home Must Reads Must reads: The internet, big data, space exploration, right-wing terror, gay film

Must reads: The internet, big data, space exploration, right-wing terror, gay film

We’re reading all kinds of things today, and the best way to start your week off right is with a round of reading recommendations to dip into. And hey, as long as we’re showing you ours…why not show us yours in comments?

The secret rules of the internet‘ (The Verge)

Comment and content moderation have both played key roles in shaping the culture of the internet, but who makes these decisions, and which rubrics do they use? The answers to these questions don’t just explain the climate cultivated in some corners of the internet, but the internet itself.

Mora-Blanco is one of more than a dozen current and former employees and contractors of major internet platforms from YouTube to Facebook who spoke to us candidly about the dawn of content moderation. Many of these individuals are going public with their experiences for the first time. Their stories reveal how the boundaries of free speech were drawn during a period of explosive growth for a high-stakes public domain, one that did not exist for most of human history. As law professor Jeffrey Rosen first said many years ago of Facebook, these platforms have “more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president.”

Will babies born into space feel homesick for Earth?‘ (Pacific Standard)

Speculative fiction is becoming reality, especially with climate change threatening Earth’s future. Generation ships may not be a possibility yet, but someday, they could be, and the children of space will be facing a very different world than we do. What’s it going to look like?

Because at some point it might be: Either we get struck by an asteroid, or we’ll have some other big problem which might lead to the deaths of a lot of people. So we need to figure out how to live off the land. One way is to live on the moon or on Mars, which I think might be a harder problem than to live in space. Because we already know how to make a space station. So it’s building on a capability we already have. It does still have its own challenges to solve. So right now it’s not clear which is the easier way compared to settling on the moon or on Mars, or settling in space. But we need to study both, and the first avenue is living in space.

German prosecutors go after right-wing terrorism‘ (Der Spiegel)

Right-wing terror has been a growing problem across the EU, but particularly in Germany, where the rise of right-wing groups has dominated politics, endangered immigrants, and shaped the direction of conversations. Now, prosecutors are finally doing something about it.

Xenophobes could hardly find a better place to live than Freital, population 40,000. It is just down the road from Dresden, where the anti-immigrant group Pegida has been staging demonstrations for over a year now, and it has also been a hotspot of anti-refugee protests. When a former hotel in the city was to be transformed into an initial reception center for refugees, enraged locals protested for days, with hundreds of police struggling to keep the situation under control. Pegida head Lutz Bachmann supported the protest, visited a local citizens’ initiative and exhorted on Facebook: ‘To the streets, people! Defend yourselves!’ It was at a Freital hairdresser where the notorious photo of Bachmann-as-Hitler was taken.

Tech titans are busy privatising our data‘ (The Guardian)

The mammoth tech industry has grown so large for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that consumers are actually the product. With more and more of our data going private, it’s also being sold to the highest bidder. How much are you willing to pay for convenience?

Since data – the fuel of advertising markets – is the source of their profits, tech firms are happy to offer, at highly subsidised rates, services and goods that yield even more data. Ultimately there is no limit as to what kind of goods and services those could be: they might have started with browsing and social networking, but they are as happy to track us exercise, eat, drive or even make love: for them, it’s all just data – and data means cash.

How early gay films defined desire‘ (Out)

Queer cinema has a very long history, alongside avant garde and other art forms through which LGBQ people expressed themselves when being out could be dangerous. An upcoming film festival explores the history of gay film — this review gives you a taste, and a reason to go if you’re in New York.

Both the Cocteau and Dreyer films are cornerstones of gay cinema, influencing the way gay artists would work toward self-expression. They also influenced how audiences would come to see themselves and understand their own relationship to society and culture. Among the foremost examples is Andrew Meyer’s 1966 An Early Clue to the New Direction which gives the Lincoln Center program its title. Meyer films a counterculture exchange between actress Joy Bang, an early Stevie Nicks-type and elderly aesthete Prescott Townsend, discussing sexual difference (“There’s no deviance, only variance”).

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Photo: Sam Greenhalgh/Creative Commons