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Compendium of Links #32: Tech, Lit, Cities and Earnings

My weekend has begun! But I’m unusually tired – perhaps because I had sugar for lunch. I ate carrots for supper to balance it out, but I’m not sure it’s doing much good. So instead of going out to tweak a few things on my bike, I’m sitting here reading through the links that have piled up in my browser and determining which ones to share here. (Nearly all of them.)


The Flight from Conversation – This article from the New York Times has been sitting in my browser almost the longest, I believe, and it’s one of the more perspicacious ones I’ve read regarding technology’s effect on socialization:

…we use conversation with others to learn to converse with ourselves. So our flight from conversation can mean diminished chances to learn skills of self-reflection. These days, social media continually asks us what’s “on our mind,” but we have little motivation to say something truly self-reflective. Self-reflection in conversation requires trust. It’s hard to do anything with 3,000 Facebook friends except connect.

What We Miss – From Challies, another take on what one’s unquestioned disposition toward social media and technology does to our attitudes toward sublime experiences and memories:

I wonder how many beautiful moments we miss because we are afraid we will miss them. Instead of living fully in the moment, enjoying the music or the sunrise or the games with our children, we fall into this strange habit of recording it all. We experience the sunrise through the lens of an iPhone instead of just basking in it, we tinker with focus and angles recording quality instead of just enjoying the music. When all is said and done, we’ve recorded an experience that we missed out on, and the replay is just never as good.

And in a more lighthearted manner, the Atlantic Wire writers spotlight a goof recently made by the team for Richard Mourdock, a candidate to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate. He or whoever did his tech stuff for him accidentally posted four responses to the (upcoming) announcement of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare – one for each possible outcome. I suppose what tech has done to exacerbate the immediacy of the news cycle… or, more accurately stated, how we have unthinkingly harnessed it to be ever more on top of things. (I don’t actually blame tech for anything. It’s the humans that use it that I blame. Same with guns – guns don’t kill people, people do.)


A while ago I linked to part one of a fascinating review/analysis of The Hunger Games. Here’s part two. In it “he focuses on the more private aspects of how they navigate the confusions of lives that are controlled by powerful forces,” as a CultureWatch notation introduces the article.

The big question that hangs over the whole trilogy, however, is probably its most crucial. How do you discern reality in a world of spin and propaganda?… For a long time, Katniss had struggled to take Peeta at face value; now, as he tries to recover from his own traumas, Peeta finds he too cannot reliably discern reality. Their confusion powerfully illustrates how corrosive spin and lies are to all relationships. So the two friends, who have survived so much as a result of mutual dependence, rely on a simple, if fraught, question to help them through: “‘You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,’ he whispers.”

And a different writer thinks Suzanne Collins completely missed the boat on writing a book with deep insights into humanity:

If you really wanted your Katniss to threaten this tyrannical system like many great men and women have threatened many tyrants throughout the ages, what would you have her do? She needs to be a lot more punk rock (in the best possible way). She needs to stop giving a rip about her own survival (the most dangerous men and women always forget themselves). She needs to refuse to be a piece in the game.

For the final addition to the lit file, a list of the nine best books in the English language on writing. I’ve read three of them and definitely want to read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird and Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence sometime soon.


A Seattle writer calls the traditional shopping mall – acres of pavement surrounding a huge hub hiding all sorts of little shops inside – “a foolish detour.” I can’t say I disagree. I always preferred being able to see immediately what stores I’d encounter at some place, whether shopping mall or humble plaza. I’m pretty sure that among my college friends, Easton was more popular than Polaris. I was never a fan of spending a whole afternoon inside a big ol’ cave of pricey wonders anyway, so I think I’ve visited each place exactly twice.

Some cities are allowing temporary development to rejuvenate poor disheveled downtown areas. An offshoot of The Atlantic published an article a while back summarizing the “temporary architecture” movement.

Landowners and developers have learned that temporary uses can establish place and brand very early, increase property value, reduce or eliminate security costs, create a revenue stream and launch a key conversation. “It allows you to start a constructive dialogue with a neighborhood, and you can use that to remove some of the long-term risks to your proposals,” says Bishop, who created London's design and planning office in 2006 and now works as a director at Allies and Morrison.


The Fight over Inequality – the New York Times published an analysis of a few measures of income equality/gaps, pointing out strengths, weaknesses and differences between them. I appreciated the in-depth and nuanced consideration.

And for the week’s video: Do women earn less than men? Sort of.

Basically, if somebody told me I could earn the same moolah men do by doing the same thing they do–working ridiculous hours or work I don’t care for–then yeah, I’d go for the pay cut too.


mafia said…
Wow, a professor that doesn't have a boring monotone voice...:-D
Sarah said…
Not all professors have boring monotone voices. :D

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