A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
  • BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
  • Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
  • Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
  • Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
  • Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan’s speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer’s during the presidency.
  • Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
  • Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer’s new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
  • Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
  • Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
  • Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
  • Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen’s Park.
  • Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau’s criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.

[WRITING] On the transience of blogging, or, is that all there is?

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A well-written post  by Jim Belshaw that he posted to his blog Personal Reflections yesterday really made me think. There, he considered a post of his written in 2007. He remembered where he was and what he was doing at the time; he recognized that the sad situation he had described then had not changed in any of its particulars, sadly; he noted that changing HTML standards and link rot required a revision.

WordPress lets me know, whenever I have successfully uploaded a post, how many I have made in total. Lately it has been hovering around 16 thousand or so, stretching back to the very first posts I made back in 2002 on my LiveJournal. How much of what I wrote has lasted in anything like as good a form as Belshaw’s post? What have these posts led to, if anything? What might they yet lead to? Or, what can they not become, not now and perhaps not ever?

I am wondering, thinking. I admit to being afraid as to what I might conclude.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2015 at 3:45 am

[WRITING] “In Celebration of Old-School LiveJournal”

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Via Nicholas Whyte I found Lindsay Gates-Markel’s essay at The Toast. It’s a sensitive essay, about the importance of LiveJournal to her–as a person, as a writer–and one that evoked substantial amounts of nostalgia for me.

(Oh, if only the platform hadn’t been left to decay! My friends page is still populated but it is no longer what it was.)

Reading back, of course, it’s all a little precious, all a little LiveJournal. I was figuring out that I was a writer, but I was also young, I was very sure about many incorrect things, I felt ready for life without having any realistic idea of what life was actually like. In short, I was a teenage girl. It reassured me to filter everything, as it happened, through words. The best way for me to comprehend my own life was to read it back to myself.

And I knew I wasn’t alone. The girls who read my LJ, and vice versa, were doing the same; they, too, believed their lives were at least worth documenting, and so we were hungry together, reaching out toward the details in one another’s lives like vines toward the sun; we loved each other, celebrated surprise joys and consoled atomic hurt. We joined communities to learn to knit and to share poetry and to post photos of ourselves. We created new usernames to symbolize new directions in our lives–one for college, one for poetry, one for only extra-secret secrets. LiveJournal was a neverending sleepover for us sentimental storytellers, teenagers who were feeling every feeling. The sun was just about to come up. We had plenty of snacks. We passed our diaries around the circle.

In the LJ archives of my dear friend Courtney, there’s a post she made in 2002, as a teenage girl:

man this thing works. its like all the badness escapes when you write it down.

I stopped using LiveJournal years ago, though I gave it up in fits, came crawling back to create temporary friends-only journals that now sit dormant with only four or five posts. LiveJournal ended with a whisper; all the other girls I’d gotten to know over nearly a decade on the site stopped using it, too, seemingly within the same few months. Many of us moved to Tumblr, where there was no comment function, and our personal posts became rarer and rarer and—in my case, anyway—eventually stopped.

Last fall, after hearing about TinyLetter, a personal newsletter service, I signed up for an account. For several weeks, I sent out letters that were bad versions of other people’s fascinating TinyLetters. Finally, after some weeks of floundering, I sat down at the end of a hard day at work and wrote a letter about how I felt—very scared and lost at thirty-one. I stared out my office windows. I cried a little. I just feel like I see these lives I imagined for myself all over the place sometimes, walking around, being real. Where I’d normally sent several draft iterations to my inbox, I barely even proofread this letter. “Are you sure?” TinyLetter asked. I wasn’t. I clicked Yes, send it now and went home.

More, much more, at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm

[LINK] “A Beginner’s Guide to More Mindful Media Consumption”

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On Medium, Steve Rubel makes recommendations as to how consumers of online media can best find useful things.

In a digital environment there are arguably only three pathways to news: direct engagement, referrals via search engines and serendipitous discovery through social media.

In the case of direct engagement, you are in 100% control of where you focus your attention. You decide what news apps to download, what sites to bookmark and what email newsletters and podcasts are worth subscribing to. And it’s relatively easy to opt out.

In the case of search, you are partially in control. Once you enter your keywords, a highly tuned algorithm that is backed by 20 years of data and a relentless focus on quality strips out most of the junk and delivers relevant results. (Garbage in, can result in garbage out however.)

With social media, it can be a different story. You only have two choices — who to friend/follow and what to click. Then content finds you through the lens of your friends. This human aspect can greatly influence what news makes it into your feed. Quality can vary based on the social network, the device, the time of day, your friends, your previous clicks and more.

All three have merits but what they deliver can differ vastly. (Our research reveals that search trumps all when it comes to the public’s trust.)

Much more at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Crowdsourcing the City’s Narrative”

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Torontoist’s Kelli Korducki interviews the founder of a popular Facebook forum that I might quite like.

Torontoist: What’s your personal background?

I’m originally from Welland, Ontario. I am an artist of many sorts, but my education is in graphic design and illustration. Right now, I’m working on personal projects involving digital collage and curating an upcoming art exhibit while attending French classes full time.

What gave you the idea to start a Facebook group inviting people to share their day-to-day observations?

I had to live without the privilege of a smartphone for a while, and it made me realize how much people live in their screens and are oblivious to what is going on around them. (They are often a common topic of the group themselves.) I’d often post things on my personal Facebook page about things I would see “on the street”; I love to tell stories and write creatively, and the comments from my friends were always hilarious. After a few months of thinking about how cool it would be to start a Facebook page for the same thing, I started the group “What Did You See On The Street Today?” in July 2014 to post exactly that, with the main rule of there being no photos allowed. Technology and the internet dominate us with images every day whether we like it or not, so it’s also an homage to the written word, which is a very big part of the purpose.

It’s interesting how the group become so Toronto-centric when you live in Montreal.

I lived in Toronto for a few years, then moved to Montreal in May 2013. Many of the contributors are my friends from when I lived there, and my friends’ friends, their extended circles, etc. The group is international and we get posts from all over the world, and from many different age groups and backgrounds, but the demographic I belong to in Toronto definitely accounts for a huge percentage.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 1, 2015 at 10:18 pm

[WRITING] “Fast Writing: Ethnography in the Digital Age”

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Savage Minds features an essay by Yarimar Bonilla that takes a look at th interesting question of how to write texts of enduring relevance at speed.

In a recent contribution to this writers’ series, Michael Lambek offered some reflections on the virtues of “slow reading.” In an era of rapid-fire online communication, when images increasingly substitute for text, Lambek argues we would be well served to revel in the quiet interiority and reflective subjectivity made possible by long-form reading.

In this post I would like to think more carefully about this claim and to consider whether we might want to make a similar argument regarding the shifting pace of academic writing. If, as Lambek and others suggest, the temporality of reading has been altered by the digital age, can the same be said for research and writing? How have new digital tools, platforms, and shifts in technological access transformed the temporality of ethnographic writing, and is this something we necessarily wish to slow down?

I recently had occasion to experiment with sped-up academic pacing when offered the opportunity to contribute a piece to American Ethnologist about the protests surrounding the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In brainstorming our article, my co-author Jonathan Rosa and I asked ourselves hard questions about what we could contribute to the unfolding discussion about Ferguson. Both of us had produced academic “slow writing”— the product of years of careful research, analysis, drafting and editing. We had also engaged in some forms of “fast writing.” For example, I had published journalistic pieces on social movements in Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe. But these pieces focused on events not being covered in the mainstream media and for which informed journalism was necessary. The same could not be said of Ferguson. Despite an initial lag in journalistic coverage, by the time we were drafting our article, Ferguson had reached a point of media saturation, indeed it had become a challenge to keep apace with the numerous thought pieces and editorial columns emerging at a feverish pace during this time.

In plotting our article we thus asked ourselves: how can we contribute to this fast moving conversation while still producing a piece that might hold up over time? That is, how could we produce something fast but not ephemeral?

The result was an exercise in mid-tempo research and writing. It was not the product of long-sustained fieldwork, and was very much written “in the heat of the moment,” but it nonetheless tried to anticipate how anthropologists might look back on Ferguson over time—how they might use this event to teach and write about broader issues of racialization, longer histories of race-based violence, the racial politics of social media, and the shifting terrain of contemporary activism.

This process forced us to think about the challenges of being not just fast writers but fast ethnographers. How can we speak to fast moving stories while still retaining the contextualization, historical perspective, and attention to individual experiences characteristic of a fieldworker? Also, how can we engage with emerging digital platforms like Twitter with the comparative and ethnographic perspective characteristic of our discipline?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2015 at 7:34 pm

[WRITING] On being published in the Quora Anthology 2014

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I mentioned back in February of last year my interest in the question-and-answer site Quora. I have remained active in the community, and productive to the point that one of my entries earned inclusion in the three-volume Quora Anthology 2014, a selection of the site’s best writing.

My Quora Anthology 2014 #quora #books

Below is the start of winning entry, a comparison of Australia with Canada intended to bring out the reasons why neither became a superpower.

My entry in the Quora Anthology 2014 comparing Canada with Australia #canada #australia #books #quora

It is nice to have my words in print again.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2015 at 1:27 am

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