Friday Reading S02E20

Media, tech and politics links that I enjoyed reading this week, which I thought you might enjoy too…


I found this via Emily Bell, who cited it as an example of what she has been saying for some time, that for Facebook, Twitter et al, “staying out of the editorial weeds is not an option any more…

“The companies who’ve turned social media platforms into very big business argue, and rightly so, that monitoring each post is nearly impossible, that permitting users the freedom of expression is essential, that there are already steps in place to combat hate speech. All that is true. But something new is happening today, and what Facebook, Twitter and the others must realize is that the question of incitement on social media isn’t just a logistical or financial question but, first and foremost, a moral one.”

The Facebook Intifada”–Micah Lakin Avni


My former boss Malcolm Coles–described as “serene yet steely”–talking about his role at the Telegraph and more broadly about the future of media:

“ There’s no way I’d have predicted the end of 2015 at the beginning of the year, so I’ve no bloody idea what’s going to happen in 2025. But I’m sure cat GIFs will still be important.”




I’m increasingly against one role having effective ownership of user experience in its title. Labels matter. ‘User experience designer’ unintentionally disenfranchises our content designers — particularly our content designers — but also our researchers, our product owners, our front-end developers. UX designers don’t, ugh, ‘speak for the user’ alone. As a team, we all contribute to the user experience of a service.

Why we call it interaction design”–Andrew Travers


Who, What, Why: What would the radio broadcast in a nuclear war?

It’s genuinely difficult to convey to people how nuclear war was perceived to basically be inevitable during the 80s.


“The tale — abhorrently spelled, gratuitously vulgar, barely related to the source material — is a constant millstone around the necks of fanfiction enthusiasts who struggle to bring legitimacy to the genre. Nevertheless, it’s also a singular study in how fandom culture works and strives to make art out of even the craziest detritus. Here, then, is a good-faith effort to uncover how ‘My Immortal’ came to be, why it rose to infamy, and whether one should laugh at it — or if it’s laughing at you.”

The Bizarre, Unsolved Mystery of ‘My Immortal,’ the World’s Worst Fanfiction Story”– Abraham Riesman. Absolutely loved this.


“Why, you might ask, has such a dumb, thinly sourced thing gone so viral? Because it’s basically the perfect rumor of this subgenre, in that it ticks off just about every wild-eyed belief endemic to online anti-feminism.”

Is This Crazy Anti-Feminist Rumor the Platonic Ideal of the Men’s-Rights Internet?”–Jesse Singal



Fantastic evisceration by Rupert Myers of the new Neil Strauss book, my favourite bit among many favourite bits being the final line: “Normally this is where we’d say how you can buy The Truth.”


Talking of final lines, there’s a terrific last paragraph in this from Jonn Elledge: “Guy Fawkes wasn’t a freedom fighter. He was a religious terrorist, and not even one of the good ones


“School tests have two functions: to find out how pupils are doing — and to find out how schools are doing. They sound much the same, but they are not. In truth, by combining the two, our system does neither well.”

How to fix our broken primary school testing system”–Peter Kellner



Some actual research into what people think of PMQs now that Corbyn is part of the mix.


“The problems with these inferences should not be underestimated. If they’re accurate, they represent major intrusions into people’s privacy — sometimes they allow the analysts to predict behaviour better than the people themselves can predict it — whilst if they’re inaccurate they can mean that terrible decisions are made about people. When this is confined to advertising the impact is rarely that significant (though it can be, as the non-apocryphal stories of revealed pregnancies and sexuality have shown) but if decisions are made on a similar basis by law enforcement or security services they could be hideous.”

A few words on ‘Internet Connection Records’”–Paul Bernal


It started out as a routine missing persons case. But by the time the internet was done with her, Elisa Lam had become a macabre celebrity, a conspiracy magnet — and the inspiration for a TV series.

“People imagined all kind of things in that footage: that Elisa Lam was hallucinating, that she was having a psychotic break, that she was playing hide and seek, that she was taken at gunpoint by someone who never appears in the frame. Follow the wrong thread and you can wind up through the looking glass, where theories get truly outrageous: Malicious poltergeists, demonic possession, an assailant using “cloaking technology,” even government mind control experiments.”

American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel”–Josh Dean



Pulp are now often regarded as the superior choice out of the Blur/Oasis Britpop era, but Eli Davies writes about how the anger directed at women by Jarvis Cocker on their “Different Class” album makes her an uncomfortable fan.


Kraftwerk — 10 of the best”–Jude Rogers. I’m going to see them tomorrow in Lille. FANBOY SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.


Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering media, technology and politics. And frequently Doctor Who and 80’s music too.

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