Cartoon image of myself

Meidosem

Forced to be “Charlie”

A high school teacher:

As for laïcité, I fear it is becoming a tool that could be perceived as islamophobic by these kids. It was once used as a tool to protect the Republic from obscurantism of country priests. Now I feel it’s used by a part of the population – not the majority – to say ‘Your religion is very nice but you can’t express it the way you want.’

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There will not be a Singularity. I think that artificial intelligence is a bad metaphor. It is not the right way to talk about what is happening.

Of persona, surveillance and the wild

Rhian Sasseen:

This is the feeling, sadly rare, of no longer being watched. The psychotherapist Carl Jung, after seeing a photo of the Arctic explorer Augustine Courtauld, remarked that Courtauld’s was the face of a man ‘stripped of his persona, his public self stolen, leaving his true self naked before the world’. For women, this is doubly true: a woman’s life is one lived under surveillance, a system of inner and outer regulations even more restrictive than a man’s. Even a simple stroll down the sidewalk becomes an exercise in self-loathing. Suck in your stomach. Straighten your hem. (What if it rides up, exposing you?) Every shop window offers a glimpse of your own reflection. Adjust, adjust, adjust.

It’s enough to drive a woman crazy (and isn’t this what we’re always being accused of?). It’s enough to drive any woman to the woods.

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What the Theory of “Disruptive Innovation” Gets Wrong

Jill Lepore, on the spread of innovation bullshitism:

Most big ideas have loud critics. Not disruption. Disruptive innovation as the explanation for how change happens has been subject to little serious criticism, partly because it’s headlong, while critical inquiry is unhurried; partly because disrupters ridicule doubters by charging them with fogyism, as if to criticize a theory of change were identical to decrying change; and partly because, in its modern usage, innovation is the idea of progress jammed into a criticism-proof jack-in-the-box.

Also:

Disruptive innovation as an explanation for how change happens is everywhere. Ideas that come from business schools are exceptionally well marketed.

Soberingly:

Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.

Now, who benefits from the frenzy?

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DE$IGN

Is design humility possible today? Can we build a relevant design practice that produces meaningful, rich work — in a business context — without playing to visions of excess?

Index cards

Mandy Brown:

Jeremy Keith, again:

These days, browsers don’t like to expose “view source” as easily as they once did. It’s hidden amongst the developer tools. There’s an assumption there that it’s not intended for regular users.

Fuck that. I’m more of an editor than a developer any day, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to cede that territory. I don’t want to pour my words into a box, the parameters of which someone else decides (and obscures). I want to make the box, too. And remake it. And, hell, break it from time to time. It’s mine to break.

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Programming Sucks

That’s your job if you work with the internet: hoping the last thing you wrote is good enough to survive for a few hours so you can eat dinner and catch a nap.

I can imagine tons of scenarios where I would have to prove that I bought a donut, actually.

Making Games in a Fucked Up World

Pretty much sums up why I’m weary of the phrase “user experience design”:

If you actually figure out methods to control people’s behavior. You can bet they will be adopted by governments and advertisers in no time. You are working for them.

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Well, the community of Geminis is the most consistently in tune with what their spirit is telling them to do or why they have breath in their lungs.

“A time when a man put out to sea ceased to exist”

Jack Cheng:

Which is why Steinbeck’s words are so interesting to me. It seems that in the past, there were large parts of your identity you were forced to leave behind when you traveled, and in the absence of those things, not only did other people forget you, but you forgot yourself. And rather than being a entirely negative thing, maybe this had the effect of softening that identity, of making you define yourself less from the books you’d read or the connections you’d had with others. Maybe one of the side effects of travel, and for some the main objective, was and still is to peel back some of those layers of identity, so that you can see that the whole notion isn’t built on anything solid or fixed to begin with. And maybe if you see your identity as less fixed, then you’re more open to change, to reinvention, more open to the world as it crashes down on the shore at your feet.

Identity’s not so much a kernel we carry inside us as the intersection of all our links and connections. Travelling is always an occasion of finding a different aspect of oneself, through interacting with the unfamiliar.

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We are the music-makers.
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

A. W. E. O'Shaughnessy

User Expertise Stagnates at Low Levels

Jakob Nielsen:

Decades can pass with even frequent system users barely learning one or two new things per year.

This means that enhancing the discoverability of existing features sometimes trumps the need for new features, as in the case of Office 2007:

Ensuring that people understood the old features was more important than adding new ones.

Get along with it:

You’re unlikely to be the first user interface in 30 years for which all users become sophisticated experts and learn all the features.

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Hoy no he hecho nada.
Pero muchas cosas se hicieron en mí.

Un mot et tout est sauvé. Un mot et tout est perdu.
J’ai chaud. J’ai froid. Quel mot sera assez puissant pour effacer tout un corps d’homme et renverser la situation ?

Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, Rosa Candida

Varg Vikernes, génie et part d'ombre du black metal

François Vesin :

Du pain bénit pour les journalistes qui écriront plus tard à son sujet. Seulement voilà, Kristian a une grille de lecture plutôt originale de la géopolitique de la Terre du Milieu. Pour lui, hobbits, elfes et nains incarnent le rouleau compresseur de la chrétienté à l’origine de la destruction des pratiques ancestrales païennes, alors que les armées de Sauron sont en fait les good guys, de valeureux Vikings qui ne cherchent qu’à défendre et étendre leur territoire.

En toute logique, Kristian renomme son premier groupe, Kalashnikov, en Uruk-Hai (une race d’orques guerriers dans le Seigneur des Anneaux), avec des paroles aussi inteligentes que «Uruk-Hai / You will die!». Rebaptisé Varg («loup» en norvégien) pour l’occasion, il rejoint Old Funeral, formé par les futurs membre de Immortal.

Mais voilà, le death metal bas du front et plein de clichés, Varg Vikernes, 18 ans à peine, l’exècre. Les clubs technos de Bergen l’intéressent bien plus que les vestes à patchs. Sobre, il se met à rôder silencieusement dans ces lieux pour s’imprégner des vibrations et de la puissance froide et répétitive de la musique électronique.

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Comment la critique des « bobos » est passée à droite

Sylvie Tissot :

Il convient de réfléchir aux effets idéologiques de dix ans de captation d’un terme utilisé au départ par des journalistes en quête de sujets légers pour les rubriques « Société ». La dénonciation du bobo est aujourd’hui une manière facile et faussement audacieuse de stigmatiser l’anti-racisme et le combat contre toutes formes de discrimination. Des causes auxquelles le peuple, le « vrai », serait profondément allergique.

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Rowling and “Galbraith”, an authorial analysis

I was approached by a reporter, Cal Flyn, from the Sunday Times, to assess this kind of variation in the writings of “Robert Galbraith,“ a first-time novelist and author of The Cuckoo’s Calling. (I learned later from the papers that the paper had received an anonymous tip via Twitter that Galbraith was the pen name of J.K. Rowling. And in retrospect there were a lot of other clues as well. For example, Galbraith apparently was surprisingly good at describing women’s clothing, possibly suggesting a female author.) Would I be willing to look into this? I said yes, of course, but with a couple of conditions. First, I needed clean (machine readable) copies of Cuckoo, and clean samples of something comparable undisputedly by Rowling herself. Secondly, I needed other comparable samples from other writers (distractor authors, to use the common term) to assess the degree of variation.

(via lkm)

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A behind the scenes look at McNulty, Kima, Bunk, and Omar

David Simon:

“The ancients valued tragedy, not merely for what it told them about the world but for what it told them about themselves,” he said. “Almost the entire diaspora of American television and film manages to eschew that genuine catharsis, which is what tragedy is explicitly intended to channel. We don’t tolerate tragedy. We mock it. We undervalue it. We go for the laughs, the sex, the violence. We exult the individual over his fate, time and time and time again.”

In his Baltimore version of Olympus, the roles of gods were played by the unthinking forces of modern capitalism. And any mortal with the hubris to stand up for reform of any kind was, in classical style, ineluctably, implacably, pushed back down, if not violently rubbed out altogether.

“That was just us stealing from a much more ancient tradition that’s been so ignored, it felt utterly fresh and utterly improbable,” he said. “Nobody had encountered it as a consistent theme in American drama because it’s not the kind of drama that brings the most eyeballs.” It was possible in this time and place because, in the new pay cable model, eyeballs were no longer the most important thing.

And on how the magic happens:

Yet The Wire was also inescapably modern; its characters operated based on real, idiosyncratic psychologies, refusing to be pushed around like figures on a board. Sometimes they surprised even their creators. One passionate argument in the writers’ room was about a major moment in Season 1’s next-to-last episode, “Cleaning Up”: the execution of the young drug slinger Wallace by the tougher, only slightly older thug Bodie Broadus. Just before shooting his friend, Bodie hesitates, gun shaking. Ed Burns, the co-creator of the series, raised an objection: The Bodie we had seen to that point, he argued, was the very incarnation of a street monster, a young person so damaged and inured to violence by the culture of the drug game that he would never hesitate to pull the trigger, even on a friend.

“It didn’t go with the character. Bodie was a borderline psychopath almost. I was like, ‘We’re leading the audience down this path, and now this guy is backing off?’ That’s fucked up. That’s bullshit,” he said, remembering his feelings on the scene.

In future seasons, though, Broadus would emerge as the drug game’s answer to the rogue detective Jimmy McNulty: a soldier who tries to make his own way and ends up ground down by the system. His death would be unexpectedly poignant. All of that, Burns granted, was set up by his unexpected moment of humanity in Season 1.

“What it did was it allowed for a wonderful dynamic that went on for four seasons. It brought out a lot of comedy that psychopaths don’t have,” he said. “It was a learning curve for me. Originally I just didn’t like it because you don’t pull punches like that with the audience. Now, when I think about it, I think, ‘This is cool. This is something that allowed for another dimension.’ It worked. It worked fine.”

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“Like I say, I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body”

Kanye West:

I want to tell people, “I can create more for this world, and I’ve hit the glass ceiling.” If I don’t scream, if I don’t say something, then no one’s going to say anything, you know? So I come to them and say, “Dude, talk to me! Respect me!”

Yeah, respect my trendsetting abilities. Once that happens, everyone wins. The world wins; fresh kids win; creatives win; the company wins.

I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.

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