Voices

‘Zuckerberg’s GOP Meeting,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while spending way too much time watching random people rant to their phones on the new Facebook Live Map

The New York Times: What Do Our Online Avatars Reveal About Us?

Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern

The word “avatar” has signified many things throughout history: It originated in Hinduism as a god descending to earth, then was used in the 1800s to denote god-like poets, and is now the term given to the digital representation of our various “selves” on digital platforms.

In Amanda Hess’s New York Times article “What Do Our Online Avatars Reveal About Us?” she notes that the original Avatar was “delivering righteousness to a lawless world,” which will now be my dominating thought the next time I see my own smug smile in the corner of Gmail.

The New York Times: When Humans, Fueled by the Selfie Culture, Imperil Wildlife

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

I almost didn’t pick this because of the use of “selfie culture” in the headline, but then I watched a bunch of people pass around a beached baby dolphin for selfies until it died and lost too much faith in humanity to care.

The Wall Street Journal: Helping Bosses Decode Millennials—for $20,000 an Hour

Selected by Amanda Weatherhead, distribution manager

This is the most outrageous thing I’ve read all week for two reasons: The first being that ‘intergenerational consulting’ has become a thing, and the second that I didn’t create this racket. Large enterprises like Google, Oracle, and Time Warner are making it rain on consultants with supposed expertise in managing millennials.

As a millennial who works at a startup, I love HBO’s Silicon Valley for the way the writers brilliantly skewer the tech industry. However, watching a satirized version of my daily life is very different from reading about blue-chip companies that are doing anything possible to pander to millennial workers. Perhaps the gilded age in which we live is about to end, and the sun will finally set on America as a major world power. Now I won’t be able to go into our office kitchen and make myself an espresso without a profound sense of guilt.

The New York Times: Programmed Obsolescence

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

In this week’s New York Times Book Review, author Teddy Wayne brought up an important topic about the relationship between language and technology.

There’s an interesting dynamic emerging in the literary world: As technology becomes obsolete, so do the words we use to write about them. Not too long ago, writing about email used to be novel. (We used to write it as “e-mail,” right?) Talking about Myspace had cultural relevance. But in both fiction and journalism, writers now have to think ahead when making stylistic choices. Oddly enough, as technological advancement speeds up, the best way to write about that evolution might actually be to use generic language that holds up over time.

In 10 years, if someone looks at a post we published about Snapchat, will the analysis still resonate, or will the reader laugh at how dated it all reads? That’s something I worry about from time to time. Remember, mullets used to be in too.

Wired: Zuckerberg’s GOP Meeting Shows a Master Politician in the Making

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

In light of Zuckerberg’s meeting with conservative leaders this past week to discuss political neutrality on Facebook, Wired draws parallels between the CEO’s impressive pandering and that of a savvy politician. Could the business move (and apparent positive results) prove that Zuck ’20 is our next ticket?

Probably not. I mean, he’s running a company, so he’s busy. However, the most interesting part of the story, to me, has to do with the public’s trust in Facebook. The algorithms that control much of what we see are so opaque, yet many of us trust Facebook because it’s become essential to our everyday lives. Perhaps this trust paves the way for tech leaders to become elected officials in the future.

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