The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

by Yule Heibel on November 11, 2013

  • The whole article is super interesting, but this bit especially:
    Yet the offline environment is actually more important when consumers connect through a mobile device. With colleagues including Sang Pil Han of the City University of Hong Kong, we studied 260 users of a South Korean microblogging service similar to Twitter. What we found was that behavior on the small mobile screen was different from behavior on the PC. Searching became harder to do, meaning that people clicked on the top links more often. The local environment was also more important. Ads for stores in close proximity to a user’s home were more likely to be viewed. For every mile closer a store was, smartphone users were 23 percent more likely to click on an ad. When they were on a PC, they were only 12 percent more likely to click close-by stores.

    tags: mit_techreview avi_goldfarb retail etail shopping mobile

    You might sit for a drink at the stylish café on Medienhafen, gazing in wonder at Frank Gehry’s incomparable forms and all the rest of it. But then, acting on countless hidden cues in the context of those who don’t do context, you feel compelled to move on. In the Altstadt, though, you want to linger. You decide on one more Altbier, you follow the flow of the crowd down this street or that one, you find a comfortable spot down on the riverfront and stay later than you planned, sinking deeper into a conversation with a friend or reading another chapter of the book you brought. You disappear into the context. You become context.

    tags: chris_turner mother_nature_network architecture starchitecture placemaking cities

  • Not a fan of Rockwell’s work, but Solomon’s article has lots to think about: depression, New England, the “national” character (or at least its regional variant)…
    I thought of his [Robert Frost’s] poem “Mending Wall,” in which the speaker recounts his impatience with his next-door neighbor, who each spring mends the stone wall separating their properties. The neighbor insists, “Good fences make good neighbors,” which, frankly, is not the most inspiring proverb. Certainly there are more important things to endorse in this world than distance and standoffishness.

    But the wall-building neighbor represents another New England, not the caring and concerned Rockwellian society where people gain strength from their neighbors and look each other in the eye when they talk. No, this was the Frost version, in which townspeople went out of their way to put up barriers, where neighbors electrify fences. I suppose the Frost version is closer to everyday life in America than the idealized Rockwell version. But then “art is no less real for being artifice,” as the critic Clive James once observed, and Rockwell clearly dwelled in the kingdom of his imagination.

    In October of 1953, Rockwell and his wife abruptly left Vermont. They moved to western Massachusetts, to Stockbridge. It, too, seemed on the surface like a perfect New England town, with tranquil pastures and grazing cows. What few people realized is that Rockwell moved to Stockbridge to live near the Austen Riggs Center psychiatric hospital. His wife already was an inpatient there, and he was an outpatient. In his final months in Vermont, he had begun seeing the legendary psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, a German-born intellectual who coined the phrase “identity crisis.”

    In the ’50s, Rockwell continued to paint pictures of a mythic New England, where contentment and community ties prevailed. But the national unity bred by World War II was already unraveling. The growing inclination among Americans was to define their battles in psychological terms rather than in political ones.

    Over the years, their searching gave rise to yet another image of New England, one that had little in common with that of Rockwell, Frost or Grandma Moses. Rather, in James Taylor’s telling, New England was a place where people had nervous breakdowns and openly bemoaned their sorrows. He sang of it in 1970 when he described “the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston,” “covered with snow,” with 10 miles behind him and 10,000 more to go.

    tags: norman_rockwell robert_frost deborah_solomon new_england james_taylor mental_health

  • Thoughtful; important read. Agree with the author’s characterization of shows like Breaking Bad as “nihilism porn”…
    There were only so many times I could be told that Breaking Bad was the most amazing show on television before I finally overcame my lack of desire to see Bryan Cranston as anything other than Hal/Tim Whatley and gave the show a go. Though it took a similar process for me to finally start watching The Wire, a show that I could not stop watching and immediately became obsessed with, I found instead that I not only did not want to keep watching Breaking Bad, but that I had to force myself to go through the agony of watching more. From the acting to the storyline to the cinematography, I can certainly see why so many would marvel at the show’s accomplishments, but at the same time I cannot get over what to me appears to be the core of the show, a core that I fear is actually what most of the audience is truly marveling at, the core that I will refer to as nihilism porn.

    From episode to episode Cranston’s Walter White “broke bad,” but once the terminal cancer and fear for his family’s well-being was revealed to be a red herring as motivation, the true motivation of his descent seemed instead to be: I can, therefore I will. Likewise, the audience’s motivation for watching seemed to be: He can, therefore I will. Walt can let a girl die, I can watch. Walt can poison a child, I can watch. Walt can lie, I can watch. Walt can torture his wife, I can watch. Yet this worked both ways, for the writers of the show operated under a similar imperative: They can watch, therefore we will give them a Walt worth watching. To see Hal kill, to see Whatley destroy, is apparently what the audience wanted and it is definitely what the audience got.

    I bring this up not to suggest that we have become distrustful because we have been traumatized by this television show, but rather that the success of the show reveals just how untraumatized we are. Death and destruction were not a cause for alarm but were a cause célèbre. If anything, this seemed to be the show’s point: We want to see a nice sitcom dad as a possible meth dealer, we want to see an annoying dentist as a possible crime kingpin. Why do we want these things? Because we’re desensitized to violence? Because we’re bored by sitcoms? Maybe it’s because we have not lost our faith, but rather have re-discovered it, a faith in He did, therefore I could.

    tags: nolen_gertz nihilism nihilism_porn medium socialcritique philosophy

  • This.
    Lest the conference organizers think I’m putting all the responsibility on them for those all-male speaker lineups (and let me just reiterate that I’m not just talking about conferences here—this applies to hiring, promotions, compensation, status—in short, all the ways we rank people professionally), there’s a whole other side to this, which is the stuff that prevents women, non-white people, and other marginalized groups from entering into “meritocratic” competitions in the first place.

    tags: laura_bacon meritocracy technology gender_gap diversity

  • Ethan Zuckerman live-blogged the conversation (intro’d and moderated by Tom Levenson) between Ta-Nehesi Coates and Hendrik Hertzberg at MIT on 10/29/13. Interesting point re leadership, politics, and its failures …and consequent shift of blame onto media:
    Levenson persists: as a science writer, he’s seen the polling shift on climate change and wonders to what extent that shift (away from a belief in human-influenced climate change) is the responsibility of opinion journalism. Hertzberg notes that the blame is more properly placed on the political system. If we’d not faced filibuster, we’d have had a cap and trade system for carbon emissions. How can we take climate change seriously if our government doesn’t do anything about it? “Our politican institutions can’t give us what we want, and eventually we stop wanting it. We blame the failure on the media,” rather than on the actual machinery of government that is supposed to solve our problems. Hertzberg explains that the filibuster is his “unified field theory” – he writes about it as much as his editors will allow him to.

    tags: mit ethan_zuckerman ta-nehesi_coates hendrik_hertzberg journalism blogging opinion

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Adams November 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Thank you for your remembrance of Jim Falck. A truly unique, talented and lovely human being. Mary Adams

Yule November 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi Mary, thanks for commenting on my remembrance of Jim Falck. He was quite special… I still have one of his voice mails on my phone. Hard to believe he’s gone… 🙁

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