An article from Kottke.org contrasts two examples infrastructural politics: the famous case of Robert Moses’s bridge to limit who can access a New York beach, and the recent controversies on the Trump administration trying to dismantle the US postal servervice ahead of the November elections:

The situation here is reversed — e.g. “it’s very hard to rebuild a bridge once it’s torn down” — but the lesson is the same. If you take mailboxes off the streets and junk sorting machines, it’s difficult to put them back, particularly when everyone’s baseline shifts over the next few months and the decreased capacity and delays are normalized (and then exploited for political advantage). Destroying the United States Post Office would be far easier and cheaper than rebuilding it.

Theirtube is brilliant project from designer and developer Tomo Kihara where you can discover how Youtube filter bubbles look for different people:

Theirtube is a Youtube filter bubble simulator that provides a look into how videos are recommended on other people’s YouTube. Users can experience how the YouTube home page would look for six different personas. Each persona simulates the viewing environment of real Youtube users who experienced being inside a recommendation bubble through recreating a Youtube account with a similar viewing history. TheirTube shows how YouTube’s recommendations can drastically shape someone’s experience on the platform and, as a result, shape their worldview.

I find the way skateboarders use the urban landscape as their playground just fascinating. Elements in the city which we take for granted or see as useless suddenly can get a completely different meaning by skateboarders. In the following video from Vox gives from great examples of the history of some “legendary spots.”

Via Open Culture.

The following two articles give some valuable insights on the history of epidemiology and public health:

An article from Open Culture describes why “A Rare Smile Captured in a 19th Century Photograph” is peculiar in the history of photography:

For one thing, we are not used to seeing them in old photographs, especially ones from the 19th century. When photography was first invented, exposures could take 45 minutes. Having a portrait taken meant sitting stock still for a very long time, so smiling was right out. It was only near the end of the 19th century that shutter speeds improved, as did emulsions, meaning that spontaneous moments could be captured. Still, smiling was not part of many cultures. It could be seen as unseemly or undignified, and many people rarely sat for photos anyway. Photographs were seen by many people as a “passage to immortality” and seriousness was seen as less ephemeral.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a vast increase in conspiracy theories being spread. Tanya Basu at MIT Technology Review wrote an article titled How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind. The tips are based on insights from experts and r/ChangeMyView subreddit moderators.

  1. Always, always speak respectfully.
  2. Go private.
  3. Test the waters first.
  4. Agree.
  5. Try the “truth sandwich.”
  6. Or use the Socratic method.
  7. Be very careful with loved ones.
  8. Realize that some people don’t want to change, no matter the facts.
  9. If it gets bad, stop.
  10. Every little bit helps.

In an interview with Bruno Latour by Nikolaj Schultz, Bruno Latour discusses why critical zone scientists have a different epistemology compared to other scientists:

Epistemologically, they are far from the other sciences that I have been following for many years. And since they underline the discrepancies between their observations and the chemical reactions, it means that they are redescribing and rematerializing the question of territory, which we simultaneously try to redescribe and rematerialize in political and social theory. This is also where there is a link between Lovelock’s discovery, the political question of geosocial classes and critical zones.

Read the full interview here.

An article on Vox by Terry Nguyen explains a recent rise in the use of a slideshow feature on the photo sharing platform Instagram to distribute messages of social justice by activists.

The 10-image carousel, which Instagram launched in 2017, has been repurposed by activists, independent artists, advocacy groups, and well-meaning individuals as a means to educate and inform the masses, one slide at a time. Consider it something like PowerPoint activism. Over the past few months, these slides have migrated their way into my Explore page or been reposted on Stories of my friends and followers; in fact, these posts became so popular that I encountered similar designs and sentiments across multiple Stories. The most striking graphics stood out in my feeds, almost like an advertisement.

The article further details how creators are “co-opting popular design aesthetics from brands” in order to draw attention to their slideshows.

Hu, who previously worked as the global design director for Nike Sportswear, had spent two weeks in June collaborating with two other artists to piece together copy, art, and design for a carousel on police abolition (he purposefully included a clear indication to swipe left on the first graphic). The artists sought to subvert Instagram’s algorithmic tendency to prioritize photographs by merging images of flowers and nature with informative text.

Read the full article here.

Living in the Netherlands now for over two years I cannot begin to explain how amazing the cycling infrastructure is. It’s in the little things such as the traffic lights, as explained in the following video:

Three new videos from Vox give a good synopisis of some of the events playing in the world right now:

Each video is about a very different, yet at the same time these three phenomena are linked by common themes. Which lives matter? Who decides? And who decides who decides?

From an article The New York Times titled “Big Tech’s Domination of Business Reaches New Heights”:

The tech companies’ dominance of the stock market is propelled by their unprecedented reach into our lives, shaping how we work, communicate, shop and relax. That has only deepened during the pandemic, and as people shop more frequently on Amazon, click on a Google or Facebook ad or pay up for an iPhone, the companies receive a greater share of spending in the economy and earn ever larger profits. This is why investors have flocked to those stocks this year at the expense of the scores of companies struggling in the health crisis, and are betting that their position will be unassailable for years.

The Markup reports on some internal documents of Google they have obtained that help train employees to not use certain words which could trigger regulators:

As Google faces at least four major antitrust investigations on two continents, internal documents obtained by The Markup show its parent company, Alphabet, has been preparing for this moment for years, telling employees across the massive enterprise that certain language is off limits in all written communications, no matter how casual. (…) The taboo words include “market,” “barriers to entry,” and “network effects,” which is when products such as social networks become more valuable as more people use them.