Artifacts that tie us together

smwat:

I have really enjoyed reading and contributing to Uncommon this year, so I was honored when Brian asked me to write one of the year-end essays for the dispatch. Each one looked at listening, watching, and reading in turn. Here’s what I shared on reading:

[…]

Books are the things we reference to start a conversation. They are shorthand for complex ideas, characters, images, contexts. They are the nodes that connect us. They offer common ground.

I realized how important a sense of place in reading was to me when I joined a “flashmob” of internet friends reading books together with 24-Hour Bookclub (spearheaded by Diana, who incidentally also introduced me to the Uncommon community). Sharing glimpses of our reading environment felt like we were all reading together, no matter where we were geographically distributed. And in our tech book club gatherings here in Boston, I’m always fascinated to see the variety of artifacts placed on the table when we come together to talk about our reading experience. The words we read are the same, but our contexts are different.

The books we love are artifacts that tie us together. They are units of culture and of commonality. We just have to look up from our paperbacks and our iPads every once in a while to catch who else is reading along with us.

Subscribe to Uncommon and essays like this one will float into your inbox every Tuesday, like sundial clockwork. Seeing 24-Hour Bookclub show up in the latest, by Sara, made us smile so hard.

The Onion:

Claiming that no other feasible option exists for the United States’ legions of destitute citizens, a panel of the nation’s top economists convened Wednesday to advise America’s poor to extricate themselves from poverty by inventing the next Facebook. “As unemployment holds steady and lower-class income plummets, the best and, frankly, only option for the country’s working poor is to try and come up with a new service like Facebook that forever changes how people communicate with one another, and then monetize it,” said Brookings Institution socioeconomics expert Richard Reeves, emphasizing that the nation’s approximately 50 million men, women, and children currently living under the poverty line will only be able to save themselves from lifelong misery if they somehow conceive of some kind of innovative website that permanently alters the world’s social and technological landscape. “To be honest, with the gap between rich and poor only getting wider, there’s really no middle ground here. Either invent another Facebook or languish in the gutter until you starve to death. Those are pretty much your options. So, you know, good luck.” Reeves added that a good name for one of these revolutionary game changers that delivers its creator from a lifetime of hardship and suffering might be BuzzConnect.

The Onion:

Claiming that no other feasible option exists for the United States’ legions of destitute citizens, a panel of the nation’s top economists convened Wednesday to advise America’s poor to extricate themselves from poverty by inventing the next Facebook. “As unemployment holds steady and lower-class income plummets, the best and, frankly, only option for the country’s working poor is to try and come up with a new service like Facebook that forever changes how people communicate with one another, and then monetize it,” said Brookings Institution socioeconomics expert Richard Reeves, emphasizing that the nation’s approximately 50 million men, women, and children currently living under the poverty line will only be able to save themselves from lifelong misery if they somehow conceive of some kind of innovative website that permanently alters the world’s social and technological landscape. “To be honest, with the gap between rich and poor only getting wider, there’s really no middle ground here. Either invent another Facebook or languish in the gutter until you starve to death. Those are pretty much your options. So, you know, good luck.” Reeves added that a good name for one of these revolutionary game changers that delivers its creator from a lifetime of hardship and suffering might be BuzzConnect.

G+ Hangout with Kate Losse

maxistentialist:

We’re chatting with Kate Losse, author of The Boy Kings, our pick for today’s 24-Hour Book Club. Come join us right now.

Join us this Sunday for 24-Hour Bookclub

readmill:

I first discovered Readmill in January as I was searching for a way to take part in 24-Hour Bookclub. As far as I could tell, Readmill was the most beautiful, quiet way to read while also sharing highlights and participating in the discussion. Soon enough, I was reading everything I possibly could with Readmill on my phone.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I moved from Atlanta to Berlin to join the Readmill team as Community Manager. And, as it turns out, I’ve arrived just in time for the one-year anniversary of 24-Hour Bookclub.

image

This Sunday, October 20, I’ll be reading along with 24-Hour Bookclub from the Readmill headquarters in Berlin. We’ll be reading The Boy Kings by Katherine Losse, and anyone can join.

I’d love to read together from 4 to 7pm, if you’re here in Berlin, and throughout the day with Readmill from anywhere. Just send me a note at lisa@readmill.com if you plan to stop by.

Happy reading!

Lisa

P.S. Please be in touch about all things reading and Readmill too. I love notes (especially when they contain book recommendations), and I can’t wait to hear from you.

If you happen to live in Berlin, swing by Readmill HQ tomorrow to read with me and Lisa!

maxistentialist:

(On October 20th, 24-Hour Bookclub is going to read Katherine Losse’s 2012 memoir The Boy Kings, about her time at Facebook. Here’s a post I wrote about leaving Facebook three years ago).
Today I joined a growing number of dissatisfied former Facebook users by deleting my account. For me, the last straw was when Facebook removed the “interests” section from my profile because I wasn’t willing to link those interests to advertisements for things I was interested in.
Facebook made this creepy decision because it doesn’t want the same things that I do. Facebook wants to get paid, and since you and I can’t pay for Facebook, we’re not Facebook’s customers. We’re the products being sold.
Here’s what you can look forward to in Facebook’s coming years:
At their f8 developer’s conference in April, Facebook gave location-aware ID badges with RFID chips in them to attendees, which reported their whereabouts to their Facebook profiles. This feature is called “Facebook Presence,” and will likely be a standard social feature baked into upcoming cell phones.
Facebook has previously mentioned interest in creating their own currency - Facebook credits - which would let you buy things on Facebook and connect your profile to your transactions.
Facebook has an enormous amount of data on you. Not only the things you feed it, but the things you do while logged in are recorded. Facebook not only knows who your friends are, it knows whose profiles you spend the most time looking at. This data, which Facebook calls your “Social Graph,” is valuable. It is sold to the highest bidder.
Facebook’s future is as an advertising platform. You will buy things, and your friends’ news feeds will read, “Your friend John just had lunch at Chipotle." Marketers know that personal endorsements are the most powerful form of persuasion.
All of this data, including your private conversations and messages, has been and will continue to be hacked.
Perhaps it’s worth explaining why privacy matters to me in the first place. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong or illegal on Facebook. I have nothing to hide. Why should I care? Bruce Schneier:

Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest - or just blackmail - with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies - whoever they happen to be at the time.
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.
We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

When asked why Facebook doesn’t simply make sharing data “opt-in” instead of “opt-out,” Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook told the New York Times, “Everything is opt-in on Facebook. Participating in the service is a choice.” Great, but what about those of us who signed up years ago with different expectations of privacy? Facebook has changed their policies in deliberately confusing ways and neglected to mention it, which is especially upsetting because it means that Facebook wants for itself what it will not give to us.
Facebook always sounds like a cartoon villain when the talk about privacy, because it brings out their worst tendencies (i.e. when you die, Facebook won’t allow your family to delete your account, they will “memorialize” it so that the data is always online). But of course this is no surprise, doing cartoon villain things to capture your data is how Facebook stays alive; that’s why you see news stories about how they involuntarily route your email through their own proprietary system.
Facebook profits when its users become willing participants in the instrumentalization of their own friendships and interests and turn their lives and relationships into data points that can be bought and sold. There’s no room for privacy in that equation.
Not only does that make Facebook act weird, but it makes us act weird too. When we agree to broadcast all of our relationships publicly, they become something that we perform for the world, all couched in irony and cynical detachment. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.
I’ll end this with the forward to Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death:


We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

maxistentialist:

(On October 20th, 24-Hour Bookclub is going to read Katherine Losse’s 2012 memoir The Boy Kings, about her time at Facebook. Here’s a post I wrote about leaving Facebook three years ago).

Today I joined a growing number of dissatisfied former Facebook users by deleting my account. For me, the last straw was when Facebook removed the “interests” section from my profile because I wasn’t willing to link those interests to advertisements for things I was interested in.

Facebook made this creepy decision because it doesn’t want the same things that I do. Facebook wants to get paid, and since you and I can’t pay for Facebook, we’re not Facebook’s customers. We’re the products being sold.

Here’s what you can look forward to in Facebook’s coming years:

  • At their f8 developer’s conference in April, Facebook gave location-aware ID badges with RFID chips in them to attendees, which reported their whereabouts to their Facebook profiles. This feature is called “Facebook Presence,” and will likely be a standard social feature baked into upcoming cell phones.
  • Facebook has previously mentioned interest in creating their own currency - Facebook credits - which would let you buy things on Facebook and connect your profile to your transactions.
  • Facebook has an enormous amount of data on you. Not only the things you feed it, but the things you do while logged in are recorded. Facebook not only knows who your friends are, it knows whose profiles you spend the most time looking at. This data, which Facebook calls your “Social Graph,” is valuable. It is sold to the highest bidder.
  • Facebook’s future is as an advertising platform. You will buy things, and your friends’ news feeds will read, “Your friend John just had lunch at Chipotle." Marketers know that personal endorsements are the most powerful form of persuasion.
  • All of this data, including your private conversations and messages, has been and will continue to be hacked.

Perhaps it’s worth explaining why privacy matters to me in the first place. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong or illegal on Facebook. I have nothing to hide. Why should I care? Bruce Schneier:

Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest - or just blackmail - with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies - whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

When asked why Facebook doesn’t simply make sharing data “opt-in” instead of “opt-out,” Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook told the New York Times, “Everything is opt-in on Facebook. Participating in the service is a choice.” Great, but what about those of us who signed up years ago with different expectations of privacy? Facebook has changed their policies in deliberately confusing ways and neglected to mention it, which is especially upsetting because it means that Facebook wants for itself what it will not give to us.

Facebook always sounds like a cartoon villain when the talk about privacy, because it brings out their worst tendencies (i.e. when you die, Facebook won’t allow your family to delete your account, they will “memorialize” it so that the data is always online). But of course this is no surprise, doing cartoon villain things to capture your data is how Facebook stays alive; that’s why you see news stories about how they involuntarily route your email through their own proprietary system.

Facebook profits when its users become willing participants in the instrumentalization of their own friendships and interests and turn their lives and relationships into data points that can be bought and sold. There’s no room for privacy in that equation.

Not only does that make Facebook act weird, but it makes us act weird too. When we agree to broadcast all of our relationships publicly, they become something that we perform for the world, all couched in irony and cynical detachment. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.

I’ll end this with the forward to Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death:

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

inkteef:

I’m excited to pick up The Boy Kings on October 20th for a few reasons. First: I’m intrigued by new light on the idea that Facebook is screwing us all over. This we all know in the sense that it uses its users as human capital via their information, but Losse’s book explores Facebook’s exploitation of its employees as well. Second: as a copywriter, I too work in a world obsessed with digitizing everything–from direct messaging to the constant, often misguided client efforts to covertly transform friendly social media banter into business advertising. Finally: the world of social media, including Facebook, is one I love and hate. One I need and need to eliminate. One that I’ve made no resolution about. Maybe it’s time.
Won’t you join us on October 20th? You can pitch into our conversation on Twitter by using the #24hourbookclub hashtag. I can’t wait!

inkteef:

I’m excited to pick up The Boy Kings on October 20th for a few reasons. First: I’m intrigued by new light on the idea that Facebook is screwing us all over. This we all know in the sense that it uses its users as human capital via their information, but Losse’s book explores Facebook’s exploitation of its employees as well. Second: as a copywriter, I too work in a world obsessed with digitizing everything–from direct messaging to the constant, often misguided client efforts to covertly transform friendly social media banter into business advertising. Finally: the world of social media, including Facebook, is one I love and hate. One I need and need to eliminate. One that I’ve made no resolution about. Maybe it’s time.

Won’t you join us on October 20th? You can pitch into our conversation on Twitter by using the #24hourbookclub hashtag. I can’t wait!

Fellow club members,
The next book we’ll read together will be Katherine Losse’s 2012 memoir The Boy Kings. Losse worked for Facebook in its start-up days; her memoir is a lauded criticism of Facebook’s “obsession with technologizing everything.” Diana found this book in Melissa Gira Grant’s review exploring the “emotional labor” that fuels so many social networks—a labor that Diana notes “goes largely unnoticed because its difficulty is masked by the very effort that goes into making it appear as effortless as people expect it to be.”
Diana, Max and I are really excited to pick this up and have a spirited discussion as we read on Sunday, October 20th. We’ll wake up first thing in the morning, crack open our copies of The Boy Kings, and start tweeting up a storm using our usual #24hourbookclub hashtag. We’ll be looking out for your tweets, too, and reading them between chapters. Won’t you join us?
You can pick up a copy of The Boy Kings
On Amazon or at your local book store if you’re into paper,
Through Kindle if you’re into Kindle,
Or as an ePub if you’re into Readmill. (We are.)
- Elaine Short
P.S. Did you know the first 24-Hour Bookclub readathon happened last year on October 6th? That makes this month’s read a sort of anniversary for us–all the more reason for you to join this time around!

Fellow club members,

The next book we’ll read together will be Katherine Losse’s 2012 memoir The Boy Kings. Losse worked for Facebook in its start-up days; her memoir is a lauded criticism of Facebook’s “obsession with technologizing everything.” Diana found this book in Melissa Gira Grant’s review exploring the “emotional labor” that fuels so many social networks—a labor that Diana notes “goes largely unnoticed because its difficulty is masked by the very effort that goes into making it appear as effortless as people expect it to be.”

DianaMax and I are really excited to pick this up and have a spirited discussion as we read on Sunday, October 20th. We’ll wake up first thing in the morning, crack open our copies of The Boy Kings, and start tweeting up a storm using our usual #24hourbookclub hashtag. We’ll be looking out for your tweets, too, and reading them between chapters. Won’t you join us?

You can pick up a copy of The Boy Kings

  • On Amazon or at your local book store if you’re into paper,
  • Through Kindle if you’re into Kindle,
  • Or as an ePub if you’re into Readmill. (We are.)

- Elaine Short

P.S. Did you know the first 24-Hour Bookclub readathon happened last year on October 6th? That makes this month’s read a sort of anniversary for us–all the more reason for you to join this time around!

Sara Watson recorded some thoughts on These Days after reading it one big gulp with us last week. They’re so good!!

My favorite soundbite comes at about 4:37: “When we all start wearing Google Glass, we’re all just going to become little Roombas walking around the world, helping Google 3-D map it.”

“He used image searches as a kind of second brain, surfacing patterns and associations from screens containing dozens of thumbnails, all harvested via algorithms from people going about their daily business of uploading and sharing images to their blogs, websites, and the stream.”

-

These Days by Jack Cheng (via mediology)