“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.”—Attachments, Rainbow Rowell (via stellablu)
“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”—Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek (via observando)
There has been quite a bit of chatter this past week after it was revealed that a recent Facebook outage was the result of a psychological experiment that the company conducted on a portion of its users without their permission. The experiment, which was described in a paper published by Facebook, and UCSF, tested the contagion of emotions on social media by manipulating the content of personal feeds and measuring how this impacted user behavior.
Over 600,000 users were used as guinea pigs without their consent, which raises a number of serious ethical and legal questions (particularly due to the fact that this study received federal funding), however there is an even more disturbing angle to this story. It turns out that this research was connected to a Department of Defense project called the Minerva Initiative, which funds universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world.
In the official credits for the study conducted by Facebook you’ll find Jeffrey T. Hancock from Cornell University. If you go to the Minerva initiative website you’ll find that Jeffery Hancock received funding from the Department of Defense for a study called "Cornell: Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes". If you go to the project site for that study you’ll find a visualization program that models the spread of beliefs and disease.
Cornell University is currently being funded for another DoD study right now called "Cornell: Tracking Critical-Mass Outbreaks in Social Contagions" (you’ll find the description for this project on the Minerva Initiative’s funding page).
The Department of Defense’s investment in the mechanics of psychological contagion and Facebook’s assistance, have some very serious implications, particularly when placed in context with other scandals which have broken in the past two years.
The U.S. government hasn’t sought these capabilities for the sake of science. We know from the Cuban Twitter scandal, where the U.S. State Department where got caught red handed attempting to topple the Cuban government through social media, that these capabilities are already being used for offensive operations. Combine that with the fact that the U.S. Military got exposed in 2011 for developing ‘sock puppet’ software to create fake online identities and spread propaganda and an ominous picture snaps into focus.
The U.S. government is militarizing social media through a combination of technology and social sciences, and Facebook is helping them.
A bit conspiratorial, but it wouldn’t be a bit surprising to me if it is true.
You cannot compare this present experience with a past experience. You can only compare it with a memory of the past, which is a part of the present experience. When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is as impossible as trying to make your teeth bite themselves.
To understand this is to realize that life is entirely momentary, that there is neither permanence nor security, and that there is no “I” which can be protected.
“Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place—the picture of it—stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think if, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”—http://apoetreflects.tumblr.com/post/74142816571/some-things-you-forget-other-things-you-never-do
“Posthumanism has signified “human enhancement” for too long—whether through technologies of replacement or addendum or through newer, more pliant cultural understandings of human identity. A true posthumanism would neither extend humanity into a symbiotic, visionary future nor reject our place in the world via antihuman nihilism. Instead, as Bryant puts it, a posthumanist ontology is one in which “humans are no longer monarchs of being, but are instead among beings, entangled in beings, and implicated in other beings.””—Bogost, Ian. Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. (via carvalhais)
Let me be blunt: Stock photography needs to die. In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell argued that clichéd language produces clichéd thinking. Using a stale image, as he’d put it, “makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Stock photography imprisons us in the same cognitive jail. Its intentionally bland images are designed to be usable in many vaguely defined situations. This produces wretched photography for the same reason Hallmark cards produce wretched poetry. We live in a visual world, communicating and thinking in pictures. When we use stock photos, we think in clichés.
The true cure for stock photography is inside your camera phone.
“I received a bogus copyright takedown notice for using public domain audio on SoundCloud yesterday. The sound in question—the famous “Houston, we have a problem” snippet of the Apollo 13 mission—is incontrovertibly available to all, for any use, without copyright restrictions. The fact that it’s been yanked from my SoundCloud page, though, is a sad demonstration of how completely many online services have swallowed the fallacy that “unauthorized” means “unacceptable.” It’s a dangerous myth, that we should all need permission any time we’re getting value out of a piece of culture. And it’s one that gets entrenched deeper each time we accept the idea that we’re able to make use of a work because a copyright owner is or would be OK with it, and not just because we have a basic right to participate in culture that is more fundamental than anybody else’s desire to maximize profits.”—Houston, We Have A Public Domain Problem — Medium (via notational)
“That system of the world was invented. It’s not really natural. To imagine that capitalism is not subject to deconstruction, reinvention or critique in maximum happy imagination seems a little silly. If disruption is your mantra – why not go all the way?”—Matt Jones in “Maximum Happy Imagination,” commenting on Marc Andreessen’s posts about abundance. (via blech)
… the overriding emotion in [Leiter’s] work is a stillness, tenderness, and grace that is at odds with the mad rush of New York street life. “In No Great Hurry,” the understated film made abo …
“…this is a discourse that inverts the values, the equilibrium, and the traditional polarities of intelligibility, and which posits, demands, an explanation from below. But in this explanation, the “below” is not necessarily what is clearest and simplest. Explaining things from below also means explaining them in terms of what is most confused, most obscure, most disorderly and most subject of chance, because what is being put forward as a principle for the interpretation of society and its visible order is the confusion of violence, passions, hatreds, rages, resentments, and bitterness; and it is the obscurity of contingencies and all the minor incidents that bring about defeats and ensure victories. This discourse is essentially asking the elliptical god of battles to explain the long days of order, labor, peace, and justice. Fury is being asked to explain calm and order. ”—Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, pg.54 (via absurdhowl)
“How else can one write but of those things which one doesn’t know, or knows badly? It is precisely there that we imagine having something to say. We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other.”—Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (via extratruefacts)
I submit that the unifying core, the essence of jerkitude in the moral sense, is this: the jerk culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or idiots to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers. This failure has both an intellectual dimension and an emotional dimension, and it has these two dimensions on both sides of the relationship. The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective, and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him. He can’t appreciate how he might be wrong and others right about some matter of fact; and what other people want or value doesn’t register as of interest to him, except derivatively upon his own interests. The bumpkin ignorance captured in the earlier use of ‘jerk’ has changed into a type of moral ignorance.
The opposite of the jerk is the sweetheart. The sweetheart sees others around him, even strangers, as individually distinctive people with valuable perspectives, whose desires and opinions, interests and goals are worthy of attention and respect. The sweetheart yields his place in line to the hurried shopper, stops to help the person who dropped her papers, calls an acquaintance with an embarrassed apology after having been unintentionally rude. In a debate, the sweetheart sees how he might be wrong and the other person right.
“The pursuit of full humanity… cannot be carried out in isolation or individualism, but only in fellowship and solidarity; therefore it cannot unfold in the antagonistic relations between oppressor and oppressed. No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so.”—Paulo Freire | Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968)
“Nietzsche, who knew that writing is the power to transmit love not only to one’s nearest and dearest, but also, through the next person encountered, into the unknown, distant, future life. Writing not only creates a telecommunicative bridge between known friends, who at the time of the transmission live in a geographical proximity to one another; but it sets in motion an unpredictable process. It shoots an arrow in the air, described in the words of old European alchemists as an actio in distans, with the objective of revealing an unknown friend and enticing him into the circle of friends. In fact, the reader who sits down to a thick book can approach it as an invitation to a gathering.”—Dominique Nabokov (via jacobwren)
(…) The third wave of imperialist wars is currently being fought over nature’s most valuable commodity: water. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, CIA analysts reported on a prediction of a new theater of war: hydrological warfare, “in which rivers, lakes and aquifers become national security assets to be fought over, or controlled”.
These predictions became realized in quick succession, beginning with the recent wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. It is now clear that the age of hydro-imperialism is upon us. (…)
“It’s important to know that NBC is owned by General Electric (which means that interviews with people who live near a nuclear plant undoubtedly would be … but then again, such a story wouldn’t even occur to anyone), that CBS is owned by Westinghouse, and ABC by Disney, that TF1 belongs to Bouygues, and that these facts lead to consequences through a whole series of mediations. It is obvious that the government won’t do certain things to Bouygues, knowing that Bouygues is behind TF1. These factors, which are so crude that they are obvious to even the most simple-minded critique, hide other things, all the anonymous and invisible mechanisms through which the many kinds of censorship operate to make television such a formidable instrument for maintaining the symbolic order.”—