Germany, Orlando Figes, Lesbos, Social Media, Bitcoin

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Explaining The Christian Democrats

Jean-Michel Hauteville | Handelsblatt | 15th September 2017

A short history of Germany’s dominant post-war political party, the Christian Democrats, which has thrived by having no particular ideology beyond a bland centrism, and which may now have run out of road under Angela Merkel for exactly that reason. “Since its founding just after the Second World War. It has always stood less for any particular worldview and more for a general promise of stability, competence, and assurance, from which it derived a claim to field the chancellor” (1,200 words)

The Legacies Of 1917

Daniel Gascón | Eurozine | 9th November 2017

Highly perceptive conversation with historian Orlando Figes about the practicalities and the legacy of the Russian revolution. “Revolutionaries are always looking back to the example of other revolutions. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were looking at the Jacobins, at 1848 and, above all, at the Paris Commune. Revolution is, by its nature, an improvisation, so they were desperately looking for examples from previous revolutions of what will happen, what it is to be a revolutionary” (2,240 words)

The Refugee Scandal On Lesbos

Giorgos Christides & Katrin Kuntz | Spiegel | 24th November 2017

“Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. Inside, you see containers meant for six people packed with 14, overflowing toilets and garbage bins that nobody empties with mothers changing their babies’ diapers right next to them” (2,400 words)

The End Of the Social Era

Nick Bilton | Hive | 23rd November 2017

Calling the turn against social media. Even the people who built Facebook now hate it. “It’s true that we’ve heard this all before—that people are abandoning social media, that the platforms are doomed. The New York Times has written variations on that story so many times over, it could have been a standing column in the business section of the paper. But I do believe that this time is different, the beginning of a massive shift, and I believe it’s the fault of these social networks” (1,320 words)

Cryptocurrencies And Blockchains

Jean-Paul Delahaye | Inference | 31st December 2016

Useful, comprehensive, dispassionate, supportive, and not overly technical explainer of bitcoin, written by a mathematician before the past year’s tenfold spike in value. “Nothing in the bitcoin protocol suggests an inevitable collapse, as is always the case for Ponzi schemes. Bitcoins are, for all intents and purposes, every bit as real and solid as gold bullion, or the bank notes in one’s pocket. Cryptography has succeeded in creating unfalsifiable virtual objects” (4,050 words)

Video of the day Fall Skies Of Las Palmas

What to expect:

By Adrien Mauduit. Gorgeous scenes of night skies shot at an altitude of 2400 metres from the rim of a volcano in Tenerife (4’50”)

Thought for the day

The greatest scientific discovery was the discovery of ignorance
Yuval Noah Harari

Podcast of the day Artificial Intelligence | Guardian Books

Physicist Max Tegmark and science-fiction writer Ken MacLeod discuss how artificial intelligence will change our lives

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