Recently, I wrote about an odd, distressing situation involving an executive at Uber, a texting-friendly taxi service, who thought he should do oppo research on a journalist. One hopes that the matter has been straightened out because 1) journalists (people who choose to write about other people’s lives) rarely have lives worth exposing and 2) his approach to media interferes with news gathering for the public.
But several other issues that arose during the controversy are worth unpacking:
As Charlie Warzel notes at Buzzfeed, we ought not to view a company like Uber as merely a cell phone app:
Maybe. Let’s talk about it. Recently, we looked at the relationship between selfies and self-centredness.
No disputing it is a serious relationship. But I honestly don’t know how much technology—as such—contributes to the innate human tendency to self-centredness. The folk song “It’s Hard to Be Humble” premiered in 1980, long before the Internet was the Biggest Thing on the Planet.
Maybe I just need more lines of evidence to be sure.
Meanwhile, a friend kindly writes to say that he stumbled on a whole contemporary pop culture phenomenon of nihilism, promoted in the fashion industry and in movies (In the Dust of This Planet). I’ve noticed it too.
The so-called “internet of things” has been the talk of the technology world for years now. Consumer electronics firms are exploring ways of connecting all manner of personal and household objects to the internet, thereby extending their functionality.
Some of these devices are undeniably very useful, such as household thermostats which allow us to log on at a distance and turn on our heating before heading home. But others are frankly ludicrous – witness the smart toothbrush.
First, the landscape has changed. Demands for censorship that used to be opposed by universities are now coming from universities. As American commentator Derek Hunter explains,
The idea of punishing speech arbitrarily deemed inappropriate is something that is not only the antithesis of one of this country’s founding principles, it was something colleges were supposed to be safe from. Encroachment on something so sacred as freedom of speech would’ve have sent students to the street just a generation ago; now they march to demand censorship.
Yes indeed. In fact, as he recounts:
The progressive all-women’s Mount Holyoke College cancelled its annual performance of The Vagina Monologs” because students worried it could alienate transgendered students. …
Dictionary meanings of self (the unified conscious whole that experiences something, whether it is a birthday party or a stubbed toe) don’t quite capture the concept of the “selfie” As put in a Guardian article (2013),
It starts with a certain angle: a smartphone tilted at 45 degrees just above your eyeline is generally deemed the most forgiving. Then a light source: the flattering beam of a backlit window or a bursting supernova of flash reflected in a bathroom mirror, as preparations are under way for a night out.
Perhaps you’ve not thought this through.knowyourmeme
With somewhere in the region of 1.3 billion users, Facebook is the largest ever internet social engagement phenomenon. With so many people interconnected through the site, information can speedily propagate around the world – without any clear indication whether it is correct – and this has given new life to the phenomenon of the internet hoax.
Recently, I talked about how the Internet was worse for bookstores than for reading: Part I and Part II. When the dust settled, many books and readers crawled out alive because a) much smaller press runs became economically viable, but b) we still have to buy the whole book in order to enjoy it.
So why was radio so much less impacted by the Internet than by TV? Video, after all, didkill the radio star.
Further to Good news! The Internet is worse for bookstores than for reading, Part I: (Dust settled, many books and readers have crawled out alive.)
The big difference is that the Internet changed how authors and readers find each other.
Some key changes were not intuitive. For example, many placed high hopes in putting great books online. As Richard Seltzer put it in Samizdat,,
Already there are tens of thousands of books in plain text electronic form available for free over the Internet, thanks to volunteer projects like Gutenberg. But while I applaud those efforts and download many of those texts, I must admit that I rarely read them -- only when I haven't been able to find a print edition of the same book. That's…
click here to read whole article and make comments
Okay, it’s not good news for someone who owns a bookstore and rejects online business. But if you want to encourage reading books rather than buying them in one particular way, you may find the news heartening.
Last time I looked at this topic, I was focusing on books as sold in bookstores. Dead tired at one multiple author book signing, I learned that customers were buying our books for their nephews or their pastors or whoever else they thought “ought to” read them. They themselves were “too busy” to read books.
Uber is an international San Francisco-based ride sharing service, founded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009. It links riders and drivers via Smartphone. In a world of locally historic but highly change-resistant taxi companies, it offers one-tap, cashless pickups, with clear pricing and fare splitting permitted.
In principle, what could go wrong—except for the companies that didn’t think of it first?
Ah… enter an ambitious recent hire, senior executive Emil Michael, who decided to “target” journalists who publish negative information about Uber.
In many representative democracies, that’s a well-supported legal right of media, when supported by at least some fact stream. Admittedly, the fact stream could amount to no more than cherry picking the dissatisfied…
click here to read whole article and make comments
Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist.