Newsletter 940

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

Was Mancur Olson Wrong?

Jonathan Rauch | American | 15 February 2013

Olson argued that narrow interest groups would eventually capture the policy process in a democracy, because they had strong motivations to pursue their specific goals, whereas the public at large had at best a very diffuse interest in resisting them. Is that still true, now that social media enables diffuse groups to mobilise effectively?

The End Of The Web, Search, And Computer As We Know It

David Gerlernter | Wired | 1 February 2013

I come a bit late to this, for which my apologies, but it's a big idea that is not going to date in a hurry. The world wide web functions as a stock of data, a spatial construct. The next web will function as a flow of data, organised chronologically. "All the information on the internet will soon be a time-based structure"

We Aren't The World

Ethan Watters | Pacific Standard | 26 February 2013

To study American habits and to generalise from those to the world at large, as American social scientists have traditionally done, is "the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds". Americans are outliers. They are "Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic". Or, WEIRD

What I Learned On The Island of Pohnpei

Jonathan Gourlay | Bygone Bureau | 26 February 2013

Notes from eleven years' life on a Micronesian island. "It is easier to be a single parent on Pohnpei than it is in America. When you live with an extended family as big as a village, there is always daycare. Your kid may be with a troop of other mostly naked children in the jungle, but she is safe. Just remember to de-worm her regularly"

Will Programmers Rule?

Raghuram Rajan | Project Syndicate | 26 February 2013

Software is taking over the world, says Marc Andreessen. What does that imply for income distribution? Probably more inequality. Software is a winner-take-all world. "Those who are creative and competent enough to write that slightly better search engine will capture the global market". Equality of opportunity won't produce more equal outcomes

The Plague Years, In Film And Memory

Garance Franke-Ruta | Atlantic | 24 February 2013

Recollections of Aids activist, early member of ACT UP: "It was group of despised, gorgeous, terrified and terribly, terribly young people who looked death and society in the face and said no, we will not go quietly into that good night. it taught me that the world is full of exceptions and you just have to decide you are going to be one of them"

Video of the day: What The Security Camera Saw

Thought for the day:

"What if Andy Warhol was wrong and everybody will actually only be anonymous for 15 minutes?" — Juan Enriquez

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