A world without internet

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Blake Snow imagines a world without internet

In addition to blurring (or obliterating) the lines between work and home life, the Internet has dramatically changed our cultural conception of patience. “Without it, we wouldn’t expect instant gratification as often as we do,” notes Michael Calore, a senior editor at Wired magazine. “Not just the ability to get an online answer immediately, or same-day delivery. Because of the Internet, the anticipation of waiting for things is largely gone.”

Snow's tone is questing, yet bound by inevitability; Clay Shirky is consulted and reassures us that escape is impossible. Alex Balk adds a few preliminary thoughts on how nice it would be in a world without internet.

3. Your awareness of just how shallow, vapid, rage-filled, dense, empty, angry and otherwise tiresome your fellow human beings are would be restricted to your personal observations of the few people around you who were unable to hide it, rather than being something informed by the constant universal broadcast of the vast army of people who were proud to proclaim it. ...

8. Your own self-loathing would be based on the terrible things you actually did instead of the terrible things you actually clicked.

9. Idiot lists like this would never be published...

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Portraits of imprisoned Iranian girls awaiting capital punishment

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Though Iran won't actually execute people under 18, their courts will readily sentence children as young a nine to physical punishment, including death, and hold them in inhumane, crowded conditions until they are old enough for their sentences to be carried out. Read the rest

America's legacy of post-slavery racism and the case for reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Case for Reparations is an important, compelling history of the post-slavery debate over reparations, running alongside the post-slavery history of US governmental and private-sector violence and theft from the descendants of slaves in America. Coates's thesis -- compellingly argued -- is that any "achievement gap" or "wealth gap" in American blacks is best understood as an artifact of centuries of racial violence and criminal misappropriations of black people, particularly visited upon any black person who expressed ambition or attained any measure of economic success.

As Coates demonstrates, a series of deliberate government policies, continuing to this day, ensured that unscrupulous American businesses could raid the savings and loot the accumulated wealth of black people. From the millions who were terrorized into indentured servitude in the south to the millions who were victimized by redlining and had every penny they could earn stolen by real-estate scammers in the north, the case for reparations is not about merely making good on the centuries-old evil of slavery. It's about the criminal physical and economic violence against black people in living memory and continuing to today.

This is a long and important read, and the "reporter's notebook" sidebars cast further light on the subject from unexpected angles. Coates makes a compelling case that the racist violence against black people in America is of a different character than other class war and other racist oppression, and deserves unique consideration. Read the rest

Canada's national archives being dismantled and scattered

A reader writes,

The Canadian government is slowly doing away with Canada's ability to access its own history.

Library and Archives Canada's collection is being decentralized and scattered across the country, often to private institutions, which will limit access, making research difficult or next impossible. It should be noted that Daniel Caron, the new National Archivist hired in 2009, doesn't even have a background in library nor archives but, a background in economics.

"The changes and cuts are being justified by reference to digitization. A generous estimate is only 4% of the LAC collection has been digitized to date -- a poor record that will be made worse by the cuts announced on April 30, 2012, which reduced digitization staff by 50%."

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NYPD raze the #OWS library, throw out over 5,000 books

Some collateral damage in the police raid on Occupy Wall Street: over 5,000 books comprising the #OWS library have been thrown in the trash. I visited the library yesterday and interviewed one of the volunteer librarians who slept in the book-filled tent at night and helped patrons find reading material and conducted information literacy work during the day.

The Occupy Wall Street librarians tweeted the eviction all night: “NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history … Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them? … Call 311 or 212-639-9675 now and ask why Mayor Bloomberg is throwing the 5,554 books from our library into a dumpster.”

Occupy Wall Street Library Evicted Read the rest