The Village Voice foresees social media platforms that won’t invade user privacy:
But as the business press and slavering investors look on eagerly at Zuckerberg’s coronation, many believe that the seeds of Facebook’s downfall have already been sown. The company might have brought people together like never before, but exploitation is woven inextricably into its DNA. Facebook makes its money by commercializing personal information, watching its users, analyzing their behavior, and selling what it learns.
. . .
“I like to compare Facebook to communication in preschool,” [Sam] Boyer says. “The Facebook wall is an incredibly unsophisticated social space. People just spew stuff out. In adult social situations, we read cues, we create norms, we create rules that are there for the purpose of creating conversations that move us forward. That’s what we want to build.”
In offering her rules [for how to manage a romantic relationship], “Rose” was introducing a theme that would emerge time and time again as I spoke to other students who also told me that using Facebook could lead to a break-up. Several students said that they had deactivated their Facebook accounts either to preserve their romantic relationships or to make future relationships possible. . . . [T]hey believed that Facebook transformed them into anxious, jealous, and monitoring selves that they did not want to be. After disconnecting from Facebook, they felt they shed these unwanted selves. Facebook was constantly providing information about their identity and others’ identity that they believed should be a basis for relationships, and yet was too vague to determine the actions which should accompany this information.
New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.
Speaking of hermitic caves, this is probably my next career move:
. . . I invented a simple scientific protocol. I put a team at the entrance of the cave. I decided I would call them when I woke up, when I ate, and just before I went to sleep. My team didn’t have the right to call me, so that I wouldn’t have any idea what time it was on the outside. Without knowing it, I had created the field of human chronobiology.
Non-scandals and Society
W magazine covers Swedish nannies and America’s most expensive mansion in “Revenge of the Billion Dollar Divorcee”:
“I’m the most insecure person you could ever run into in your entire life,” [Suzanne Saperstein] says, taking a sip of white wine. “When I’m watching a football game and the players get into a huddle, I think they’re talking about me. They’re saying, ‘Oh, God. Did you see that dress? That hair?’”
A few years back Sam Kashner wrote an article about his exploits with half the W&M student body. His book was such hilarious bullshit and the details didn’t make sense to anyone who’s ever even been there. He claimed that there were scantily dressed young coeds hanging around campus trying to seduce him everywhere he went; most W&M students wear leggings/skinny jeans, baggy sweatshirts, and fake Uggs during winter and shorts, baggy t-shirts, and flip-flops in the summer. For some bizarre reason they all have Middleton hair or attempt Middleton hair but otherwise you’d never see a group of people who gave less of a fuck about appearences.
Books and Authors
Amazon’s new imprint is the bete noire of the publishing world:
Established authors, for the most part, do fine selling through online bookstores. It’s new authors who lose out if browsing in bookstores becomes a thing of the past. Advances for unproven and non-bestselling authors have already plummeted, by all accounts. Literary diversity is at risk.
Six creative writing teachers defend their calling:
In law school, students analyze past cases, construct arguments, and write opinions, so that eventually they can do these things well enough to practice law. Could they do this outside of law school? Yes, but law school facilitates the process, and the law professor offers guiding thoughts along the way. Writing instruction is no different. The goal is to offer the occasional guiding thought or idea, the craft lesson, a few instructive models, and the occasional critical nudge, while all the time encouraging the student to practice writing, practice revising, and practice, practice, practice as a means to improvement. It works.
Simone de Beauvoir gets naked.
Ben Marcus gets interviewed:
Up until this book, I wrote in a very, very laborious way. Maybe 100, 200 words a day, not that I ever counted. I was interested in the sentence as a work of art, as a piece of sculpture, as something that was a kind of technology to open up huge feelings in people. I still love and believe in that as a pursuit. Some of my favorite writers do that.
But I think maybe I felt disgusted with all of my own limitations and wanted to try to outsmart them, or sneak around the kinds of things I had been doing to exhaustion and to boredom. So, one of the big things I could change without changing anything — meaning an adjustment I could make that would not necessarily impact my actual aesthetic in anyway — was to write quickly and not necessarily give a shit if I wrote really functional, almost deliberately bland, language. Like, “Denny got up out of his chair and left the room,” or, “He got a cup out of the cupboard.” These were the kinds of things that in the past I would just fucking agonize over.
Shitty Things Happening in Virginia
Our legislature has some notably alarming ideas about women’s health. After a thorough reading of the Virginia Code, Waldo Jaquith points out that under the new personhood law, “Fetuses may be put to work on the family farm, perform domestic work, or volunteer for the rescue squad.” (§ 40.1-79.01) If only to keep these fetuses from stealing our jobs, you can sign a petition here.
Lastly, the trial of former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely is about to enter its third week. A few blocks uphill from my apartment, stricken families gather together in a courthouse while impersonal satellites beam updates to the rest of the nation. My mother learned how to use Twitter so she could follow the daily courtroom feeds. I also find that it’s difficult not to be voyeuristic during this trial, especially since my little sister and two of my brothers played lacrosse in college. But of course all this outside interest accomplishes nothing. No matter what the jury’s verdict, the ultimate case remains: this afternoon an adored young woman is to be found not at home with her family or hanging out with her new boyfriend or goofing off on the playing field, but rather on a Wikipedia page entitled ‘”Murder of Yeardley Love.” And George Huguely, whose name will always be associated with his dead lover’s, will have to live with that. And both sets of parents will continue to bear the weight of the tragedy.