Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Sunday, June 19, 2016
The terrorist who carried out America's worst ever shooting in Orlando will fail, just as a neo-Nazi terrorist did 17 years ago in London when he detonated a nail bomb outside the Admiral Duncan pub. The LGBT community will mourn, will cry and will rage, but ultimately we will win and the love of LGBT people all over this planet will burn even brighter because of what he did.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
By CURTIS M WONG, The Huffington Post
A stunning yet Vatican-condemned photo series featuring same-sex couples in passionate embraces inside Roman Catholic churches will get a new life in New York.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art will display Rome-based artist Gonzalo Orquín’s “Sí, quiero” photographs in its Wooster Street Window Gallery. In 2013, Orquín (Seville, 1982) had planned to include the photographs in an exhibition titled “Trialogo,” which was scheduled to open at Rome’s Galleria L’Opera.
The photos made international headlines when Vatican reportedly shot down Orquín’s plan, and sent the gallery a notice threatening legal action. Nonetheless, the colorful shots are a natural fit for Leslie-Lohman, according to Museum Director Hunter O’Hanian.
“We selected this work because it was so simple and beautiful,” O’Hanian wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “These images tell a straightforward story in a very direct way about how people can share their affection for each other and for their religion.”
Noting that the photos “transcend any particular religion, sexual orientation or point of view,” O’Hanian said he felt the images tied into the museum’s mission to exhibit work “which might otherwise be denied access through mainstream venues.”
Take a look at a selection of Orquín’s stunning photos below:
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Thursday, June 09, 2016
We Never Talk Anymore: The Problem with Text Messaging
Texting is replacing the phone call as our preferred means of mobile conversation. But just because it's easier, faster and makes us less uncomfortable doesn't mean we should do it.
Americans ages 18-29 send and receive an average of nearly 88 text messages per day, compared to 17 phone calls. The numbers change as we get older, with the overall frequency of all communication declining, but even in the 65 and over group, daily texting still edges calling 4.7 to 3.8. In the TIME mobility poll, 32% of all respondents said they’d rather communicate by text than phone, even with people they know very well. This is truer still in the workplace, where communication is between colleagues who are often not friends at all. “No more trying to find time to call and chit-chat,” is how one poll respondent described the business appeal of texting over talking.
The problem, of course, is what’s lost when that chit-chat goes. Developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting worry especially about young people, not just because kids are such promiscuous users of the technology, but because their interpersonal skills — such as they are — have not yet fully formed. Most adults were fixed social quantities when they first got their hands on a text-capable mobile device, and while their ability to have a face-to-face conversation may have eroded in recent years, it’s pretty well locked in. Not so with teens. As TIME has reported previously, MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is one of the leading researchers looking into the effects of texting on interpersonal development. Turkle believes that having a conversation with another person teaches kids to, in effect, have a conversation with themselves — to think and reason and self-reflect. “That particular skill is a bedrock of development,” she told me.
Turkle cites the texted apology — or what she calls “saying ‘I’m sorry’ and hitting send” — as a vivid example of what’s lost when we type instead of speak. “A full-scale apology means I know I’ve hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes,” she says. “You get to see that I’m uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. There are many steps and they’re all bypassed when we text.” When the apology takes place over the phone rather than in person, the visual cues are lost, of course, but the voice — and the sense of hurt and contrition it can convey — is preserved.
Part of the appeal of texting in these situations is that it’s less painful — but the pain is the point. “The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged,” Turkle says. “Those things are what lead to better relationships.”
Habitual texters may not only cheat their existing relationships, they can also limit their ability to form future ones since they don’t get to practice the art of interpreting nonverbal visual cues. There’s a reason it’s so easy to lie to small kids (“Santa really, truly did bring those presents”) and that’s because they’re functional illiterates when it comes to reading inflection and facial expressions. As with real reading, the ability to comprehend subtlety and complexity comes only with time and a lot of experience. If you don’t adequately acquire those skills, moving out into the real world of real people can actually become quite scary. “I talk to kids and they describe their fear of conversation,” says Turkle. “An 18-year-old I interviewed recently said, ‘Someday, but certainly not now, I want to learn to have a conversation.'”
Adults are much less likely to be so conversation-phobic, but they do become conversation-avoidant — mostly because it’s easier. Texting an obligatory birthday greeting means you don’t have to fake an enthusiasm you’re not really feeling. Texting a friend to see what time a party starts means you don’t also have to ask “How are you?” and, worse, get an answer.
The text message is clearly here to stay and even the most zealous phone partisans don’t recommend avoiding it entirely. But mix it up some — maybe even throw in a little Skyping or Facetime so that when you finally do make a call you’re actually seeing and interacting with another person. Too much texting, Turkle warns, amounts to a life of “hiding in plain sight.”
And the thing about hiding is, it keeps you entirely alone.
Thursday, June 02, 2016
Andrew Keen’s pleasingly incisive study argues that, far from being a democratising force in society, the internet has only amplified global inequities
By JOHN NAUGHTON
Sunday 1 February 2015
The internet that we use today was switched on in January 1983, and for its first 10 years was almost exclusively the preserve of academic researchers, which meant that cyberspace evolved as a parallel, utopian universe in which the norms of “meatspace” (John Perry Barlow’s term for the real, physical world) did not apply. In fact, for most of the first two decades, the real world remained blissfully unaware of the existence of the virtual one.
And then Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, and in 1993 Marc Andreessen released Mosaic, the first graphical browser, and suddenly the real world realised what the internet was and, more importantly, what it could do. What happened next was, with hindsight, predictable, though relatively few people spotted it at the time. It was later summed up by John Doerr, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, as “the greatest legal accumulation of wealth in history”. More succinctly you could say that what happened was that Wall Street moved west.
Andrew Keen – like many who were involved in the net in the early days – started out as an internet evangelist. In the 1990s he founded a startup in the Bay Area and drank the Kool-Aid that fuelled the first internet bubble. But he saw the light before many of us, and rapidly established himself as one of the net’s early contrarians. His first book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, was a lacerating critique of the obsession with user-generated content which characterised the early days of web 2.0, and whenever conference organisers wanted to ensure a bloody good row, Andrew Keen was the man they invited to give the keynote address.
If his new book is anything to go by, Keen has lost none of his edge, but he’s expanded the scope and depth of his critique. He wants to persuade us to transcend our childlike fascination with the baubles of cyberspace so that we can take a long hard look at the weird, dysfunctional, inegalitarian, comprehensively surveilled world that we have been building with digital tools. In that sense, The Internet Is Not the Answer joins a number of recent books by critics such as Jaron Lanier, Doc Searls, Astra Taylor, Ethan Zuckerman and Nicholas Carr, who are also trying to wake us from the nightmare into which we have been sleepwalking.
Like these other critics, Keen challenges the dominant narrative about the internet – that it’s a technology that liberates, informs and empowers people. The problem with this narrative, he points out, is not that it’s wrong – the network does indeed have the potential to do all of these marvellous things, and much more besides. The problem is that it’s not the whole story, and perhaps it will turn out to be the least important part of it.
The more important truth about the internet, Keen thinks, is that it has evolved into a global machine for creating a world characterised by vast and growing inequality. “The error that evangelists make,” he writes, “is to assume that the internet’s open, decentralised technology naturally translates into a less hierarchical or unequal society. But rather than more openness and the destruction of hierarchies, an unregulated network society is breaking the old centre, compounding economic and cultural inequality, and creating a digital generation of masters of the universe. This new power may be rooted in a borderless network, but it still translates into massive wealth and power for a tiny handful of companies and individuals.”
Another chorus of the dominant narrative is the unavoidability of what Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction”, which is another word for the collateral damage inflicted by Silicon Valley’s most revered process: disruption. Many critics just burble on about this, but Keen had the inspired idea of going to see what technology-wrought destruction is really like, up close. He goes to Rochester, New York, the city that was once the company town of Eastman Kodak, the analogue giant that was destroyed by digital technology. Kodak once employed 145,000 people worldwide. What Keen finds in Rochester is not only a Detroit-style ghost town, but also 55,000 former employees whose pensions have vanished in a puff of bankruptcy.
In the decades to come, we can expect many more Rochesters. In the pre-digital age, industrial development produced disruption, but also jobs. In contrast, the new giants of the digital revolution are a neoliberal’s wet dream, producing fabulous wealth for the owners of capital while employing very few ordinary mortals – except perhaps for those working in the concierge economy as serfs catering to the whims of elites that are cash-rich but time-poor.
Far from being the “answer” to society’s problems, Keen argues, the internet is at the root of many of them. As a result, it poses an existential question for democracies everywhere: can elected governments control the waves of creative destruction now sweeping through our societies as the digital revolution gathers momentum? Mr Keen doesn’t have an answer to this question. But then – as an inspection of our current election campaign confirms – neither do we.