The colourful ceilings of Mumbai’s taxis, from @thegreaterbombay. Image description: A diptych showing two pictures side by side. The first picture shows the ceiling inside a taxi, in colourful floral pattern with black background covering 1/3 of the whole frame. Visible also is the partial face of a woman in scarf, who also looks down at the camera. In the second picture, the pose of the woman is the same, except the ceiling is replaced with another lace pattern in baby blue with an oval shape in the middle, filled by illustrations of colorful fruits.
If I was still in knee-deep of my PhD at this point of time (my research was on social media implications on networked protest leadership from a sociological point of view), I would have taken great interest in giving Twitter’s new ephemeral messaging feature, called Fleets, a try. But there are too many of these ‘stories’, disappearing features, starting from Snapchat, then Instagram, which then was expanded to its sister company Whatsapp and its mothership Facebook, and what I found out today, LinkedIn too. Can you imagine what abominable corporate humblebraggy everyday-you-should-be-hustlin’ content is lurking over at LinkedIn stories?
But of course, I’m saying this with these caveats: 1) Fleets was only launched for a little over two days (and even already, its privacy is already questioned), 2) I haven’t even given it a try yet, and maybe given my reluctant vow to reduce social media usage, I will never start. My experience, however, taught me that every social media feature would eventually end up being afforded and bended in some creative ways by social movements and grassroots organisations — in fact, a lot of social media features these days were co-opted from how the movements and organisations made use of them! (If you want to read more on this, this whole 3rd chapter of Design Justice speaks about so). Maybe, when that happens, I’ll dive in Fleets and provide some ekphrasistic review on yet another feature we did not ask (I am also looking at you, Instagram Shop feature).
Image description: A handwritten note which reads — Abstract: In programming language semantics, the introduction of unbounded nondeterminacy, which amounts to the introduction of noncontinuous predicate transformers, is needed for dealing with such concepts as fair interleaving. With the semantics of the repetition given as the strongest solution of a fix point equation, the weaker preconditions expressed in closed form would the require transfinite ordinals. Here, whoever it is shown that, even in the case of unbounded nondeterminacy, the fundamental theorem about the repletion can be proved by a simple and quite elementary argument.
This week, in the history of newsletters, I learned that the computer scientist Edgar Dijkstra frequently sent his newsletters to his colleagues at Department of Computer Science of the University of Texas. In the early years, he wrote them by hand, photocopied, and mailed them over — and as the years progressed, he then typed them out. How did he feel not having to worry about the amount of opens, clicks, unsubscription, and, if people actually read and liked what he wrote, and continue sharing anyway? Bliss, I would assume. Full archive here.
Reading in my tabs:
- A fantastic leadership question.
- An AI that helps you summarise the latest in AI, and also one that claims to be able to detect sarcasm.
- “[…] if it’s so easy to recreate the unwanted touch in the digital era, how can we expect an entire industry that was built on exploitative and coercive practices to suddenly ignore its underlying business premise? If we agree that the spread of facial recognition technology is the digital equivalent of being touched by a stranger, what kind of education, regulatory changes, awareness raising and organising needs to happen so that we can design digital futures that build on meaningful consent and respect?” On bodily integrity during the digital age.
- This professor prepared a series of activity that gets students thinking about ethical implications guided by the lessons from the Black Mirror series.
- Young feminist and LGBTQI+ organisers are driving inclusion in Thailand’s growing pro-democracy movement.
- Zoom is driving a boom in ring light sales (it me!!! I got one because of Zoom video calls too!)
- The rise of ambient TV shows (think: Emily in Paris) designed “to provide sympathetic background for staring at your phone.” Lmao
- And TIL the cellular humanities, “precisely about that to which we are not paying attention: the ubiquity of these small computers that more and more people have, as well as a cluster of mentalities, behaviours, and attitudes that develop along with the machines. They’re about how the social fabric is changing around us rapidly, and where we feel these changes the most.”
- Ursula K. Le Guin’s reply to an Argentinian reviewer who claimed she wasn’t a hard science fiction writer since “technology is carefully avoided” in her works: “Its technology is how a society copes with physical reality: how people get and keep and cook food, how they clothe themselves, what their power sources are (animal? human? water? wind? electricity? other?) what they build with and what they build, their medicine — and so on and on. Perhaps very ethereal people aren’t interested in these mundane, bodily matters, but I’m fascinated by them, and I think most of my readers are too. Technology is the active human interface with the material world.”
- Duas against the surveillance state: “O Allah, I yield to Your infinite wisdom and mercy. And I pray that You watch over us and continue to guide us in our battle against tyranny. I pray that You bring ruination to the oppressors, that the tyrants may fall with their institutions, and that they are ripped from the face of this earth. I pray that You blind those who would do us harm, who would seek us and hunt us, and who would attempt to extinguish this flame You have sparked. I pray for Your love to hold us, to grant us wellness, to keep us safe, and to embolden our communities. I pray that You continue to empower us to fight for justice in your image, and that You are merciful to those of us who cannot fight. And, O Allah, I am grateful for You, and humbly pray for Your wisdom as we work to build a more just world.” (thanks Liy for sharing this!)
- Reading: Edward Said’s memoir Out of Place, and Verso’s The Care Manifesto (still).
- Listening: This sublime piece called Dou Coula from Arat Kilo ft. Mamani Keïta & Mike Ladd.
- Watching: Just finished watching The Crown Season 4 and wouldn’t stop addressing the cats in Queen’s English accent.
- Food & Drink: It was wet market day this morning, which also meant buying a day’s worth of breakfast from the nearby food stalls. I’ve got roti canai (roti prata for some of you) with dhal gravy and sambal, nasi lemak (but of course), some pulut panggang, sardine curry puffs (my absolute favourite), and pau sambal (which I grew up calling Malaysian burger).