2023-05-10I’d like to pour one out for BuzzFeed News, which was unceremoniously taken behind the woodshed this month. I have shared my thoughts about my time at BuzzFeed, much of which was spent with the News division, and most of which was motivated by that division. Now they’ve finally gone and killed it, the most worthwhile thing that media corporation ever did. I have a lot of fun and messed up memories from my time at the Fun Internet Company.
2022-03-12Image generated by Midjourney When, from the outside, a collection of people or an institution is doing things I strongly disagree with, it often turns out that from the inside I can see all the mechanisms and incentives that make perfectly normal people works towards bad outcomes. Take online advertising. In my last year at BuzzFeed I finally bit the bullet and started working in the part of the team that makes the money: the ad tech team.
2022-03-12Image generated by Midjourney When I was growing up I sometimes thought I wanted to be a writer, but I quickly realised that doing it for a job wasn’t going to be fun or rewarding. My position is that I took the coward’s way out in choosing to go into software engineering, for a more financially stable existence, but I went into the world with a respect for the writing staff and a general dread at their constant mistreatment.
2022-02-14I think the time I spent on the Community team was interesting. Firstly it was the closest knit team I’ve ever been on, socially speaking. Partly there was a good social chemistry between team members and a sense that we had a fun part of the product to work on and we knew about it more than anybody else in the organisation. The pandemic baked in those personal relationships strongly, to the point that we became a sort of insufferable clique.
This is not the apocalypse you were looking for
The right, of course, has never had a monopoly on catastrophist fever dreams. The idea of a cleansing armageddon that instantly erases all the awkward parts of modernity, all the weary years of work and compromise between where we are and where we’d like to be, is universal, and universally childish. I’ve spent far too much time listening to drunk hipsters with retro-Soviet facial hair tell me there’s no point in feminism or anti-racism, because all of that will be fixed after the giant, bloody workers’ revolution that is absolutely on the way, so really it doesn’t matter how we treat each other in the present. You can hear the same gleeful anticipation in the rhetoric of “dark-green” eco-fundamentalist groups, which right now are outpacing religious extremists in their rush to claim the coronavirus as nature’s revenge on humanity. If you are really so keen to be punished, there are websites for that. If you find yourself eager to see the whole species punished, that’s not a fetish, that’s fascism.
— This is not the apocalypse you were looking for, Laurie Penny in WIRED
Local power and the social order
But very few of my classmates really belonged to the area’s elite. It wasn’t a city of international oligarchs, but one dominated by its wealthy, largely agricultural property-owning class. They mostly owned, and still own, fruit companies: apples, cherries, peaches, and now hops and wine-grapes. The other large-scale industries in the region, particularly commercial construction, revolve at a fundamental level around agriculture: They pave the roads on which fruits and vegetables are transported to transshipment points, build the warehouses where the produce is stored, and so on.
Gentry classes are a common feature of a great many social-economic-political regimes throughout history. Pretty much anywhere you have a hierarchical form of social organization and property ownership, a gentry class of some kind emerges: the local civic elites of the Roman Empire, the landlords of later Han China, the numerous lower nobility of late medieval France, the thegns of Anglo-Saxon England, the Prussian Junkers, or the planter class of the antebellum South. The gentry are generally distinct from the highest levels of a regime’s political and economic elite: They’re usually not resident in the political center, they don’t hold major positions in the central administration of the state (whatever that might consist of) and aren’t counted among the wealthiest people in their polity. New national or imperial elites might emerge over time from a gentry class, even rulers - the boundaries between these groups can be more or less porous - but that’s not usually the case.
— American Genry, Patrick Wyman in Perspectives: Past, Present, and Future
Many who participate in the IETF are most comfortable making what we believe to be purely technical decisions; our process favors technical merit through our well-known mantra of “rough consensus and running code.”
Nevertheless, the running code that results from our process (when things work well) inevitably has an impact beyond technical considerations, because the underlying decisions afford some uses while discouraging others. While we believe we are making only technical decisions, in reality, we are defining (in some degree) what is possible on the Internet itself.
This impact has become significant. As the Internet increasingly mediates essential functions in societies, it has unavoidably become profoundly political; it has helped people overthrow governments, revolutionize social orders, swing elections, control populations, collect data about individuals, and reveal secrets. It has created wealth for some individuals and companies while destroying that of others.
— The Internet Is For End Users, Mark Nottingham in Internet Architecture Board RFCs
Rich writers showing themselves up about COVID-19
The journals fall into several categories. One is family and kids. In “Stuck at Home With My 20-Year-Old Daughter,” for instance, Todd Purdum described in The Atlantic the pandemic’s “achingly uncertain implications” for the future of his daughter Kate. A sophomore at Barnard College, she has led a charmed life. “Because of my career as a journalist and her mother’s as a former White House press secretary, political consultant, and Hollywood studio executive, we have the luxury of working from home, and the financial resources to help weather this storm.” That, however, does not mask “the reality that Kate’s world has shrunk to the size of her bedroom. In a flash, the daily life of the confident, privileged young woman who’d thrived at school, haunted Broadway stage doors, mastered the New York subway, and, yes, discreetly flashed a fake ID in the bars of Morningside Heights was upended indefinitely.”
— The Afflictions of the Comfortable, Michael Massing in The American Prospect