Distraction Free Reading

Weekly Round-up | April 28th, 2017

Thanks to input from a number of helpful readers (you know who you are), we’ve got a bunch of great posts for you this week, running from from evil infrastructure and essential books to Reddit and Duke Nukem. Keep ’em coming!

Painting of vaqueros rounding up cattle in 1830s Spanish California

Actual image of our link round-up process (public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia)

  • Always committed to posing the tough questions, Cultural Anthropology asks: “Can infrastructure be evil?” The uniformly interesting responses feature particularly great posts from Chris Kelty, Adam Fish, and Ali Kenner.


  • Allegra put together a list of reader-suggested “essential books in anthropology,” which is interesting as much as an ethnographic object as an intellectual one. This editor was also tickled to find Latour meriting inclusion.


  • It’s always nice to see teaching advice and other corridor talk make appearances on the major blogs: Ari Gandsman has a thoughtful and instructive post on teaching medical anthropology over at Somatosphere. Check out the included (and excellent) syllabus at the bottom!


  • Also filed under under teaching tools, the BBC put out a nice short series of interviews with “internet warriors,” some particularly virulent (and one or two repentant) trolls. Unfortunately, no interview with angry hatespam bots or Macedonian bloggers.


  • For April Fools’ day, Reddit put out a big open canvas where anyone on the internet could draw pictures, albeit slowly and one picture at a time. Surprisingly, it did not turn into a cesspool of hate! Unsurprisingly, it did have a lot of bot-generated advertising.



  • It’s not always the algorithm’s fault! Sometimes real people scrub and censor and bubble our internet spaces, too. Sarah Roberts takes a look at commercial content moderation in The Atlantic.



  • For the culture vultures among you who are too poor in either time or money to stay current on their video game consumption, Jacobin (of all places) has the 20-year-late Duke Nukem think piece you’ve been waiting for, or completely unaware you needed.


  • As an interesting counterpoint to Jon Bialecki’s recent post on Mormon Transhumanism, N+1 has an interestingly auto-ethnographic look at “Transhumanism’s Simulation Theology” from Meghan O’Gieblyn.

That’s it for this week’s round-up, folks! As always, keep sending tips about anything interesting you find online, or make yourself, to your humble editor.

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