The history of Twitter, as it’s been told so far, doesn’t offer a moment where various youngish men rise up from their desks and run naked through San Francisco yelling “Eureka!” It was created, like most things, in meetings. Somewhere in those meetings, Twitter uncovered a latent aspect of human life that had never before been so clearly articulated and turned it into a product that has altered, to various degrees, hundreds of millions of lives. That much of what is tweeted is trivial or silly is an obvious truth—but that’s not Twitter’s fault. That’s on us.
In Heart of Darkness, the protagonist, Charles Marlow, is driven by his desire to visit the few remaining blank spaces on the map. That is, more or less, how many of us plan our vacations today. Of course, the rivers and valleys and borders were long ago mapped; our blank spaces are the few remaining holes in the global communications network. We go where it’s impossible to connect, no matter what. But quite soon those gaps will all be filled. Before much longer, the entire planet will be smothered in signal, and we won’t be able to find places that are off the grid.
I wrote this thing about getting away from the Internet while I was away from the Internet. Happy to finally be able to post it to the Internet.
Perhaps the worst of the batch, “Perfect Day” is a soft lilter about spending a wonderful day drinking Sangria in the park with his girlfriend, about how it made him feel so normal, so good.
He should forget this artsyfartsy kind of homo stuff and just go in there with a bad hangover and start blaring out his visions of lunar assfuck. That’d be really nice.
New people eventually will learn how to live. When they learn how to live, I would love to meet them
AMY GOODMAN: What are you facing? When you say “the lesser of two evils,” what was the other choice?
LADAR LEVISON: Unfortunately, I can’t talk about that. I would like to, believe me. I think if the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore, which is why I’m here in D.C. today speaking to you.
So let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence. We hope it marks a beginning, because we know it marks an end.
Michele Catalano is my friend. So take that as you will, before you read this.
Yesterday morning, she published a story on the Internet that caused a media ruckus. It had implications about the government spying on Americans. By yesterday afternoon, she was being pilloried as a liar, or at least a provocateur.
I believed Michele was telling the truth to the best of her knowledge from the get go—because she’s a friend. An Internet friend, sure, but a friend whom I know well enough to know wasn’t Making Shit Up. She lives online, and uses the medium to express herself. I would wager that many of us today find the distinction between Internet friends and real friends increasingly if not completely meaningless. And so, she often goes online and talks to her friends (or: “friends”) about her moods, her kids, her jobs and, sometimes, things that have upset her. Things like six cops who identified themselves as part of a joint terrorism task force coming into her home.
And so, here’s the thing: it turned out that she got a key assumption wrong. Yes, they were there to ask about search history, but that questioning was triggered by an employer, not government monitoring. She accurately portrayed her perception, but she didn’t know a key detail, and it turned out to be one that would have avoided a subsequent frenzy.
There was this sin too: she wouldn’t answer questions from the media. She took a lot of heat for dropping a bombshell and then walking away. (She didn’t, completely. I was in touch with her via DM on and off all day yesterday. But still, she didn’t talk to the press in an official capacity.) The media doesn’t like to be ignored. Especially when its by one of their own, which Michele, more or less at least, is.
And so the media was left simultaneously arguing that her husband (not a writer; not a reporter) should have been more aggressive with the police (gotten badge numbers, refused to answer questions or allowed a search of the home) while also making the case that she should be more supple with the press (return our emails, answer our phone calls).
Don’t talk to the cops; do talk to us.
Michele is a loudmouth. And rude. And sarcastic. And as I began turning this over in my head yesterday, I made an assumption too. I assumed she had—over her many years online—perhaps said something obnoxious or sarcastic or both that landed her on Some Sort of List. That was wrong. But what is true is that it is in character for her to say fuck it and walk away from a big mess of people questioning her story and motives with her middle finger in the air. She was under no obligation to talk to the press, no matter how much we wanted her too.
—And to be clear, I attempted to get her to talk to Wired on the record.—
Two days ago, most people had never heard of Michele Catalano. And then yesterday, she was all over the news, being used a convenient prop for our existing prejudices—be they about the police state, hysteria about the police state, or fucking blogging platforms. She made the mistake of writing about something that traumatized her, with an attempt at levity, that wasn’t thoroughly and completely documented and then refusing to answer questions about it from a story-hungry media beast. She made the mistake of failing to anticipate how her story would be received. So maybe she deserves to be pilloried for that.
Maybe she of all people should have understood what the media is, and how it operates, feeding on itself and its sources and shitting out traffic and truth.
But she didn’t. And so, now we get to call her a liar, or at least a provocateur.
And you may think of her as a liar, or at least a provocateur. Or you may think of her as someone who reached out to other human beings to share a troubling story she didn’t fully understand.
Either way, Michele Catalano is still my friend.
I’ve thought about it a lot and these are the best things that have ever been on the Web in order and this list is objective not subjective so fuck you.
1. The Britt and Tiff posts to Craigslist Missed connections in 2001.
(And if you have any idea what I’m talking about without googling the internet archive you are a Master Mason and I will love you unconditionally regardless of anything else, yum-yum.) And look, okay, these aren’t in and of themselves that funny. I know. Reading them now you’re like, wut? But you have to look at them in their place and time. Craig and his list used to just be a local san franciscoy/ay area thing. Local people went to CL missed connections for the same reasons people read them in alt weeklies: they were desperately bad. But unlike your local Wednesday streetcarpet, CL offered the chance to reply troll. And so people did. But Britt and Tiff took that next level, and instead of just snarkily replying to people (the norm) started using CL for narratives. And more to the point, she/they/he/whoever just used the board to post whatever they wanted. Craigslist was whatever they wanted it to be. If you ever read the best of craigslist, it was because of the pioneering work of Britt and Tiff. Or maybe I’m overstating things. Because in fairness, it was really dumb. So anyway, eat shit if you don’t like Britt and Tiff.
3. Mahir. But only the very first original xoom.com site, or whatever was before that, before he had his own domain or email address or any of that other mersh bullshit.
4. That Autotune the News with Joe Biden where he sings you’ve got to believe.
5. Mike Monteiro’s twitter from 2008-2011
6. All Your Base
7. There was probably something on 4chan I missed. Fuck it. Let’s just say 4chan.
8. The Ben Brown video about how Metafilter makes you smarter and more angry
9. Suck.com, Feed Magazine, and The Finger, which were all actually the same thing but they didn’t realize it which is why they’re gone. (And shut up, just shut up, about Plastic.)
Paul Ford Choire Sicha
11. The XKCD about someone being wrong on the Internet
12. The entire trapped in a closet series
14. The ipad
15. Ready Steadman Go
16. The Internet vs. research paper cartoon
17. Brunching Shuttlecocks
18. keyboard cat
19. That long post Kanye wrote that time he rage quit the Internet
20. That time Gizmodo turned off all the TVs at CES.
21. Some fat kid
22. We’re all fat kids
UPDATED: I almost forgot. 23. BArack Obame is your new Bicycle. (eat me)
OOOOOOOOOPS: I left off number 25, Anil Dash’s Prince obsession (please stop cyber bullying me)
stop hiding your imperfect and incomplete ideas for years. Stop collecting them in your head, like dying butterflies in a glass jar. It’s always better to let them fly.
Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices. Even at the park and other places where dogs belong, they’ve been given free rein. Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. After all, what kind of monster would have a problem with a poor innocent widdle doggie? It’s a dog’s world. We just live in it. And it’s awful. Bad dogs!
A few years ago I would have said, “Oh, Slate. You’re so contrarian!” But after having a kid who gets regularly run roughshod over by people who just say of their terrible, terrible canine companions that won’t sit, won’t stay, won’t not jump up and knock your child over, “oh, he’s friendly, he won’t bite” I’m totally down. Word, Farhad.