* “Why James Watson Has Become Optimistic about Curing Cancer: The genomic cancer strategy shift.”
* “The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and the Birth of the Alt-Right,” a good post and an underrated point. People like justice and like other people to get what they deserve (the technical term is “altruistic punishment”), and universities seem to have a problem with maintaining that notion consistently.
* “After Years of Challenges, Foursquare Has Found its Purpose — and Profits.” I didn’t realize Foursquare is still around, but I’ve started using it and find it more useful than I thought.
* “Bunga Bunga, American Style” (trigger warning: politics).
* “‘Unwanted Advances’ Tackles Sexual Politics in Academia.” Best line: “But it’s also hard to ignore the irony here: Universities are now terrible places to find political heterogeneity. Campus discourse has become the equivalent of the supermarket banana. Only one genetic variety remains.”
* “Interview with Mark Greif,” of n+1, I like especially the bit about modern friends.
* “Were College Students Better Off Before Social Media?” Increasingly I wonder if the answer is “Yes.” It’s also striking to me how many students use private or locked social media accounts that aren’t visible to the general public.
* “The Man Behind History’s Most Iconic Movie Posters, From Breakfast at Tiffany’s to James Bond,” a surprisingly moving and beautiful piece. I’m reminded of Paglia’s book Glittering Images.
* “How Google Book Search Got Lost: Google Books was the company’s first moonshot. But 15 years later, the project is stuck in low-Earth orbit.” I wonder too if books just feel less central to the culture than they did even 15 years ago. And the majority of books from the last five or so years are probably available widely and easily in digital formats already.
* “Has coffee gotten too fancy?” Probably, but I like the fancy and the whole ridiculous process.
Friedersdorf’s second question about social media and college life is the one that interests me the most. When I drew cartoons for my college paper, or when staffers turned their jejune political thoughts into melodramatic columns, we all did so with the understanding that the audience was limited and that our work was ephemeral. In retrospect, I feel lucky to have been able to write, opine, and make mistakes without worrying about off-campus reactions, let alone the potential fury of tens of thousands of strangers.
It makes me wonder about the extent to which people are self-censoring these days, or perhaps locking themselves into value systems that peer pressure forbids them from outgrowing. What if you want to become more progressive, or more conservative, or more religious, or less religious, or switch political parties? Because most people’s online social networks start as a reflection of their values at a moment in time, is it now harder to change your mind and explore new ways of thinking? Or is it easier to find people who share your new beliefs and quickly rebuild your social network? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions, but since the up sides of the Internet and social media are fairly easy to identify, I’m glad people are increasingly trying to identify the down sides.
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