How do New York Times journalists use expertise of their jobs and of their private lives? Amanda Hess, a critic at giant who writes concerning the web, mentioned the tech she’s utilizing.
What tech instruments are most vital for doing all your job?
Is logging off a software? Signing out is vital.
I cowl the web for my job, however I’m additionally very simply seduced by it, and that may be a harmful mixture. Procrastination can all the time be plausibly reframed as work. So I’ve expertise that I exploit to mitigate different expertise. Wearing an Apple Watch signifies that I don’t have to select up my telephone each time I get a Medicare rip-off name, which inevitably sucks me into scrolling mindlessly via each app on my telephone. I’ve strapped an unpleasant Apple product to my physique in an try and hold one other Apple product away from me. 🥴
You write about web tradition, which is a broad matter. How do you determine what to put in writing about?
My beat is even wider than that: I’m a critic at giant, which implies I find yourself writing about tv, music, films, theater and books, too. My job is to establish themes throughout the tradition, and I discover myself investigating concepts greater than platforms. I all the time have a number of child story concepts hanging round in my mind, they usually steer my web exercise into one route or one other.
I do plenty of old-timey analysis. I learn tutorial research and nonfiction books, and most of them are usually not particularly concerning the web. I wish to draw hyperlinks between Instagram branding and Naomi Klein, between YouTube conspiracy theorists and Richard Hofstadter, and between Hollywood’s insatiable thirst for sequels and social media’s infinite scroll. Google Scholar is a huge resource for me.
I’m often asked to explain what makes internet culture different from some previous mode of human experience, and the maybe boring answer is that it is not always so different. There is a temptation to overemphasize the novelty of internet culture, but our media, economic system and values did not spontaneously appear in, like, 1996. I sometimes think about the internet as a fun house mirror, a tool for stretching and magnifying existing dynamics.
How would you sum up the state of internet culture today compared with what it was in the 1990s, when the internet was just becoming a thing?
Back then, people on the internet thought that the internet was very good. At least, the most influential internet writers and architects did — the people who were setting the boundaries and terms for what it could be. Tech coverage was dominated by fan service and libertarian fantasy.
I think often about John Perry Barlow’s “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” in which he declared the internet “the new home of Mind” and wrote: “Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.” That did not come to pass, obviously.
The links between the “home of Mind” and our bodily experience — whether it’s the shuttered local toy store that can’t compete with Amazon or the woman harassed by her ex on Facebook — have never been clearer. It’s still easy to be charmed and moved by the materials that actual human beings contribute to internet culture, but we’re more wary of the platforms they’re hosted on. The defining mood of internet culture is a lot more ambivalent.
What do you predict the internet will look like in five years?
I have no idea! I try to stay out of the prediction business. I do think that the fate of the internet is tied up with politics in a more urgent sense than other cultural products are. If Elizabeth Warren became president, we could see a significant rethinking of the power of the internet’s biggest platforms. Or we could see Amazon, Google and Facebook tighten their grip.
Outside of work, what tech product are you personally obsessed with?
Bitmoji. I have a very strong bond with my cartoon avatar. She has my nose and my glasses and my freckles and my forehead lines but she is not quite “me.” She’s probably a better version of me. I can honestly say that she’s expanded my emotional palette. She’s made it easier for me to express sadness and anger and tenderness. She’s made me more human. I will never leave her.
Deepfakes. Trolls. Misinformation. Fake reviews. Bots. These are just a few of the internet’s problems. Have we hit a low point or will things get better?
Oh, I think it could definitely get worse. Or maybe it’s hit a low point and also it will never get better? Something to think about!
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.