Archive for the ‘culture’ tag
A piece I didn’t quite love by recognized myself in more than I’d like. This quote, especially, rang true (emphasis mine):
We have outsourced our opinions to this loop of data that will allow us to hold steady at a dinner party, though while you and I are ostensibly talking about “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” what we are actually doing, since neither of us has seen it, is comparing social media feeds. Does anyone anywhere ever admit that he or she is completely lost in the conversation? No. We nod and say, “I’ve heard the name,” or “It sounds very familiar,” which usually means we are totally unfamiliar with the subject at hand.
I’d been vaguely familiar with this history, but the extant of the phenomenon and the details of this article presents were new to me.
Eager to identify talented individuals to train as computer programmers, employers relied on aptitude tests to make hiring decisions. With their focus on mathematical puzzle-solving, the tests may have favored men, who were more likely to take math classes in school. More critically, the tests were widely compromised and their answers were available for study through all-male networks such as college fraternities and Elks lodges.
According to Ensmenger, a second type of test, the personality profile, was even more slanted to male applicants. Based on a series of preference questions, these tests sought to indentify job applicants who were the ideal programming “type.” According to test developers, successful programmers had most of the same personality traits as other white-collar professionals. The important distinction, however, was that programmers displayed “disinterest in people” and that they disliked “activities involving close personal interaction.”
I think Alain de Botton is one of the most interesting and valuable thinkers and writers alive today. I really enjoyed this piece:
De Botton talked about some of the writers he loves – Montaigne, and the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott – and then he told me about a service, known as “bibliotherapy”, offered by the School of Life, which (I think) he thought I would hate. The idea is that someone suggests enriching books for you to read. “What a load of wank!” he exclaimed, gleefully taking the role of his detractors. “What do I want to say? Just calm down … ” It occurred to me, as it has long occurred to him, that our reactions to him might say more about ourselves than they do about him. “Is this the enemy?” He asked. “Is this really the enemy?”
(via The Browser)
I always enjoy reading Slavoj Žižek, and this piece of his about the current state of international relations is at least reasonable enough to entertain:
This, however, brings us to what is arguably the “principal contradiction” of the new world order (if we may use this old Maoist term): the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy.
An interesting theory, if not totally convincing or novel: Douglas Copeland explains that new age of television has largely replaced novels as a discussion-venue for long-form storytelling.
When a new technology obsolesces an old one, it frees the newly obsolete medium to become an art form. Enter The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, The Wire and . . . all of the new shows that are basically movies that run for 50 hours and serve as a paradise for talented actors. Perhaps this shift to long-format TV has generated the biggest change in creative culture in decades. I’ve noticed that people now discuss TV the way they once discussed novels. What chapter are you on? Wasn’t so-and-so’s character great? Are you watching the new season? You watched it all in one night? Our long-form attention span is shifting to a new medium.
A nice little piece defending the Bechdel test, and clarifying its purpose and usefulness:
The Bechdel test has steadily entered the public lexicon and brought with it a growing awareness of the enormous sexism inherent in Hollywood. It’s time to stop quibbling about minor rules of the Bechdel test and put all feminist tools—even the imperfect ones—toward fixing the problem of gender inequality on screen.
Voices only, but if you hear voices in your head when you hear those two character names Jim Cumming’s offers you a fun little head-trip.
Jason Kottke put together a great little summary of a phenomenon I’d never heard of: “slow TV.”
Slow television is the uninterrupted broadcast of an ordinary event from start to finish. Early efforts included burning Yule logs on TV around Christmas and driver’s views of complete British rail journeys (not to mention Andy Warhol and the pitch drop experiment), but Norwegian public television has revived the format in recent years. The first broadcast was of a 7-hour train trip from Bergen to Oslo, which was watched at some point by ~20% of Norway’s population.
Kevin Baker — almost by accident — attended a book club reading his book and neglected to disclose that he’d written it. It makes for a charming little story:
The night the club was to meet, I showed up early, thinking I’d introduce myself at the start and ask if they wanted me there or not. But it was an informal setting, and it just felt too pompous to pop up and exclaim, “Hello, I’m the author!” I decided to wait until we were all supposed to introduce ourselves.
In a completely charming audio story, On the Media’s TLDR profiles Matt Farley — a musician who decided the easiest way to make money with music is to make more songs than anyone else. He’s created over 14,000 songs, which you can find on iTunes and Spotify. Go listen to this, NOW!