Big Brother’s Blind Spot
The modern surveillance state in America traces back at least to the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, during which new inventions like photography and telegraphy were used to amass data on Filipino leaders and civilians—including information about their properties, personal networks, and finances—to scan for signs of dissent. And we could perhaps date it even earlier: Simone Browne, author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, relates eighteenth-century “lantern” laws in New York City, which demanded black persons carry lanterns if they walked unaccompanied by white persons after dark
Enslavers used an array of violent and manipulative tactics to make people work for them, most commonly the whip and the threat of sale and family separation.
The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child’s share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors.
They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final;” not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.
If Peterson spent more time with literary texts instead of just throwing them into facile YouTube videos, he might know they do not act as bluntly as he wishes them to act. Literary texts are disco balls, spraying glittery bits of imagery and light in all directions. Peterson’s vision cannot resonate at the level of philosophy or literary criticism, where the rules are too demanding. Where Peterson excels is at the level of carnival-barker chicanery. He’s for people who want to hear that women are bad.
The new tax law, and especially the doubling of the standard deduction, may indeed decrease charitable giving as fewer taxpayers itemize than in years past, but it probably won’t do much to change the dynamics described here. Elites will continue to enjoy outsized benefits from the policy and will continue to bestow these benefits on the organizations they care about, the majority of which do comparatively little to support the poor. Meanwhile, charities’ efforts to protect the deduction have insulated it from reform—or even critique.
Instead, I came back into the room, where everyone was still silent. My students’ faces, for the most part, were turned down. I know what they had felt, black students, students of color, and white students alike. They bore witness to my vulnerability, my suffering. And they saw the impact that racism could have within an otherwise safe academic space. A few moments passed, I apologized, and resumed teaching. But the classroom was not the same. We had witnessed something together. That space will never be the same.
Feminists have a habit of looking beyond whatever kind of man we might assume Baudelaire to have been, to the evidence of the texts themselves. So yes—rigorous thinkers, who by definition acknowledge the fundamental equality of the sexes, should continue to read Baudelaire because we need lucid readings of his work. Baudelaire’s verse and prose poetry remind us how powerful and political a practice reading can be.
I make “Display It Like You Stole It” badges for people to wear on the tours. It’s a slogan designed to push museums and visitors to rethink the politics of presentation in galleries. On most text panels there’s little or no mention of how objects came to be there. Euphemistic language of “acquisition” obscures the truth. I don’t believe most visitors to the British Museum’s Benin and South Pacific collections, for example, or the V&A’s Indian collections, come away understanding that these are largely the spoils of war.
More Americans work in museums than work in coal, but coalminers are treated as sacred beings owed huge subsidies and the sacrifice of the climate, and museum workers—well, no one is talking about their jobs as a totem of our national identity.
The rigors of my academic training also prepared me to run for office. Coping with my fair share of rejection letters and checked-out students made me resilient. When I answered tough policy questions at a public forum, I was calm: the forum was a breeze compared to taking my oral exam.
School-reform leaders have often obtusely dismissed the effect of poverty on students’ learning as "just an excuse." Colleges should devote more intellectual capital to informing and shaping school-reform projects, including research that reveals the real and devastating impact of poverty, violence, racism, and trauma on the ability of children to learn effectively.
Most big ideas have loud critics. Not disruption. Disruptive innovation as the explanation for how change happens has been subject to little serious criticism, partly because it’s headlong, while critical inquiry is unhurried; partly because disrupters ridicule doubters by charging them with fogyism, as if to criticize a theory of change were identical to decrying change; and partly because, in its modern usage, innovation is the idea of progress jammed into a criticism-proof jack-in-the-box.
The idea of access to high-quality education through MOOCs, as she points out, is an idea of ‘academic colonialism’ (147)—the adoption of paid content provided by top-tier universities to low or mid-ranked ones. The development and maintenance of a MOOC also comes with a high price tag that is very opaque. In Head’s case, and perhaps with most other courses, more than two-thirds of the grant went to pay the technical support of Coursera, a leading platform provider. The remainder of the grant barely covered her team of nineteen graduate teaching assistants.
Digital shaming disallows a possibility for understanding that Jesse Stommel suggests can be achieved “by listening seriously to the voices of students and recognizing that students can be drivers of the conversation about the state of education.”
What this training boils down to then, is that to be successful you need to emulate the performance of ‘successful’ senior men. But surely we don’t need yet more of this in academia. Perhaps then, as feminist academics, our role is to call out individualized everyday acts of self-promotion and competition, which are so often (albeit not always) a masculine endeavour.
Many things that King may never have envisioned—the celebration of his birth as a national holiday, the explosive growth in black political representation, particularly the election of Barack Obama—have come to pass. But King and the authors of the Kerner Report would have recognized the ongoing concerns of poverty, the travails of American cities, and the plague of gun violence.
But, even as these articles display the possibilities opened up by mapping tools, data-driven methods, and digital technologies, each author is deeply aware of their limitations. As the essays in this issue demonstrate, computational approaches to the spatial humanities—which are marked by intellectual decisions, obstacles, and quandaries—must join rather than replace or supersede an existing toolkit of historically grounded methods that are based on critical analysis, close looking, and a deep skepticism about the transparent meaning of any image or map.
Creating a true meritocracy in higher education would require serious, politically daring changes to our housing policies and the tax code, neither of which seems likely in the current climate. Yet people of means (and I include myself here) are complicit in a system that seems unable to stop itself from extending privileges to the privileged. If your late-model car boasts the sticker of a prestigious college in the back window, you are participating in a system that may be good for your child but bad for our country.
On the other hand, creative services workers command wages 30% higher than the Australian average, with software and digital content professionals earning the highest incomes of the whole sector.
When historians illuminate the mechanics of past narratives, we open up history to new possibilities. Yet Gotlieb professes a lack of interest when it comes to laying bare ideology (43). As I write in early 2017, such a stance seems no longer tenable. No matter the political climate, disinterest is little excuse for perpetuating nationalist mythologies.
The town’s Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1921: they put on hoods and burned crosses at midnight at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s sprawling plantation and the site of his grave. “Hundreds of Charlottesville’s leading business and professional men” were in attendance, the Daily Progress, which is still the city’s primary newspaper, wrote at the time. “It is said that the reorganization of the Klan is proceeding rapidly throughout the State, the South, and the Nation.” The K.K.K. made a thousand-dollar donation to the University of Virginia; the school’s president at the time, E. A. Alderman, signed his thank-you note “Faithfully yours.”
I figured I would offer four strategies to help you build an academic routine. Three come from scholars I respect a lot and who write about academic writing. The fourth (forgive the self-citation) comes from me
Waters’s phrase rang out as a rejection of that made manifest, delighting all of us who have been spoken over, ignored or had our time wasted by others.
In a year studded with absurd examples of men interrupting their female colleagues, a dignified woman’s firm insistence on being heard and getting straight to business was a welcome and empowering surprise
There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.
What is essential to understand is that it’s not a vast crowd of black or brown people keeping white Americans out of the colleges of their choice, especially not the working-class white Americans among whom Trump finds his base of support. In fact, income tips the scale much more than race: At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent
Miriam Bader shared the Tenement Museum’s method of “mapping” tours. For each room of their tours, their educators wrote the “big ideas” or “essential questions” that they wanted visitors to explore. Then they noted the objects, questions, oral history, primary sources, and facts that could support those big ideas.
Artist and data researcher Mimi Ohuoha, whose practice focuses on missing data, tells us that the very decision of what to collect or what not to collect is political. “For every dataset where there’s an impetus for someone not to collect”, she writes, “there’s a group of people who would benefit from its presence”.
They recognize that the “big companies that rule the Internet aren’t coming to dominate just because of a good idea and a charismatic founder; they grow out of supportive ecosystems, including investors, lawyers, sympathetic governments, and tech schools.” With that insight, the visions of Srnicek and the platform cooperativists converge: if, for instance, governments forced megafirms like Apple and Uber to pay a fair share of taxes, they would not have such huge advantages over upstarts.
When you’re stuck in a creative process, unfocus may also come to the rescue when you embody and live out an entirely different personality. In 2016, educational psychologists, Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar found that people who try to solve creative problems are more successful if they behave like an eccentric poet than a rigid librarian. Given a test in which they have to come up with as many uses as possible for any object (e.g. a brick) those who behave like eccentric poets have superior creative performance.
The person who wins the Nobel Prize is not the person who read the most journal articles and took the most notes on them. It’s the person who knew what to look for. And cultivating that capacity to seek what’s significant, always willing to question whether you’re on the right track — that’s what education is going to be about, whether it’s using computers and the Internet, or pencil and paper, or books.”
The purposes of higher education then gradually changed. In the mid-19th century, American universities followed German counterparts in focusing more on research and PhDs, and launching institutions like Johns Hopkins that were purely research-focused. By the early 20th century, most Protestant universities no longer had enforced chapel or Bible study. But many still tried to form the character of their students through compulsory courses in moral education or Great Books.
This fear of large concentrations of wealth and power came to fruition in America’s first Gilded Age at the end of the 19th century, and it has again today. It is the present-day oligarchy that led Sitaraman back to earlier egalitarian visions in search of an alternative path. While he gives us a large sweeping historical narrative, Sitaraman speaks unabashedly to the present moment. He believes his book’s argument—that America cannot be America without a strong middle class—is essential to understanding the world we live in today
While this is not great news, it’s not altogether surprising. Cultural organizations have what I’ll optimistically call a “millennial opportunity.” Simply, data suggest that millennials are the most frequent visitors to cultural organizations and also – in part because this generation is so large – the generational cohort that is not visiting at representative levels. Millennials are the ones to attract and the ones to keep happy. Millennials also have the most unrealized visitation potential.
It is difficult to see the political structure of data, because data maintains a veneer of scientistic objectivity. But data is inherently a form of politics, argues Jeffrey Alan Johnson. Data does not just allocate material things of value, it allocates moral values as well. Data producers encode a state of the world at a given time, which is then decoded by data users to shape social practice. As such, a political theory of data, grounded in distributive and relational information justice, is necessary.
Horatio Greenough’s 12-ton marble statue of George Washington heralds the newly reopened wing; originally commissioned by Congress in 1832 for the centennial of Washington’s birth, it generated criticism soon after its 1841 installation in the Capitol rotunda.
Greenough based his statue on a pose of Zeus, so the president is depicted shirtless. Washington’s nudity disturbed visitors enough to warrant several relocations
At the end of this project, we have found that the academic book/monograph is still greatly valued in the academy for many reasons: the ability to produce a sustained argument within a more capacious framework than permitted by the article format; the engagement of the reader at a deep level; its central place in career progression in the arts and humanities; and its reach beyond the academy (for some titles) into bookshops and the hands of a wider public. It seems that the future is likely to be a mixed economy of print, e-versions and networked-enhanced monographs of greater or lesser complexity.
The idea behind the conference was to consider ‘research stories’ as meaningful elements of our research, combining affective and critical histories. The inspiration lay with Antoinette Burton’s discussions of Archive Stories (Duke University Press, 2005), Arlette Farge’s reflection on the Allure of the Archives (Yale University Press, 2013), Lisa Jardine’s discussion of Temptation in the Archives (UCL Press, 2015), and Ann Laura Stoler’s call to read Along the Archival Grain (Princeton University Press, 2009).
Yet according to Henry Urbach, the closet as a “new spatial type,” a wall cavity adjacent to a proper room, did not emerge until around 1840 in the United States. The newly subservient closet obscured itself by receding into the wall, and it attempted to “disappear” the family’s stuff. Now householders could relish in consumption and enjoy their material possessions, while also moderating the objects’ display and maintaining a semblance of frugality and moral propriety. The “non-room” closet housed things (and gluttonous vices) “that threaten[ed] to soil the room” (and the family’s reputation).
In the work of his disciple—and focus of my research—the painter Paul Gauguin, when we shine an x-ray onto his seemingly spontaneous canvases, we see evidence of the handiwork beneath the surface that is in fact carefully pre-planned.
We needn’t possess x-ray vision to expose Trump’s anti-civil-rights campaign. We’ll simply treat Trump’s written and verbal texts as a dataset.
By the 1890s, most men were wearing either neckties or bow ties. For day wear, these ties could be solid or patterned. For evening wear, they were white.
Even more remarkable was that some viewers would turn to their families and friends and actually pose alongside or in front of the paintings, imitating the figures themselves. Although clearly intended for comedic purposes, this form of self-identification with these “Victorians in togas” made me realize that the audiences in fact did not see them as “Victorians” at all, but rather as themselves in costumed attire.
Here there is no passivity. Barron is the actor. He is in motion, walking, swinging, looking. He faces none of the restrictions that Melania places on herself. He stands behind no one, no barrier, no glass. Photographically, she composes a world for him that is much bigger than her own.
The London of the 1790s–the apex of the Enlightenment–is a history that is both far and near to 2017 America as it provides an analogue for resisting our own impending catastrophe. Inspired by new models of life developed in the biological sciences, 18th century Romantic artists like William Blake explored an alternative to the mechanistic, divisive Enlightenment principles that drove the oppressive legislation during the 1790s.
This is not the first ‘big data’ era but the second. The first was the explosion in data collection that occurred from the early 19th century – Hacking’s ‘avalanche of numbers’, precisely situated between 1820 and 1840. This was an analogue big data era, different to our current digital one but characterized by some very similar problems and concerns.
The paper assigned him to cover England, and for a decade, he published story after story “from” London, spellbinding his readers with “personal” accounts of dramatic events, like the devastating Tooley Street Fire of 1861.
But during the entire decade, he never actually crossed the English Channel.
The stunning thing — and the part that resonates today — is how Fontane pulled it off.
Because modern antisemitic ideology traffics in fantasies of invisible power, it thrives precisely when its target would seem to be least vulnerable. Thus, in places where Jews were most assimilated—France at the time of the Dreyfus affair, Germany before Hitler came to power—they have functioned as a magic bullet to account for unaccountable contradictions at moments of national crisis.
Evidence, as the title suggests, concerns itself with just one segment of the social research process: the hazardous business of turning observations of the world into claims about the world. The book’s position is that the responsible use of evidence is a permanent problem for social science, one that demands the constant attention of researchers; the end of developing good evidence can never be achieved purely by procedural or technical means, but requires that we “use the deficiencies in our own way of working as sources of ideas about how to improve.”
But Hoffman said the team also relied on the principle of harm articulated by John Stuart Mill, a 19th-century English political philosopher. It states “that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”