Tag Archives: digital age

Slow journalism in an age of forgetting

24 Jun

In his novel Slowness, Milan Kundera writes that, “the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.” Kundera illustrates this point ― what he calls “existential mathematics” ― with the example of a walking man. When he is attempting recollect something, he slows down. When trying to forget a disagreeable incident, he speeds up, “as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.”

There is a connection, Kundera suggests, between speed and forgetting, and our current era has sold its soul to the demon of speed out of an unacknowledged desire to forget: “it picks up the pace to show us that it no longer wishes to be remembered; that it is tired of itself, sick of itself; that it wants to blow out the tiny trembling flame of memory.”

So begins a thoughtful essay on slow journalism, by Australian journalism professor Megan Le Masurier. You may read the entire piece here.

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On Display: The 1968 San Francisco State Student Strike

18 Dec

San Francisco State University (then San Francisco State College) was uniquely situated to address racial inequities during the 1960s. In the early 1960s, several SF State students traveled to the South to participate in the Freedom Rides in order to desegregate interstate travel. And in October 1962, a wooden Speaker’s Platform was built on campus which became the first college-sanctioned free speech platform in the nation. Tensions grew on campus through the mid-1960s as a coalition of student groups protested the releasing of student information to the Selective Service Office and anti-black animus that resulted in the beating of black students on campus. Students felt the campus administrators were racist and ignoring inequalities readily apparent on campus. Using the free speech platform, students developed an innovative Third World curriculum through an ambitious experimental college as they developed networks for civic engagement in underrepresented neighborhoods beginning in 1966. In 1968, the suspension of an English Instructor (and Black Panther Minister of Education) George Mason Murray set off the longest college strike in American history. After changes in the school’s president, activism from students and faculty, and the ultimate closure of the campus and numerous campus demonstrations, the coalition of the Third World Liberation Front and the Black Students Union, supported by the Students for a Democratic Society, issued demands seeking a resolution to the strike. The result was the creation of one of the nation’s first Black studies curriculum and Black Studies Departments, as well as the School of Ethnic Studies.

It is not surprising that the longest college strike in American history would unfold at SF State throughout 1968 as students from different ethnic backgrounds came together to fight for educational self-determination and curriculum relevant to their lives.

So begins Meredith Eliassen’s post at the Organization of American Historian’s Process blog about a new online archives collection. You may read the entire post, with links, here.

Why We Don’t Read, Revisited

15 Jun

A little more than a decade ago, I wrote an article for The New Yorker about American reading habits, which a number of studies then indicated might be in decline. I was worried about what a shift to “secondary orality”—a sociological term for a post-literate culture—might do to America’s politics. “In a culture of secondary orality, we may be less likely to spend time with ideas we disagree with,” I wrote. I suspected that people might become less inclined to do fact checking on their own; “forced to choose between conflicting stories,” they would “fall back on hunches.”

I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t think that I got this part wrong. But I’ve often wondered whether I was right about the underlying trend, too. Were Americans in fact reading less back then? And are they reading even less today? Whenever I happen across a news article on the topic, I wonder if I’m about to find out whether I was Cassandra or Chicken Little.

Read the rest of Caleb Crain’s New Yorker essay here.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

14 Jun

Neil Gaiman

A British author talks about why reading and libraries are important even in this Digital Age. Read The Guardian’s post of Neil Gaiman’s talk here.

TEACHING THE ART OF READING IN THE DIGITAL ERA

12 Feb

PacificStandard_Hugo&Marie_MVM_Teaching_6,5x4,5_RGB

Perhaps the oddest aspect of reading is that, for all the pleasures of the text, we must be taught to do it. Recognizing symbols and signs, as well as the ability to assign them meaning, might be innate to the human brain, but directing these abilities to follow words on the page—a relatively new skill in human history—requires instruction. Like a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels, the magical moment comes when the parent lets go and the child pedals off—and keeps going. “The most significant kind of learning,” writes the Stanford University reading specialist Elliot Eisner, “creates a desire to pursue learning in that field when one doesn’t have to.” The wonder of experiencing a novel (or the sensation of coasting on two wheels) can be habit-forming.

So notes James McWilliams in a report at the Pacific Standard. You may read his entire report on reading in the Digital Age here.

The Library of Congress rethinks archiving Twitter

3 Jan

In 2010, Twitter bestowed its entire archive of public tweets on the Library of Congress, which the library called “an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition.” The collection began on March 21, 2006, when the company’s co-founder and C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, typed “just setting up my twttr,” and has been expanding significantly each day since (approximately six thousand public tweets are now posted every second). Private and deleted tweets are not included, and neither are images or embedded videos. Everything else, though, is immediately churned into an ever-thickening text archive, to be preserved by the library for all of eternity.

So begins Amanda Petrusich’s New Yorker reflection on the Library of Congress and archiving Twitter. You may read the rest of the reflection here.

Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet, and That’s Okay

18 Dec

A "Compose New Tweet" pop-up on the Twitter interface

What’s happening?

This has always been an easier question to pose—as Twitter does to all its users—than to answer. And how well we answer the question of what is happening in our present moment has implications for how this current period will be remembered. Historians, economists, and regular old people at the corner store all have their methods and heuristics for figuring out how the world around them came to be. The best theories require humility; nearly everything that has happened to anyone produced no documentation, no artifacts, nothing to study.

The rise of social media in the ’00s seemed to offer a new avenue for exploring what was happening with unprecedented breadth.

So begins a fascinating report on some of the complexities of archiving the Internet. Read the rest of Alexis C. Madrigal’s Atlantic story here.

 

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