Five longish articles that I’ve recently read that you may find interesting. We begin a radically different view of the pandemic, followed by two articles on climate, then a article on big data. We conclude with a book review.
A piece that challenges all the expected rules of addressing the pandemic. It’s about our response and how poor households have borne a disproportionate share of the pandemic’s hardship. We need to urgently fight for a more just society.
The title pretty much says it all. “As generational cohorts, millennials and Generation Z are overwhelmingly more supportive than our parents of efforts to protect the environment and to address the impacts of climate change. These generations skew more progressive, yet this trend holds regardless of ideology.”
Learn about secretive big data software company Palantir. “Techie Software Soldier Spy Palantir, Big Data’s scariest, most secretive unicorn, is going public. But is its crystal ball just smoke and mirrors?”
Mannesplaining by Oliver Traldi. Published in Arc Digital on September 28, 2020.
A book review of Cornell philosopher Kate Manne’s book Entitled. “Does a tendency to reflexively empathize with the feelings and failures of men explain the structure of society?”
Climate: “The state is a ready-made apparatus for responding to the climate crisis. It can operate at the scales necessary to develop and implement plans for reorganizing agriculture, transportation, housing, and production. It has the capacity to transform the energy sector. It is backed by a standing army. What if all that power were channeled by the many against the few on behalf of a just response to the climate crisis?”
Climate: This is a very long report, but well worth the read. “Nationalization is one of the more straightforward ways to overcome many of the systemic hurdles that prevent meaningful action, allowing us to move towards decarbonization in a way that is planned, provides for workers, and supports communities. Leaving decisions about the life and death of current and future generations up to private enterprises beholden to shareholders has never been a viable option.”
Surveillance Capitalism: “Calls by Black Lives Matter and others to defund the police must include dismantling and outlawing the technologies of governments and law enforcement that exacerbate the conditions of racial and economic injustice. Investments in anti-democratic technologies come at an incredible cost to the public at a time when deeper investments should be made in public health, education, public media and abolitionist approaches in the tech sector.”
Surveillance: “But to some surveillance scholars, legal experts, and activists, there’s little doubt about what Dataminr is up to, and what Twitter is enabling, no matter what careful terminology they use. According to Brandi Collins-Dexter, a campaign director with the civil rights group Color of Change, Dataminr’s practices are an example of “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck,” with regards to surveillance.”
Racism: “Data showing racism might be useful in clarifying the things we already know to be true, but it is far more limited in terms of shifting them. To those who have not experienced the ever more creative forms that structural racism can take, even when presented with evidence of racism, the world may still appear to be full of regular playing cards.”
“In popular entertainment, journalism, and documentaries, images of “life behind bars” fascinate, horrify, and titillate. They also offer a familiarity with prison as a cornerstone institution of modern life, but one that the majority of people never enter. The nonincarcerated public comes to recognize prison and the people in prison almost exclusively through a set of rehearsed images created by the state and by nonincarcerated image-makers—images like arrest photos, mug shots, the minimal furnishings of the prison cell, fortress-like walls, barbed wire, bars, metal doors, and the executioner’s chair.”
“Although ‘datafication’ – the rendering of social and natural worlds in machine-readable digital format – has most clearly manifested in the commercial domain, such as in online commerce (e.g. Amazon), social media (Facebook, Twitter), and online advertising (Google), it has quickly spread outwards to encompass a much wider range of services and sectors. These include, controversially, the use of facial recognition and predictive analytics in policing, algorithmic forms of welfare allocation, automated medical diagnosis, and – the subject of this special issue – the datafication of education.”
“If this time is showing us anything, it’s this: we are able to transform society on a global scale in order to protect ourselves from danger. Now is the time to solve not just one crisis, but two at the same time.”
“In claiming religious freedom as a justification to act contrary to public health advice, some conservative Christian leaders in the United States are choosing to risk American lives so that their congregations can attend to their spiritual needs. Though most Christian communities have suspended traditional worship in adherence of social distancing guidelines, David C. McDuffie sees the defiant behaviour of the minority as rooted in a common supernatural understanding of Christian duty.”
“Slaveholders disavowed a state that secured any form of communal freedom—the freedom of the community from slavery, from disenfranchisement, from exploitation, from poverty, from all the demeaning and silencing and killing. The freedom from. The freedom from harm. Which is to say, in coronavirus terms, the freedom from infection.”
“The existence of this unholy alliance poses the fundamental question of: “Why end hunger when anti-hunger work is so profitable to all parties?” Through supporting anti-hunger organizations, corporations reduce their labor costs, garbage disposal fees, and tax bills while building their reputations as socially responsible firms.”
“It might be clear to readers here that human health depends on healthy ecosystems. But this is rarely considered in policy decisions on projects that affect natural ecosystems – such as land clearing, major energy or transport infrastructure projects and industrial-scale farming.”
BONUS – Videos
Life-Making, Capitalism and the Pandemic: Feminist Ideas about Women’s Work with Susan Ferguson and Tithi Bhattacharya
Martin Luther King, Jr. on Income Inequality and Redistribution of Wealth + James Baldwin
I think many of you know I’m a technologist and that I enjoy playing with the latest gadgets, apps, and social media options. According to a recent article (Big Data is not the new Oil) in the Harvard Business Review, “Our browsing habits, our conversations with friends, our movements and location — all of these things are being monetized.” This fall I’ve been giving app.net a try because it pushes me into a non-librarian community (mostly developers), allows me to see what developers are interested in creating, and demonstrates a more sustainable business model that aligns well with library values. This new company, less than six months old, is experimenting and I appreciate their efforts. It may look a lot like Twitter, but scratch under the surface and there is a great deal more. Find me on ADN.