All posts filed under: Workbook

Rate my room, Swiss hoarding edition

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Workbook

We’re all spending a lot more time on Zoom these days. Hangouts with friends are a lot like work meetings are a lot like coffee chats are a lot like calls to family. And we’re all spending a lot more time thinking about—and commenting on—our Zoom backgrounds. Room rating is a thing. I wonder how the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget would have gotten along with it all. I mean, I don’t think he’d have cared […]

Arundhati Roy on the pandemic

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Workbook

Only just found this extremely salient piece from April: Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can […]

Gary Younge on Europe vs America

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Workbook

I’ve never read anything better, more lucid, on the difference between racism in America and Europe than this Gary Younge essay in the New York Review of Books. He’s particularly sharp on the reasons that the troubles of Black Americans get much more attention in Europe than the troubles of Black Europeans. So much is quotable, but here are a couple of lines that hit. From the vantage point of Europe, which both resents and […]

Ancient bum wiping

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Link / Workbook

“The Romans had two primary ways to clean themselves post-bathroom break. Option one? A tool called a tersorium, which was “used to clean the buttocks after defecation.” Imagine a loofah, but made of fresh sea sponge, attached to a wooden rod—similar to back-washers sold in drugstores today. After using the stick to aim and the sponge to wipe, the person would dunk the sponge in a bucket full of water or vinegar to clean it off […]

Afro futures

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Workbook

“The Afrofuturist cannot tell you about the trajectory of an epidemic, predict the future of policing, or an election’s outcome. But it can say that, whatever our plights, a better world is possible. And more specifically, that an interaction with technology offers us a route to resistance.”—How Afrofuturism Can Help the World Mend, C Brandon Ogbunu, Wired

Filter bubbles

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“Jill Abramson’s reason for not signing? “I thought it was part of an anti-wokeness campaign, backlash clothed as free speech,” the former New York Times executive editor said bluntly.” —The Harper’s ‘Letter,’ cancel culture and the summer that drove a lot of smart people mad, Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi, Washington Post

Unusually hands-off

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Media / Workbook

“Sicha has managed to widen the scope of Style without making it the junk drawer of the Times. Style is a place where experiments can be run and boundaries pushed. This is likely possible because Style is still seen as a less fraught area of the newsroom than, say, the Politics desk (not to mention Op-ed).”—How Choire Sicha Is Steering Style in a Crisis, Jessica Wakeman, Study Hall

Taking time

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Workbook

“Digital computers are synonymous in the popular mind with precision processing of information. However, when it comes to the basic information processing task of keeping time, they often perform worse than expected. To see how bad computers can be, consider some things that are better at keeping time. The gold standard in timekeeping is the sundial, which is a perfect analog timekeeper. However, sundials are not very practical and are not used to keep time on […]

Out of copyright

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This has just come to my attention from last year: 1923, a project by Parker Higgins to create magazines from material that was entering the public domain. There were several hundred genuine print subscriptions available through the project’s Kickstarter (long gone) but downloadable online. I hope he made it to the end of the year—the archive stops in October.

The old internet

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Workbook

Katie Notopoulos gives a reasonable rundown of the web that used to exist before the 2010s (a wild and disintermediated place where independent creators had a chance to thrive) and the one that exists a decade later (centralized into a handful of aggregators and platforms that everyone is reliant on.) The internet of the 2010s will be defined by social media’s role in the 2016 election, the rise of extremism, and the fallout from privacy […]