(Not) Things I learned this week #38
This week seems to have really flown by. I’ve decided to take purposeful and intentional time for rest and personal recuperation this week. I’m not feeling burned out, but I could certainly smell some distant smoke on the wind. So here’s to taking evenings to get around to those household repairs I’ve been putting off, to that growing pile of unread books. I said 2021 was my Year of Discourse and as we transition from winter to spring, I’m checking in with myself. I’m observing the change of weather, daylight, and flowers. If you get 15 minutes to just sit in a public park, I would strongly recommend.
Because of that I’ve not been browsing the internet as much this week, so instead I’m just popping in with some music and reading recommendations.
What I’ve had on rotation
- Something New if I could make it go quiet by girl in red (2021, Pop). I’ve been listening to girl in red’s singles since the algorithm started pushing her to me. The algorithm was right, guys. I love the mellow, low-key sad but energetic vibe of this album. The production makes you want to bop in some places and listen carefully in others. (links)
- Something Old Blink-182 by Blink-182 (2003, Pop Punk). I Miss You came on a shared speaker this week and everyone in the room knew all the words, and also how to mimic the winey American grunge accent. I got this album in physical when I was in the last year of primary school, or early secondary school (I can’t remember anything, dude). It’s a great album from a seminal pop punk group who are still influencing the genre. (links)
- Breaking Camp by Casey Newton for The Verge. Indie tech darling, Basecamp, really messed up this week. In a company-wide memo they initially banned “societal and political” discussions at work, before backtracking a little, and clarifying that they meant “just not on the work chat”. To me this strikes of peak tech-bro culture where rich white men believe they can divorce themselves, and exist entirely independent of politics. Unfortunately, running a large, outspoken and (broadly) successful company is inherently a political act. I get the impression that DHH and Jason Fried (the two men at the helm of the company) didn’t see the value in doing the work to create a company which actively combats racism/sexism in the workplace. I mean, I get it, it is work but also for some people simply surviving somewhere where they don’t feel welcome is also work. As I write this, about 25% of Basecamp’s employees (including the heads of marketing and design) have resigned. Unfortunately, I can’t help but shake the feeling that this is what Basecamp wanted, given that they offered a six-month severance package to employees who wished to leave (if they had been there longer than a year). They’ll now be creating an ideological silo with low diversity of opinion and/or representation. What happens now? I honestly don’t know.
- A 23-year-old coder kept QAnon online when no one else would by William Turton and Joshua Brustein for Bloomberg. Some of the biggest modern questions, which came to a undeniable and ugly head in January 2021, are about free speech, access to platforms, the responsibility and role of social media platforms in relation to their content. It’s a concern that “free speech” is becoming coded language for extreme and polarised speech. It’s worrying that individuals and groups are able to find willing audiences to listen to at-best-grey-area rhetoric, and at worse false and actively damaging speech. The authors of this article look at someone who’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by providing technical services and platform to these damaging figures. Perhaps my favourite quote from the article is:
Lim argues that the real political crisis facing the U.S. is not extremist violence but erosion of the First Amendment. He says that restrictions on online speech have already brought the U.S. to the verge of communist tyranny, that “we are one foot away from 1984.” After a moment, though, he offers a sizable qualifier: “I never actually read the book, so I don’t know all the themes of the book. But I have heard the concepts, and I’ve seen some things, and I thought, ‘Whoa! That’s sketchy as f---.’ ”