city  design  commentary  infrastructurefiction  fiction  paulgrahamraven  designfiction  via:jbushnell 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The New Aesthetic and its Politics |
"Let us be clear: just as my work on the form of the book in the digital age was concerned not with the physical or digital object, but with people’s understanding and emotions concerning literature; just as my drone works are not about the objects themselves, but about the systems – technological, spatial, legal and political – which permit, shape and produce them, and about the wider implications of seeing and not seeing such technological, systematic, operations; so the New Aesthetic is concerned with everything that is not visible in these images and quotes, but that is inseparable from them, and without which they would not exist.

Much of the critical confusion around the New Aesthetic has clustered around the use of the term “aesthetic”, by which I meant simply, “what it looks like” – I wasn’t even really aware of how key the term aesthetics was to art historical and critical discourse. As a result of my use of this term, much of the critical reaction to it has only looked at the surface, and has – sometimes wilfully it feels – failed to engage with the underlying concerns of the New Aesthetic, its own critique and politics. This criticism still concerns itself only with images, despite the wealth of texts also included in the project, and the numerous recorded lectures I’ve given on the subject. The tumblr is just one aspect of, the sketchbook or playlist for, a wider project. In short, this form of criticism has been looking at the pixelated finger, not the moon.

There are two necessary understandings to counter this, I think. One is the important recognition that the New Aesthetic project is undertaken within its own medium: it is an attempt to “write” critically about the network in the vernacular of the network itself: in a tumblr, in blog posts, in YouTube videos of lectures, tweeted reports and messages, reblogs, likes, and comments. In this sense, from my perspective, it is as much work as criticism: it does not conform to the formal shapes – manifesto, essay, book – expected by critics and academics. As a result, it remains largely illegible to them, despite frequent public statements of the present kind.

the deeper and more interesting aspect of this misreading of the New Aesthetic is that it directly mirrors what it is describing: the illegibility of technology itself to a non-technical audience.

The New Aesthetic is not superficial, it is not concerned with beauty or surface texture. It is deeply engaged with the politics and politicisation of networked technology, and seeks to explore, catalogue, categorise, connect and interrogate these things. Where many seem to read only incoherence and illegibility, the New Aesthetic articulates the deep coherence and multiplicity of connections and influences of the network itself.

I believe that much of the weak commentary on the New Aesthetic is a direct result of a weak technological literacy in the arts, and the critical discourse that springs from it. It is also representative of a far wider critical and popular failure to engage fully with technology in its construction, operation and affect.

But if we don’t move the debate to a deeper level, none of this will change. There is a justified and rising opposition to drone warfare (and in the last week, to issues around computational surveillance and intelligence), which may or may not produce lasting political change; but even if successful this will only change the images and objects employed, not the modes of thinking, coupled to technological mastery, which drive it. Without a concerted effort to raise the level of debate, we just loop over and over through the same fetishisations and reifications, while the real business of the world continues unexamined. Those who cannot understand technology are doomed to be consumed by it. (The idea that these ideas lack politics is especially laughable when you look at what’s happening in much of the art world, and most of the digital art world. A young, post-Iraq generation who have had all hope of political participation kettled out of them, and are then endlessly accused of apathy to boot. No wonder it’s all personal brands, car culture, glossy gifs and facebook performances.) Technology is political. Everything is political. If you cannot perceive the politics, the politics are being done to you.

In part, this unwillingness to codify is a reproduction of the network’s own refusal to be pinned down, controlled, routed and channeled, which must be considered one of its core, inherent qualities. But it is also born of a sincere desire not to foreclose discussion: the New Aesthetic may be considered a work, a conversation, a performance, an experiment, and a number of other things (although, please, not a movement). This intention of keeping the field open was, and perhaps remains, naive. Nevertheless, I firmly believe it is the way it has to be. As such, the presentation of a so-called gaudy heap of images is an appeal to, and act of confidence in, the network itself, in the systems and people that comprise it, to follow their own ideas and intuitions, educate themselves and, outwith a hierarchical commentariat, come to their own conclusions. The onus is on the reader to explore further, just as and because the onus is on the individual in a truly networked politics. So why is it important to critique the critique as well? Because we live in a world shaped and defined by computation, and it is one of the jobs of the critic and the artist to draw attention to the world as it truly is."
jamesbridle  art  newaesthetic  commentary  vernacular  computing  technology  society  politics  drones  surveillance  books  media  criticism  systems  systemsthinking  audience  aesthetics  academia  analysis  understanding  2013 
june 2013 by robertogreco
russell davies: young avengers - adventures in the present
"I'm enjoying Young Avengers [ ] from Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie a lot. (I'm especially pleased because I could see lots that was brilliant in Phonogram but felt just exactly the wrong age to really get into it.)

I've been enjoying them even more because they're surrounded by all this networked stuff that I was going to say felt futurey, but doesn't, it feels resolutely present.

So, you can get the comic, and you can read a sort of director's commentary on each issue. [ ] (SPOILERS! - as I believe the young people say.) You can listen along to a spotify playlist [ ] of things that inspire the mood of Young Avengers. And you can read reflections from the splendid Tom Ewing on each issue. ]

It's good. It's got that Invisible Book Club feel, networked reading, something. And it's not some clever publishing initiative with an app and a sponsorship deal. It's because the creators live in the present and know how to use the tools."
books  comics  srg  edg  socialmedia  spotify  commentary  russelldavies  keirongillen  jamiemckelvie  invisiblebookclub  reading  digitalreading  tools  onlinetoolkit  networkedreading 
march 2013 by robertogreco
International Art English - Triple Canopy
"When we sense ourselves to be in proximity to something serious and art related, we reflexively reach for subordinate clauses. The question is why. How did we end up writing in a way that sounds like inexpertly translated French?"
art  commentary  language  english  via:jbushnell 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The False Novelty of Making Reading 'Social' - Alan Jacobs - Technology - The Atlantic
"So what is it that sites like Findings and Readmill do? I would say that they enable asynchronous interactive digital commentary. That's a mouthful; it's a lot easier to say that they "make reading social." But easier in this case is definitely not better. All these digital possibilities are turning the old and familiar experience of reading on its head, and the language we have to describe the changes hasn't even begun to catch up. It needs to start."
reading  books  commentary  annotation  asynchronousinteractions  asynchronous  social  2012  findings  readmill  alanjacobs  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
James Enos talks about Clairemont on Vimeo
His informal presentation on the critique of Clairemont from Pecha Kucha on April 20th. The piece discussed in his rant is currently on show at MCASD in La Jolla's "Here Not There" opening.
1951  tracthomes  clairemont  jamesenos  informal  sandiego  architecture  herenotthere  mcasd  pechakucha  housing  alterations  art  design  vernacular  entitlement  dwellmagazine  dwell  clairemonterasure  suburbs  suburbia  parametricarchitecture  juxtaposition  realestate  commentary  tracthousing  criticalpractice  whatwewant  socal  buildingboom  southpark  humor  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
"When the neoliberal project first began in 1979 with Mrs Thatcher the idea was that politicians would give away power to the markets and the state would shrink. Over the past 15 years the idea of the "market" has been extended to practically every area of society - education, health, even the arts. But to make this happen those running the neoliberal project had to enforce it by creating vast and intricate performance indicators and feedback systems (which in many cases led to wide scale absurdities). And to do this they used the mighty power of the state. … have we misunderstood what we have lived through since 1979? We think it was the resurgence of capitalism. But maybe it was something very different? Something that we can't see properly because we are still trapped in the economists' world and their mindset." "The film also includes the most fabulous machine I have ever seen. A giant interconnected system driven by water to model the whole British economy."
via:preoccupations  economics  capitalism  2010  corporatism  cybernetics  uk  neoliberalism  us  policy  adamcurtis  commentary 
february 2010 by robertogreco
How Christian Were the Founders? -
"This is how history is made — or rather, how the hue and cry of the present and near past gets lodged into the long-term cultural memory or else is allowed to quietly fade into an inaudible whisper. Public education has always been a battleground between cultural forces; one reason that Texas’ school-board members find themselves at the very center of the battlefield is, not surprisingly, money. The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. Texas uses some of that money to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which rather strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State. California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead."

[see also: ]
history  government  religion  2010  controversy  conservatism  christianity  education  politics  science  debate  creationism  textbooks  tcsnmy  texas  california  us  commentary 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Big Lie About the 'Life of the Mind' - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Some professors tell students to go to graduate school "only if you can't imagine doing anything else." But they usually are saying that to students who have been inside an educational institution for their entire lives. They simply do not know what else is out there. They know how to navigate school, and they think they know what it is like to be a professor.
thomasbenton  education  gradschool  economics  academia  humanities  criticism  jobs  commentary  highered  phd  admissions  advice  universities  money 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The WELL: Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
"you've treated your future as an "unpredictable lurching thing" & now you're all morose about that...your generation CREATED that situation! Ever heard of "disruptive innovation," "disintermediation," "offshoring," "small pieces loosely joined," "de-monetization," "plug & play," "the network as a platform"?...Guys w/ stacks of gold bars & working oil wells don't have stability! Much less guys like you...want some security? Demand government housing subsidies & guaranteed minimum income! They bailed out every broke mogul...might as well bail out civil population...You're Canadian always in Cali married to Briton always in're not gonna "end up" anywhere. Forget about have made your mobile bed...lie in it."..."coherent picture of your future."...imagine you're 3yo. You want to give your Dad, back in 1974, a coherent picture of 2010...something very actionable, lucid & practical...tell me what you oughta tell him about 2010, back in 1974. Use words of 1 syllable"
brucesterling  corydoctorow  2010  futurology  futurism  future  politics  business  media  environment  predictions  china  brasil  nomads  neo-nomads  technology  society  culture  commentary  google  world  life  intelligence  fear  pessimism  optimism  jonlebkowsky  jamaiscascio  brazil 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality | techPresident
"Obama was never nearly as free of dependence on big money donors as the reporting suggested, nor was his movement as bottom-up or people-centric as his marketing implied. And this is the big story of 2009, if you ask me, the meta-story of what did, and didn't happen, in the first year of Obama's administration. The people who voted for him weren't organized in any kind of new or powerful way, and the special interests--banks, energy companies, health interests, car-makers, the military-industrial complex--sat first at the table and wrote the menu. Myth met reality, and came up wanting. … Nor, it is clear, was Obama's campaign ever really about giving control to the grassroots. … Plouffe and the rest of Obama's leadership team, wasn't really interested in grassroots empowerment. Instead, they think they've invented a 21st century version of list-building … Obama's compromises to almost every powers-that-be are tremendously demotivating"
via:preoccupations  technology  internet  barackobama  elections  2009  critique  corporations  hypocrisy  grassroots  disappointment  strategy  corruption  finance  2008  activism  collaboration  banking  ethics  media  democracy  history  politics  us  commentary 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Infrastructure Spending Will Not Revive the Economy -
"Forget old-fashioned infrastructure. Here are six government projects to foster a lasting economic recovery...Climb poles for wireless...Dig fiber ditches...Sequence proteins...Lighten backpacks [digitize textbooks]...Scan medical records...Require TOU meters...The technology is starting to roll out (with some stimulus money) in the form of Time of Use (TOU) meters replacing those ugly glass bulbs with spinning disks. Coupled with wireless in-house devices that show appliance electrical usage in real time and clever software at utilities, I'd bet peak usage would drop 30% and educate a million workers on the workings of the future smart electric grid. Beats subsidies for caulking windows."
commentary  technology  internet  future  politics  economics  government  stimulus  infrastructure  us  publicworks  wireless  medicine  medicalrecords  education  textbooks  access  energy  sustainability  efficiency  tou  timeofuse 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Las Caticrónicas
"Miriam Chepsy las bautizó. Textos nacidos en Internet, al compás de la crisis argentina, pasados por el cedazo de mi modo de ver las cosas, narran en clave de humor, ironía o nostalgia, diversos hechos que pueden resultar atractivos para el lector. Me conmueve saber que me leen en sitios tan distantes como Dallas, Texas o Fátima, en la Provincia de Buenos Aires. ¡Cómo me gustaría que quienes lo hacen me escribieran algunas de sus impresiones...! Un abrazo a todos."
argentina  blogs  culture  society  commentary 
july 2009 by robertogreco
"I want to be a pilot" - A short movie by Diego Quemada-Diez
"There are millions of kids in the world victims of the injustices of our industrial civilization, while we are distracted buying things, evading reality. Our neocolonial policies are taking their toll on our children, on mother earth and all living beings we share this planet with. Their suffering is ours. Wake up!"

[via: ]
africa  poverty  film  hunger  tcsnmy  glvo  aids  activism  perspective  consumption  society  commentary 
november 2008 by robertogreco
My wife made me canvas for Obama; here's what I learned |
"We did our job, but Obama may not have been the one who got the most out of the day's work. I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things." It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected. It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore. I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers. I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives & never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways."
elections  2008  barackobama  commentary  politics  society  us 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Derek Powazek - This is Not a Comment
"unmoderated anonymous comments on internet can be incomprehensibly awful & frustratingly stupid...also be heartbreakingly sincere & shatteringly honest...because they’re written by real people, & real people are complicated, messy, & weird."
commenting  newmedia  comments  community  journalism  socialmedia  media  blogging  blogs  commentary  criticism  conversation  internet 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Baby’s First Internet - The Morning News
"Not sure how to explain the internet to your young ones? Presenting a series of nursery rhymes to teach children how to comport themselves on the online."
netiquette  internet  humor  comics  culture  parody  blogosphere  blogging  flickr  children  classideas  etiquette  commentary  criticism  satire  kids  online  web  via:russelldavies 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Cities and Ambition
"Even when a city is still a live center of ambition, you won't know for sure whether its message will resonate with you till you hear it...You'll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have."
paulgraham  cities  living  life  lifestyle  happiness  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  paris  entrepreneurship  employment  work  careers  demographics  economics  proximity  urban  geography  society  bayarea  boston  california  education  knowledge  universities  psychogeography  location  art  restaurants  technology  science  math  research  money  business  challenge  wealth  class  social  insiders  intelligence  culture  commentary  losangeles  washingtondc  berkeley  comparison  dc 
may 2008 by robertogreco
The Woodwork » Blog Archive » PENIS certificate
"Not sure what to think about this, but I’m starting to wish I got rejected from graduate school. When people start charging for what experts in the field do for free, the experts need to sell out."
learning  education  free  money  classes  society  capitalism  experts  commentary 
february 2008 by robertogreco
new puritans are the (26 October, 2005, Interconnected)
"Ownership, inequality in social roles, top-down control, integration, and waste. But these are signifiers of complex societies that can attain more glorious heights. So long as they can occur in good ways, why not pursue them?"
us  collapse  mattwebb  puritanism  commentary  culture  future  society  trends  complexity  2005 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007
among the more obvious, 32. Founding Fathers 28. The Troops 9. You
us  politics  culture  humor  society  commentary  people  via:kottke 
december 2007 by robertogreco
A lesson in humility for the smug West - Times Online
"Many of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world"
values  society  democracy  history  politics  west  commentary  culture  religion  christianity  europe  islam  world  via:preoccupations 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Do Canonical Web Designs Exist? - Bokardo
"Armin has missed his own point...he’s looking at Google from a graphic design perspective, when web designers necessarily have to look at it from an interaction design perspective"
design  interaction  ui  web  webdesign  internet  graphics  interface  facebook  google  commentary  interactiondesign  usability  webdev 
november 2007 by robertogreco
TM-O-M(1.0)[fav]: Garbage In
"Tired of racking your brain trying to squeeze out yet another artist's statement extolling the unique virtues of your latest joint?"
art  humor  generator  words  rhetoric  commentary  marketing 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: The social graft
"nifty system: First you get your users to entrust personal data to you, then you not only sell that data to advertisers but you get users to be vector for the ads...what do users get in return? An animated Sprite Sips character to interact with."
socialnetworks  facebook  advertising  ads  interaction  collaboration  community  socialnetworking  datamining  privacy  myspace  business  communication  social  marketing  commentary  media  internet 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Kung Fu Monkey: Farm Fetish
"I am just, I guess, well and truly tired of being told what "Middle America" wants, when Middle America is my age and lives in a goddam city, just like I have for my entire life."
demographics  statistics  us  farming  politics  population  rural  society  humor  media  history  future  economics  culture  commentary  agriculture 
october 2007 by robertogreco
All Linkin Park songs look the same - Hometracked
"it’s hard not to view the six images above as a statement on the music industry...major labels decry actions of listeners who download music from free sources. But...the alternative they offer: The same song, repackaged six different ways."
music  analysis  audio  visualization  marketing  business  sound  commentary  songs  culture 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Meet Generation C: Renaissance revisited | Idealog
"Are we witnessing a creative renaissance? Or drowning under a wave of wannabeees? Idealog introduces Gen C—the generation of digital creatives remaking the way we buy, sell and communicate"
generationc  content  creativity  create  digital  society  culture  consumergenerated  art  design  creative  trends  us  diy  criticism  artists  internet  commentary  consumerism  music  print 
october 2007 by robertogreco
25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips.
some great picks + "Pretty much the voice of Bill Watterson dictating the current state of our school systems. Dead on if you ask me. The school system is more of a test for being able to acquire knowledge than preparation for anything worthwhile."
comics  billwatterson  calvinandhobbes  humor  culture  schools  homeschool  education  learning  childhood  life  commentary 
october 2007 by robertogreco | How Creativity Is Killing the Culture
"nation of navel-gazing dreamy-eyed so-called creatives who no longer consider it worthwhile to roll up their sleeves&get down to hard work...even worse, who no longer deem it worth their time to bother checking out the stuff that anyone else has made"
generationc  content  creativity  create  digital  society  culture  consumergenerated  art  design  creative  trends  us  diy  criticism  artists  internet  commentary  consumerism  music  print 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Design Observer: You're So Intelligent - Michael Bierut
"Like Clarissa, we take our real gifts — our miraculous fluency with beauty, our ability to manipulate form in a way that can touch people's hearts — for granted. Those are the gifts that matter, and the paths through which we create things that truly
graphics  design  commentary  criticism  culture  intelligence  business  beauty  theory 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: Joel Johnson Spank Us All for Supporting Crap - Gizmodo
"Stop buying this crap. Just stop it. You don't need it. Wait a year until the reviews come out and the other suckers too addicted to having the very latest and greatest buy it, put up a review, and have moved on to something else."
activism  advice  criticism  gizmodo  culture  economics  business  markets  commentary  consumer  consumption  society  technology  electronics  gadgets  hardware  humor 
february 2007 by robertogreco
sleepless nights with steve woolf - Comments are NOT a Community
"Comments are not a community. For the longest time video bloggers have treated comments as one of the holy elements of video blogging. We've argued that it creates a conversation. I don't buy it."
comments  community  commentary  conversation  blogs  socialsoftware  socialnetworks  social  identity  tracking 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Mike Judge's Idiocracy reviewed. - By Reihan Salam - Slate Magazine
"Now you can finally watch Mike Judge's suppressed masterpiece, Idiocracy."
mikejudge  film  society  culture  commentary  comedy  dvd  idiocracy 
january 2007 by robertogreco
"Blogs often lead to such divisiveness that people end up caring more about clan membership than truth after a while."
web  internet  collectivism  sharing  society  trends  culture  socialsoftware  socialnetworks  blogs  commentary  cyberspace  social  etiquette  mobs 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Wooster Collective: Found While Cleaning Out Our Inbox #3 (Thought For The Day)
"people being so wound up making 'art' at art schools, made me a bit crazy. so this was for my final presentation in photoclass, not this photo though. i took them outside to show the graffiti to them. then they had a snowfight! great i liked that."
art  streetart  street  commentary  education  glvo  schools  graffiti 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Imagine this, Scooby-Doo |
"We watched two shows. Ada was hooked. Now our family is living with the consequences - and to my complete surprise, they are almost all entirely positive."
media  television  children  creativity  culture  imagination  cartoons  fiction  commentary 
october 2006 by robertogreco
La vida es bella: Primer mundo ... casi llegamos.
"Recuerdo que una vez Menem dijo, para la gracia de unos pocos y la creencia de muchos, "Argentina está en el primer mundo". No se porqué, se me ocurrió compararlo con estos dos videos ... uno del primer mundo y por supuesto, la versión argentina de ese "primer mundo"."
argentina  music  video  commentary  economics  humor  development  language  english  spanish  español  accents 
october 2006 by robertogreco
Wired News: Cell Phones? Hell Phones!
"I don't have a cell phone. In fact, I'm here today to tell you that they're the work of the devil. Switch yours off for five minutes and I'll explain why."
mobile  phones  technology  society  culture  etiquette  commentary 
september 2006 by robertogreco
The Seattle Times: Opinion: A nagging compulsion to move up or get left behind
"This pool opened my mind to the idea of disposable income, of buying things you don't need and your neighbors can't afford. It was like meeting the devil himself, in a swimsuit and a smile."
consumption  consumerism  us  housing  homes  economics  politics  society  commentary  simplicity 
september 2006 by robertogreco
NPR : The Fine Art of Bluffing
"Daniel Pinkwater tells how he developed and refined the skill of talking about subjects he had no idea about."
commentary  humor  radio 
november 2004 by robertogreco

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