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Blogging is dead! Long live blogging! As Dave Winer writes, “A good blog exists independently of people reading it. Even if no one read my blog, I’d still write it.”

Rather than see the end of blogging signaled by Andrew Sullivan’s retirement, I’d rather see the end of “Hot Takes.” There were a lot of Garbage Hot Takes and at least one Garbage Hot Take Poem this week, to which I will not bother to link or even “supertweet.”

I don’t want to discourage folks from writing. “Start Your Own B(r)and!” Just please write smart things like: Jeet Heer on The New Republic’s racist past; Sarah Jaffe on “the subversive brilliance of Marshawn Lynch”; Andy Baio on the importance of the Internet Archive; Robin James on big data as astrology; Dana Goldstein on using pepper-spray and tear gas on students; Alec Macgillis on Jeb Bush’s “educational experiment”; and Quinn Norton on infosec journalism, for example.

February 28, 1967: “The Day the Purpose of College Changed” when then California Governor Ronald Reagan dismissed universities as “intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without.” Today, education continues to be redefined, with a focus on skills and jobs rather than inquiry or curiosity.

And the technology industry and its army of VCs keep trying to play a larger role in that, all while rewriting and erasing the history of previous accomplishments and alternatives. According to Evgeny Morozov:

…These Internet debates tend to operate with a kind of amnesia, narrating everything in a kind of abstracted history of technology.

There’s a story to be told even about Google’s main ranking algorithm, which actually comes out of decades of work on information science and indexing. The mechanism that Google uses to determine which items are relevant or not—by looking at who links to what, citation patterns etc—was developed in relation to the indexing of academic literature; it’s not their own invention. But you would never guess that without knowing something about developments in information science. Likewise, people looking at these ‘massive open online courses’ today don’t generally know that in the fifties and sixties people like B. F. Skinner were promoting what he called ‘teaching machines’ that would dispense with an instructor. There’s a continuous tradition of trying to automate education. The fact that a bunch of start-ups have now moved into the area does not erase those earlier developments. Now that ‘the Internet’ is spreading into everything—education, healthcare (with the ‘quantified self’), and all the rest—we’re in danger of ending up with a kind of idiot history, in which everything starts in Silicon Valley, and there are no other forces or causes.

According to Wired, “Silicon Valley Has Lost Its Way. Can Skateboarding Legend Rodney Mullen Help It?

See also: A documentary about Grace Hopper. Anita Sarkeesian’s collection of “One Week of Harassment on Twitter.” And the “19 Ways Feminists Are Going to Ruin Ghostbusters.”

Yours in struggle,

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Audrey Watters



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