3-for-3: A Twitter “Thought Experiment”

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Today’s post is a thought experiment of sorts: In an attempt to see just how good — or how bad — the quality of information I receive via Twitter actually is, I’m using today’s 3-for-3 post to share the top three links that have appeared in my Twitter feed during the past hour.

A quick check of my account shows that I’m currently following 409 Twitter users, and this number is made up of (roughly) three kinds of accounts:

  1. Sports-oriented news outlets (Esp. those related to the Miami Hurricanes or the Chicago Cubs)
  2. Organizations/groups involved in education and politics
  3. Fellow academics (Esp. those in the humanities)

Since it’s a Sunday morning, I expect to find a lot of tweets related to yesterday’s college football action, the current government shutdown, and MOOCs. (Because, well, MOOCs.) Whether this is your cup o’ tea or not — and whether this is actually a good barometer of the quality of my Twitter feed — will probably be a matter of some debate, but hey, what are Sunday morning blog posts for if not debate?

(And, for the sake of official time keeping, I began this search at 9:30AM. Any tweets from 8:30-9:30AM are fair game.)

Let the experiment begin!

1. what we talk about when we talk about technology

Link tweeted by: James Schirmer // @betajames

I’ll summarize this article, written by Evgeny Morozov, with two words — READ IT! — and a juicy paragraph from the middle of the argument regarding the technologization of contemporary life:

To oppose ‘technology’ in this case is not to oppose science or the Enlightenment — it’s simply to oppose the intrusion of neoliberal logic into the domain of health. It’s also to acknowledge that an increase in the amount of actionable information does not necessarily entail an increase in the quality of life and can also have the very opposite effect.

2. book review-cum-miniature biography

Link tweeted by: Michael Colson // @TruthTableaux

In this review of D.T. Max’s recent biography of David Foster Wallace (Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace), Christian Lorentzen paints a surprisingly comprehensive portrait of Wallace’s rise to fame and concomitant descent toward suicide. (He took his own life in 2008, at the age of 46.) Whether you’re a huge fan of DFW’s work — like me — or you’re just looking to learn a little more about his troubled life story, this review is a great overview/introduction to his work.

3. on the ethics of being a “leaker”

Link tweeted by Glenn Greenwald // @ggreenwald

Like the first link I posted, I think Peter Ludlow’s NYT “Opinionator” column is better served by a one-paragrpah excerpt than by my own attempt to summarize his key points. Here’s the heart of his argument concerning the moral imperative (or lack thereof) to “leak” highly-secretive documents:

For the leaker and whistleblower the answer to Bolton is that there can be no expectation that the system will act morally of its own accord. Systems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws. It requires stepping outside of one’s assigned organizational role. The chief executive is not in a better position to recognize systemic evil than is a middle level manager or, for that matter, an IT contractor. Recognizing systemic evil does not require rank or intelligence, just honesty of vision.

Any essay that references Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem is bound to get my attention, and its inclusion here aligns perfectly with Ludlow’s larger argument regarding the dissemination of leaked federal documents. Though I feel this issue is more complicated than Ludlow’s piece suggests, the widespread vilification of whistleblowers never ceases to amaze me — especially when so many contemporary audiences rally around similar characters in popular movies and television shows.

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