…it’s a pity that Apple has chosen to re-enter the education market with a pitch about Reinventing the Textbook that, frankly, sounds pretty old hat. The reason, I suppose, is that there’s potentially a lot of money to be made selling the things to schools as replacements for the books.
Tim O'Reilly: Before Solving a Problem, Make Sure You've Got the Right Problem
I was pleased to see the measured tone of the White House response to the citizen petition about SOPA and PIPA, and yet I found myself profoundly disturbed by something that seems to me to go to the root of the problem in Washington: the failure to correctly diagnose the problem we are trying to solve, but instead to accept, seemingly uncritically, the claims of various interest groups.
Sarah Lai Stirland: Expert Labs: Putting The 'Public' Into Public Policy Wasn't Easy (TechPresident)
Two years and several reports later, we thought we’d try to look at how Expert Labs fared. The premise behind the project was that the federal government could and should engage in conversations with people on their existing social networks. The idea was to use existing commercial social networks to crowdsource policy decisions and to synthesize the responses in an intelligent manner.
Ben Brooks: Readability and Collection of Money for Others
Readability has no right collecting money in my name without my consent. Now, realistically, I have given Readability consent by signing up — but what about other publishers that have not only not signed up, but have actively chosen to not sign up? Is it still OK for Readability to be collecting money in their name? I think not. But how do you solve this problem? I don’t know, but it is a very real problem.
Leslie T. Chang: Do Chinese Factory Workers Dream of iPads? (The New Yorker)
The simple narrative equating American demand and Chinese suffering is appealing, especially at a time when many Americans feel guilty about their impact on the world. It’s also inaccurate and disrespectful. We must be peculiarly self-obsessed to imagine we have the power to drive tens of millions of people on the other side of the world to migrate and suffer in terrible ways. China produces goods for markets all over the world, including for its own consumers, thanks to low costs, a large and educated workforce, and a flexible manufacturing system that responds rapidly to market demands. To imagine that we have willed this universe into being is simply solipsistic. It is also demeaning to the workers. We are not at the center of this story—we are minor players in theirs. By focussing on ourselves and our gadgets, we have reduced the human beings at the other end to invisibility, as tiny and interchangeable as the parts of a mobile phone.
Brandon Soderberg: Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz’ ‘Beez in the Trap’ (SPIN)
Nicki employs street hardness as a signifier of how great she is at rapping, not as an attempt to actually convince anybody that she's "hood" or any of that authenticity nonsense. She's successfully occupying the trap, ground zero for hardness, and calling its inhabitants "bitches," all to prove that she is the consummate rhyming bad-ass.
Having heard ‘Erica Western Teleport’, Justin looks into his other favorite songs that have that song’s ‘simple IV-V-I progression’. A good bit of pop notes and theory that I need to look into further.
Dave Klein: Interview with Paul Irish, HTML5 expert and community leader (Inspire Magazine)
It's almost impossible to approach MDNA without some degree of cynicism, but it's equally difficult to imagine anyone being more cynical about this music than Madonna herself. Unlike previous late-period records in which she had the luxury to indulge in creative tangents and not get too hung up on scoring several hits, MDNA is a record that comes with major commercial expectations. The "this has to work" factor is high, and it's hard to shake the impression that she has some measure of contempt for the contemporary pop audience.
Brent DiCrescenzo: Madonna — MDNA (Time Out Chicago)
It didn’t have to be this bad. She didn’t even need to dig that deep on the iTunes “Electronic” page to find a producer to craft intriguing electro. Instead of Solveig, she could have emailed SBTRKT. Or Anthonly Gonzalez. Or Scuba. Anyone else. She’s clearly learning about dance music from television ads, not nights out.
The prison-industrial complex is huge and filled with criminal injustice. It is a blight on America and needs to be destroyed.
Abolishing prisons and releasing all the prisoners would amount to a deregulation of criminal punishment. It would mean letting the private sector determine how best to prevent ourselves from getting robbed. In high finance, the laissez-faire approach has proved to be a disaster; for petty crime, it would be a boon.
Blair L.M. Kelley: A NEW STRANGE FRUIT: Martin's Murder Takes Us Back (EBONY)
When I teach about the history of the segregated South, sometimes my students remark that things are just as bad now as they were then, that conditions for Black Americans are still as bleak for too many. Often my response is that if someone were to hang me or them by that tree in front of the building, someone would come. The law would investigate. Our citizenship would matter in at least that crucial way. This month is challenging that assumption. When Trayvon Martin was murdered for looking "suspicious", killed without any pretense of a trial, the police failed to come.
Alyssa Rosenberg: In the Wake of Trayvon Martin's Death, Fox Pulls Its Marketing for Alien Invasion Comedy 'Neighborhood Watch' (ThinkProgress)
it’s worth interrogating why we find images of over-the-top approaches to law enforcement funny or compelling
A combination of anger as pathos (vicarious justice rendered), hero worship, and making light of authority?
There is a tendency among music critics to create sub-stories with records and impose narratives. We might identify with a hardcore punk group this year because we are a restless generation, or with a work of hyperactive pop because the internet has made us incapable of concentrating, and so on. But sometimes we take a record for what it is: a resistant piece of art, existing as a singular entity. In a world that is newly full of "content" at every turn, it can be refreshing to find an uncompromising record that exists so honestly on its own.
Nitsuh Abebe: Why We Fight: Your Chemical Romance (Pitchfork)
People born during a dip in the birth rate grow up consuming a lot of culture that's aimed at someone older than them. People born during a boom do not do cultural apprenticeship, because everything is quickly aimed at them; they watch the things that appeal to their age group bloom and succeed, whether anyone else is interested in it or not. This is why some Americans have spent decades clutching their heads as the Baby Boom generation makes big chunks of our world revolve around itself: Large cohorts have a large gravitational pull.
I’ve spent the morning listening to Skrillex’s three EPs, and they’re fun, but they’re not really any indication of what this guy does. Maybe he’ll make a great record some day, and his tracks certainly bring the hooks, and sometimes they sound the way people wish that last Justice album sounded. But at this point, listening to Skrillex at home is almost like listening to Gwar at home. The live experience is the thing.