Consider the Holy Bible as a product in a marketplace. It has several attractive qualities, foremost among them the tantalizing possibility that it contains the true word of a being who created the universe. But it has several worrisome drawbacks as well. Like most written anthologies it has poor replay value when compared to something like Spelunky; after you read it once you know more or less how it goes. It features a relatively weak Physical Rights Management scheme; for example, you don't need to purchase one for your household if you can simply borrow it from a friend or read it in a local church. Even its branding as a 'perfect document' becomes something of a double-edged sword; the first, purportedly perfect edition might seem very desirable indeed, but who is going to buy Holy Bible: Religious Text Of The Year Edition when the original is supposed to be immaculate? How are you going to make corrections, utilize analytics data or market additional 'content'? Where will your fine sponsors place all their full-page advertisements: After the crucifixion or before?
—Form and its Usurpers
is a long essay by Brendan Vance [previously]
about videogames, Hegel, form, content, what "free" means, how capitalism ruins everything and what to do about it.
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 4, 2014 -
Metafilter's own David Auerbach, who says he's now a former
programmer, describes a satori-like absorption that comes only from things like debugging.
posted by grobstein
on Jun 18, 2014 -
"Elephants are obviously amazing, or rather, they are obvious receptacles for our amazement, because they seem to be a lot like us. They live about as long as we do. They understand it when we point at things, which our nearest living evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, doesn’t really. They can unlock locks with their trunks. They recognize themselves in mirrors. They are socially sophisticated. They stay with the same herds for life, or the cows do, anyway. They mourn their dead. They like getting drunk. When an elephant keels over, its friends sometimes break their tusks trying to get it to stand up again. They bury their dead. They bear grudges against people who’ve hurt them, and sometimes go on revenge campaigns. They cry. So why would you want to put a bullet in one?"
... Journalist Wells Tower accompanied one of Botswana's final
elephant hunts. This article contains graphic content of an elephant hunt which some may find disturbing.
posted by zarq
on Jun 5, 2014 -
"Advertising is not well.
Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement
emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement
clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising
—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil
that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale
about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 3, 2014 -
: Tim Kreider's influential 1999 essay (previously
) on how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut
uses sex and infidelity to cover up a story of greed and murder by the elite gets a brand new afterward by the author to introduce a new site for his non-fiction writing, TimKreider.com
posted by The Whelk
on Apr 23, 2014 -
Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Apr 18, 2014 -
The Names They Gave Me.
From the essay:
" 'Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.'
My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.
'Don’t let them give you an English nickname,' my mother insists once again, 'I didn’t raise amreekan
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth."
By Tasbeeh Herwees in The Toast.
posted by sweetkid
on Jan 17, 2014 -
Whenever I look around me, I wonder what old things are about to bear fruit, what seemingly solid institutions might soon rupture, and what seeds we might now be planting whose harvest will come at some unpredictable moment in the future. The most magnificent person I met in 2013 quoted a line from Michel Foucault to me: "People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does." Someone saves a life or educates a person or tells her a story that upends everything she assumed. The transformation may be subtle or crucial or world changing, next year or in 100 years, or maybe in a millennium. You can’t always trace it but everything, everyone has a genealogy. Rebecca Solnit in TomDispatch: The Arc of Justice and the Long Run: Hope, History, and Unpredictability [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee
on Dec 23, 2013 -
“Oh,” says the ad man. He’s responsible for the hour of primetime television Revlon has bought and turned over to Belafonte, who, by the way, will not be singing “The Banana Boat Song,” and has also decided that he won’t accept commercials.
“Oh my god,” says the ad man.
Belafonte grins now, and says what he thought then: “Swallow that sh*t, motherf***er.”
The Revolutionary Life of Harry Belafonte.
posted by Potomac Avenue
on Oct 4, 2013 -
So you see, I am not making a brief against reading the classics of Western literature. Far from it. I am against taking these startling epiphanies of the irrational, unspoken, unthought-of side of human life into the college classroom and turning them into the bland exercises in competition, hierarchy and information-accumulation that are these works' mortal enemies. An essay by Lee Siegel
posted by chavenet
on Jul 14, 2013 -
Five Reasons Why I Am Not An “Artist”
, an essay by
(formerly of 1980s industrial electropop band Severed Heads
and now an academic and media art practitioner in Australia; previously
), touching on areas such as artificial divisions between art and technical practice, the politics of the role of the artist and the conflict between creative exploration and artistic recognition and success.
posted by acb
on Jul 13, 2013 -
During this Pride season, 44 years after Stonewall and 17 years since HAART
was introduced, writers reflect on what the past can teach us about the way forward and what the end of DOMA has to do with it. John Weir on AIDS, death, trauma, and liberation
; Reina Gossett on resistance, assimilation, and the life of Marsha P. Johnson, one of the first to fight back at Stonewall
. And Stonewaller Sylvia Rivera
at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Rally
, recently rediscovered by Reina Gossett, and Gossett's reflections on what Rivera, like Johnson and countless other transwomen of color, had to do to make space for herself.
posted by liketitanic
on Jun 30, 2013 -
"I’ve also been written about, in ways I could find no fault with but that were nonetheless excruciating for me to read. It is simply not pleasant to be objectively observed — it’s like seeing a candid photo of yourself online, not smiling or posing, but simply looking the way you apparently always do, oblivious and mush-faced with your mouth open. It’s proof that we are visible to others, that we are seen, in all our naked silliness and stupidity." -Tim Kreider writes
about finding out what people really say about you, and how it's all okay.
posted by smock smock smock
on Jun 18, 2013 -
"By the time Cathy
began, the sexual revolution had ended, so the strip stands as a perfect artifact of a moment when the cultural understanding of coercion changed completely—a moment when, one could argue, second-wave feminism basically died. With its baby-boomer characters, Cathy
dramatizes the aftermath: the ’60s ended when it became clear that a revolutionary movement toward a just society wasn’t happening; the ’70s ended up being about trying to navigate the wreckage of the ’60s. The ’80s were largely about looking for strategies to accept injustice and inequality, and to construe that acceptance itself as a positive value.
"Cathy takes its place in this cultural progression by drilling in the notion that it doesn’t matter what the law says: you are being coerced not by the state but by your desire to be valued.
posted by Rory Marinich
on May 5, 2013 -
Predicting Google Shutdowns.
"In the following essay, I collect data on 350 Google products and look for predictive variables. I find some while modeling shutdown patterns, and make some predictions about future shutdowns. Hopefully the results are interesting, useful, or both." Gwern
exhaustively analyzes Google products past and present with an eye to establishing what's not long for the bitverse. tl;dr? Results
posted by mwhybark
on May 4, 2013 -
William Blake has been held in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York State for nearly 26 years, after he murdered a Sheriff's Deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt back in 1987. Sentenced to 77 years to life, he will be eligible for parole in 2064. But Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers "a sentence worse than death.
" (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Mar 16, 2013 -