Mara Robinson: Wax and Wane: The Tough Realities Behind Vinyl's Comeback (Pitchfork)
More and more people are buying vinyl; sales hit a record 6.1 million units in the U.S. last year. But as demand increases, the number of American pressing plants remains relatively fixed. No one is building new presses because, by all accounts, it would be prohibitively expensive. So the industry is limited to the dozen or so plants currently operating in the States.
In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014.
Nate Patrin: The Strange World of Library Music (Pitchfork)
The dusty field of library music—background tracks owned by labels and lent out to TV, radio, and film projects—has proven to be an endless sample source for hip-hop producers as well as inspiration for avant-garde experimentalists.
Mathias Bynens: 3.14 Things I Didn’t Know About CSS
From the CSS Day Conference.
This talk will showcase a series of obscure CSS fun facts, such as CSS syntax gimmicks and quirks, weird tricks that involve CSS in one way or another, and security vulnerabilities that are enabled by (ab)using CSS in unexpected ways.
Lindsay Zoladz revisits Justin Timberlake's thoughtless co-opting of Take Back the Night, explaining why, in the often-acontextual and increasingly powerful realm of the internet, these sorts of confusions can take on a treacherous new life.
Amy Westervelt: Content Used to Be King. Now It’s the Joker.
Maybe we can even get back to a place where media outlets run fewer, better stories, written by journalists who are paid fairly, edited by staff who aren’t being asked to edit an insane amount of copy every day, and read by people who appreciate quality over quantity and are pretty tired of the endless content cycle themselves.
Mark Richardson: Led Zeppelin / Led Zeppelin II / Led Zeppelin III (Pitchfork)
There is no arguing with a riff. It’s a conversation-ender, something resistant to analysis that strips away the intellectual to situate the music in a purely physical space. Of the 100 greatest guitar riffs in the history of rock music, Jimmy Page might have written 20, and a good number of those can be found on Led Zeppelin’s second album from 1969.
In a culture that expects women to be happy, shiny objects, sadness can become its own form of defiance. Lindsay Zoladz details the perfectly gloomy online teen-girl aesthetic, typified by the all-encompassing sorrow of Lana Del Rey.
Perhaps what is going on is a kind of power that has less to do with owning the means of production thereby controlling the value cycle, as in capitalism. Perhaps it is more about owning the means of mediation, thereby controlling the means of production and hence the value cycle. The actual production can be outsourced, and manufacturing firms will have to compete for the privilege of making products with someone else’s intellectual property embedded in it, and sold under some else’s brand.
If you want to call yourself a data journalist, there is one shortcut you can never take: you must validate your data. Even the cleanest looking data might contain flaws and omissions stemming from its methodology. It’s not enough to run checks on the data itself. You must also lift your nose out of the database, ask the serious questions about how the data was collected and even use the well-honed tools of a traditional reporter to call experts when—never an if—you find questions about the data.
It’s tempting to speculate on how the record would have been received at the time and why it might have been shelved. James was moving fast in those days, so it’s possible that this album felt too much like where he’d been before, especially given the new ground he was breaking with SAW II. By the following year’s I Care Because You Do his sound was again changing rapidly, and the rest of the decade saw him attaining the status of a serious composer. Given all that, Caustic Window LP probably wouldn’t have left a significant mark, and would have been heard as second-tier James. Twenty years later, though, we’re hearing it with that aura, that extra bit of longing that comes from how scarce music from James has become. And in that light, second tier is still very good indeed.
Laura Hudson: Curbing Online Abuse Isn’t Impossible. Here’s Where We Start (Wired)
Think about how social networks might improve if—as on the gaming sites and in real life—users had more power to reject abusive behavior. Of course, different online spaces will require different solutions, but the outlines are roughly the same: Involve users in the moderation process, set defaults that create hurdles to abuse, give clearer feedback for people who misbehave, and—above all—create a norm in which harassment simply isn’t tolerated.
John Twells: A Beginner’s Guide to Angelo Badalamenti (FACT Magazine)
Whether it was Moby’s sampling of Badalamenti’s unfathomably influential ‘Twin Peaks Theme’, James crooner Tim Booth’s desire to collaborate (the two ended up releasing full-length Booth and the Bad Angel), or German band Bohren & Der Club of Gore’s relentless fetishism, the unmistakable blend of wavering strings and sluggish, pitch-black jazz has made an indelible mark on contemporary music.
Divya Manian: We Can Finally Talk About Sexism in Tech–So Let’s Be Honest (TIME)
Ultimately, Spiegel’s emails reveal more about the tech culture that embraces such behavior. These emails are not revelations from a silly incident 20 years ago but rather happened a mere five years ago, when Snapchat was being created. It reveals how Silicon Valley’s fascination with self-obsessed youth has led us down a treacherous path that is unsafe for women and people of color. There’s an urgent need to provide safe spaces for women and people of color online. On the whole, I’m witnessing consistent conversation about discrimination and diversity. My hope is that these conversations lead to significant changes in team culture, demographics and how VCs choose to fund startups.
Unless we collectively choose to pay for a safety net, technology alone isn’t going to make it happen. Though technological progress has sped up over recent decades of capitalist expansion, most people on the planet are in need of a safety net today. The market hasn’t been there to catch them. Why is this different in Awesome Robot Future? Did I miss one of Asimov’s Laws that says androids are always programmed to be more socially-minded than neoliberals?
Meanwhile, we don’t need to wait until a hypercapitalist techno-utopia emerges to do right by our struggling neighbors. We could make the choice to pay for universal health care, higher education, and a basic income tomorrow. Instead, you’re kicking the can down the road and hoping the can will turn into a robot with a market solution.
Christopher Michael-Martinez’s Father Gets It Right
Christopher died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A. That’s true. That the killer in question was in the grip of a mad, woman-hating ideology, or that he was also capable of stabbing someone to death with a knife, are peripheral issues to the central one of a gun culture that has struck the Martinez family and ruined their lives.
Garann Means: June 16, 2014 (The Pastry Box Project)
We need more engineers and more productive engineers. We don’t need to send people on quests through the dark woods of our issue tracker to have them prove their worth. We need to get them running the project locally, finding tasks to do, and fixing issues as quickly as we can. We know lots and lots at this point about how to do good engineering: intelligent, predictive, and, ultimately, easy for the end user. At some point we’re going to have to drop the fantasy that putting up with bad engineering is evidence of a good engineer.